b. 05/05/1855 Clerkenwell, London. d. 30/06/1930 Northwood, Middlesex.
Joseph John Farmer (1855-1930) was born on 5th May 1855 in Clerkenwell, London. Little is known of life in London prior to his enlistment with the Army Hospital Corps with whom he served extensively in South Africa, firstly in the Zulu Wars of 1879, then in the First Boer War of 1881.
In the Zulu War, was first utilised treating the wounded from the Battle of Ulundi, before being promoted to Provisional Lance-Corporal just before the outbreak of the First Boer War.
On 27th February 1881, there was a heavy engagement between the British and the Boers on the Majuba Hill which led to many casualties. Coolly, Provisional Lance-Corporal Farmer attempted to move between the wounded, treating as many as he could. At a crucial point in the engagement the Boers were closing in on a British position near the wells. As they approached, Farmer held a white flag over the wounded men, trying to protect them from further harm. At this point, a bullet went through the arm Farmer was holding the flag up with. It is said that Farmer’s response to the Boers was that he had “another”, and held up the flag with his other hand. Shortly afterwards, the flag was pierced by a bullet.
Farmer’s actions were duly noted and he was awarded the Victoria Cross on 16th May 1881. He would receive his medal later that year when he was back in England recuperating from his wounds. He was invested by Queen Victoria at Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, on 14th August 1881.
Farmer left the Army Hospital Corps with the rank of Corporal, and little is known of his life following the service, except that in later life he lived in Northwood, Middlesex. He died on 30th June 1930 aged 76 and was laid to rest in Brompton Cemetery. His medals are held and displayed by the Museum of Military Medicine, Keogh Barracks, Mytchett, Surrey.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: MUSEUM OF MILITARY MEDICINE, KEOGH BARRACKS, ALDERSHOT.
BURIAL PLACE: BROMPTON CEMETERY, LONDON.
COMPARTMENT H, 157′ X 4’3”
Kevin Brazier – Brompton Cemetery Plan.
Thomas Stewart – Image of the Farmer VC Medal Group at the RAMC Museum, Aldershot.