b. 30/08/1864 Lahore, then India (now Pakistan). d. 14/12/1927 London.
John Manners-Smith (1864-1927) was born in Lahore, Pakistan on 30th August 1864, the fifth son of Charles Manners-Smith, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, and Surgeon-General of the Indian Medical Service. He was educated in England at Trinity College, Stratford-upon-Avon, at King Edward VI School, Norwich, and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
He became a Lieutenant in the Norfolk Regiment in 1883, and in 1885 he joined the Indian Staff Corps, and served with the 2nd Sikhs (Infantry) and the 5th Gurkha Rifles from 1885-1887. He was appointed Military Attache to the Foreign Office, Government of India, and admitted to the Political Department in 1887. He then accompanied Sir Mortimer Durand on his missions to Sikkim in 1888, and Kabul in 1893.
In 1891 he was present during the Hunza-Nagar Expedition and in particular the assault on the Nilt Fort, where he would be awarded the Victoria Cross. On 20th December 1891, near to the fort at Nilt, Lieutenant Manners-Smith led the storming party at the attack and capture of a strong position held by the enemy. For almost four hours on the face of a very steep cliff, he carefully moved his men from point to point, and was unable to defend himself from any attack which the enemy may make. He was the first man to reach the summit of the cliff, within a few yards of the enemy, and he immediately shot the first sangar who approached him.
He was gazetted for the VC on 12th July 1892, and received his medal in India in the autumn of that year. In 1896, he married Bertha Mabel, eldest daughter of Philip Arderne Latham. He then held political appointments in Kashmir, Bundhelkand, Baluchistan, Rajputana, Central India and Nepal, between the years 1889-1919. He served in the Punjab Frontier and Tirah Expedition of 1897-1898, earning the campaign medal with three clasps. He then became the Political Resident of the Political Department, Government of India, and an Agent to the Governor-General in Rajputana in 1917.
He retired back to England due to ill-health shortly after the end of the Great War, and in his final years lived in the Central London Nursing Home in London. He died there aged 55, on 6th January 1920. He was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, West London. In 2006, following work by the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, both Manners-Smith’s and Guy Boisragon VC’s graves were renovated. Manners-Smith’s medals are held by the Gurkha Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GURKHA MUSEUM, WINCHESTER., HAMPSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: KENSAL GREEN CEMETERY, LONDON.
SQUARE 187 ROW 4 GRAVE 46720
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.
Gerry von Tonder – Image of the reverse of the Manners-Smith VC Medal.