Hitchin at War © Copyright J C Wild - Information may be used for non-commercial purposes providing www.hitchinatwar.org.uk is acknowledged            |           Contact

Help keep this site alive - sponsor a small amount to help?

Hitchin at War - Boer War Casualty

Graham Vinicombe Winchester CLOWES

Lieutenant in the Gordon Highlanders.

He was killed on the 30th January 1901 aged 20 years.

He was born in October 1880 and educated at Eton, joining the Shropshire Militia in March 1898. In October 1898 he was commissioned into the 1st Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders and sailed with the Regiment on the 'Cheshire' on the 9th November 1899 arriving in Cape Town on the 28th November 1899. The Gordon Highlanders were in the forefront of the fighting throughout the South African War. He was involved in the actions at Magersfontein, Zand River and Thaba Nchu. Later he joined the Mounted Company of the Regiment under Colonel de Lisle and fought with them at Doornkop, Pretoria, Diamond Hill and other engagements. On the 1st August 1900 he was promoted to Lieutenant. By January 1901 they were in the Cape Province about 150 miles north of Cape Town trying to stop attacks on isolated settlements by random parties of Boers. A newspaper despatch dated 6th February 1901 from Cape Town reported that Colonel de Lisle's Column left Clan William on the afternoon of the 29th January 1901 and arrived at Packhuis that same evening after an arduous ride. The following morning he crossed the passes and camped at Elizabethsfontein. That same afternoon a small patrol consisting of Captain Gordon, Lieutenant Clowes and two men went forward to reconnoitre. The Boers held their fire until the patrol was quite close then poured in a volley. Captain Gordon was wounded in the foot and Lieutenant Clowes was killed. A man named Clark was severely injured and died after being captured and was buried in the Anglican Church graveyard at Clanwilliam. The body of Lieutenant Clowes was found close to where he fell. The column stopped to bury him with due solemnity and the service was read by Colonel de Lisle. The Gordons erected a stone cairn over the grave and arrived at Elandsvlei on the Doom River (now known as the Doring River) in the evening of the 2nd February 1901.

The inscription on his grave reads "Brave and True. In sacred and loving memory of Graham Vinicombe Winchester Clowes, Lieutenant 1st Battalion The Gordon Highlanders. Son of the late Winchester Clowes of Hitchin, Herts. Killed in action near this spot on January 30 1901". The grave consists of a cairn of loose rocks surrounded by a low iron railing and at the head of the grave is a large rough granite stone containing the inscription and surmounted by a marble cross probably erected by the family after the war. The grave is sheltered by a large flowering bluegum tree and is (1998) a well-known landmark in the area. The Packhuis Pass is on the route between Clanwilliam and Calvinia and the grave is at a turn-off about thirty-five miles from Clanwilliam.

A South African Guidebook states that his mother used to visit his grave on the anniversary of his death. Clanwilliam Museum contains a photograph of him in full mess dress. He has curled and slicked blond hair, blue eyes, straight nose, full lips and a heavy round chin. He looks young, dandified, not particularly robust but upright and slim His father was in the paper and printing business and was a Justice of the Peace.

His grandfather was George Clowes of Oak Hill, Surbiton.

Extra Information / Special Notices:


A Second Boer War Casualty

More information may be available at www.hertsatwar.co.uk/hitchin

Memorial on which he appears: