b. 06/06/1844 Citra, Portugal. d. 19/02/1925 Chelsea, London.
Euston Henry Sartorius (1844-1925) was born on 6 June 1844 in Cintra, Portugal, where his father, later to become Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Sartorius, was commander of the Portuguese Fleet. He was one of three brothers, all of whom joined the Army, and three sisters. His brother Reginald was also to be awarded the VC, making them one of four pairs of blood brothers to be awarded Britain’s highest honour.
He was educated at Woolwich, and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and was gazetted to an Ensigncy in the 59th Regiment of Foot. He was promoted to a Lieutenant in 1865, and on 29th June 1869, he received the Royal Humane Society’s Medal for saving the lives of three girls at Broadstairs, Kent. In December 1869, he passed the examination at the Staff College, and subsequently for the next four years, was an Instructor in Military Surveying at Sandhurst. In 1874, he married Emily, daughter of Sir F Cook, 1st Baronet. He had two daughters, and a son. Sadly, his son would be killed in action in the Great War. Later that year, he left to join his regiment in India.
In the Afghan War, he commanded the company of the 59th Regiment which escorted the guns of Battery D/2, Royal Artillery, from Quetta to Kandahar, and afterwards served with the regiment in the advance and capture of Kalat-i-Ghilzai in January 1879. After being promoted to Captain, he commanded the company which took part in the advance of Brigadier-General Hughes’ force in Tazi. At the action of Shahjui on 24th October 1879, he commanded the detachment of his regiment which was present, and for his services would be recommended for, and awarded the VC (London Gazette, 17th May 1881).
Sartorius led a party to storm a rocky and almost inaccessible hill, which could be approached only in single file up a zig-zag path. Lieutenant Irwin of the 59th, who was Sartorius’s Lieutenant, later wrote an account of the incident:
“Captain Sartorius ordered his men to fix bayonets, and to clamber up. The hill was very steep, and when they got to within a few feet of the top the Afghans sprang up with a yell, and, sword in hand, slashing right and left, simply jumped down upon our fellows. For a few moments all was confusion, friend and foe falling down together, but it was speedily all over. We had gained the hill, and the standards on it, not one of the enemy having escaped. We lost one man, and Captain Sartorius was wounded in both hands. The fanatics were splendid, though ferocious-looking scoundrels, and fought like fiends, having evidently made up their minds to die, and to do as much damage as possible before doing so.”
Following the gazetting of his VC, he was presented with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria personally, in a ceremony at Windsor Castle on 1 July 1881. Euston Sartorius also served in the 1882 Anglo-Egyptian War where he was Mentioned In Dispatches. He was later appointed as Military Attaché to Japan. He was created a Companion of Bath in 1896, and retired from the Army as a Major General in 1905. In 1909 he was appointed Colonel of the South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Volunteers), a post he held until his death in 1925.
He died on 19th February 1925, at his home in Chelsea, London. He was buried in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul, Ewhurst, Surrey. His medals are held (though not currently displayed) by the National Army Museum, Chelsea.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM, CHELSEA, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ST PETER/PAUL CEMETERY, EWHURST, SURREY.
Thomas Stewart – Image of the East Lancashire Regiment Memorial, Blackburn Cathedral.
Ned Malet de Carteret – Image of the Victoria College, Jersey VC Board.
Thomas Stewart – medal group at the National Army Museum.