//
you're reading...
Australian History

On This Day In Australia: In 1900, Neville Howse performed an act of heroism that earned him Australia’s first Victoria Cross


Sir Neville Howse

On 24 July 1900, Neville Howse rescued a fallen ally under heavy fire during the Second Boer War, becoming the first Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Neville Howse was born on 26 October 1863 at Stogursey, Somerset, in England. He was educated at Fullard’s House School, Taunton, before studying medicine at London Hospital. Howse migrated to New South Wales, establishing his first practice in Newcastle before moving to Taree. After undertaking postgraduate work in England, Howse returned to Australia in 1897 and settled in Orange.

In January 1900 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the New South Wales Medical Corps and sailed for South Africa. He was serving with a mounted infantry brigade at Vredefort where, on 24 July, he rescued a wounded man under heavy fire. For this he was awarded Australia’s first Victoria Cross. He was promoted to captain in October the same year.

Howse returned to Australia, but went back to South Africa as an honorary major in the Australian Medical Corps in February 1902, just as the war was ending. Howse was twice elected mayor of Orange and married Evelyn Pilcher in Bathurst in 1905. When the First World War began in 1914 he was appointed principal medical officer to the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force to German New Guinea, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. His medical knowledge and logistical skills ensured that there were no cases of serious illness and he returned to Australia in time to join the first AIF contingent as staff officer to the Surgeon General, director of medical services.

In December 1914 Howse was promoted to colonel and appointed assistant director of medical services, 1st Australian Division. At Gallipoli he took charge of evacuating wounded men from the beach in the campaign’s opening days. “Shells and bullets he completely disregarded”, wrote one officer, but “to the wounded he was gentleness itself.” Unafraid to speak his mind, at the Dardanelles commission in 1917 Howse described the arrangements for dealing with the wounded at the landing as inadequate to the point of “criminal negligence” on the part of the Imperial authorities. In September 1915 he was given command of ANZAC medical services and in November became director of the AIF’s medical services.

Based in London once the AIF moved to France, Howse made regular visits to France and retained control of the Australian Army Medical Corps in Egypt and Palestine. He consistently endeavoured to maintain the physical standards of the AIF and late in the war attributed its success in part to the efforts he and his staff made in ensuring the physical and moral fitness of Australian front-line soldiers.

Howse was knighted in 1917 and in 1920 made a brief return to private practice before resuming work with the army. He resigned in 1922 and was awarded the federal seat of Calare for the National Party. He held several ministerial portfolios, including defence and health. In 1930 he went to England for medical treatment but died of cancer on 19 September. He was survived by his wife and five children.

Source: George Petrou

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 15,050 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Cadence Column: Asia, January 17, 2022

Cadence Column: Asia, January 17, 2022

China is illegal. The US Department of State even says so. France even reports as such. This won’t exactly improve friendly relations across the Pacific. It’s actually a much larger step to an all out conflict. Just over a year ago, November 2020, Western allies declared that China’s 1984 treaty with Britain, the basis for […]

India’s offensive against China should be in the grey zone 

India’s offensive against China should be in the grey zone 

Grey zone is not a fixed concept but a hypothetical place between peace and war. While I was writing this article, a never heard of development was taking place in the Indian state of Punjab. The Indian Prime Minister was stuck on a bridge for 20 minutes since the highway was blocked by the protesters. […]

Cadence Column: Asia, January 10, 2022

Cadence Column: Asia, January 10, 2022

Lithuania has become the “Taiwan of Europe”. Since WWII, Americans never again struggled with the concept that a problem abroad is a problem at home. This is how we Americans can vote to interfere around the world that we know so little about. We think every squeal from another continent indicates a personal assault on […]

Is China ready to host the Winter Olympics?

Is China ready to host the Winter Olympics?

Chinese officials have promised that the 2022 Winter Olympics — to be held Feb. 4 to 20 and followed by the Paralympics March 4-13 — will be a “safe, streamlined and splendid” global event. But that won’t be easy. With less than four weeks to go, China is struggling to enforce its strict zero-covid policy […]

Crystal Gazing 2022: India and The World 

Crystal Gazing 2022: India and The World 

If we thought 2019 and 2020 presented uncertainties then 2022 is here to surprise all of us. It could be remembered as one of the most complex, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous years in the recent past. COVID-19, oil crossing $100/barrel, Iran-US nuclear talks, Iran-Israel tension, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, cryptocurrency, and militarization of outer […]

Japan looks west to guard against a rising China

Japan looks west to guard against a rising China

Japan signed on Thursday a new security treaty with Australia, a fellow middle power that is similarly aligning against an increasingly assertive China. The blandly-branded Reciprocal Access Agreement, which was signed virtually by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, marks the conclusion of a process that started in 2014, when […]

Cadence Column: Asia, January 3, 2022

Cadence Column: Asia, January 3, 2022

Taiwan is on the rise. With chip shortages, stock is booming. You know how graphics cards are astronomically high? A lot of that money is going into Taiwan. Meanwhile, China found an excuse to order a real estate developer to demolish 39 freshly, new-built “luxury apartments”—something about the building permit being illegal and violated zoning. […]

Cadence Column: Asia, December 27, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, December 27, 2021

Japan is on the scene in the Pacific. While Japanese athletes will attend the Olympics, Japanese officials will not. China doesn’t want Japan to “politicize” the games. But, consider 2008, the one-hour opening ceremony about nothing but China’s history, with President Xi marching in to a one-world dream at the end. For Beijing, hosting the […]

Cadence Column: Asia, December 20, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, December 20, 2021

The US is hitting China hard over treatment of Uyghurs. Nearly all imports from Xinjiang will be banned. At the same time, the US bolsters the call to bolster Taiwan’s military defense. However, Taiwan has the seeds of the same tyranny; it just doesn’t materialize into anything alarming because Taiwan remains small. The most obvious […]

When India goes to war with China 

When India goes to war with China 

It is an open secret that China challenges everything India sets its eyes on, be it cooperation with Quad partners (the United States, Australia, Japan), international organizations like United Nations, WHO, or designating a terrorist organization. India, a Quad member and a close ally of the United States, has become the biggest eyesore for China. […]

%d bloggers like this: