b. 20/11/1862 Chatham, Kent. d. 28/02/1927 Mtarfa, Malta.
Sir Walter Norris “Squibs” Congreve (1862-1927) was born on 20th November 1862 in Chatham, Kent, the son of William Congreve, JP, Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire. His father owned Burton Hall in Cheshire. His mother, Fanny Emma Townshend also came from a wealthy family. He was educated at Harrow, and entered the Rifle Brigade in 1885. He was promoted to Captain in 1893.
He served throughout the Second Boer War of 1899-1902. He was mentioned in despatches twice, received the Queen’s South Africa Medal with seven clasps, the King’s Medal with two clasps, the Brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel, and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Colenso.
At Colenso on the 15th December, 1899, the detachments serving the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, had all been either killed, wounded, or driven from their guns by Infantry fire at close range, and the guns were deserted. About 500 yards behind the guns was a donga in which some of the few horses and drivers left alive were sheltered. The intervening space was swept with shell and rifle fire. Captain Congreve, Rifle Brigade, who was in the donga, assisted to hook a team into a limber, went out; and assisted to limber up a gun. Being wounded, he took shelter; but, seeing Lieutenant Roberts fall, badly wounded, he went out again and brought him in. Captain Congreve was shot through the leg, through the toe of his boot, grazed on the elbow and the shoulder, and his horse shot in three places.
Following his gazetting on 2nd February 1900, he received his medal from the father of the man who pulled under cover, Lord Frederick Roberts VC at Pretoria on 25th October that year. He then served on the Staff in South Africa as AMS and Private Secretary to Lord Kitchener. In 1900, he married Celia, daughter of the late C. B. La Touche, and they went on to have three sons, one of whom was William La Touche Congreve, who would be awarded the DSO, MC and a posthumous VC in the Great War, making the Congreves one of only three pairs of father/son VC holders.
He was promoted to Major, and then Lieutenant-Colonel in December 1901. In December 1902, he became Assistant Military Secretary and Aide-de-Camp to HRH Duke of Connaught in Ireland, being made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order by King Edward VII in 1903. He became a Major-General in 1915, and Lieutenant-General in 1918, and was knighted in 1917. He was also awarded the Legion d’Honneur and the Order of St Anne of Russia.
Congreve was appointed Governor of Malta, where he fell ill and died in Imtarfa Hospital on 26th February 1927. He was buried at sea between Malta and the island of Filfla. His medals are held and displayed in the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL GREEN JACKETS MUSEUM, WINCHESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: BURIED AT SEA OFF MALTA. MEMORIAL IN MALTA.
Thomas Stewart – Image of Congreve’s VC Medal Group at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester.