b. 20/12/1888 Berkeley, Gloucestershire. d. 05/09/1916 Matombo, Tanzania.
John Fitzhardinge Paul Butler (1888-1916) was born on 20th December 1888 in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. His father was Lieutenant Colonel Francis John Paul Butler, and his mother was the Honourable Elspeth Butler nee Gifford. She was the daughter of Robert Gifford, 2nd Baron Gifford. John was therefore the nephew of a fellow Victoria Cross recipient, Edric Gifford, 3rd Baron Gifford.
John was commissioned into the King’s Royal Rifles Corps in February 1907, and was married to Alice Amelia, who hailed from Portfield, near Chichester, Sussex. Butler rose to the rank of Lieutenant and was attached to the Pioneer Company, Gold Coast Regiment prior to the outbreak of the Great War in 1914.
When the War broke out in August 1914, Lieutenant Butler’s Regiment became part of the West African Frontier Force and were immediately involved in action against the enemy in the Cameroon, on the West coast of Africa.
On 17th November 1914, with a party of 13 men, Butler went into the thick bush and at once attacked the enemy, in strength about 100, including several Europeans, defeated them, and captured their machine gun and many loads of ammunition. On 27th December, 1914, when on patrol duty, with a few men, he swam the Ekam River, which was held by the enemy, alone and in the face of a brisk fire, completed his reconnaissance on the further bank, and returned in safety. Two of his men were wounded while he was actually in the water.
Butler was gazetted for the Victoria Cross on 23rd August 1915, and actually received the medal the following day at an investiture at Buckingham Palace from King George V. Butler was back in England on leave which allowed the ceremony to take place. Shortly afterwards, Butler returned to Africa where he was promoted to Captain. In June 1916, he was awarded the DSO in the King’s Birthday Honours List for his services in West and East Africa.
Butler was then posted to German East Africa (now Tanzania) with his Regiment, and was killed in action on 5th September 1916 at Kikirunga Hill, near Matombo. He was originally buried where he fell, but was later reburied in Morogoro Cemetery, Tanganyika, 100 miles west of Dar es Salaam. In addition to the Victoria Cross and DSO, he was awarded the 1914 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, and Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf. His medals are held and displayed at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL GREEN JACKETS MUSEUM, WINCHESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: MOROGORO CEMETERY, TANZANIA.
PLOT III, ROW C, GRAVE 43
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map
Thomas Stewart – Images of his medal group at RGJ Museum, the Regimental Memorial at Sandhurst, and the Winchester Cathedral memorial.