Victor George Brindley 30 August 1918

Victor George Brindley was born in Natal in 1891 and spent his early years in Johannesburg. He was the elder of two brothers and came up to Dryden House in 1905 staying for four years. At Oundle he was a keen sportsman and a good runner. He also ‘trod the boards’ as the harlot Doll Tearsheet in Shakespeare’s Henry IV. 

After Oundle, he returned home and took up farming with his father. He volunteered in August 1914 and fought first in neighbouring German South-West Africa. A year later, he joined the South African Infantry and stayed with them, even though offered a commission in the Scottish Horse. He first served in Egypt and then came to the Somme in 1916, seeing action around Delville Wood. One commentator wrote this about the South African efforts in this sector:

“The task of the South African Brigade was to capture Longueval and clear Delville Wood and hold it against counter-attacks.  The Brigade had a strength of 121 officers and 3032 Other Ranks. and went into action on the morning of 15 July. After Delville Wood had almost been taken by the Allies, the Germans counter-attacked with asphyxiating gas shells, forcing the attackers to fall back a few days later.  However the Allies soon returned to the attack and a terrible struggle ensued which lasted 5 days and nights without a pause.  Owing to the height of the trees it was not possible to use close artillery support.  In clearing the village, the South Africans had to face withering fire of great intensity, but they were able to hold on to the village. By 6am on the 17th July all the wood south of Princess Street had been captured.  That evening, Longueval burst into flames and the whole wood was enveloped in smoke.  All except the southwest corner was then retaken by the Germans.  Men of the 3rd South African Regiment, on the eastern side of the Wood were practically cut off and after fighting all night at close quarters, were forced to surrender through lack of ammunition on the morning of the 18th. The battle continued on the 19thand 20th July and when they returned to Montauban they had lost 2,400 men.”

A year after these terrible experiences on the Somme, Victor Brindley was transferred to an Officers Training Corps but then decided to join the Royal Flying Corps. By December of that year, he had gained a commission and began patrol work back on the Somme in July 1918. Returning from a routine patrol in a Sopwith Camel on August 30th 1918, he died of wounds, probably incurred as a result of a dog-fight with a German opponent. 

Another officer wrote of him: “A better man in a tight corner one could not wish to meet.” 

He was buried on the Somme where he saw action in 1916 and 1918 and where he died after three years’ service in the war. 

His younger brother, Knight Brindley was also in Dryden and served with South Africa’s Imperial Light Horse during the war, mainly in East Africa. He died in December 1922, aged 30, “after terrible suffering since his service in East Africa during the war”. 

On his headstone in South Africa, his grieving parents recorded the names of their two lost sons. Victor Brindley was 27 years old at the time of his death.

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow