Charles Alfred Jarvis VC

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Jan 17, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Does anybody know why this soldier didn't have a VC gravestone ?

    Charles Alfred Jarvis won fame as a Scottish hero when he became the first man to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Great War. Although born in Fraserburgh, he spent his early years in Carnoustie, and the Angus burgh claims him as an illustrious son.

    Charles was born on 29th March 1881 in the Admiralty Buildings, Saltoun Place, Fraserburgh. He was the eldest son of a Coastguard, also named Charles Alfred Jarvis, who himself was decorated for bravery, being awarded the Royal Humane Society medal for saving two boys from drowning at Berwick. Charles’ mother was Mary Jane Byth from Rosehearty. The Jarvis family moved away from Fraserburgh when Charles senior was transferred to Rattray Coastguard Station shortly after his son’s birth. Subsequently they were relocated again, this time to Carnoustie. Charles was about eight by the time of this second move, and completed his education at Carnoustie School. Aged sixteen, he was confirmed at Carnoustie’s Holyrood Church. On leaving school, Charles was taken on as an apprentice plumber, but was unable to complete the apprenticeship following a family tragedy. His mother and elder sister died within a month of each other in 1898, and two years later Charles senior was also dead.

    In 1899 Charles enlisted in the Royal Engineers at Chatham and was sent to Singapore where his unit was involved in the construction of military works. He was transferred to the Reserve in 1907 and worked as a telegraphist in London. On the outbreak of war, Charles was called up and sent to France with the Royal Engineers. He was 33 years old and had attained the rank of Lance Corporal.

    The war was only three weeks old when Charles Jarvis was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry in blowing up the Bridge of Jemappes to cover the retreat of the army from Mons. The British Expeditionary Force had moved up to the Mons-Conde canal during the night of 22nd-23rd August 1914, intending to advance into Belgium the next morning. It soon became clear, however, that they were vastly outnumbered, and the order was given to defend the line of the Canal and destroy the bridges. The hazardous task of demolishing the bridges was made even more dangerous by chronic shortages of manpower and equipment. Lance Corporal Jarvis and Sapper Neary were allocated the Lock 2 bridge at Jemappes. Working from a small boat held in position by two infantrymen, Jarvis and Neary painstakingly applied demolition charges to the girder supports. All the while they were in full view of the enemy and under intense fire. As their situation worsened, Jarvis sent the infantrymen back into cover. He himself continued to work for over an hour, occasionally dashing back for extra explosives and to run out the leads. As the gunfire intensified, the infantry themselves were forced to fall back, leaving Jarvis dangerously exposed. An electrical exploder was now needed to set away the demolition - but there was only one to destroy five bridges spaced three miles apart. Ducking down in the boat, Jarvis pulled himself along the bank to safety. It was nothing short of a miracle that he escaped unhurt. Only one of the eight bridges allocated to 57th Field Company was destroyed, but this in no way detracts from the heroism of those who attempted it.

    Two months later, Jarvis was wounded and invalided home, where he was employed in the Portsmouth Admiralty dockyard. He returned to Scotland in 1943 and married Janet Grace Black, a widow from Cupar, Fife. The couple lived in St Monance. Charles died in Dundee Royal Infirmary on 19th November 1948, and is buried in Cupar. In Carnoustie, he is commemorated with a bronze plaque erected by the local branch of the British Legion in a street named Jarvis Place.
  2. Adrian Roberts

    Adrian Roberts Active Member

    I don't think there is a specific policy that VC recipients must have special gravestone, if they died in peacetime and so do not have a CWGC grave. I've seem some that have clearly been given new headstones by various Heritage organisations, but if they were buried with family members as Jarvis was, it would be more difficult for a non-family organization to replace it
  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Hi Adrian !

    I can't remember whose it was now ... but I remember seeing a VC headstone behind the original !

    Maybe it was a Heritage one ! :(

    Annie :)
  4. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I came across this and although it's regarding Australia ... I imagine it would be the same for Britain ... don't you ?

    Post War Commemoration

    To be eligible for official post war commemoration - a deceased veteran must have been .....

    1. a veteran whose death has been accepted by the Repatriation Commission as being due to war service
    2. in receipt of a Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Pension (TPI) or an Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) where the veteran has seen war service
    3. A multiple amputee on Section 27.1 maximum pension rate where war service has been proven
    4. an ex-prisoner of war
    5. a VC recipient
    6. eligible under the Military Rehabilitation Compensation Act 2004.

    The pre-requisite for official commemoration is that the veteran has seen war service. In relation to more recent conflicts, the program also covers veterans whose death is related to their operational or Peacekeeping service.
    The eligibility of a veteran is not determined by the OAWG, but by DVA. A veteran may already meet the eligibility criteria at the time of their passing, in which case DVA need only be informed of the death. In all other cases, an application should be made in writing to DVA, requesting that the veteran’s death be accepted as being due to war or operational service.
    When DVA determines a veteran is eligible, OAWG is notified. OAWG is unable to proceed with a memorial until this notification is received. Upon receipt, OAWG sends memorial forms to the nominated next-of-kin to determine the type of memorial to be provided.
    Official commemorations can take the form of a memorial in a general or lawn cemetery, a crematorium, or an OAWG Garden of Remembrance.

    All memorials include cast bronze plaques which display the following

    1. The relevant Service badge
    2. The veteran’s initials and surname
    3. Service number (if applicable)
    4. Rank and unit in which the veteran served (if the veteran served more than once, or in more than one of the Armed Forces or in more than one unit, only one instance of Service can be inscribed)
    5. Date of death and age at death (age optional)
    6. On grave plaques, a personal message and/or religious emblem.
    Once an official memorial has been provided, it is maintained on an annual basis, except in remote areas, where inspection and maintenance is carried out at least every two years.

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