Horace Edward Ramsden VC

b. 15/12/1878 Chester, Cheshire. d. 03/08/1948 Cape Town, South Africa.

Horace Edward Ramsden (1878-1948) was born on 15th December 1878 in Chester, Cheshire. Little is known about his early life, and how he ended up in South Africa at the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899, serving in the Protectorate Regiment (North West Cape Colony), South African Forces.

Horace E Ramsden VC

He served in the early stages of the war, at the relief of Ladysmith and then onto Mafeking, where he would be awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on Boxing Day, 1899, where he would save the life of his brother, the second VC to that point with this circumstance – the first being Charles Gough VC saving the life of his brother Hugh Gough VC during the Indian Mutiny.

On the 26th December 1899, during the fight at Game Tree, near Mafeking, after the order to retire was given, Trooper H.E. Ramsden picked up his brother Trooper A.E. Ramsden, who had been shot through both legs and was lying about 10 yards from the Boer trenches, and carried him about 600 or 800 yards under a heavy fire (putting him down from time to time for a rest ) till they met some men who helped to carry him to a place of safety.

Ramsden was gazetted for the VC on 6th July 1900, and received his medal by Commander in Chief, South Africa, Lord Frederick Roberts VC at Pretoria on 28th October 1900. Following the conclusion of the 2nd Boer War in 1902, Horace Ramsden obtained a commission in the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles. During the First World War Ramsden served with Hartigan’s Horse in South West Africa where he was taken prisoner by the Germans.

At the end of the War, he was released from captivity, and remained in South Africa. He died on 3rd August 1948 in the Avenue Hotel, Fish Hoek, near Simonstown, in the Cape Colony, aged 69. He was cremated at the Maitland Road Crematorium in Cape Town. The ashes were removed by the undertaker and presumably given to the family. His medals were sold at auction on 25th October 1999 at Stephan Welz & Co of Johannesburg. The group realised a hammer price of £52,000, and was purchased by the Ashcroft Trust the holding institution for Lord Ashcroft’s VC Collection. They are now displayed in the Imperial War Museum.