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Division, Tirah Expeditionary
Force, on 7 December 1897:
I have the honour to request you will forward, for the favourable consideration of the General Officer Commanding Tirah Expeditionary Force, the attached documents which I have collected regarding the gallant conduct of the following soldiers at the storming of Dargai on 20 October 1897:
Captain W. E. G. Smith , 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (killed)
Lieutenant H. S. Pennell, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment
No. 579 Colour-Sergeant J. Keeling, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (severely wounded) No. 4755 Private George John Dunn, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (killed)
No. 2732 Private Richard Ponberth, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (mortally wounded) No. 1701 Private J. Anthony, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (severly wounded)
No. 3392 Private J. Spick, 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment (severely wounded)
On the 20 October 1897, Captain W. E. G. Smith’s company of the 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment, was ordered to attack the heights at Dargai. The 1st Battalion, 2nd Gurkha Rifles and 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment had already been unsuccessful in their attack, and were under cover blocking the way to the hundred yards of open space that had to be crossed.
Captain Smith ordered his company to charge, and started forward before his men could get through the companies in front of them. Lieutenant Pennell, Colour-Sergeant Keeling, Privates Spick, Dunn and Ponberth, forced their way through the men in front, and followed the gallant leading of their Captain who fell dead after he had gone about sixty yards. Immediately afterwards, Private Dunn was killed,
Private Ponberth mortally wounded, Colour-Sergeant Keeling and Private Spick severely wounded, and Private Anthony was lying close by severely wounded.
There were officers, not engaged, who witnessed what happened, and describe the enemy’s fire as extremely heavy, but Lieutenant Pennell ran to the assistance of Captain Smith, and made two distinct attempts to carry and drag him back to cover, and only left his comrade when he found that he was apparently dead. Lieutenant Pennell then ran back to his company which was under cover.
Taking all the circumstances into consideration, I consider it my duty to bring forward the conspicuous gallantry of Lieutenant H. S. Pennell, and of Private J. Spick, both of the 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment, as deserving of being recommended for the Victoria Cross; and, had he lived, Captain Smith’s gallant leading should not have passed unrewarded. It is also apparent that Colour-Sergeant J. Keeling, Privates Dunn, Ponberth and Anthony, are the names of very brave men deserving of the most honourable mention. I would therefore recommend the two survivors, Colour-Sergeant J. Keeling and Private J. Anthony, for the Medal for Distinguished Conduct in the Field, in recognition of the gallant support they gave their officers in following them out of cover and across a heap of dead and wounded men into a perfect hail of bullets.
It may be that Privates Booth, Hunt and Wilson of the 2nd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment are deserving of special mention, but I am unable to obtain