b. 19/05/1864 Jamaica, West Indies. d. 15/08/1922 Kingston, Jamaica.
William James Gordon (1864-1922) was born on 19th May 1864 in Jamaica, West Indies. Little is known about his life prior to becoming the first West Indian to be awarded the Victoria Cross. He enlisted with the 1st West India Regiment (now disbanded) and had risen to the rank of Lance-Corporal by the time he found himself serving in West Africa.
He was near the town of Toniataba, Gambia on 13th March 1892 when the following incident occurred. Major G.C. Madden was in charge of a party of 12 men who were trying with a heavy beam, to break down the south gate of the town. Suddenly, a number of musket muzzles appeared through a double row of loopholes in the gate, some of which were extremely close to the Major and his men. Before Madden had realised the danger he was in, Lance-Corporal Gordon threw himself between the Major and the muskets, and pushed him out of the way. At that moment, Gordon was wounded by a musket ball to the lungs.
He was gazetted for the Victoria Cross on 9th December 1892, and was presented to him on 7th February 1893 whilst he was still in West Africa. His original VC was stolen, and an official replacement was issued. He retired from the Army on pension in April 1902. He returned to Jamaica where he died on 15th August 1922, aged 58. He was buried in the Up Park Camp Military Cemetery. His official replacement VC was donated to the Jamaica Defence Force Museum, Up Park Camp, near Kingston, Jamaica.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: JAMAICA DEFENCE FORCE MUSEUM, KINGSTON, JAMAICA.
BURIAL PLACE: UP PARK MILITARY CAMP CEMETERY, KINGSTON, JAMAICA. GRAVE 244
William James Gordon's grave photograph was kindly supplied by Robert Holloway