23 November 2003

The Australian Cultural Gifts Programme Committee have formally approved the donation of the William St Lucien Chase Victoria Cross and other medals to the Army Museum of Western Australia, Fremantle. The family of William Chase handed over the VC medal group to the museum on Sunday, 23rd November 2003. This takes the museum's VC collection to four.

Medal entitlement of Colonel William St Lucien Chase - 28th Bombay Native Infantry

  • Victoria Cross
  • Companion, The Most Honourable Order of the Bath ( CB )
  • Afghanistan Medal ( 1878-80 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Kandahar"
  • India General Service Medal ( 1854-95 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Chin Lushai"
  • India Medal ( 1895-1902 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "Punjab Frontier 1897-98" - "Tirah 1897-98"

William Chase was born on the 2nd July 1856 at St Lucia, West Indies, eldest son of Captain R.H. Chase and Susan Ifill, daughter of John Buhott. He was educated privately and entered the Army in September 1875, being gazetted to Her Majesty's 15th Foot. He did duty with the Headquarters of his regiment in India for two years, passed with distinction the necessary examinations, and was admitted to the Bombay Staff Corps.

In the Second Afghan War of 1878-1880, Chase served with the 28th Bombay Native Infantry, a constituent of the Kandahar Field Force. He was present with his regiment throughout the defence of Kandahar, and took part with the four companies in the ill-fated sortie to the village of Deh Khoja where the casualties of the regiment included Lt-Colonel Newport and thirty rank and file killed, and Lt-Colonel Nimmo and twenty rank and file wounded. In a letter, the late Lt-Colonel Daubeny of the 7th Fusiliers wrote:

"Thus while holding our ground to cover the the retreat of the stragglers or wounded from Deh Khoja, an officer, Lieutenant Chase, was suddenly seen coming towards us from the block-house, with a wounded soldier on his back, and attended by a fusilier. The enemy had also seen him, and turned their fire on him. A few yards and he is down and all thought he was done for. Not so; he only wanted breath; and jumping up, he brought his man in amid a shower of bullets and the cheers of our men."

The Reverend A.G. Cane says: "I soon had my attention directed to a man leaving one of the Ziarets with another on his back. He was then, I suppose, about 400 yards off and running as fast as possible towards the walls. There was a fearfully heavy fire directed on him from the villages of Kairabad and Deh Khoja on both sides. After running for about a hundred yards I saw both fall and lie flat on the ground, the bullets all the time striking the gound and raising the dust where they struck all round them. I, of course, was under the impression that they had been hit. Soon, however, I noticed Mr Chase get up again, and again take the man on his back for another stage of the same distance, and again lie down for a rest. Again he got up and carried his burden for a third stage, and again lay down. By this time he had got close to the walls. Only those who saw the terrific fire that was brought to bear on these two coming in can realize how marvellous was their escape untouched. At the time they came in they were almost the only object on which the enemy were directing their fire, as the rest of the fugitives had already reached shelter."

For the award of the Victoria Cross:

[ London Gazette, 7 October 1881 ]. Deh Khoja, Afghanistan, 16 August 1880, Lieutenant William St Lucien Chase, Bombay Staff Corps, Indian Army.

"For conspicuous gallantry on the occasion of the sortie from Kandahar, on the 16th August 1880, against the village of Deh Khoja, in having rescued and carried for a distance of over 200 yards, under the fire of the enemy, a wounded soldier, Private Massey, of the Royal Fusiliers, who had taken shelter in a block-house. Several times they were compelled to rest, but they persevered in bringing him to a place of safety. Private Ashford rendered Lieutenant Chase every assistance and remained with him throughout." ( Private Thomas Ashford, Royal Fusiliers, was also awarded the Victoria Cross for this action ).
William Chase was invested with his Victoria Cross by the GOC Bombay at Poona, India, on 23rd January 1882.

After the regiment had left Kandahar, Lieutenant Chase was given command of the Killa Abdulla Post until relieved in November 1880. In the following January, 1881, he was again sent to command the post of Gatai, on the lines of communication, and remained there until all the troops of the Kandahar Evacuating Force had passed through en route to India.

In 1884 William Chase served in the Zhob Campaign, in the Chin Lushai Expedition and the advance on Fort Haka. In 1893 he took part in the Naga Hills Campaign and Manipur; in 1897 in the Mohmand Expedition; in 1897 and 1898 in the Tirah Campaign and was present at the actions at Sampagha Pass; occupation of Maiden and Bagh Valley and operations in Dwatoi Defile, Rajghul Valley and Bara Valley. He was continually mentioned in Despatches.

Colonel William Chase died, aged 51, on 24 June 1908 at Quetta, Baluchistan, India ( now North West Pakistan ) and is buried in The English Cemetery, Quetta Cemetery. Headstone believed still intact.


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Iain Stewart, 23 November 2003