A Tribute to
Harry Norton Schofield VC
1865 - 1931
... rallied a number of men, limbered up two teams on the slopes of the donga, and gave the order to gallop towards the guns.
Schofield was involved in dramatic action in the Boer War for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He originated from Audenshaw the son of a chemist who had a store on Ashton New Road, Clayton. As business prospered the family moved to Ardwick and then to Whalley Range.
The young Schofield went to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich passing out as a Lieutenant in the Artillery in 1884. By 1893 he had gained the rank of Captain. In 1899 Schofield was sent to South Africa as Aide-de-Camp to General Buller, who commanded the forces of Ladysmith which was under siege by the Boers. His action in December merited the Victoria Cross. The citation reads :
'On 15th December 1899 the British reached Colenso railway station, when a Boer force opened up a tremendous fire on them from entrenched positions across the Tugela River. General Butler ordered the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Artillery and Naval guns, to support the British advance, and they were placed in the open a thousand yards from the enemy. Boer rifle fire rained down on them and soon many of the drivers and teams serving the guns had been killed or wounded. The survivors were forced to retreat and take cover in a donga (a steep-sided water course), about five hundred yards to the rear. Captain Schofield was riding with General Buller when the commander expressed a wish to try to get some of the guns away. Captain Schofield rallied a number of men, limbered up two teams on the slopes of the donga, and gave the order to gallop towards the guns. The Boers opened fire on them again, but after several attempts they managed to limber up two of the guns belonging to the 66th Battery and saved them from capture.'
During this action a total of six bullets passed through Captain Schofield's clothes.
Schofield's subsequent postings resulted in promotion to Major and the award of the South African medal with six clasps. He returned from active service in 1905 and in 1911 became a member of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms in the service of King George V.
In the First World War he served on the British Remount Commission in America and Canada, and as Commandant on Lines of Communication, British Expeditionary force, retiring again as a Lieutenant-Colonel.
In June 1917 he married Dorothy Vere. He died in 1931 in London, leaving two sons and a daughter. His funeral was held at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace.
A blue plaque to commemorate the life of Harry Norton Schofield is sited at Ryecroft Hall, Audenshaw.