b. 06/05/1896 Southsea, Hampshire. d. 09/01/1937 Durban, South Africa.
Robert Vaughan Gorle (1896-1937) was born on 6th May 1896 in 67 Victoria Road South, Southsea, Hampshire, the son of Major Harry Vaughan Gorle DSO late Army Service Corps and Ethel Catherine eldest daughter of Canon W. F. Archdall, Rector of Glanmore, County Cork, Ireland. He was educated in the Wells House, Malvern Hills and the Rugby School.
His mother passed away when he was only 8 and he immigrated to South Africa on completion of his schooling to farm in the Transvaal.
In 1914 he returned to the United Kingdom and enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery where he was commissioned on as a Second Lieutenant on 15th May 1915. He deployed to France at the end of 1915 with the 31st Division and in 1918 was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery.
In Flanders, a new phase of fighting had begun in the Ypres Salient on 28th September 1918, when the Belgians and British Second Army had advanced eastwards. Beselare and Geluveld were recaptured and the Germans’ Flanders I Line overrun. By 1st October the British were approaching the Flanders II Line, which ran in front of Ledegem, west of Courtrai.
On 1st October 1918 at Ledeghem, Belgium, Lieutenant Gorle was in command of an 18-pounder gun working in close conjunction with the infantry. He brought his gun into action in the most exposed position on four separate occasions and disposed of enemy machine-guns by firing over open sights under direct fire. Later, when the infantry were driven back, he galloped his gun in front of the leading troops and twice knocked out enemy machine-guns which were causing the trouble. His disregard of personal safety was a magnificent example to the wavering line which rallied and re-took the northern end of the village.
His Victoria Cross investiture was by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 14th June 1919.
After the war he returned to Southern Africa and farmed near Fort Jameson, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). In 1924 he married Ruth (nee Thomas) and two sons and one daughter was born. One of the sons later became the principle of the Solusi College near Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) while the daughter is a doctor in East Africa. Over the period 1929 to 1937 he was the Sergeant at Arms and Librarian of the Southern Rhodesia Parliament (now Zimbabwe).
He died on 9th January 1937 in the Addington Hospital, Durban, Natal, South Africa and is buried in the Stellawood Cemetery in Durban. Apart from his headstone which displays the Victoria Cross he is commemorated on a plaque in the Stellawood Cemetery which was erected by the British Empire Service League (BESL), on the Royal Artillery Memorial, Woolwich, London and in the World War One corner of the Castle in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.
Apart from the Victoria Cross he was also awarded the 1914 – 15 Star, British War Medal 1914 – 20 and the Victory Medal 1914 –19. His medals were purchased privately in 1993 by Michael Ashcroft and are now displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: STELLA WOOD CEMETERY, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA.
SECTION K, GRAVE 144
Derek Walker – Image of Gorle VC Grave in Stellawood Cemetery, Durban, South Africa.
Mark Sanders – Image of Gorle VC Medal Card.