Victoria Cross Heroes – Henry William Engleheart

Henry William Engleheart was born on the 14th November 1868 in Blackheath, London. The son of a stockbroker, Henry chose a military career and joined the 10th Royal Hussars in August 1887 aged 19. Interestingly his recruiting officer Lieut J Byng, later went on to become Field Marshall Byng of Vimy.

Having received his first promoting to Lance Corporal in 1889, and then to Corporal in 1891, Henry became Sergeant in 1896.

When Britain went to war against the Boers in South Africa in 1899, the 10th Royal Hussars were sent from India to join the fight. The journey to South Africa proved eventful as Henry was shipwrecked on the SS Ismore along with other members of the 10th Royal Hussars.

On the 1st January 1900, Henry was wounded near Rensburg, when he was struck by a Boer bullet in the thigh. After recovering from his wound and returning to the Regiment 2 weeks later, he became attached to party of Mounted Pioneers from the Royal Engineers. This party were tasked with destroying the railway line North of Bloemfontein to prevent the escape of Boer rolling stock. It was in this successful action that Sgt Engleheart was to gain his Victoria Cross.

The citation for his award –

At dawn on the 13th March, 1900, the party that had destroyed the railway north of Bloemfontein had to charge through a Boer piquet and get over four deep spruits, in order to make their way back through the Boer lines. At the fourth spruit Sapper Webb’s horse failed to get up the bank and he was left in a very dangerous position.

 In face of a very heavy rifle and shell fire, and, notwithstanding the great chance of being cut off, Sergeant Engleheart returned to Sapper Webb’s assistance.

It took some time to get the man and his horse out of the sluit and the position became momentarily more critical owing to the advance of the Boers. He was, however, at last successful, and, retiring slowly, to cover Webb’s retreat, was able to get him safely back to the party.

Shortly before this, Sergeant Engleheart had shown great gallantry in dashing into the first spruit, which could only be reached in single file and was still full of Boers hesitating whether to fly or fire. Had they been given time to rally, they must have destroyed the small party of British, as they outnumbered them by 4 to 1.”

His Victoria Cross was presented to him by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on the 15th December 1900, one of the very last she ever presented. Henry had been invalid out of South Africa after suffering with enteric fever.

In December 1903 Sgt Engleheart V.C. was posted to the 7th Hussars for 5 months, before then returning to the Tenth.  Having served 21 years in the Army, he retired in 1908.

After leaving the Army, Henry became a lodge keeper at Windsor Castle where he remained until 1936.

Henry Died on the 9th August 1939 in at his home in Datchet, Berkshire. His Victoria Cross and medals were donated to the Royal Hussars by his twin sons in 1977 and can now be seen on display at HorsePower, The Museum of The King’s Royal Hussars in Winchester.