William George Nicholas Manley

William George Nicholas Manley
William George Nicholas Manley

Surgeon General William George Nicholas Manley, VC, CB (17 December 1831 – 16 November 1901) was a British Army officer, surgeon and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He received awards from several other countries, and is the only person to have been awarded both the VC and the Iron Cross.

Early life

Manley was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 17 December 1831, the second son of the Reverend William Nicholas Manley, his mother being a daughter of Dr. Brown of the Army Medical Staff. He was educated at the Blackheath Proprietary School and became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1851.

Military career

In 1854 Manley joined the army medical staff, and was attached to the Royal Regiment of Artillery serving in Crimea. He was present for the Siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War. He was later posted with his regiment in New Zealand.

Victoria Cross

Manley was 32 years old, and an assistant surgeon in the Royal Regiment of Artillery during the Waikato-Hauhau Maori War, New Zealand when the following deed took place on 29 April 1864 near Tauranga, New Zealand, during the assault on the rebel pā (“pah”) Gate Pā, for which he was awarded the VC.

For his conduct during the assault on the Rebel Pah, near Tauranga, New Zealand, on the 29th of April last, in most nobly risking his own life, according to the testimony of Commodore Sir William Wiseman, Bart., C.B., in his endeavour to save that of the late Commander Hay, of the Royal Navy, and others. Having volunteered to accompany the storming party into the Pah, he attended on that Officer when he was carried away, mortally wounded, and then volunteered to return, in order to see if he could find any more wounded. It is stated that he was one of the last Officers to leave the Pah.

He also served in the same war under Sir Trevor Chute, and was present at the assault and capture of the Okotukou, Putahi, Otapawe, and Waikohou Pahs. For his services on these occasions he was again mentioned in dispatches and promoted to staff surgeon.

Later career

When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870 he proceeded with the British Ambulance Corps, and was attached to the 22nd division of the Prussian Army. He was present for several battles, and received several decorations including the Iron Cross (second class) on the recommendation of the German Crown Prince:

For services with the British Ambulance Corps caring for the wounded of the 22nd Division in the actions of Chateau-neuf and Bretoncelle, on 18th and 21st December 1870, and the battles of Orleans and Cravant, on 10th December 1870.

In 1878–79 he served with the Quetta Field force in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, and in 1882 he was in Egypt for the Anglo-Egyptian War as Principal Medical officer of the Second Division under Sir Edward Hamley and was present at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir. After this war he was promoted to Deputy Surgeon-General.

Later life

Manley was awarded the honorary rank of surgeon general and retired from the army in 1884 with a distinguished service pension. Upon retirement he was made a Knight of the Venerable Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and a Companion of the Order of the Bath. He died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on 16 November 1901.


Honours and awards

Manley was awarded 18 medals by several countries, and was the only recipient of both the VC and the Iron Cross, the highest medals of the United Kingdom and Prussia (later part of the German Empire).

Among his awards were:

Crimea Medal

Decoration awarded on 1855

Clasp : Sebastopol

United Kingdom

Victoria Cross (VC)

Decoration awarded on 23 September 1864

Citation for Victoria Cross (VC)

United Kingdom

Afghanistan Medal

Decoration awarded on 1879

United Kingdom

Egypt Medal

Decoration awarded on 1882

Bar Tel-El-Kebir

United Kingdom

Order of the Bath

Decoration awarded on 1894

Companion level (CB)

United Kingdom

Order of St John (chartered 1888)

Decoration awarded on 1894

Knight of Grace level (KStJ)

United Kingdom

Iron Cross

Decoration awarded on 1871

2nd Class for Non-combatants

Kingdom of Prussia

War Commemorative Medal of 1870/71

Decoration awarded on 1871

Made of steel as for Non-combatants

German Empire

Military Merit Order (Bavaria)

Decoration awarded on 1871

Kingdom of Bavaria

Order of Osmanieh

Decoration awarded on 1880

third class

Ottoman Empire

Khedive’s Star

Decoration awarded on 1882

Ottoman Empire

During his time in New Zealand he also received the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society for rescuing a man from drowning, and after the siege of Paris he received the Cross of the Société française de secours aux blessés militaires.

Royal Humane Society

Decoration awarded on 1855

United Kingdom

Société française de secours aux blessés militaires

Decoration awarded c.1871


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