William George Nicholas Manley VC CB

b. 17/12/1831 Dublin, Ireland. d. 16/11/1901 Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

William George Nicholas Manley (1831-1901) was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 17 December 1831. He was the second son of Reverend William Nicholas Manley. His mother was Elizabeth Browne, a daughter of Dr. Browne of the Army Medical Staff. He was educated at the Blackheath Proprietary School. Manley developed an interest in surgery and became a member of The Royal College of Surgeons in England in 1852. In 1854 Manley joined the Army Medical Staff, and was attached to the Royal Regiment of Artillery serving in Crimea from 11 June 1855. He was present at the siege and fall of Sebastopol during the Crimean War, and was granted the medal with clasp and the Turkish medal. He was later posted with his regiment to New Zealand during the New Zealand Wars.

William G N Manley

Manley was part of the storming party into Gate Ph on 29th April 1864. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for attending to Commander Edward Hay (1835-1864) as he was carried away mortally wounded and for then returning to the pah to search for more wounded. He was the only officer of those that gathered for dinner at the Elms the night before the Battle of Gate Ph to survive. Manley Grove in Tauranga was named after him.

Manley was present under the commnd of Sir Trevor Chute at the assault and capture of the Okotukoo, Putahi, Otapawa, and Waikohou Palis, and for his services he was again mentioned in despatches and promoted to the rank of Staff Surgeon. For rescuing from drowning a gunner of the Royal Artillery who had fallen overboard whilst disembarking from a steamer on the Waitotara river, he received the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society.

He married Maria Elizabeth Darton on 9 February 1869 at Sheerness, Kent, England . Maria’s father was Thomas Harwood Darton, of Temple Dinsley, Hertfordshire. He and Maria went on to have eight children, six boys and two girls. One of his sons became a Lieutenant Colonel, and one was killed in the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1901.

When the Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870, Manley was placed in charge of the B division of the British ambulance corps, which was attached to the 22nd division of the Prussian army. He was present at several engagements, and afterwards received the German steel war medal and the Bavarian order of merit. William I, the German Emperor, at the request of the Crown Prince, decorated him with the Second Class of the Iron Cross for his conduct in seeking for the wounded of the 22nd division in the actions of Chateauneuf and Bretoncelle on 18 and 21 November and the battles of Orleans and Cravant on 10 December 1870. He marched with the division between 200 and 300 miles during the severe winter of November and December.

Manley was also present at the siege of Paris and on the declaration of the armistice he went into the city with supplies for the hospitals. For his attention to wounded Frenchmen he received the cross of the Societe de Secours aux Blesses.

In 1877 Manley moved to Cheltenham, purchasing 1 Hatherley Place. His wife Maria lived there during his sometimes lengthy periods of service overseas. He served with the Quetta field force in the Afghan war of 1878-9, and was present at the occupation of Kandahar, receiving the thanks of the viceroy and the medal. Manley was principal medical officer under Sir Edward Hamley during the war in Egypt of 1882, and was present at the battle of Tel-el-Kebir.

Manley was promoted to the rank of deputy surgeon-general, and retired from the army in 1884 with the honorary rank of surgeon-general, being made C.B. in 1894. In 1896 he was granted a distinguished service pension. On his retirement the family moved to 3 Lansdown Terrace in Cheltenham. He died from diabetes at Lansdown Terrace, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, on 16 November 1901 and was buried in Cheltenham Cemetery on 20 November 1901. His medals are not publicly held.






Ian Spelman – Image of Manley VC’s grave in Cheltenham Cemetery.

Kevin Brazier – Cheltenham Cemetery Map.