b. 14/05/1882 Lambeth, London. d. 07/11/1914 Zillebeke, Belgium.
John Franks Vallentin (1882-1914) known as Jack to the family, was born at 109 Lambeth Road, London on 14th May 1882 and was baptised in Hythe, Kent on 8th October that year. His father was Grimble Vallentin, a distiller and Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers in 1883, 1893 and 1906-1907. His father owned the Red Cross Public House, Barbican, London in 1909. His mother was Lucy Ann nee Finnis, who was born in India, but her family home was in Hythe. Grimble and Lucy had married in 1876. John had two sisters and was educated at Wellington College. His grandfather, Sir James Vallentin, also a distiller, was Knight Sheriff of the City of London in 1869, and his maternal grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel John Finnis was murdered on 10th May 1857 on the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in Meerut.
John was commissioned into the 6th (Militia) Battalion, Rifle Brigade on 9th August 1899. The Battalion was stationed at the Curragh in Ireland. He was swiftly promoted to Lieutenant and then transferred into the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment and served with it in South Africa, taking part in operations in the Orange River Colony from April – December 1901 and Transvaal until May 1902. He transferred to 2nd Battalion, Royal Garrison Regiment at Standerton, Transvaal as 2nd Lieutenant in July 1903.
John gained a regular commission in the Royal Garrison Artillery and transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment on 7th June 1905. He served on the North West Frontier of India, fighting Pathans. He captained the Regimental Polo Club and was also a highly skilled musketeer. He was promoted to Captain in 1909 and served in Gibraltar in 1911, the year that his father passed away.
He arrived in France with his Battalion on the 5th October 1914. Having been wounded on the 30th October, he was treated at hospital in Ypres. Following his recovery, he returned swiftly to the front line. On 7th November 1914 at Zillebeke, Belgium, when leading an attack against the Germans under very heavy fire, Captain Vallentin was struck down and on rising to continue the attack, was immediately killed. The capture of the enemy’s trenches which immediately followed was in a great measure due to the confidence which the men had in their captain, arising from his many previous acts of great bravery and ability.
Sadly, John’s body was not recovered after his death, and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres. He was unmarried and his mother administered his will. His Victoria Cross (gazetted on 18th February 1915) was sent by post to his mother on 9th March 1915, but was formally presented to her by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 16th November 1916. His mother later donated a set of silver to his Regiment in his memory. In addition to his VC, he was also awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902 with five clasps, India General Service Medal 1908-35 with clasp for “North West Frontier 1908”, 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, and Victory Medal with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf. His VC and other medals are held by Wellington College, Crowthorne, Berkshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WELLINGTON COLLEGE, CROWTHORNE, BERKSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: NO KNOWN GRAVE – ON YPRES MEMORIAL. PANEL 35.
Wellington College – Images of the Wellington College VC Memorial Boards and the VC Medal.
Paul Lee www.memorialstovalour.co.uk – Image of Vallentin Way, Lichfield, Staffordshire.
Thomas Stewart – Image of the Staffordshire Regiment Memorial in Staffordshire Regimental Chapel, Whittington Barracks.