War hero finally commemorated

By Sharon AsplinA WAR hero who died in a workhouse and was buried in an unmarked grave has finally been commemorated for his valour.A special Commonwealth War Graves-style memorial was held yesterday for Victoria Cross holder David Embleton and a new headstone unveiled at his resting place in Maldon Cemetery.

By Sharon Asplin

A WAR hero who died in a workhouse and was buried in an unmarked grave has finally been commemorated for his valour.

A special Commonwealth War Graves-style memorial service was held yesterday for Victoria Cross holder David Embleton and a new headstone unveiled at his resting place in Maldon Cemetery.

The event remembered his brave efforts to help a comrade in Egypt in August 1882 and was the culmination of decades of research by his family, the Royal Green Jackets and Maldon District Council to piece his life together.


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It was organised by the Royal Green Jackets and attended by members of the regiment, relatives, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Lord Petre, and other dignitaries.

Lieutenant General Sir Christopher Wallace read the citation and prayers were said by the regiment padre, while a wreath was laid at the new headstone and three buglers played The Last Post.

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Mr Embleton's great-nephew Paul Embleton, of Stansted Mountfitchet, who has been trying to have the grave marked for many years, said: “I started to research his life about 30 years ago and about 20 years ago came to Maldon Cemetery for the first time and confirmed that was where he was.

“For years nobody wanted to know, but I felt he was a very brave man and should have a headstone.

“Over the years all the regiments came to the conclusion they ought to have graves of the VCs marked and today they have really done us proud with a superb ceremony.

“In a sense I have laid him to rest now after 30 years of research and I can let him go.”

Records in Maldon Cemetery showed Mr Embleton, a painter, died aged 61 in the Maldon Union Workhouse on September 25, 1912, and was buried in an unmarked grave at the cemetery six days later.

He served in the 3rd Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps - now known as the Royal Green Jackets - where. for some reason. he gave his name as Frederick Corbett.

Pte Corbett was involved in the reconnaissance upon Kafr Dowar, Egypt, on August 5, 1882, during the Arabi Pasha Rebellion.

The London Gazette reported the mounted infantry, with which Pte Corbett was serving, came under fierce fire from the enemy.

Lieutenant Howard Vyse was seriously wounded and Pte Corbett stayed by his side trying to stop the bleeding until the mounted infantry received orders to retire.

He then helped to carry the officer off the battlefield. As a result of this, Pte Corbett was awarded the Victoria Cross.

After he was discharged from the army, Pte Corbett sold his medal and later re-enlisted in the Royal Artillery, only to be convicted by court martial of embezzlement and theft from an office. As a result, the award was forfeited.

In 1903, his Victoria Cross came into the possession of a Mr Mansfield, who was keen to restore it to the recipient or his family. However, he was told that Pte Corbett's name had been erased and he was entitled to keep it.

The medal is now on display in the Royal Green Jackets' Museum in Winchester.

sharon.asplin@eadt.co.uk

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