Edmund Barron Hartley VC CMG

b. 06/05/1847 Ivybridge, Devon. d. 20/03/1919 Ash, Hampshire.

Edmund Barron Hartley (1847-1919) was born on 6th May 1847 in Ivybridge, Devon, the eldest son of Dr Edmund Hartley, and received his medical education at St George’s Hospital, London, where he took the Diplomas of MRCS, England, and LRCP, Edinburgh. Previous to this, from 1867 to 1869, he was a clerk in HM Inland Revenue, but resigned his appointment to take up the medical profession.

Edmund B Hartley VC

In 1874, Hartley travelled to South Africa, and was soon appointed District Surgeon of British Basutoland, being the first English medical man in that country. His experiences among the natives and the Boer farmers were very uncommon for any white man at the time. He remained there until 1877, when native wars broke out on the south-eastern frontiers of the Cape Colony, and he immediately volunteered for service, and was appointed Surgeon of the Frontier Armed Mounted Police; a title which changed to the Cape Mounted Riflemen in August 1878.

Hartley’s first experience of warfare was as medical officer of a column composed of Naval Brigade, 1/24th Regiment of Foot and Connaught Rangers (88th Regiment), operating against the Galeeka tribe. In the following year, 1878, came the Gaika campaign, when he was appointed Principal Medical Officer of the Cape Colonial Forces, and continued as such until his retirement in 1903. In 1879, the Morosi Rebellion broke out, when Surgeon Hartley was mentioned in despatches, received the Medal and clasps, and was awarded the Victoria Cross (London Gazette, 7th October 1881).

On the 5th June 1879, he attended the wounded under heavy fire during the unsuccessful attack on Morosi’s Mountain. Then, from an exposed position, on open ground, he carried a wounded Corporal of the Cape Mounted Riflemen. He then returned under heavy fire, to attend to more wounded men. He was presented with his VC by Brigadier-General Charles M Clarke on 3rd December 1881.

In 1880 and 1881, he served in the Basuto Campaign, and in 1882-1883 during the ten months General Gordon commanded the Colonial Forces, Colonel Hartley was his Principal Medical Officer. In 1897, he served in the Bechuanaland Rebellion, where he was slightly wounded whilst dressing the wounds of a mortally wounded officer. He served throughout the Boer War of 1899-1902. Following his retirement in 1903, he was Commandant of six Voluntary Aid Detachments in Somerset from 1910-1912, and served as Secretary of the Voluntary Aid Hospital, Seaton, Devon during the Great War. He died at Sandringham House, Southsea, Hampshire on 20th March 1919 aged 71. He was laid to rest at Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, Surrey. In 1955, his Victoria Cross was sold for a then record price of £300. It is now displayed at the Museum of Military Medicine, Keogh Barracks.




PLOT 2, GRAVE 193293


Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map of Brookwood.

Thomas Stewart – Image of the Hartley VC medal group at the RAMC Museum, Keogh Barracks.