Here is another from my collection of autographs to Irish born holders of the Victoria Cross (VC). This is to Brigadier General Charles FitzClarence VC of the Royal Fusiliers.
Charles was born in May 1865 at Bishopcourt, Co. Kildare the son of Captain George FitzClarence (15 April 1836 – 24 March 1894) and Maria Henrietta Scott (1841 – 27 July 1912). He had a twin brother named Edward. His paternal grandfather was George FitzClarence, 1st Earl of Munster, whose title Charles took on his death in 1903.
This was written by Charles for receipt of a tailor made suit in the early 1900s at the Seville Fine Clothiers. London. The following is the incredible personal history of this great Irish Hero.
Brigadier General Charles FitzClarence, VC, was one of the few senior British officers to be killed in action during the First World War. The son of a naval officer, he had been educated at Eton College and Wellington College, before joining the Royal Fusiliers as a lieutenant in 1885.
During the Boer War he was besieged in Mafeking, winning the Victoria Cross for his actions during the siege, where he was badly wounded. After the war he attended the staff college at Camberley. In 1900 he joined the Irish Guards, commanding a battalion from 1909-1913 and the regiment from 1913.
At the outbreak of the First World War, FitzClarence was sent out to France to command the 1st (Guards) Brigade, replacing General Ivor Maxse, who was returning to Britain to train a division of the new army. He took command of the Brigade during the first battle of Ypres (October-November 1914).
He would play a major role in two incidents of that battle. The battle of Gheluvelt (29-31 October) saw the Germans come close to breaking the British line. FitzClarence organised and led the counter-attack that restored the line.
The final major German attack of the battle came on 11 November (battle of Nonne Boschen). By this time the 1st Brigade consisted of three battalions (one each from the Scots Guards, the Cameron’s and the Black Watch) and was down to 800 men. They were attacked by a regiment of the Prussian Guard, and forced out of their front line. FitzClarence played an important role in stopping the German advance. He was then determined to win back the front line trenches lost earlier in the day. Having lost most of his own brigade in the fighting, he returned to the rear to find new troops. He was at the head of 500 men from the 2nd battalion of the Grenadier Guards, the Irish Guards and an contingent of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, when he was shot and killed by a German rifleman. After his death the planned counterattack was abandoned.
“Even against the greatest of odds, there is something in the human spirit – a magic blend of skill, faith, and valor – that can lift men from certain defeat to incredible victory.”
Walter Lord (1917 – 2002)