Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sir Neville Reginald Howse (26 October 1863 - 19 September 1930) (VC, KCB, KCMG) was the first Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Howse was born on 26 October 1863 at Stogursey, Somerset, in England. He studyied medicine at London Hospital, and then migrated to New South Wales, establishing his first practice in Newcastle, and then moving to Taree. After undertaking postgraduate work in England, Howse returned to Australia in 1897 and settled in Orange.
On 24 July 1900 during the action at Vredefort, South Africa, Captain Howse saw a trumpeter fall and went through very heavy cross-fire to rescue the man. His horse was soon shot from under him and the captain continued on foot, reached the casualty and dressed his wound. He then carried him to safety. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Australian War Memorial (Canberra, Australia).
Howse returned to South Africa in 1902 just as the war was ending. Prior to World War I Howse married Evelyn Pilcher in Bathurst in 1905, and was twice elected to serve as mayor of Orange. When the First World War began Howse was appointed principal medical officer to the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force to German New Guinea, with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Following his time in New Guinea, he was appointed assistant director of medical services 1st Australian Division. At the Battle of Gallipoli he took charge of evacuating wounded men from the beach in the campaign’s opening days, later in 1917 at the Dardanelles commission he described the arrangements for dealing with wounded men at Gallipoli as inadequate to the point of “criminal negligence”.
In September 1915 he was given command of ANZAC medical services and in November became director of the AIF’s medical services. When the First Australian Imperial Force moved to France, Howse took up a position in London, overseeing medical serivces in France, Egypt and Palestine.
Howse was knighted in 1917 he resigned from the army in 1922 and won the federal seat of Calare for the Nationalist Party. He held several ministerial portfolios, including defence and health. In 1930 Howse travelled to England for medical treatment for cancer, but died on 19 September. His medal is on display at the Australian War Memorial.
A statue by Peter Dornan depicting Howse's act of bravery is on display at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons , Melbourne
- Monuments To Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- Victoria Crosses of the Anglo-Boer War (Ian Uys, 2000)
- Who’s who in Australian Military History
- Biographical Notes by Ross Mallet on his First AIF Order of Battle pages
- Speech at launch of commemorative stamp issue by John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia in Orange, New South Wales, 23 July, 2000
- Australian Nurses in the Boer War - notes on the New South Wales Medical Corps in South Africa
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