b. 29/12/1869 Woolwich, London. d. 22/04/1896 Umguza, Rhodesia.
Frank William Baxter (1869-1896) was born in Woolwich, London on 29th December 1869. Not much is known about his early life in London, though as a young man he made his way to Southern Africa, where he enlisted with the South African Forces, and then on the outbreak of the Matabeleland Rebellion in Rhodesia, he transferred to the Bulawayo Field Force with the rank of Trooper.
On 22nd April 1896, at Umguza, Mashonaland, Rhodesia, the Field Force were involved in retreating from a large enemy force, when Baxter noticed that a comrade, Corporal Wiseman, was wounded and lagging behind. Without hesitation, Baxter dismounted and gave his horse to Wiseman. Baxter then tried to escape on foot, hanging onto a stirrup of another mounted scout, until he was hit in the side by enemy fire. He let go of the stirrup and died later.
Baxter was gazetted for his action on the 7th May 1897, but was not awarded the Victoria Cross due to the fact he had been killed in the action, and at the time, posthumous awards were not bestowed. After a change to the Royal Warrant in 1907, Baxter was posthumously awarded the VC, and his medal was posted to his father, Mr G Baxter, who was living in Streatham, London. Baxter was buried in Bulawayo Town Cemetery (sadly with no VC by his name), and his medals are held by the Ashcroft Trust and displayed in the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: BULAWAYO TOWN CEMETERY, BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE,
GEN SECTION 1, GRAVE 114
Frank William Baxter's medals including VC on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London
Picture courtesy of Gerry van Tonder