b. 04/05/1841 Cintra, Portugal. d. 08/08/1907 Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Reginald William Sartorius (1841-1907) was born on 8th May 1841 in Cintra, Portugal, the son of Admiral Sir George Rose Sartorius, GCB. He entered the Army on 20th January 1858, and in the following May, he was promoted to Lieutenant. Lieutenant Sartorius served in the Indian Mutiny between 1858 and 1859, and was present at the Relief of Azimghur, where he volunteered to carry despatches through the encircling enemy. He succeeded, but had his cap shot through, his head grazed, and also shot in the heel. He also took part in the operations in the Goruckpore district. He received the Mutiny Medal.
In 1864, he served in the Bhutan Expedition and received the Medal with clasp. In 1868 he was promoted to Captain. He would then become involved in the conflict in the Gold Coast of Africa in 1873, which would lead to the award of the VC.
In 1873 a large scale invasion of the coastal area of the Gold Coast (now Ghana ) by the Ashanti tribesmen was repelled by a much smaller British force, but it was deemed necessary to mount a full expedition, led by Sir Garnet Wolseley, to properly subdue the Ashantis.
The force set out in January 1874 to advance on Kumasi, the Ashanti capital, and on the 31st January, at the battle of Amoafu, the British suffered 250 casualties inflicted by an enemy who, though hopelessly outgunned, had the advantage of numbers, made much better use of the terrain, and fought with considerable bravery. Despite this reversal Kumasi was captured shortly afterwards and burnt to the ground. By February the war was over and the Gold Coast was annexed as a Colony.
Reginald Sartorius was with a detached column, under Captain Glover, Royal Navy, which was following the River Volta on the right flank of the main advance. Sartorius was later sent out ahead of this column to join up with Wolseley at Kumasi and travelled through the entire ‘war zone’ with 25 men with only forty rounds of ammunition each.
On 17th January 1874, during the attack on Abogoo, Captain Sartorius had noticed a badly wounded Sergeant Major, a Housa NCO, lying in the open under heavy fire. He ran out and picked up the wounded man (sadly it turned out later the wounds were fatal) and carried him to cover.
He was recommended for the VC, and it was published in the London Gazette on 26th October 1874. Reginald Sartorius was invested with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at a Windsor Park Review on 30th March 1875. He was then on the staff of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), when he visited India in 1876 and 1877, and afterwards took part in the Afghan Campaigns of 1879 and 1880, and received the Medal. He was promoted to Colonel in 1886, and Major-General in 1895, and retired in 1897. He had married in 1887 to Agnes, daughter of Dr J Kemp. He became a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron. He died suddenly at Cowes, Isle of Wight on Wednesday 8th August 1907, aged 66.
He was buried in St Mary’s Churchyard, South Baddeley, Hampshire near the graves of his parents. In April 2009, a resident of Jersey, Edward Malet de Carteret decided to travel to nearby South Baddesley to ascertain the condition of the grave of Major General Reginald Sartorius VC CMG, 6th Bengal Cavalry. Accompanying Mr Malet de Carteret was an old colleague from Jersey’s Victoria College, the same establishment that the two Sartorius brothers, Reginald and Euston, attended.
Although the Reginald Sartorius headstone in St Mary’s Churchyard, South Baddesley, was in good condition, it was in need of a good clean-up. Therefore, with funds from the Old Victoria College Boys Association and from the school itself, Mr Malet de Carteret chipped in the remaining sum to have the headstone refurbished. Reginald’s medals are held by the National Army Museum, Chelsea, though are not currently on display.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM, CHELSEA, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ST MARYS CHURCHYARD, SOUTH BADDESLEY, HAMPSHIRE.
Ned Malet de Carteret – Images of the Sartorius VC Grave and the VC Board at Victoria College, Jersey.