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HEXHAM, LT COL G E BENSON WAR MEMORIAL

Boer War - Detailed Information
Compiled and copyright © Martin Edwards 2009

The memorial to Lieutenant-Colonel George Elliott Benson is to be found in Beaumont Street, Hexham. The memorial takes the form of a statue of Lt-Col Benson, in uniform but without his hat, striding and upright with a pair of binoculars in his had, mounted on a stone plinth. The inscription is on the front face of the plinth. The memorial was unveiled by General Lord Metrhuen on 9th March 1904; the sculptor was John Tweed. The memorial is Grade II listed and is placed so that it is facing his old home in the South Tyne Valley.

George Elliott Benson died of wounds at Brakenlaagte, he was was twice wounded before dying, 31 October 1901. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Field Artillery, aged 40. Son of the late William Benson, of Allerwash, Northumberland. Entered the Royal Artillery in 1880. Served in Egypt 1885 (medal and clasp, Khedives Star, wounded at Hasheen), Ashanti 1895 (star), and the Dongola Expeditionary Force 1896 (Khedives Medal and 2 clasps, MID, Order of Osmanieh 4th class). Also commemorated on the Royal Artillery Memorial, London.

Extract from The Last Post: Roll of Officers Who Fell in South Africa 1899-1902 by Mildred G Dooner reprinted by Naval & Military Press

Benson.—Col. George Elliott, Benson, p.s.c., Royal Artillery, died Oct. 31st, 1901, of wounds received in action near Brakenlaagte, twenty miles north-west of Bethel. He was the son of the late William Benson, Esq., of Allerwash, Northumberland, was born in May, 1861, and educated at Harrow. He entered the Royal Artillery as a lieut. in 1880, being promoted capt. July, 1888, brevet-major March, 1896, major Feb., 1898, brevet¬-lieut.-col. Nov., 1900, and col. May, 1901. He served in the Soudan Campaign, 1885, and was present at the engagement of Hasheen (slightly wounded), and at the destruction of Tamai, receiving the medal with clasp, and the Khedive's star. His next experience of active service was with the expedition to Ashanti, under Sir Francis Scott, in 1895, when he received the brevet of major and the star. He also served with the Dongola Expeditionary Force under Lord (then Sir Herbert) Kitchener, in 1896, as Brigade-Major, Mounted Corps, until invalided, including the engagement at Firket and the operations at Hafir, being mentioned in despatches, and receiving the Fourth Class of the Order of the Osmanieh, and the Khedive's medal with two clasps. He was also in the Nile Expedition of 1898, in command of a force on special service in Kassala district, and was awarded the medal. He was Brigade-Major Royal Artillery at Aldershot from Jan. 1st, 1892, to Dec. 31st, 1894. Col. Benson was selected for special service in South Africa, and served with the Kimberley Relief Force under Lieut.-Gen. Lord Methuen. After the battle of Modder River, he took the place of Lieut.-Col. Northcott —who had been killed—as D.A.A.G., was present at the action of Magersfontein, and the relief of Kimberley. At Magersfontein he guided the Highland Brigade during the night march, and with unerring accuracy to the point of the hill he had previously at great personal risk recon¬noitred. He was mentioned in despatches March, 1900, and Nov. of that year, and promoted to the rank of lieut.-col. Nov. 29, 1900. A few weeks later he was appointed staff officer to the Rustenburg command, and in May, 1901, was given local rank as colonel. The column which he commanded was attacked on Oct. 31st, in a deluge of mist and blinding rain. The Boers under Louis Botha, Grobler and Oppermann in overwhelming numbers, swept down on a ridge held by the rear¬guard of Col. Benson's force, and here 123 men out of a total of 160 fell. Col. Benson, who at once went to the point of danger, was twice wounded; but continued to give his orders directing and exhorting those under him to hold out. In this engagement, in addition to Col. Benson, twelve other officers were killed and sixteen wounded, but the main body and the convoy were saved. This action has been described as one of the most hotly contested and desperate of the campaign.

From an old postcard

TO THE MEMORY OF A GALLANT SOLDIER
GEORGE ELLIOTT BENSON
LIEUT. COLONEL
IN THE ROYAL REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY
WHO WAS BORN AT ALLERWASH MAY 24TH 1861
ENTERED THE ARMY MAY 1880
AND AFTER SERVING WITH DISTINCTION
IN THE SOUDAN CAMPAIGNS OF 1885, 1896, 1898,
AND IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 1899 - 1901
FELL WHILE COMMANDING HIS COLUMN
AT THE BATTLE OF BRAKENLAAGTE OCT. 30TH 1901
HE IS BURIED WITH THOSE WHO FOUGHT
AND DIED WITH HIM
THE UNRETURNED.
ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION

Last updated 5 March, 2009

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