Harry Frederick Whitchurch VC

b. 22/09/1866 Kensington, London. d. 16/08/1907 Dharmsala, India.

Harry Frederick Whitchurch (1866-1907) was born on 22nd September 1866, the son of Frederick Whitchurch, of Sandown, Isle of Wight. Harry was born in Kensington, London. He was educated in England, France and Germany, and entered a medical career at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London in 1883. He served in the Lushai Expedition in 1892, and in the relief of Aijal and Changsil, earning the campaign medal and clasp.

Harry F Whitchurch VC

He then served in the relief of Chitral in 1895, was mentioned in despatches, received the medal and clasp, and would ultimately be awarded the Victoria Cross (London Gazette, 16th July 1895).

On 3rd March 1895, during a sortie from Chitral Fort, at the beginning of the siege, Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch went to the assistance of Captain Baird, of the 24th Bengal Infantry, who was mortally wounded. Whitchurch attempted to get him back to the fort under heavy enemy fire. Captain Baird was on the right of the firing line, and only had a small party of Gurkhas and men from the 4th Kashmir Rifles. He was wounded over a mile and a half from the fort. Whitchurch placed Baird in a dooly, and then the party attempted to return to the fort. The Gurkhas bravely hung on to the dooly, before three were killed and a fourth was badly wounded. Whitchurch then placed Baird on his back and carried him for some distance. Whitchurch and the small party were fired upon for a great distance, and he managed to make it despite many of the men being wounded, including Baird.

Following his gazetting for the VC, he was invested with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, on the 27th July 1895. He later took part in the defence of the Malakand, and in the relief of Chakdara, and the engagement of Landakai, North West Frontier in 1897-1898. He then served in China in 1901, taking part in the relief of the Chinese Legation. He was then posted to India, where he served with the 1st Gurkha Rifles. Sadly, he contracted enteric fever and died aged 40 on 16th August 1907 at Dharmasala. He was buried in St John in the Wilderness Churchyard, Dharmasala. His medals are owned by the Ashcroft Trust and displayed in the Imperial War Museum.