b. 06/02/1873 Wambrook, Somerset. d. 20/06/1952 Cardiff, Wales.
Samuel Vickery (1873-1952) was born on 6 February 1873 at Wambrook on the borders of Dorset, later moving to Dorchester. He enlisted in the Army at the age of 20 and completed his military training at the Dorset Regiment's Depot in the Barracks in what was now his home town of Dorchester.
After a period of home service with the 2nd Battalion in 1897, Private Vickery was a part of an annual draft sent to India to bring the 1st Battalion of the Dorset Regiment up to operational strength. Forming a part of the Tirah Field Force, heading to the North West Frontier to take part in the Tirah Campaign 1897-1898, Private Vickery, in a matter of months, found himself fighting hostile Afridi tribesmen.
During an attack on the Dargai Heights on 20 October 1897, his Victoria Cross citation describes how Private Vickery heroically ran down a rocky mountain slope and brought a wounded soldier back to cover under extremely heavy small arms fire. Later while operating in the in the Waran Valley, he also killed three ruthless enemy tribesmen who attacked him while he was separated from his company.
During course of the campaign, Private Vickery chipped a bone in his foot and was repatriated to the United Kingdom, where his VC was published in the London Gazette on 20 May 1898. While still being treated at the Royal Military Hospital at Netley, near Southampton, Queen Victoria, who had specially travelled to the south coast, presented him with his Victoria Cross actually six days before his gazetting on 14th May 1898.
It was only a few years before he was in action again, this time in South Africa, this time with a mounted infantry section in the Boer War 1899-1902. Detached from the Regiment to 2nd Mounted Infantry Battalion, Vickery was captured by the Boers but, now ranking as Corporal, he made a daring escape after four days in captivity and rejoined his unit. He was subsequently wounded in December 1900 at Nooitgedacht during the guerrilla war that followed the defeat of the Boers in conventional battle.
Having completed his service, Sergeant Vickery retired but at the outbreak of the First World War, as a Regular Reservist, he was again back in uniform. Serving with the 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment as a Sergeant, he was in the thick of the fighting in the Ypres Salient, however, he survived the war.
Vickery settled in South Wales in later life, and passed away peacefully at St David’s Hospital in Cardiff on 20th June 1952, aged 79. He was cremated at Glyntaff Crematorium in Pontypridd, and his ashes were scattered on Lawns 1-4 in the Old Garden. His medals are held by the Devon & Dorset Regimental Museum, The Keep, Dorchester, Dorset.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: KEEP MILITARY MUSEUM, DORCHESTER, DORSET.
BURIAL PLACE: GLYNTAFF CREMATORIUM, PONTYPRIDD, WALES. ASHES LAWN 4, PLOT 4
Samuel Vickery's medal group on display at the Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset.
(Picture courtesy of Terry Cooling).