Hampden Zane Churchill Cockburn

As stated in the following London Gazette citation, Hampden Zane Churchill Cockburn is a recipient of the Victoria Cross. This medal is awarded for the most conspicuous bravery, a daring or pre-eminent act of valour, or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.

Victoria Cross - The South African (Boer) War 1899-1902

Hampden Zane Churchill Cockburn

Hampden Zane Churchill Cockburn was born in Toronto, Ontario on 19 November 1867. After studying at Upper Canada College and the University of Toronto, he became a barrister. During the South African War, Cockburn served in South Africa with the Royal Canadian Dragoons.

On 7 November 1900, at Liliefontein, 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.

At one point, the remnant of Lieutenant Cockburn’s troop of Dragoons fought desperately against 200 Boers who were intent on capturing “D” Battery’s two guns. His handful of men successfully held off the Boers, thus allowing the guns to escape, but all became casualties, including Cockburn who was slightly wounded. For his part in saving the guns, Lieutenant Cockburn received the Victoria Cross, one of three awarded for separate incidents in this action.

Cockburn died in Grayburn, Saskatchewan on 12 July 1913.


“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.”

(London Gazette, no.27307, 23 April 1901)

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