b. 07/08/1873 Sheikhbudia, India. d. 07/06/1949 Hadlow, Sussex
Edmond William Costello (1873-1949) was born in Sheikhbudia on the North-West Frontier of India on the 7th August 1873, the son of a Colonel in the Indian Medical Service. He was educated in England at Beaumont College, Stonyhurst College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. In 1892 he was commissioned into the West Yorkshire Regiment, but transferred to the Indian Army in 1894 and was posted to the 22nd Punjab Infantry.
On 26 July 1897 at Malakand on the Indian Frontier, Lieutenant Costello went out from the hospital enclosure and with the assistance of two sepoys, brought in a wounded lance-havildar who was lying 60 yards (55 m) away, in the open, on the football ground. This ground was at the time over-run with swordsmen and swept by a heavy fire from both the enemy and our own men who were holding the sapper lines.
Costello was gazetted for the Victoria Cross on 9th November 1897, and was presented with his medal on 2nd December 1897 at Windsor Castle by Queen Victoria. In November 1900 Costello was appointed adjutant of his regiment and in 1901 he was promoted Captain. He then worked as a recruiting officer for several years before taking part in the Mohmand operations of 1908. He was promoted Major in 1910. In 1913 he entered the Indian Staff College at Quetta and graduated just before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, when he rejoined his regiment as second-in-command.
The regiment was soon sent to Mesopotamia as part of the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade of the 6th Indian Division and Costello remained there for the rest of the war. He was promoted Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel in June 1916, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1917 and appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1918. In May 1918 he took command of the 12th Indian Infantry Brigade and he received a substantive promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel in September 1918. He was mentioned five times in dispatches during the war and also received the French Croix de Guerre.
In June 1919 he was promoted Brevet Colonel and was joint commander of the Indian contingent at the Peace March in London, for which he was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the 1920 New Year Honours. He was promoted substantive Colonel in March 1920, although he had held the acting appointment of Brigadier-General since 1918. From May to December 1920 he commanded the 8th Indian Infantry Brigade in the 3rd (Lahore) Division. In March 1921 he went to Palestine as temporary commander of the Palestine Defence Force and remained there to command a brigade in 1922. He retired in October 1923 and became Director of Military Studies at the University of Cambridge.
He died on 7th June 1949 in Hadlow, Sussex, and was buried in St Mark’s Churchyard, Hadlow Down, Sussex. His medals are held by the National Army Museum, Chelsea, though sadly not currently on display.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM, CHELSEA.
BURIAL PLACE: ST MARK’S CHURCHYARD, HADLOW DOWN, SUSSEX.
Steve Davies – image of the cleaned Costello VC grave (May 2020 by Steve Davies)
John Mulholland – Image of the Costello VC Medal Group.