b. 20/09/1867 South Africa. d. 23/07/1956 Cape Town, South Africa.
Randolph Cosby Nesbitt (1867-1956) was born in Queenstown in the Cape Colony, South Africa on 20th September 1867, the son of Major C. A. Nesbitt, and was educated at St Paul’s School in London, and returned to the Cape to join the Cape Mounted Rifles on the 10th August 1885.
He would serve throughout the Mashona Expedition of 1890, being promoted to Lieutenant (Police) in 1891. He was Chief Constable at Fort Peddie, in the Cape, from March 1892 until April 1893. At the end of that year he returned to Mashonaland, and became an Inspector of the Mounted Police there. In 1895, he was appointed as a Justice of the Peace, and served in Gazaland on a special service.
On the 1st June 1895, he was promoted to Captain in the British South Africa Police, and became involved in the Mashonaland Rebellion in 1896, and event which would lead to the award of his Victoria Cross (London Gazette, 7th May 1897).
On 19th June 1896 near Salisbury (now Harare), Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Captain Nesbitt led a patrol consisting of only 13 men to go to the rescue of the miners at the Alice Mine in the Mazoe Valley, who were surrounded by hordes of rebels. Captain Nesbitt and his patrol fought their way through the enemy and succeeded in getting the beleaguered party (including three women) back to Salisbury in spite of heavy fighting in which three of the small rescue party were killed and five wounded.
Nesbitt was presented with his VC by Lord Milner, the Governor of Cape Colony on 11th November 1897 in Salisbury. He went onto to serve in the Second Boer War of 1899-1902, as a commanding officer of a squadron of the British South Africa Police. He then became a Native Commissioner of the British South Africa Police in 1909. He had reached the rank of Major before his retirement.
Nesbitt lived in Cape Town, South Africa for the remainder of his life, passing away at the age of 88 on 23rd July 1956. He was cremated, and in accordance with his wishes, his ashes were interred in the Anglican Cathedral, Salisbury (now Harare), Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). His medals are held by the National Archives of Zimbabwe in Harare.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF ZIMBABWE, HARARE, ZIMBABWE.
CREMATED IN CAPE TOWN. ASHES INTERRED IN THE BSA POLICE SECTION, ANGLICAN CATHEDRAL, HARARE, ZIMBABWE.
Gerry von Tonder – Images of the location of Nesbitt’s ashes in the Anglican Cathedral, Harare, and the Nesbitt VC Medal Group at the National Archives, Harare.