b. 04/08/1830 Goodwood, Surrey. d. 07/02/1897 Chester Square, London.
Sir Wilbraham Oakes Lennox (1830-1897) was born on the 4th August 1830 at Molecomb House, Goodwood, Sussex, the son of Colonel Lord John George Lennox, MP for West Sussex, and Louisa Fredrica Rodney, the daughter of Captain the Honorable George John Rodney MP. With his military family, it was no surprise when young Lennox was entered into the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich on 6th July 1846. Two years later, he joined the Royal Engineers as a Second Lieutenant.
The first part of his military service saw him serve in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and was promoted to Lieutenant in February 1854, just prior to the outbreak of the hostilities in the Crimea. He served throughout the Crimean conflict from 1854-1856.
On the 20th November 1854, at the Battle of Inkerman, following the attack on the Russian rifle pits led by Lieutenant Henry Tryon (who was killed) supported by Claud Bourchier and William Cuninghame (both awarded the VC for this action), Lieutenant Lennox and 100 men moved forward under heavy fire to support. Throughout the night, Lennox worked tirelessly to establish a lodgement in the rifle pit and assisting in repelling all the enemy counter attacks on the position throughout the following day. Lennox was awarded the VC alongside Bourchier and Cuninghame on the 24th February 1857. Alongside his VC, he was also mentioned in despatches in December 1855, received the Crimean Medal with two clasps, the 5th Order of the Medjidie and the Sardinian and Turkish Medals.
In 1857, he was embarking for the expected war in China, when he was re-routed from Singapore to the Indian Mutiny. On the march to Cawnpore, during fighting at Kknjwa on 1st November 1857, Lennox took command when his commanding officer, Captain Clarke was severely wounded. His leadership was noted on this occasion by Captain William Peel, RN (later VC). On 25th November 1857, Lennox was promoted to 2nd Captain. He then proceeded to Lucknow where he commanded the Royal Engineers under Sir Colin Campbell. Lennox would be mentioned in despatches for actions at Lucknow.
Lennox and the 23rd Coy were then engaged with the Gwalior Contingent which was defeated at Cawnpore on 6th December 1857, and also in action at Futtegurh. In February 1858, the 23rd marched to Alumbagh under the command of General Outram, where Lennox acted as Field Engineer. Lennox assisted Brigadier General Napier in the main attack on the city. During the fighting, Captain Clarke was killed, and the command of the 23rd returned to Lennox. He was promoted to Captain and then Brevet Major. In September 1858, the 23rd took part in the last campaign of the Indian Mutiny, called the Trans-Gagra Campaign. Afterwards the company headed back to Lucknow. Lennox was mentioned in despatches four times for his actions in India, and was given the brevet of Lieutenant Colonel. He sailed from Calcutta for England on 25th March 1859.
In 1861, he married Mary Harriet Harrison and they had two children, Gerald Wilbraham Stuart and Lilian Emily, though sadly Lilian died in infancy. Sadly, the marriage only lasted two years, as Mary died in 1863 following the birth of Lilian. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, Lennox was sent to accompany the German armies in France from November 1870 to March 1871. He was present at the Siege of Paris, when he was at Army HQ; of Mazieres, of Belfort, of Schletstadt, of New Breisch, and of Strasbourg.
In November 1876, Colonel Lennox was sent to Montenegro as British Military Attache with the armistice on the Montenegrin Frontier. Thence he was sent into Turkey, via Vienna, Bucharest and Giurgevo, reaching Constantinople (now Istanbul). He had by this time, married for a second time to his second cousin, Susan Hay Sinclair, daughter of Admiral Sir John Gordon Sinclair, 8th Baronet of Caithness. They had five children: Charles Gordon Sinclair, Cecil George Pelham, Claud Henry Maitland, Louisa Edith and Cecilia Georgina Susan.
Lennox served in the Russo-Turkish War of 1868 as Military Attache with the Turkish troops and received the Turkish War Medal in December 1876. He next proceeded to Bulgaria and remained there as Military Attache during the Turco-Russian War of 1876-1878. From 1884 to 1887 the commanded the garrison at Alexandria, and during the Nile Campaign of 1884-85 he organised the landing and despatch of the troops, and the transmission of the Nile boats, stern-wheelers etc for the expedition. While in the East he visited the Holy Land, and after leaving Egypt in 1887, commanded the troops in Ceylon until 1888, returning home via Australia and America. He was knighted in 1891. He then became Director of Military Education from 1893-1895. Lennox died at his home in Chester Square, London on 7th February 1897 after a short illness. He was buried in Woodvale Cemetery, Brighton.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL ENGINEERS MUSEUM, CHATHAM, KENT.
BURIAL PLACE: WOODVALE CEMETERY, BRIGHTON, SUSSEX. PLOT FF, GRAVE 47/48/49.
Steve Davies – Image of the renovated Lennox VC Grave May 2022
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.
Thomas Stewart – Images of the Lennox VC medal, and the RMA Sandhurst (RA Woolwich) Board.