27th December marks the anniversary of the second action in 1914 for which Old Wellingtonian John Fitzhardinge Paul Butler was awarded the Victoria Cross.
John was in the Stanley, 1902-1906, and then went straight to Sandhurst to train as an Army officer. He joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1907. In 1913 he was sent to be part of the West African Frontier Force, protecting what were then British territories in Africa.
In 1914, the Frontier Force invaded Cameroon, which was a German colony. In the fighting which followed, John took part in two actions for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. His citation describes how, on 27th December, “when on patrol duty with a few men, he swam the Ekam River, which was held by the enemy, alone and in the face of a brisk fire, completed his reconnaissance on the further bank, and returned in safety. Two of his men were wounded while he was actually in the water.”
In July 1916 John was part of a force sent to East Africa to attack German territories there. He was wounded in the fighting, and on 4th September died of his wounds. He is buried in the Morogoro Cemetery in what is now Tanzania. His medal is displayed at the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum in Winchester.