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DateOriginal Topic
28th February 2004Private William Griffiths, 2-24/1056
By AMB
Griffiths was KIA @ Isandhlwana and tat is where he is buried. His medals are at Brecon. two questions spring to mind:
Who found his body? Was someone sent to find Griffiths body [when the Camp was retaken/when the camp was returned to in Apr '79?] because he was a VC holder?
AMB
DateReplies
28th February 2004Martin Everett
AMB,
In the 1870s, soldiers had to parade at regular intervals - 'showing medals' as they say. From this one can assume that Griffiths did have his VC in his kit in a tent at Isandhlwana on 22 January. I have not come across an account of finding his body and the recovery of his VC. The Griffith's VC next appears at an auction in 1895 when it was sold for 35. His campaign medal was issued after the end of the campaign to his NOK (name unknown) but it might have been return to the mint - however this medal's whereabouts today is unknown.
29th February 2004AMB
Martin,

Many thanks for your last. Interesting. Where was the medal was sold in 1895? GB or SA?

AMB
1st March 2004P.F
For location of VC see Chapman's website:
"Victoria Cross Reference"
1st March 2004Martin Everett
Dear AMB and PF,
There is no doubt where Griffiths' VC is. It is in the regimental museum collection. The Victoria Cross is not a medal but a decoration. It is the whereabouts of his campaign medal which is unknown.
1st March 2004AMB
Martin & PF,

I asked where the VC was sold as it thought it might point to where the previous 'owner' was from. If Private Griffiths had his medal with him when he died, then someone must have picked it up from the body. Which also leads one to ask, Martin: How are you so sure that the Museum has Private Griffiths' medal & not a copy/replica?

AMB
3rd March 2004Martin Heyes
Martin
I read your comment above with interest.
Does this mean that at the time of the Zulu War campaign, British soldiers in the field actually wore any medals which they had been issued on their tunics -during any fighting?
I read something to this effect many years ago but find it difficult to believe.
Oh, I know Nigel Green playing C/Sgt Bourne wore 2 medals in the film Zulu - one of which in reality wasn't issued until some 30 yrs later - but in principle is this what happened?
Martin Heyes
3rd March 2004Martin Everett
Please, please stop calling the VC a medal - it is a decoration - the highest that Britain can award. We hold other VCs from the Andaman Islands (1867) - the naming is consistant, ie. it was done by the same engraver at Hancock's (the makers) verified by them. It was sold in the UK in 1895.
3rd March 2004AMB
Martin,

Many thanks for your last. It is fascinating to ponder on how the decoration came back to the UK.
I presume that had it been brought back legally [by the Bn], it never would have been sold. Therefore, one can speculate as to the little cross's journey between 1879 and 1895.
Thoughts anyone?
AMB
3rd March 2004John Young
AMB,

Sounds like a cold case file for the RMP's to me, let me guess who will head up the investigation?

John Y.
4th March 2004Julian whybra
DC Young?
4th March 2004John Young
Julian,

No I think Major Banks will volunteer his services! Isn't that right AMB?

John Y.
4th March 2004AMB
John,

If one only had the time.....

AMB
5th March 2004Martin Everett
Now that I have access to my records. Griffiths VC was sold by Messrs Robinson and Fisher at Willis's Rooms, King Street, St James's, London for 33 in May 1897. The VC for Pte Cooper also 2/24th was sold at the same auction for 35. There are no further details as to the vendor or purchaser.
7th March 2004AMB
Martin,

Thank you for your last. Interesting stuff. If only the Regt could get some of their other VCs for 33 today!

AMB
7th March 2004Martin Everett
The low price only confirms that in 19th century the pension associated with the VC was more important than the kudos of being awarded Britain highest decoration. After all the VC pension was 10 pa at a time when a soldier's pay was 36 pa. The VC in my belief only reached its exulted position in the public's affection following WW1 when 7 million served in the army only 633 were awarded.