b. 01/07/1883 Cheveney, Kent. d. 05/01/1933 Southwold, Suffolk
Arthur Drummond Borton (1883-1933), known as “Bosky”, was born on 1st July 1883, the eldest of three children of Lieutenant Colonel A. C. Borton DL, JP and his wife, the daughter of General Henry Drummond, of Cheveney House, Yalding, Kent. He was the grandson of the late Sir Arthur Borton GCB, GCMG, former soldier and Governor of Malta. Arthur junior was educated at Eton and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, from which he passed into the 60th Rifles as a Second Lieutenant in 1902.
He served in the last months of the Second Boer War, taking part in operations in the Transvaal from March to 31st May, and was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with three clasps. He later served in Bermuda and Ireland, and was stationed in India for four years. He became a Lieutenant on 9th May 1906, but was invalided out of the Army two years later as being unfit for general service. He returned to England in 1910.
Borton then took up fruit farming in the United States, where he was on the outbreak of war in August 1914. He quickly returned to England in mid-October and rejoined the 60th Rifles. However, finding that there was no speedy prospect of his getting to the front, he switched services to the Royal Flying Corps and become an observer. In December, he teamed up briefly with his brother, Amyas, known as “Biffy”, at Brooklands Aerodrome and at Christmas the two brothers flew home.
In January 1915, Borton left for France as an observer with No 3 Squadron. Two months later, on 5th March, the aeroplane in which he was flying crashed badly while on an air reconnaissance mission. The pilot broke both legs, while Borton’s neck was broken in two places and he suffered from concussion. At the time, Amyas was suffering from jaundice and they convalesced together at home. On his return to active flying, Amyas was wounded and later awarded the DSO. Borton left for France to bring his brother back from Boulogne to London. For a second time, Borton was pronounced unfit for service by the Army medical board.
Borton was still determined to serve and managed to obtain a position in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR). On the eve of leaving for the Dardanelles he married his fiancée, Lorna. He left for Gallipoli as a Lieutenant Commander in charge of two squadrons of Motor Machine Guns Armoured Cars, Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), and took part in the Suvla Bay landings, arriving on 7th August 1915 and remaining in the frontline until the later evacuation from the Peninsula. He was awarded a DSO for these services on 31st May 1916.
In June 1916, having passed an Army Medical Board, he was appointed Second in Command of the 2/22nd Battalion London Regiment. He soon left for France and was there only a short time before returning home because of a technical point about his posting. He served on the Somme from September 1916 and in November transferred to Salonika via Marseilles. The 2/22nd Battalion served continuously on the front and, in the following May, he was made Temporary Lieutenant Colonel after his Colonel was declared unfit. In June 1917, he arrived in Egypt and he met up with his brother in Cairo.
On 7th November 1917 in Palestine, Borton deployed his battalion for attack and at dawn led his companies against a strongly held position. When the leading waves were checked by withering fire, he moved freely up and down the line under heavy fire and then led his men forward, capturing the position. At a later stage he led a party of volunteers against a battery of field-guns in action at point-blank range, capturing the guns and the detachments. His fearless leadership was an example to the whole brigade.
After being released by the Army in June 1919, he tried to obtain a position in the Colonial Service. A few weeks later he travelled to Spitsbergen, hoping to join General Ironside’s British force in northern Russia. He did met Ernest Shackleton, who gave him a job in Spitsbergen. However, the job didn’t work out and he returned to the UK. From then his life took a downturn, and he was unable to hold down a job, and began to drink heavily. Although the eldest son, he was unable to succeed to the family estate after the death of his father, and he and his wife moved to 3 Park Road, Southwold, Suffolk. In June 1920 he attended the VC Garden Party and acted as a pallbearer to the coffin of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey. In November 1929, he attended the House of Lords’ VC Dinner.
On 5th January 1933, he became ill at midday when leaving his house in Southwold. It is believed he suffered a stroke and died seven hours later in hospital. He was buried in St Mary’s Churchyard, Hunton, near Yalding, Kent. A memorial service was held later that evening at Southwold Parish Church. In his will he left £2,960. His younger brother had inherited the family estate. In addition to the VC and DSO, he was also awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with three clasps, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, Knight, Order of the Nile (Egypt), and Knight, Order of St Vladimir (Russia). His medals are held by the Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment, and fortunately were safe in a vault, when the Regimental Museum at Clandon Park, Surrey suffered a horrific fire in 2015.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: QUEEN'S ROYAL SURREY REGIMENT, GUILDFORD, SURREY
BURIAL PLACE: ST MARY'S CHURCHYARD, HUNTON, KENT.
Arthur Borton's impressive medal group including VC, CMG and DSO on display at Queens Royal Surrey Regiment Museum, Guildford (NOT MY IMAGE)
War Illustrated, 9th February 1918