b. 28/11/1883 Kidderminster, Worcestershire. d. 07/01/1915 Tochi, India.
Eustace Jotham (1883-1915) was born in Linden House, Chester Road, Kidderminster, Worcestershire on 28th November 1883. He was the second son of Frederick Charles and Mary C A Jotham (née Laxton). Having links with the wine trade and being a director of Charles Harvey & Co, Frederick Jotham had become a wealthy man. Linden House later became known as Stanmore House. At the time of their son’s death the Jothams lived in Cambridge at 12 Millington Road.
Eustace initially attended Lucton School, a boarding school near Leominster in Herefordshire, as a day-boy and was living in Kingsland nearby, possibly with relatives. He later went to Bromsgrove School, 1899–1901, where he became a member of the Cricket First XI and more importantly was groomed for entry into RMC Sandhurst, which he joined in 1902. He was commissioned into the 1st Battalion, the Prince of Wales’s (North Staffordshire) Regiment on 22 April 1903 with which he ‘acclimatised’ before sailing with the 2nd Battalion to India in September 1903 where he was seconded to the Indian Army on 23 June 1905, whose officers were mainly British in command of Indian soldiers. Eustace was promoted to Lieutenant on 2 July 1905. He then became a member of the 102nd King Edward’s Own Grenadiers. In 1908 he transferred to the 51st Sikhs (Frontier Force), who had been formed in the nineteenth century as the 1st Regiment of Infantry of the Frontier Brigade. In addition to guarding the 300-mile stretch of the North-West Frontier they had fought in the Punjab campaign 1848–9; the Afghan War and the Boxer Rebellion in China, and the role of his new regiment was to guard and patrol the Indian North-West Frontier on its border with Afghanistan. By 1911 Jotham had been attached to the North Waziristan Militia based at Miranshah and on 22 April 1912 had become a captain. In 1913 he returned to England on leave.
Despite Afghanistan having been twice at war with the British, the Amir of Afghanistan indicated in 1914 that the country would not make trouble for the British during the war. However, the subsequent entry of Turkey into the conflict on the side of Germany made the likelihood of disturbance on the frontier much greater. Although the 51st Sikhs had been initially ordered to guard the Suez Canal from November 1914, several officers had been left behind in charge of the remainder of Scout forces. Capt Eustace Jotham, who returned from leave in England in September 1913, was one of them and he was ordered to join the North Waziristan Militia.
In November 1914 Jotham was involved in an operation which successfully dealt with a native attack against Miranshah. On 7th January, 1915, at Spina Khaisora (Tochi Valley), during operations against the Khostwal tribesmen, Captain Jotham, who was commanding a party of about a dozen of the North Waziristan Militia, was attacked in a nullah and almost surrounded by an overwhelming force of some 1,500 tribesmen. He gave the order to retire, and could have himself escaped, but most gallantly sacrificed his own life by attempting to effect the rescue of one of his men who had lost his horse.
Jotham was buried in Miranshah Cemetery, North Waziristan, North-West Frontier, Plot 4, Grave 45. His posthumous VC was presented to his father at Buckingham Palace on 29 November 1916 by King George V. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the British War Medal 1914-20. His medals were passed to his sister Margaret following their parents’ deaths. Margaret donated the medals to Bromsgrove School, who still hold his medals, though sadly not on display. The medal was shown at Kidderminster Town Hall on 7th January 2015 as part of the commemorations of his VC stone being unveiled outside St Mary’s Church.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: BROMSGROVE SCHOOL, WORCESTERSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: MIRANSHAR CEMETERY, NORTH WAZIRISTAN, INDIA. PLOT 4, GRAVE 45.
ALSO NAMED ON FAMILY GRAVE AT ST GEORGE’S CHURCHYARD, KIDDERMINSTER, WORCS
Thomas Stewart – Jotham VC on the Memorial Board at RMS Sandhurst.