b. 20/12/1841 Kamptee, India. d. 05/07/1875 Dehra Ghazi, India.
Henry William Pitcher (1841-1875) was born sometime in 1841 in Bath. Henry Pitcher was appointed to the 1st Punjab Native Infantry on the 15th March 1859. He was then seconded as Acting Adjutant to the 3rd P.N.I. in 1859 and to the 4th P.N.I. in 1860. Pitcher then returned to and was appointed Adjutant to the 1st Punjab Native Infantry on the 31st May 1861 and it was with this regiment that he earned his Victoria Cross at Umbyela in October 1863.
On 30th October 1863, Pitcher led a party of his regiment in an attempt to re-capture the Crag Picket, after its garrison had been driven out by the frontier tribes. During the loss of the garrison sixty men were killed in the desperate hand to hand fighting. The approach to the top of the Crag was treacherous and difficult, with only one of two men could advance at any time.
Major Keyes, commanding the 1st Punjab Infantry, gave the orders for Lieutenant Fosbery of the 4th European Regiment to push through the rocks with a few men. With great coolness and skills, Fosbery was the first man to reach the top of the Crag. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Pitcher, with equal daring and gallantry led a party to the last rock, until he was knocked down and stunned by a large stone thrown from above. Pitcher was severely wounded, and had to be carried down. He would lead a second assault on the Crag Picket on the 13th November 1863, when again, he was wounded.
Pitcher was gazetted for the VC on 16th July 1864, but there is no record of an investiture. Sadly, after remaining in India after the Umbeyla Campaign, he died aged just 34 on 5th July 1875 at Dehra Ghazi Khan. He was originally buried at Dehra Ghazi Khan Cemetery, but after some flooding, he was re-interred in Dehra Ismail Khan Cemetery, Kohat (now in Pakistan then India). Pitcher’s medals were in private ownership until 30th August 2008, when at an auction, the Jersey based charity “Raising the Standard” purchased them for £110,000. The seller and great-great niece of Pitcher donated the money to the Help the Heroes Charity soon afterwards. On 10th January 2009, the medals were presented to the island of Jersey, and are now displayed in the Jersey Museum, St Helier.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: JERSEY MUSEUM, ST HELIER, JERSEY.
BURIAL PLACE: DEHRA ISMAIL KHAN CEMETERY, KOHAT, INDIA.
Pitchers's medals and reverse
(Ned Malet de Carteret)
Victoria College VC Board (Ned Malet de Carteret)