b. 1851 Camberwell, London. d. 25/09/1912 Maldon, Essex.
Frederick Corbett (1853-1912) was born in 1851 in Camberwell, London, and was also known by the name David Embleton. He enlisted with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps as a young man and became part of the 3rd Battalion that was posted to Egypt as part of the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882.
On 5th August 1882, during an reconnaissance on Kafr Dowar, the Mounted Infantry came under heavy fire from the enemy, and suffered some losses, including Lieutenant Vyse, who was mortally wounded. Vyse was lying in the open and with no time to move him, Private Corbett asked for permission (which was granted) to remain by the dying officer, and though under constant fire, sat down and tried to stop the bleeding from his wounds. When the Mounted Infantry retired, he helped carry Vyse from the field.
Corbett was recommended for, and awarded the VC on 16th February 1883, and was invested with the medal by the Commander in Chief Gibraltar, Lord Napier, in Cairo on 2nd March 1883. Following his discharge from the army, Frederick Corbett sold his Victoria Cross. In 1884 Corbett re-inlisted into the Royal Artillery and was subsequently convicted of a felony by court martial. He went absent without leave from 12th to 23rd July 1884 and was subsequently arrested, charged and held in custody awaiting trial. Found guilty by District Court Martial at Aldershot for being absent without leave, theft and embezzling money belonging to an officer, he was convicted on 30th July 1884 and awarded 28 days hard labour. Corbett's name was erased from the VC Register by Royal Warrant and his VC pension was terminated.
By 1903 the Corbett VC had come into the possession of a Mr Mansfield, Clerk of Kingsbury Urban District Council, who approached the War Office apparently with the intention of restoring the VC to Frederick Corbett, or to his family. Mansfield was informed by the War Office that "as the name of Frederick Corbett had been erased from the VCR, the cross should not be delivered to Corbett or his representatives." This reply seemed to worry Mr Mansfield as to whether he was in order in retaining the decoration for himself, but a further letter from the WO confirmed that, "in view of Corbett having sold his VC at a time when he was not subject to the Army Act, Mr Mansfield was entitled to retain it."
In later life, Corbett fell on hard times, and died of brain cancer in the Maldon Workhouse Infirmary on the 25th September 1912 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the London Road Cemetery, his death certificate showing his name as Embleton. In 2004, a new headstone was placed on his grave following work by the Celer et Audax Club (Officers’ Club of King’s Royal Rifle Corps). His VC was sold at auction by Glendinnings in 1924 for £50 and is now held by the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL GREEN JACKETS MUSEUM, WINCHESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: MALDON CEMETERY, MALDON, ESSEX. ROW 4 GRAVE 27
Frederick Corbett's medals and portrait on display at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.
(Picture - Thomas Stewart).