Obituary in the Dawlish Gazette, Saturday, 26 January 1907

A Reuter's telegram, dated St Moritzdorf, Sunday last, said Captain Henry Singleton Pennell VC, Staff Captain of the Administrative Staff on the Southern Command, died here last night as a result of injuries sustained in an accident on the Cresta toboggan run.

Captain Pennell was the second son of Mr Edwin Pennell, formerly of Dawlish and at present residing in Exeter. The family of Pennells are held in much respect in this town and Dawlishians heard with extreme regret of the sad occurrence which cut short the career of a brilliant young officer.

Born in 1874, the deceased as educated at Eastbourne College, and joined the Sherwood Foresters, ( Notts & Derbyshire Regiment ) in 1893. He served with the 2nd Battalion of his regiment in the Tirah Expedtionary Force of 1897 under Sir William Lockhart. He was present at the storming of the Dargai Heights (Mentioned in Despatches at the capture of the Sampagha and Arhanga Passes) and in the operation in the Kharki Mastura Waran and Bazar Valleys.

The act for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross and India medal with two clasps, took place on the attack on the Dargai Heights. Captain W.E.C. Smith of the Sherwood Foresters was struck down, whereupon Lieutenant Pennell ran to his assistance and made two distinct attempts under what was described as 'a perfect hail of bullets' to carry and drag him back to cover, and only desisted when he found Captain Smith was dead.

The late Captain Pennell also served in the South African War with the West Yorkshire Regiment and took part in several engagements including the Relief of Ladysmith, the action at Colenso, the operations at Spion Kop, the actions at Vaal Krantz and Pieter's Hill (at the latter of which he was wounded), Laing's Nek and in the Transvaal, and east and west of Pretoria, being twice Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the QSA medal with five clasps.

The news was received with profound regret in Salisbury. The distinguished captain who held the appointment of staff-captain at the headquarters of Administration, Southern Command, was held in great respect by all ranks, and was a welcome guest at social functions in the city and country. He distinguished himself at the Staff College, which he passed through in 1903. A message of sympathy was sent to his parents on Monday from his brother staff officers at Salisbury.

The funeral of the deceased was held at Dawlish yesterday, the sympathy of the townspeople being markedly shown. The town flag was hoisted half mast high, the blinds of business establishments and private houses were drawn and many of the head men of the place, including the chairman of the Council Mr. J. Shapter, walked in the procession. The body was conveyed from St Moritz, Canton de Grisons, to this country under the guidance of the British Consul, via Calais and Dover.

The cortege proceeded from the railway station, the coffin covered with a Union Jack upon which were floral tributes, being borne by a detachment of Royal Field Artillery from Topsham Barracks, under Sergeant Skinner.

Mourners were Mr and Mrs Edwin Pennell, Exeter, father and mother; Misses Rosalie and Hilda Pennell, sisters; Mr Charles Pennell, brother; Mr Lovell Pennell, uncle; Miss Pennell, Dawlish, aunt; Colonel Pennell, cousin and Miss Pennell, Mr Hill, cousin; and Mrs Landon. Amongst those who attended were Colonel H Sinclair, Assistant Quartermaster General, representing the staff of Southern Command to which the late Captain Pennell was attached; Colonel Curtis, CB, Exeter, retired; Major G Collis; and Mr Lewis, officer in charge of the coastguard station.

The officiating clergy were the Reverend W P Alford, vicar, and Reverend H B Hammond, senior curate. The brass plate on the coffin bore the inscription 'Henry Singleton Pennell, VC, captain Sherwood Foresters, died 19th January 1907, aged 32 years'.

There was a number of beautiful floral tributes in addition to those sent by the family; with a card attached on which was inscribed 'With deepest sympathy and regret' and, adorned with a long and wide sash of violet ribbons, was a large cross from friends of the Kulm Hotel, St Moritz. From the same hotel, as a mark of sympathy 'from some bother officers' was sent a very choice wreath. There were also wreaths from the manager of the hotel and others at St Moritz. The Reverend W P Alford and Messrs Tapper & Sons superintended the funeral arrangements.

Main page

Go to VC Home Page

Iain Stewart, 1 November 2001