b. 31/12/1857 Emsworth, Hampshire. d. 13/12/1947 Sonning, Berkshire.
Edmund John Phipps-Hornby (1857-1947) was born at Lordington, near Emsworth, Hampshire, on 31st December 1857, the second son of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Geoffrey Thomas Phipps-Hornby, GCB, and Emily Frances, daughter of the Reverend Richard Cowper Coles, of Ditcham, Petersfield, Hampshire. He was educated at a private school and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and entered the Royal Artillery in May 1878.
He served in Sir Charles Warren’s Bechuanaland Expedition in 1884-1885, in the 2nd Mounted Rifles, commanded by Colonel Carrington, and became Captain in 1886. On 31st January 1895, at St Stephen’s Church, South West London, he married Anna, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Jay, of Blendon Hall, Bexley, Kent, and they had two daughters, Irene and Betty. He was promoted to Major in 1895, and served in the South African War of 1899-1902, was mentioned in despatches and given the brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel on 30th November 1899. He was appointed Aide-de-Camp to Lord Roberts VC from 1901-1903, and was awarded the Victoria Cross.
On 31st March 1900 at Sanna’s Post (aka Korn Spruit), South Africa, ‘Q’ and ‘U’ batteries of the Royal Horse Artillery were ambushed with the loss of most of the baggage column and five guns of the leading battery. When the alarm was given ‘Q’ Battery, commanded by Major Phipps Hornby, went into action 1150 yards from the Spruit, until the order to retire was received, when the major commanded that the guns and their limbers be run back by hand to a safe place — a most exhausting operation over a considerable distance, but at last all but one of the guns and one limber had been moved to safety and the battery reformed.
He was gazetted for the VC on 26th June 1900 having been elected for the award by his fellow officers under Rule 13 of the warrant, and was presented with his medal on 25th October 1900 by the Commander in Chief, South Africa, Lord Roberts VC at Pretoria. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1903, and was given command of the 4th RHA Brigade at Woolwich and Aldershot till 1903, when he was promoted Colonel. In 1909 he was appointed Brigadier-General to command the artillery of the 4th Division, and remained in command of it until 1913.
In 1911 he was created a Companion of Bath. On the outbreak of the Great War, Brigadier-General Phipps-Hornby was appointed to the command of the Artillery 3rd Corps, and went with it to France in August 1914, and commanded the Artillery of the Southern Army in England from April 1916 to December 1918. He was mentioned in despatches four times during the Great War, and was created a CMG in 1916. He retired from the Army on 27th December 1918.
Phipps-Hornby died on 13th December 1947 aged 89, at his home in Sonning, Berkshire. He was buried in St Andrew’s Churchyard in Sonning, and the grave was renovated in 2016 by the Victoria Cross Trust. His medals are held by the Royal Artillery and were previously displayed in the Museum at Woolwich. The museum has recently closed so the medals are now in storage.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL ARTILLERY MUSEUM, WOOLWICH, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ST ANDREW’S CHURCHYARD, SONNING, BERKSHIRE.
Victoria Cross Trust – Image of the Phipps-Hornby VC’s grave following its clean in 2016.