b. 23/04/1864 Westminster, London. d. 21/06/1948 Goring on Thames, Oxfordshire.
Sir Ernest Beachcroft Beckwith Towse (1864-1948) was born in Regent’s Park, London on 23rd April 1864, and was educated at Wellington College. He was gazetted to the Wiltshire Regiment on 16th December 1885, and was posted to the Gordon Highlanders on 2nd January 1886.
In 1892, the now Captain Towse married Gertrude, younger daughter of John Christie. He served with the Chitral Relief Force in 1895, including Malakand (Medal and clasp). He also served on the North West Frontier of India and at Tirah in 1897-1898 (two clasps), and in South Africa in 1899-1900. In the latter campaign he was mentioned in despatches twice, received the Queen’s South Africa Medal with three clasps, and was dangerously wounded.
He would also be awarded the Victoria Cross for two separate acts of gallantry. On 11th December 1899 at the Battle of Magersfontein, he displayed gallantry and devotion in assisting his Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Downman when he was mortally wounded. He tried to carry him on his back whilst under fire but this proved to be impossible so he supported him until help arrived. He was aided by Colour Sergeant Nelson and Lance-Corporal Hodgson. Again, on 30th April 1900 on Mount Thaba, Captain Towse and 12 men fought off 150 Boers. They demanded that the Highlanders surrender but Towse ordered his men to fire and at one point to charge the enemy. Eventually the Boers retired down the hill but not before a bullet blinded the Captain. He never recovered his sight.
Towse was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms by Queen Victoria in 1900, and was presented with his medal later that year. King Edward VII reappointed him in 1902, and in 1903 he was admitted to the Honorary Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms in which he served until 1939. He was also a Knight of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. When the First World War broke out he volunteered his services as a typist, writing letters for wounded soldiers at the front. He was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig's despatch in June 1916. In 1915 he was promoted Staff Captain of Base Hospitals without pay and allowances.
He became chairman of the Grand Council of the Comrades of the Great War, and in 1921 accompanied Earl Haig to South Africa to form an Empire League of ex-servicemen. After this he was knighted KCVO. He lived at Goring-on-Thames in Berkshire and died there on 21st June 1948 aged 84. He was buried in the churchyard of St Thomas of Canterbury in Goring-on-Thames. His medals are held by the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GORDON HIGHLANDERS MUSEUM, ABERDEEN.
BURIAL PLACE: ST THOMAS CHURCHYARD, GORING, OXFORDSHIRE.
Ernest Towse's medals on display at the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen.
(Picture - Thomas Stewart).
War Illustrated, 15th September 1917