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