George Vincent FOSBERY V.C.

1832 - 1907

Lieut.- Colonel. 4th Bengal European Regiment, Indian Army 
Born 1832 Sturt near Devizes, Wiltshire. Died at Bath 8th May 1907.

Young George

Lieut. Col. G.V. Fosbery V.C.

Eldest son of the Late Rev. Thomas Vincent Fosbery.  of a family seated at Fosbury in Wiltshire in the reign of William the Conqueror, one of whom, John, was Forester to King Henry III (1244), and whose son became a ward of King Edward I. A descendant settled in Ireland in 17th Century.

Among other things, he invented the "Paradox" Gun which revolutionised sporting weapons, and the Automatic Revolver which bears his name.

Educated at Eton 1846-1850, he entered the Bengal Army in 1852.
In 1858 he married Emmeline, daughter of Captain Percy Hall R.N.

They had 10 children. Many of whom had emigrated to Canada before his demise in England, 8th May 1907. 
( extracted in part from Who Was Who - 1897 - 1916 )

In 1898 GV Fosbery VC of Ebury Street London, was Granted (Grants 70/205 -25th June 1898) Armorial Bearings of his own, for himself and other descendants of his father separate from those used by his family up to that time. Described as follows:
Arms:" Gules 3 phaeons chevronwise Or between as many lions rampant of the last (Gold) each gorged with a collar gemel azure". 
Crest: Upon a wreath of the colours (Or and Gules) Two lions gambs erased the dexter Or the sinister Gules holding a phaeon per pale of the last and the first. 
Motto: "Non Nobis Solum"
(ref: personal communication from York Herald of Arms D.F. 12/88)

London Gazette, 7th July, 1865. - "War Office, 7 July 1865. The Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the Decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officer of Her Majesty's Indian Forces, whose claim to the same has been submitted for Her Majesty's approval, for his gallant conduct during the operation at Umbeyla, on the North-Western Frontier of India, as recorded against his name."

He was attached by Sir Hugh Rose, the Commander in Chief, to the Umbeyla Expedition (N.W. India) in 1863, in which he took part in every important action, and commanded a body of marksmen of the 71st and 101st Regts. armed with rifles firing the explosive bullets of his own invention, which he had developed as a means in war of ascertaining range distances for infantry and mountain train guns.
Victoria Cross  Unit : Force : Indian Army  4th Bengal European Regiment (1 award) 

FOSBERY, George Vincent 1863; Crag Picquet, North-West India 
Award of Victoria Cross 1863 
"George Vincent Fosbery, Lieut. (now Capt.), late 4th Bengal European Regt. Date of action 30th Oct. 1863.
For the daring and gallant manner in which, on 30 October 1863, when aged about 30 years, and acting as a volunteer at the time, he led a party of his regiment to recapture the Crag Piquet, after its garrison had been driven in by the enemy, on which occasion sixty of them were killed in desperate hand to hand fighting. From the nature of the approach to the top of the Crag, amongst the large rocks, one or two men only could advance at one time. ' Whilst I ascended one path,' relates Lieut.-Colonel Keyes, CB., commanding the 1st Punjab Infantry, ' I directed Lieut. Fosbery, of the late 4th European Regiment, to push up another at the head of a few men. He led this party with great coolness and intrepidity, and was the first man to gain the top of the Crag on his side of the attack.' Subsequently Lieut.-Colonel Keyes being wounded, Lieut. Fosbery assembled a party, with which he pursued the routed enemy in the direction of the Lalloo Ridge, inflicting on them further loss and confirming possession of the post."
He was promoted to Captain in 1864, Major in 1868, and Lieutenant-Colonel in 1876.
Lieut.- Colonel Fosbery retired from the Army in 1877, and devoted himself to the perfecting of machine guns, being the first to introduce them to the British Government. He invented the "Paradox Gun", and the automatic revolver which bears his name. He also introduced an explosive bullet, as a means of ascertaining range for infantry and mountain guns.
Lieut.-Colonel Fosbery, V.C., died at Bath, 8 May, 1907.
( ref: published contemporaneous source.)

The following item is in the Havant (Hampshire) Museum: HMCMS:M1989.9 
DECORATIVE ART, firearms: REVOLVER  revolver, .455ins calibre, George V Fosbery patent 1895, self cocking, made by Webley and Scott Revolver and Arms Co, London, late 19th early 20th century. 
"This revolver was patented in 1895 by George V Fosbery, who served in the Indian Mutiny, later to be awarded the Victoria Cross. The system consisted of a revolver with a split frame, one part housing the cylinder and hammer being free to slide in the lower half, consisting of lower frame, butt and trigger mechanism. When the first shot was fired the recoil drove the top section back and by means of a lug engaging in the zigzag cut into the cylinder, rotating it and cocked the hammer before moving back under spring pressure to the firing position. On pulling the trigger again the process was repeated. The idea was taken up by the Webley and Scott Revolver and Arms Co and produced in both .455 and .38 versions." 
Description  gun feature: self cocking; semi-automatic serial no: 3249  dimension: calibre = .455ins  period keywords: 19th century, late; 1900s; 1910s; 1920s 
acquisition  gift from Royal Armouries, 23rd March 1990 
(ref : Web Manager   Produced by Martin Norgate, Registrar, Hampshire County Council Museums Service. 

Lieut.-Colonel Fosbery
is reported to have said of the Webley-Fosbery Revolver -" It is the most formidable weapon in existence for close combat or personal protection, and among service revolvers cannot be beaten by any similar weapons in England or America".

Automatic Revolvers  Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 18:25:57 -0600 (CST)  From: David A. Tomlinson   Subject: Automatic Revolvers 
Many members of the firearms community run across the term 'automatic revolver' in a fiction book, and laugh knowingly. "There ain't no such thing!"  They are wrong.  In the period between the coming of the cartridge revolver and the advent of the first semi-auto pistols (roughly the 1880 to 1895 period), the term 'automatic revolver' was used to describe a revolver that automatically extracted the empties when broken open, the typical top-break revolver.  Once genuinely semi-automatic and fully-automatic magazine-fed pistols hit the market, that terminology gradually died out for describing those revolvers, fading completely by the late 1920s. BUT -- it was also used to describe genuinely semi-automatic revolvers.  There were three that were manufactured in noteworthy quantities. The Webley-Fosbery in .455 Mk II (1901, 1902 and 1914 models), the Webley-Fosbery .38 Colt (1901 and 1902 models) and the Union in .32 S&W. The .38 Colt cartridge was an underloaded .38 Super, designed for use in early Colt .38 semi-autos that predate the M1911 'conversion' to .38 Super in 1929.  The Webley-Fosbery uses recoil forces to throw the entire top half of the revolver (including the cylinder) to the rear, running over the hammer to recock it. A fixed stud in the lower half rotated the cylinder by acting on a zigzag groove in the cylinder, and a spring returned the upper half. They were all single action, and required thumb cocking for the first shot. They were all typical Webley stirrup-locked top-breakers with 'automatic' ejection for reloading, and primitive speedloaders were used with them.  The Union automatic revolver was made in the US to the Lefever patent (US Patent 944448, 1909). It was similar in action, but had a shroud that protected the recoiling upper half from contact with the firer's hand.  The Webley-Fosbery was 6-shot (in .455) or 8-shot (in .38, a much rarer gun), and rotated the cylinder one sixth or one eighth of a turn by turning it partly on the recoil stroke and partly on the forward movement.  The Union was 5-shot, and rotated the cylinder one fifth of a turn on the recoil stroke only. Its zigzag cut was angled for that, then straight for the return stroke. It was not very successful. Few were made, and fewer survive. Total production is believed to have been about 65 revolvers. 
Related Story: Webley produced guns for the .455 Webley Mk I cartridge in the black powder era. When smokeless powder came in, the long case of the Mk I was shortened and filled with smokeless powder, creating the .455 Webley Mk II cartridge of similar power. In the WW I era, Canada bought large numbers of Colt New Service revolvers (an 1898 design), in calibre ".455 Colt," also known as ".455 Eley." That cartridge was the long-cased .455 Webley Mk I, loaded with MORE smokeless powder than the .455 Webley Mk II, and more powerful that the standard British service .455 Webley Mk I cartridges. The Canadian Colts could digest either ".455 Colt/Eley" cartridges or the shorter .455 Webley Mk I cartridges the British were using.
(Article by Dave Tomlinson, NFA)

Rick Donkers reports for CBC TV News.
  Historic medal sold at Alberta auction   Posted 11:16:33 1997/08/17  
A highly-prized Victoria Cross was auctioned in Red Deer, Alberta on Saturday. It sold for $45,000 to an unidentified buyer.  
The cross had been locked up in a vault for generations. The B.C. owners decided to sell through an auction house in Red Deer that has had great success selling the medals. The Victoria Cross awards usually change hands in England.  
It was originally awarded to Lieut. George Fosbery in 1863 for action in India. He was a British soldier who later went on to invent a revolver and introduce machine guns into modern warfare. 
The auction drew would-be buyers from around the world.