Brigade of Gurkhas VCs – Capt. William Walker – 22 April 1903

Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross

One of a series of posts concerning Gurkha recipients of the Victoria Cross, each of which will appear on the anniversary of the action leading to the award.

Recipient: Capt. William George Walker

Unit: 4th Prince of Wales’ Own (then, Prince Consort’s Own) Gurkha Rifles, British Indian Army

Date: 22 April 1903

Engagement: Daratoleh, British Somaliland, Third Somaliland Expedition, Anglo-Somali War.


From Brigadier-General W. H. Manning, Commanding Somaliland Field Force,
to the Secretary of State for War. Bohotle, SIB, 28th June, 1903.

I have the honour to enclose a despatch from Major J. E. Gough, commanding the flying column of the Berbera-Bohotle force, forwarded to me through Lieutenant-Colonel J. E. Swann, commanding the Berbera-Bohotle line of communication.

After the occupation of Galadi I instructed Lieutenant-Colonel J. Swann to employ the flying Column in a reconnaissance in the direction of Wardair, to coincide as to time with the movements of the Obbia force in that direction.

Major J. E. Gough describes in his despatch the operations undertaken by him with this object in view.

I enclose the remarks made by Lieutenant-Colonel J. Swann upon the manner in which Major J. E. Gough conducted the reconnaissance to Daratoleh. I consider that his skilful handling of a small force in difficult bush country, when surrounded by superior numbers of a brave and fanatical enemy is worthy of high commendation.

Major J. E. Gough, in his despatch of the 23rd April, attached to the report of the operations of the Berbera-Bohotle flying column has brought to my notice the names of two officers whom he recommends for the Victoria Cross for an act of conspicuous gallantry during the action of Daratoleh.

I beg to forward for favourable consideration the names of those two Officers-
Major W. G. Walker, Indian Army, Bikanir Camel Corp
Captain G. M. Rolland, Indian Army, Intelligence Office, Flying Column, Berbera-Bohotle Force


From the Officer Commanding Flying Column to the Officer Commanding Lines of Communication, Bohotle.
23rd April, 1903.

I should like to bring the following incident which occurred during our return to Danop on the afternoon of 22nd April, to the notice of the General Officer Commanding Somaliland Field Force:—
Owing to the thick bush and the rear-guard having to hold their ground while wounded men were being placed on camels, the rear-guard had got considerably in rear of the column. Captain Bruce, who was with the rear-guard, was shot through the body from about 20 yards, and fell on the path, unable to move. With him at the time were Captain Walker, Indian Army (Bikanir Camel Corps); Captain Bolland, Indian Army, Intelligence Officer, Flying Column; two men, 2nd Battalion King’s African Rifles; one Sikh and one Somali of the Camel Corps. In the meantime the column, being unaware of what had happened, were getting further away.

Captain Holland ran back some 500 yards, and returned with help to bring off Captain Bruce, while Captain Walker and the men remained with Captain Bruce, keeping off the enemy, who were all round in the thick bush. This they successfully accomplished, but not before Captain Bruce was hit a second time and the Sikh wounded. But for their gallant conduct Captain Bruce must have fallen into the hands of the enemy.
I beg to submit the names of the Officers for the Victoria Cross and the men of the 2nd Battalion King’s African Rifles and 6th Battalion King’s African Rifles for the Distinguished Conduct Medal (names of men attached), and the Sikh for the Order of Merit.

I have, &c..
J. E. GOUGH, Major, Officer Commanding Flying Column.

[Note: J. E. (“Johnnie”) Gough (later Chief of Staff to Lt-Gen. Douglas Haig in WWI) played down his own part in the action at Daratoleh, but was also awarded the Victoria Cross when his involvement came to light.]

London Gazette: no. 27584, p.4976 (7 August 1903)
London Gazette: no. 27636, p.331 (15 January 1904)

Subsequent career: Commanded 9th Sirhind Brigade from August 1914;  promoted Major-General, GOC, 2nd Division in 1915.

Capt. William Walker, VC

Capt. William Walker, VC

(Thanks, Spiral, for finding the photo.)

The UK’s National Army Museum holds the following medals awarded to William Walker:

  • Victoria Cross, 1903;
  • Order of the Bath, Companion Badge (Military Division), 1914;
  • India General Service Medal 1854-95, 2 clasps: Samana 1891, Waziristan 1894-95;
  • Africa General Service Medal 1902-56, 2 clasps: Somaliland 1902-04, Jidballi;
  • 1914-15 Star;
  • British War Medal 1914-20;
  • Allied Victory Medal 1914-19;
  • Delhi Durbar Medal 1911.
Bikaner Camel Corps.

Bikaner Camel Corps.

Article on the Camel Corps from The Field magazine.

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About Nigel

Retired law firm project manager based in Jersey, British Channel Islands. When he isn't shooting clay pigeons, he's polishing his collection of kukris or digging his vegetable patch.
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