George Albert Ravenhill was born on February 23rd 1872 in Thimble Mill Lane in the Nechells district of Birmingham. He was the son of Thomas and Mary Anne Ravenhill and his father followed the trade of wood turner. He married Florence Langford in 1898 and their first child Lily was born in 1900. George Ravenhill joined the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers in May 1898 at Birr in Ireland. He served nearly six years in India and then saw active service in the Boer War (1899-1902). The war broke out on October 12 1899 when Boers invaded Cape Colony and Natal. He gained the Queen's and the King's medals, with clasps, for the Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal and Cape Colony. On December 15 1899 General Sir Redvers Buller , British Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, led an advance on the Boer defence line along the Tugela River established by General Botha. Buller commanded five infantry brigades and had artillery support from the Royal Artillery and the Royal Navy. The whole force numbered about 21,000. This was a step towards the relief of the besieged town of Ladysmith which had been cut off since November 2. George Ravenhill was serving in 6th Brigade commanded by Barton. The British attack was to be three pronged and frontal. Both flanks were repulsed. On the left flank men commanded by Major General Hart were ambushed in a blind loop (the open end of a loop like a salient) in the river 7 km upstream from Colenso. This was a mistake caused by inaccurate British maps. They could not cross and were fired upon from three sides. In the centre of this loop was Colonel C.J.Long, who commanded two batteries of twelve 15 pounder field guns and six naval 12 pounders and had advanced these heavy guns into the bend in the river. The guns had been escorted forward by A and B companies of the Royal Scots Fusiliers,including Private George Ravenhill. It appears that Long had exceeded his orders and pushed his guns further forward than Buller had instructed. The gunners came under very heavy rifle fire from trenches on the opposite river bank and the guns were abandoned as the teams of horses could not be brought up to the guns. For his part in the action Private George Ravenhill was awarded the Victoria Cross. His citation reads; At Colenso, on the l5th December, 1899, Private Ravenhill went several times, under a heavy fire, from his sheltered position as one of the escort to the guns, to assist the officers and driver's who" were trying to "withdraw the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, when the detachments serving them had all been killed, wounded, or driven from them by infantry fire at close range, and helped to limber up one of the guns that were saved. Private Ravenhill was wounded in the shoulder during the action. After leaving the Army in 1908, having served 13 years and 18 days, George Ravenhill fell on hard times and he, his wife and his four children, Lily ( born 1900), George (born 1902), Raymond (born 1906) and Florence (born 1907), were inmates of the Aston Union Workhouse at the time of the 1911 census. In June 1911 Lily, George and Raymond were sent to Canada, aboard the liner "Carthagian", to be fostered. Two more children were born, Alfred in 1910 and Nellie in 1912, who sadly died when only 1. Following this George Ravenhill fell foul of the law and was imprisoned for 3 months hard labour for stealing some scrap iron, and thus forfeited his VC. On the 11th September 1914, aged 42 years On the 11th September 1914, aged 42 years and 7 months George Ravenhill re-enlisted into the Army. He and his family were living at 29 Rock Hill, Chipping Norton at this time and their fifth child Arthur was born there in 1915 and William a year later. He served initially with the Oxfordshire& Buckinghamshire Light Infantry before transferring to the Hampshire Regiment, and then the Duke of Cornwall's Light infantry, before being discharged on medical grounds in 1916. George Ravenhill probably joined the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment which Sailed from Liverpool on 7 July 1915 and going via Mudros landed at Gallipoli 6 August 1915. On the 6th October 1915 it landed at Salonika, Ravenhill's campaign medal record ( he was given the British, Victory and 1915 Star campaign medals) shows him serving in the Balkans. He then was most likely posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry which had arrived in the area on 13th November 1915. He was discharged back to the Chipping Norton address in Rock Hill. At some stage he returned to Aston in Birmingham, his last child, Laura being born there in 1919. He died of a heart attack aged 49, leaving a wife and five children in needy circumstances, sharing a one-roomed tenement. Shortly before Ravenhill’s death, King George V declared that the VC should never be forfeited.
Created by: Steve19685
British Army 28287 Private Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
British Army Private Royal Scots Fusiliers 2nd Battalion
British Army 17136 Private Hampshire Regiment