The Times/1873/Obituary/Augustus Anson
THE LATE COLONEL ANSON, V.C.
Our obituary contained yesterday the notice of the death, at Cannes, of Col. the Hon. A. Anson, V. C., formerly member for Lichfield and for Bewdley, aged 42. It is now five years since, in the full swing of his active, energetic, useful public life, he was struck down by that complaint from which few, if any, recover, and which in his case first showed itself in a rupture of a vessel in the lungs, the consequence of a long-neglected cold. But, though thus compelled to retire from Parliament and to lead the life of an invalid, spending each winter in the South of France, his active interest in current politics, especially in Army questions, never flagged, as his frequent letters in our columns showed; nor did he relax in his endeavours to obtain better terms for his brother officers, whose claims as regards compensation and promotion he had so perseveringly advocated in the House of Commons in the course of the debates on the abolition of Army purchase. It was when already seriously ill that he originated and drew up the form of the petition to Her Majesty in which the grievances and claims of the officers in the matter of purchase were set forth. This petition, after being extensively signed alike by purchase and non-purchase officers, was in due form submitted for presentation through the Field-Marshall Commanding-in-Chief. The result was the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into their complaints. It is, indeed, mainly due to the ability and determination shown by Colonel Anson in his conduct of this question that the claims of the officers have been recognized and dealt with in a liberal spirit. But it was not only in matters connected with the Army, but in many others, that he took an active part while a member of the House of Commons. He was one of the leading spirits of the "cave" which led to the fall of the Russell-Gladstone Administration. It is not, however, to Colonel Anson's career in Parliament, nor even to his successful conduct of the case of his brother officers, that we would chiefly call attention, but to his singularly gallant career in the profession of which, though so young in years when he retired from active service, he was so distinguished a member. He entered the Army shortly before the outbreak of the Crimean War, and from the time when, as a mere boy, he found himself in command of a party told off to occupy some rifle-pits before Sebastopol, on which occasion nearly every man under him was killed or wounded, until he returned to England after the capture of Peking and the burning of the Summer Palace, he was on all occasions, whether in the Crimea, in India, or in China, distinguished by his coolness, judgment, and gallantry in the field. After the Crimean War he was appointed aide-de-camp to his uncle, General Anson, commanding-in-chief in India, on whose death, at the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, he was attached to the 9th Lancers and to the Staff of Sir Hope Grant, serving as his aide-de-camp with great distinction through the whole of the Indian campaign, from the siege and storming of Delhi to the last shot on the borders of Nepaul. For these services he received a Brevet Majority. For acts of personal valour he received the Victoria Cross. It was accorded to him on the 24th of December, 1858, and his conduct was thus recorded in the Gazette:—
"Dates of acts of bravery -- 28th of September, and 16th of November, 1857. For conspicuous bravery at Bolundehaher, on the 28th of September, 1857. The 9th Light Dragoons had charged through the town and were reforming in the Serai. The enemy attempted to close the entrance by drawing their carts across it, so as to shut in the Cavalry and form a cover from which to fire upon them. Captain Anson, taking a lance, dashed out of the gateway and knocked the drivers off their carts. Owing to a wound in his left hand, received at Delhi, he could not stop his horse, and rode into the middle of the enemy, who fired a volley at him, one ball passing through his coat. At Lucknow, at the assault of the Secundra Bagh, on the 16th of November, 1857, he entered with the storming party on the gates being burst open. He had his horse killed, and was himself slightly wounded. He has shown the greatest gallantry on every occasion, and has slain many enemies in fight." (Despatch from Major-General Sir Grant Hope, K.C.B., dated the 12th of August, 1858.)
India, however, was not to be the close of his distinguished career in the field. When the China Expedition was organized under Sir Hope Grant he again accompanied his old chief as aide-de-camp, and was among the first, if not the very first, to force his way, sword in hand, into the Taku fort. On the taking of Pekin he was sent home with the despatches, and was offered, as a reward for his services, the choice of a Brevet Lieutenany-Colonelcy or an unattached substantive Majority. Unluckily for himself he chose the latter, the result being that he found himself shelved and shut out from further service, having failed to obtain permission to change back into a regiment after repeated application. Thus it was that he took to Parliamentary life; otherwise there is little doubt his name would have again been heard of, as he would eagerly have sought fresh distinctions in future campaigns. Especially would he have been anxious to offer his services to his old friend and fellow campaigner, Sir Garnet Wolseley. But although the services in the field of a most efficient and gallant soldier were thus practically lost to the country, his brother officers, as we have shown, have had no cause to regret the decision of the military authorities which put an end to his military career and led him into Parliament. It only remains to note that he was from the first a warm supporter of the Volunteer Force. Of this he became an active member, accepting a Majority in the London Scottish, of which Sir Hope Grant was at that time the Honorary Colonel, and he continued to serve in this regiment until he was stricken down by illness.
We have thus drawn attention to the prominent incidents of Colonel Anson's military and public life, in the belief that many of our readers, besides his personal friends and fellow officers, take a deep interest in the distinguished career of this gallant soldier, whose true heart, noble spirit, patient courage in sickness, and well-earned honour have left to others a bright example and added fresh lustre to a well-known name."