Name Hampden Churchill
Service/branch Canadian Army
Battles/wars Second Boer War
Battles and wars Second Boer War
Education Upper Canada College
Years of service 1897–1913
Awards Victoria Cross
|Born 19 November 1867
Toronto, Ontario (1867-11-19) |
Buried at St James Cemetery, Toronto
Unit The Royal Canadian Dragoons
Died July 12, 1913, Maple Creek, Canada
Place of burial St. James Cemetery, Old Toronto, Canada
Major Hampden Zane Churchill Cockburn (19 November 1867 – 12 July 1913) was a Canadian soldier, and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Second Boer War
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Cockburn was a graduate of Upper Canada College in Toronto.
When the Second Boer War broke out in 1899, Cockburn was a 32-year-old lieutenant in The Royal Canadian Dragoons, Canadian Army, and was posted to South Africa with his regiment, where the action took place for which he was awarded the VC.
On 7 November 1900, during the Battle of Leliefontein near the Komati River, a large force of Boer commandos sought to encircle a retreating British column whose rearguard comprised two troops of Royal Canadian Dragoons and two 12-pounder guns of “D” Battery, Royal Canadian Field Artillery. Cockburn and Lieutenant Richard Turner commanded a small group of troopers who repulsed the Boers at close range, allowing the two field guns to escape capture. Sergeant Edward Holland of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, ably assisted them with good machine-gun work, finally fleeing in the face of superior Boer force with the machine gun under his arm to avoid its capture. All of the men under Cockburn's command were either killed, wounded or captured. Cockburn was also wounded during the action.
Following the battle, three men of the Royal Canadian Dragoons were awarded the Victoria Cross - Cockburn, Turner and Sergeant Edward Holland.)
The citations were published in the London Gazette of 23 April 1901. Cockburn's read:
Lieutenant Cockburn, with a handful of men, at a most critical moment held off the Boers to allow the guns to get away; to do so he had to sacrifice himself and his party, all of whom were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, he himself being slightly wounded.
Return to Canada
Following the Boer War, Cockburn returned to Canada, and eventually achieved the rank of Major. He died in a horse riding accident in Grayburn, Saskatchewan in 1913, and was buried at St. James Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario with a headstone at Hill A. Section S 1/2. Lot 11.
Cockburn's Victoria Cross and sword were, for many years, displayed in the lobby of his alma mater, Upper Canada College. In 1977, the school had a high-quality copy made for display, and moved the original to safe-keeping.