Flower, Victor Augustine
Third and youngest son of Sir William Henry Flower KCB., FRS., LLD (the first Director of the Natural History Museum) and Georgina Rosetta Flower, daughter of the hydrographer, Admiral William Henry Smyth, who carried out many surveys of the Mediterranean coastline. His brother, Arthur Smyth Flower, was also at Winchester from 1874. He was born in London and educated at Eagle House Prep School before he came to Winchester in 1889. After he left Winchester he joined the architectural practice of Alfred Waterhouse, RA.
He was a volunteer in the Artists’ Rifles and in December 1895 was commissioned into the Middlesex Rifle Volunteers. In June 1898 he was promoted to Captain but resigned his commission in 1900 and left for Singapore to work with the architects and engineers Swan and Maclaren (who built the famous Raffles Hotel and who are still in existence). He was in England in early 1902, as his name appears on the manifest of the SS New England of 22nd March 1902, when the ship left Liverpool for Boston, Massachusetts, his ultimate destination being San Francisco. He joined the Malay States Volunteers and at the outbreak of war rejoined the Artists Rifles, now part of the London Regiment, soon gaining his promotion to Major. In December 1915, while in France, he took over as Commanding Officer of the 1/22nd (County of London) Battalion (The Queen’s) London Regiment. Shortly after he was invalided home and on his recovery was appointed to command Princess Louise’s Kensington Battalion in which capacity he served with distinction, receiving the D.S.O. and twice being mentioned in Despatches.
He was killed on 15th August 1917 near the village of Hooge, just west of Ypres, during the Third Battle of Ypres. Private John Tucker recalled what happened in his memoir “Johnny Get Your Gun”, published by Kimber in 1978: “The companies [had just] started moving off towards Westhoek Ridge when someone brought the news that a shell had fallen just round the bend of our trench and that our commanding officer, Major Flower, had been killed, [and] the Battalion Major and the Adjutant, together with Regimental Sergeant Major Blake, wounded, leaving us therefore with no senior officers.” His second in command, Major Greenwood, wrote about him ” “I was his second-in-command for eight months, and as such I came to know him extremely well, and probably I, more than anyone else, appreciated what a great soldier he was, although he was thought a great deal of by the Major-General and his Brigadier. In most respects he possessed the essential qualities of a commanding officer more than anyone I have met……. I feel myself that his death has taken away an exceptionally strong, clear-headed soldier, and one whom we can ill afford to lose at this time.”
His death was recorded in several newspapers in the Far East, including the Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser of 27th September 1917 with a lengthy obituary appearing on 17th October, and in the Straits Times of 29th September 1917.
His name appears on the Singapore Cenotaph (designed by Swan & Maclaren, Flower’s architectural practice) and on the war memorial of the Singapore Cricket Club.
Flower married on 21st May 1914 Miss Winifrede Piggott, the youngest daughter of Sir Digby and Lady Piggott of The Lodge, Sheringham, Norfolk. They had a son, William Digby Flower, born in 1916.
- Surname: Flower
- Forenames or initials: Victor Augustine
- House: E
- Years in School: 1889-1893
- Rank: Lieutenant-Colonel
- Regiment: London Regiment
- Date of Birth: 21st November 1875
- Date of Death: 15th August 1917
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Outer A5
- Decoration: D.S.O.
- Burial Site: PERTH (CHINA WALL) CEMETERY, YPRES: Grave I.E.20