4 May 2006

Following the Service of Dedication of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Memorial in Westminster Abbey on 14th May 2003, the sum left over from the general fundraising was set aside by the VC & GC Association to be spent on the refurbishment and maintenance of graves of Victoria Cross holders.

Two projects immediately sprang to mind in Kensal Green Cemetery, West London, where the graves of John Manners Smith VC and Guy Boisragon VC had seriously deteriorated to a point where the top headstones on both graves were completely missing. It was decided to replicate the original stone over Manners Smith's grave and this was carried out on 4th May 2006, a re-dedication ceremony taking place at the same time. Representatives from the family were present as was Major Tim Buckley ( 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles Regimental Association ) and representatives of those who had financed the replacement stone, Lady Bilimoria and the VC & GC Association.

Smith's grave:
before and after

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 12 July 1892 ], Nilt Fort, Hunza Campaign, India, 20 December 1891, Lieutenant John Manners Smith, 5th Gurkha Rifles.

For his conspicuous bravery when leading the storming party at the attack and capture of the strong position occupied by the enemy near Nilt, in the Hunza-Nagar Country, on the 20th December 1891.

The position was, owing to the nature of the country, an extremely strong one, and had barred the advance of the force for seventeen days. It was eventually forced by a small party of 50 rifles, with another of equal strength in support. The first of these parties was under the command of Lieutenant Smith, and it was entirely owing to his splendid leading, and the coolness, combined with dash, he displayed while doing so, that a success was obtained.

For nearly four hours, on the face of a cliff which was almost precipitous, he steadily moved his handful of men from point to point, as the difficulties of the ground and showers of stones from above gave him an opportunity, and during the whole of this time he was in such a position as to be unable to defend himself from any attack the enemy might choose to make. He was the first man to reach the summit, within a few yards of one of the enemy’s sangars, which was immediately rushed. Lieutenant Smith pistolling the first man.

Medal entitlement of Lieutenant Colonel John Manners Smith - 5th Gurkha Rifles

  • Victoria Cross
  • Companion, Order of the Indian Empire ( CIE )
  • Commander, Royal Victorian Order ( CVO )
  • India General Service Medal ( 1854-95 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Hunza 1891"
  • India Medal ( 1895-1902 )
    • 3 clasps:
    • "Punjab Frontier 1897-98" - "Samana 1897" - "Tirah 1897-98"
  • Delhi Durbar Medal ( 1911 )
  • Izzat-I-Afghana ( Afghanistan )


Go to VC UK flag Home Page

Iain Stewart, 05 July 2006