The Mystery of a Military Cross Award.

On the Norfolk Regiment pages of this blog a conversation has been taking place regarding a one of the regiment’s own but that has subsequently thrown up more questions than answers…

One of our readers has restored a trench watch that belonged to Captain R B Caton of the 4th and contacted us to see if we could help him fill in some of the details relating to Cpt. Caton.

Captain Caton

Bob has found out lots of information about Caton’s private life:

He comes from a family that had people in senior positions in the Church. His father was rector at Fakenham and has his name appearing in several church based activities.

His full name was Richard Bewley Caton. His own home was West House at Bacton, after the end of WW1 he is mentioned in several newspapers reports on flower shows, and opening local shows.

Like his father he went to Harrow and then Oxford where he gained an MA

He was active in the local branch of the British Legion in the 20’s

His wife appears on the direct descendant chart of William the Conqueror, and is documented as an active member of the Prehistoric Society

But it is his military career that is causing some mystery as he was awarded the Military Cross in the 1918 New Year Honours, which Bob presumed was for his service in Palestine and maybe the Battles for Gaza.

The plot thickens however as some research into this by another blog reader turned up the following:

He is not mentioned at all in Petre’s 1925 History of the Norfolk Regiment.

Capt Caton became CO of D Coy on 3/6/1917 before Gaza I (Bn War Diary). He is not mentioned again in the diary

Gaza II April 1917 MCs were announced well before Caton’s award was gazetted so I think he cannot have earned his at Gaza II. My guess is that it was a Gaza III award or, less likely, for D Company’s action at Stone Hill, 12/13th Dec. However, the Bn diary names another officer as leading D company’s attack that day.

Harvey (1920, unpublished history) lists Caton and Eden Burrell as the only officers to land at Suvla and serve, unscathed, with the 4th Bn to the War’s end. There is no other mention of Caton by Harvey.

Caton did not attend the first 4th Bn reunion dinner in Nov 1919 and was not a member of the newly reformed 4th Bn in 1920 (whereas Jewson and Flatt were and remained active in the Norfolks until the 1930s). I did find a Gazette entry for Capt Caton announcing that he had aged out on 7 March 1936.

We have been supplied with a couple of photos featuring Cpt. Caton and would love to know if any of our other readers can fill in any more of the details, especially surrounding his Military Cross.

Officers of the 1/4th Bn, Norfolk Regiment, Bury St Edmunds, May 1915
Left to right, Back row: Lt. VCC Corke Lt. TN Flatt, Lt WW Flatt, 2/Lt EM King, Lt WV Morgan, Lt GK Hampton, 2/Lt GCH Culley, Lt B Boswell, Lt HM Taylor, 2/Lt SJ Steel, 2/Lt Collison, 2/Lt RB Caton, 2/Lt JH Jewson, Lt RW Moore, Q-M. Middle row: Capt. GHK Fisher, Capt. WH Jewson, Capt. SD Page, Capt. CWW Burrell, Maj. HR Fletcher, Lt. Col. JR Harvey DSO, Capt. CP Hines, Capt. EW Motgomerie, Adjutant, Capt. Rudd, Capt. HW Back, Capt. BM Hughes.
Front row: 2/Lt HJ Bradshaw, 2/Lt RW Thurgar, 2/Lt RE Burrell, 2/Lt CB Spackman, 2/Lt CAB Elliot, 2/Lt RCBMT de Poix, 2/Lt SJM White, Lt Sir TR Berney Bt, Lt GH Wood

This image was snipped from a scan of a subsection of a larger, named team photograph of the 4th Bn officers taken in Bury St Edmunds, between early April and late May 1915.  A note  made in 2011 say it was May.  The original is embedded.  I do not own the copyright to the image and I no longer recall where I came across it.  Perhaps an appeal to readers and archivists would ID its provenance (and help in my quest for a higher resolution scan of the original). 

If you can help – or have queries of your own – please do get in touch either here in the comments, on Twitter (@NorfolkinWW1) or by emailing


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