b. 27/09/1876 Edinburgh, Scotland. d. 06/01/1900 Ladysmith, South Africa.
Robert James Thomas Digby-Jones (1876-1900) was born on 27th September 1876 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Charles Digby-Jones and Aimee Susanna (nee Christie). He was educated firstly at Alnmouth, Northumberland, and afterwards at Sedbergh School, Yorkshire. He was a pupil at Sedbergh from 1890-1893, where he was an excellent all-round sportsman. He passed into the Royal Artillery, Woolwich in 1894, before he transferred into the Royal Engineers. He obtained his commission on 5th August 1896, joining the 23rd Field Company.
He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1899, and accompanied the 23rd under the command of Major Rice to Natal in June that year. They proceeded straight to Ladysmith, where he was involved in the construction of a hospital in the camp (afterwards abandoned when the siege began). At Ladysmith on 11th December 1899, he made a name for himself when he blew up a 4.7 howitzer mounted on Surprise Hill, which threw a 40lb shell and had been causing huge damage to the garrison.
On 6th January 1900, during the attack on Wagon Hill (Ladysmith), South Africa, Lieutenant Digby-Jones and a trooper (Herman Albrecht) of the Imperial Light Horse led the force which re-occupied the top of the hill at a critical moment, just as the three foremost attacking Boers reached it. The leader was shot by Lieutenant Digby-Jones and the two others by the trooper. At the point of the capture of the position, Digby-Jones was hit in the throat by a bullet and killed.
Digby-Jones was buried in Ladysmith Cemetery with full military honours. He and Albrecht were awarded the Victoria Cross (gazetted 8th August 1902), and his medal had been sent to his family by registered post earlier in the year, on 30th April. His medals were donated to the Royal Engineers Museum along with a number of his personal effects, including his revolver used at Wagon Hill.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL ENGINEERS MUSEUM, CHATHAM, KENT.
BURIAL PLACE: LADYSMITH CEMETERY, LADYSMITH, SOUTH AFRICA.
Brian Drummond – 3 images from Sedbergh School.
Richard Pursehouse – Image of the Digby-Jones plaque in Alnmouth Church, Northumberland.