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Charles Alfred Jarvis


1881 - 1948

Charles Jarvis
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Charles Jarvis

Heroic soldier, the first to win a Victoria Cross in World War I. Born in Fraserburgh, the son of a coastguard who had himself been decorated for saving two boys from the sea. Jarvis moved with his family first to Rattray Head (Aberdeenshire) and then to Carnoustie. He became an apprentice plumber but was unable to complete his time because both his mother and elder sister died in 1898. He joined the Royal Engineers (1899) and served in Singapore and England before being sent to France on the outbreak of World War I. Only three weeks into the war he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in demolishing the bridge at Jemappes to cover the retreat of the British Army from Mons. He had placed charges on the bridge under intense fire from the enemy.

Returning to Britain, he was presented with his medal at Buckingham Palace in 1915. He was controversially discharged in 1917, supposedly because the army authorities wished to avoid paying him a long-service pension.

He went on to work at the Naval Dockyard at Portsmouth. He returned to Scotland and married in 1943, living with his wife in St. Monans.

Jarvis died in Dundee Royal Infirmary and lies buried in Cupar. He is remembered in Jarvis Place, Carnoustie, where there is a plaque erected by the British Legion. His medal is held by Birmingham City Museum.


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