16 April 2004

On Friday, 16th April 2004, a headstone was erected over the previously unmarked grave of Private Frederick Corbett in the London Road Cemetery, Maldon, Essex. The force behind the project was The Celer et Audax Club ( Officers' Club of the King's Royal Rifle Corps ) who arranged for a suitable headstone to be made and placed over Corbett's burial plot.

The ceremony, at noon, consisted of a short speech at the graveside by Lieutenant General Sir Christopher Wallace, who then unveiled the headstone by removing the Regimental Flag of the 60th Rifles, Corbett's old regiment. Mr Richard Frost MBE ( Hon Secretary of The King's Royal Rifle Corps Association ) laid a KRRC wreath of poppies against the new stone followed by prayers said by The Reverend Colin Fox, Regimental Padre of The Royal Green Jackets. Buglers from the Royal Green Jackets then sounded Last Post followed by Reveille and finally, No More Parades Today. Attending the ceremony representing the Corbett family were Mr Paul Embleton, Major Dennis Arnold and Mr Robert Embleton, great-great-nephews of Rifleman Frederick Corbett.

King's Royal Riflemen in attendance:
Lt Col Nick Adams The Reverend Colin Fox Col Ian McCausland
Col Keith Loudoun Shand Major Val & Marianne West Col Mike Robertson
Major Carol & Elizabeth Gurney Lt Gen Sir Christopher Wallace Mr Richard Frost

List of Guests:
Lord Petre - Lord Lieutenant of Essex
Mr & Mrs Andrew Streeter - High Sheriff of Essex
Cllr Anthony Peel - Chairman of Essex County Council
Cllr John Archer - Chairman of Maldon DC
Mr Steve Packham - Chief Executive Maldon DC
Cllr Julia Peel - Chair Community Services Maldon DC
Mrs Didy Grahame - Secretary of the VC & GC Association

Frederick Corbett was born in 1851 in Camberwell, South East London, and was also known as David Embleton. Following his colourful military career, Corbett died of brain cancer in the Maldon Workhouse Infirmary on the 25th September 1912 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the London Road Cemetery, his death certificate showing his name as Embleton.

For the award the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 16 February 1883 ], Kafr Dowar, Egypt, 5 August 1882, Private, Frederick Corbett, 3rd Bn, King's Royal Rifle Corps.

"During the reconnaissance upon Kafr Dowar on the 5th August 1882, the Mounted Infantry, with which Private Corbett was serving, came under a hot fire from the enemy, and suffered some loss, including Lieutenant Howard Vyse, mortally wounded. This officer fell in the open and there being no time to move him, Private Corbett asked and obtained permission to remain by him, and though under a constant fire, he sat down and endeavoured to stop the bleeding of this officer's wounds, until the Mounted Infantry received orders to retire, when he rendered valuable assistance in carrying him off the field".

Frederick Corbett was invested with his Victoria Cross by CinC Gibraltar, Lord Napier, at Cairo, Egypt on the 2nd March 1883.

Following his discharge from the army, Frederick Corbett sold his Victoria Cross. In 1884 Corbett re-inlisted into the Royal Artillery and was subsequently convicted of a felony by court martial. He went absent without leave from 12th to 23rd July 1884 and was subsequently arrested, charged and held in custody awaiting trial. Found guilty by District Court Martial at Aldershot for being absent without leave, theft and embezzling money belonging to an officer, he was convicted on 30th July 1884 and awarded 28 days hard labour. Corbett's name was erased from the VC Register by Royal Warrant and his VC pension was terminated.

By 1903 the Corbett VC had come into the possession of a Mr Mansfield, Clerk of Kingsbury Urban District Council, who approached the War Office apparently with the intention of restoring the VC to Frederick Corbett, or to his family. Mansfield was informed by the War Office that "as the name of Frederick Corbett had been erased from the VCR, the cross should not be delivered to Corbett or his representatives." This reply seemed to worry Mr Mansfield as to whether he was in order in retaining the decoration for himself, but a further letter from the WO confirmed that, "in view of Corbett having sold his VC at a time when he was not subject to the Army Act, Mr Mansfield was entitled to retain it."

The Victoria Cross awarded to Frederick Corbett was sold at auction by Glendining's on the 17th June 1924 for £50 and now resides in the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester.

Medal entitlement of Private Frederick Corbett - 3rd Bn, King's Royal Rifle Corps

  • Victoria Cross
  • Egypt Medal ( 1882-89 )
    • 1 clasp: "Tel el Kebir"
  • Khedive's Star ( 1882 ) ( Egypt )


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Iain Stewart, 21 April 2004