George Arthur David Yonge - A soldier of Empire

This could be George seated middle.


George Alan David Yonge was the seventh of eight children, and the third and youngest son, of Julian Bargus Yonge and his wife Emma Frances nee Walter. He was a nephew of the writer Charlotte Mary Yonge He was born in 1871 in Otterbourne, Hampshire and was killed on active service in 1899.


Nothing is known of his childhood, Like his father before him, who served in Canada and then briefly and ingloriously in the Crimea and his grandfather who served at Waterloo, he became a soldier. Both a regular soldier and a soldier in the colonial militia so in many way he was the epitome of a soldier in the heyday of the late 19th century British Empire, an army concerned primarily with policing an empire with little expectation of being involved in a major European War. Interestingly though the son of minor gentry, apart from his time in Ireland, he was never a commissioned officer in the regular army. It was only when he joined the colonial forces in South Africa was he appointed a Lieutenant but that was a short lived ad hoc unit.


In 1886 His Aunt, Charlotte Mary Yonge paid £39 17s 0d to Oxford Military College which was perhaps attended by George then aged 15. Oxford Military College was a private boarding school and military academy in Oxford, from 1876 to 1896, when it was declared bankrupt. College provided a four-year college preparatory curriculum from ages 13-18. The school drew its cadets from the United Kingdom and the Colonies. Candidates, whether sons of officers or not, were prepared for commissions in the military service, for any profession or business. It combined classical studies with a military curriculum. The College provided instruction in military riding, infantry drill, dance, sword, carbine drill, swimming and gymnastics.


Then for a short time he was a Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion Royal Irish Regiment.. The Royal Irish Regiment, served as the county regiment of Tipperary, Waterford, Wrexford, and Kilkenny. Its garrison depot was at Clonmel The 5th Battalion of the RIR were a Militia battalion, based in Kilkenny. Presumably for someone with an interested in soldering it gave little outlet for his energies but it would have given him an introduction to army life. It was however a time of some agitation by tenant farmers and violence in Ireland fermented by the National Land League, so there could have been occasion to call out the battalion. His Regular army record notes that he resigned his commission.


On the 29th August 1889 at the Cavalry Depot Canterbury, at the age of 18, he signed on. His service record on his leaving the Army in 1896 refers to “Hussars of the Line' which is the collective name for the group of Hussars' regiments and was used when men enlisted in the Corps of Hussars (not a army Corps in the ordinary sense) and were then later allocated to a particular unit. George was allocated to the crack and fashionable cavalry regiment the 7th Hussars as a private. The Regiment was already in India by this time so George must have been sent out there as part of a draft, which occurred in September 1890, after a year spent in training. Interestingly his signature is quite unlettered so perhaps his father's financial difficulties meant he had an interrupted education.


He was promoted over the years and in April 1895, he was appointed to the rank of lance sergeant. A Lance Sergeant was a Corporal who was carrying out duties normally given to a Sergeant. At that time there was almost no chance of a private rising to a commissioned rank. If a gentleman did join as a private, this was often to escape disgrace of some kind, or out of sheer eccentricity. There is no evidence that he was in disgrace for any reason. It could be that though purchase of commissions had been abolished by then that his father's straightened financial circumstances, resulting from a failed business venture, simply meant that he could not afford the expense involved in being an officer. The chasm between the officer corps and the ranks, in the British forces at that time, was rarely crossed in either direction.


The 7th Hussars had been based in Britain in September 1886 when it left for India. It was there until October 1895 based for a time near the north west frontier. They were stationed at Secunderabad first but in Oct 1891 they moved to Mhow. This was a time not of large scale conflict but of frontier rebellions and disturbances but with some peaceful years. There was some conflict in 1891 and more seriously in 1894/5 but the Hussars do not seem to have been involved in what was a largely quiet time..


The North west frontier bordering Afghanistan had always been a problem for the British and during the 19th century had been the principal external threat, encouraged by the Russians . However in September 1880, after the Afghans had been defeated in a major battle, the British offered the throne to Abdur Rahman who agreed to surrender all claims on the Khyber and other places and so far as he could control the local tribal leaders, he kept the peace. For control of the region the British preferred to rely up on the Punjab Frontier Force recruited from local tribesmen commanded by British officers.


Whist there he joined the Masons which was probably unusual for an ordinary soldier


The regiment was ordered to sail to Natal in Oct 1895, having handed over their horses to the 20th Hussars. In Natal they inherited the horses of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and went by train to Pietermaritzburg, the capital of Natal Province. This was a routine redeployment. It was in Pietermaritzburg that George was discharged.


On the 26th March of the following year, after over six years service (at some point the extended the period signed up to 13) with the colours, he was discharged on the payment of £18. His Army papers state that his conduct was very good. There is no stated reason why he resigned but this was the very day news broke out in Matabeleland. This revolt was largely to be dealt with by locally raised colonial forces so presumably George left the Lancers for some action. It was probably he felt he would see more "real soldering" if he joined locally based unit. His discharge papers state that he intended to live in Bulawayo in Rhodesia.


By 1890 Cecil Rhodes had seized for Britain and himself, Matabeleland an d Mashonaland, which later formed the core of Zimbabwe [Rhodesia] However at the end of March 1896 prompted by seizure of land and cattle, hut tax and forced labour and generally by colonial rule, the Matabele revolted and attacked and killed many isolated white settlers and threatened the principal town of Bulawyo and other towns such as Belingwe. The immediate trigger for the revolt was the removal of troops from Rhodesia for Dr Jameson's raid on the Transvaal. As in the case of the original seizure both Rhodes and imperial forces, were involved. Rhodes came down from Salisbury and Imperial forces moved south from the Cape.


This is when we next hear of George


In his book The Matabele rebellion, 1896 : with the Belingwe field force by Tyrie D Laing, he wrote

My purpose in writing this book is todischarge a duty I owe to the officers, non-commissioned
 officers, and men of the Belingwe Field Force, lately under my command, by placing on record 
their share in the quelling of the Matabeleland rebellion of 1896.
Firstly, to the men of Belingwe,
who gallantly stuck together, held their position,
[Laing was in command of the ad hoc garrison at Belingwe] and the district in practical subjection, until Mr. Rhodes was enabled to send a force
to the relief of the beleaguered garrison and who afterwards marched out, aided to subjugate the
rebels, and restore order. Nothing could be more striking and pleasing a feature to me than the
behaviour of the enrolled volunteers,.....
Lastly, I must pay a tribute to the men who, under orders
of Mr. Rhodes, marched from Tuli, under the command of Lieutenant Yonge, for the relief of
Belingwe. Of this party I desire to make particular mention for the following reasons — namely,
that, with the exception of about thirty of them, who belonged to Rhodesia, the remainder had
come parts of South Africa.

So clearly George was in some kind of unit, possibly not formally constituted, at this time. In her book on Carl Nauhas, one of those trapped in Belingwe, Hilda Honiball wrote “It was just
in time that they
[inhabitants Belingwe] were rescued several months later by a relief force under the command of Lieutenant Yonge sent by Cecil John Rhode especially for the relief of
Belingwe. Some of the Belingwe Garrison then joined Lieutenant Yonge who reorganised them
as the Belingwe Field Force, which went onward to seek out the rebels.”

This cannot be entirely correct as it was Laing who set up the force but with two separate accounts it seems clear that George broke the investment of the Town.

 George was made a Lieutenant in the Belingwe Field Force. The Force was an ad hoc scratch unit like many similar ones and only existed for the duration of the Matabele emergency. It was said to have been set up on the 26th March 1896 (the date George left the British Army) under Major D.T. Tyrie-Laing and was disbanded on the 30th September 1896. However until the investment of Belingwe was broken by George , there could be no field force, even though the defenders later formed its core. 


The period of existence for the Belingwe Field Force was only a few months but they were a few months of intense activity, both small scale fights and numerous incidents patrols, ambushes on each side and raids as the unit criss crossed the country.


The Belungwe Field Force together with other units was established so as to deny the natives total control, which would have enabled an attack on Bulawyo. Belingwe is about 60 miles from Bulawyo. Early on in the uprising it was one of three laagers established on roads leading into Bulawyo, to which the Europeans fled.


The uprising began earlier than the natives planned, when several hotheads shot a native policeman on March 20, then stabbed him with their assegais. At first felt that it was merely a localized problem and not an insurrection. But when rumours surfaced of white farmers being killed, it became clear that the white settlers were in imminent danger. In the course of the following week, the natives raided the countryside. White ranchers, miners and rural travellers were cut down indiscriminately, as were a number of Indian farm labourers.


Although the natives used their traditional weapons they also had a good quantity of guns both ancient and modern but they lacked artillery and the maxim guns. They also of course had a huge superiority in numbers and knew the country well


Within the first few weeks of the revolt, dozens of white settlers were brutally killed, and many more were slaughtered over the coming months. Those who escaped the bloodbath set up local laagers such as those at Gwelo, Mangwe and Belingwe or largely made their way to Bulawayo, where a huge, wall-defended laager was constructed in the centre of the city. Armed with hunting guns and a small number of machine guns and pieces of artillery, the white settlers managed to held out against a large native force.


They formed the Bulawayo Field Force, and this sent out constant mounted patrols to rescue stranded settlers, carry out hit and run attacks, or engage the enemy full-on where possible. Casualties were quite heavy, 20 killed and 50 wounded in the first week alone, but these patrols helped to keep the enemy at bay.


The natives having learnt to their cost the destructive power of the maxim gun during the war of 1893, seldom made a full frontal attack, but, from their bases in the Matabo (or Matopas) Hills, they constantly harassed the beleaguered city. But from the beginning , the native chieftains ad never been able to coordinate their activities, and often stood idly by, even though the sounds of battle echoed but a few miles away.


Nevertheless conditions within Bulawayo became were desperate. In addition to the men, some one thousand women and children were crammed into the city. However, fortunately for the settlers, the Ndebele had not cut the telegraph wires to Mafeking, on the Bechuanaland border, so help could be sought and b never defectively closed off the town.


By May a relief force had finally reached the settlers. A column of 600 Rhodesians from Salisbury led by Cecil Rhodes fought its way through an opposing force of natives on May 9, and linked with a mounted troop from Bulawayo two days later.


Before the month was out two British officers, Maj. Gen. Sir Frederick Carrington and Colonel Robert S.S. Baden-Powell, arrived to take overall command of the various Matabeleland units and relief columns.


 After some fighting close to the city, the Matabele, up to some 50,000 in number, took to their strongholds in the Matabo Hills, and it was in this rugged terrain that the fiercest fighting took place.


On Major General Carrington's arrived in Bulawyo, hend took over overall military command. The troops at Carrington’s disposal were : Col. Plumer's column, Bulawyo Field Force, Colenbrander's Cape Boys, Col. Beal's Corps, Mangwe Field Force, Gwelo Field Force, Major Robertson's Cape Boys and George's unit, Major Tyrie-Laing's Belingwe Field Force. Weapons included seven guns, eight machine guns and thirteen Maxim guns.


Carrington had barely settled into his headquarters when a Zulu informer brought news of the mlimo‘s (a cult which preached that the white mans bullets could not harm them) secret cave in the Matopo Hills. At Baden-Powell’s recommendation, two scouts, were chosen to assassinate the mlimo, which they did.


A large column of 750 men , which included Belingwe Field Force, under the overall tactical command of Plumer, was then despatched to take the fight to the enemy.


On June 29, Plumer’s column of 750 troops, supported by two 2.5-inch mountain guns, departed from Bulawayo. After several uneventful days of travel, they approached the tortuous collection of kopjes and brush land that made up the Tabas-I-Mhamba locale. On the night of July 4, the column eased past native outposts and took up positions. Plumer’s combined infantry and cavalry attacked at 5:30 a.m. on the 5th, plunging into the brush and carrying several fortified kopjes in vicious hand-to-hand combat. Horsemen cut off lanes of retreat. By noon, the fighting was over. Plumer lost two-dozen men killed and wounded. Ndebele casualties were estimated at 100, and the troopers captured about 500 women and children, 1,000 cattle and more than 2,000 sheep and goats.


The capture of the important rebel stronghold at Thabas Imamba having been accomplished, it was now possible for Carrington to devote his attention to the nearby Matopos Hills and to prove to the rebels there that there was nowhere that they could hide.


Scouting to the south, Carrington ordered Major Tyrie Laing, formerly of the Black Watch, to take the newly arrived Belingwe Field Force to the fort at Fig Tree and begin operations against the natives. The main body of troops-more than 1,100 including friendly natives, supported by a pair of mountain guns, three Maxims and a Hotchkiss-proceeded due south of Bulawayo.


At dawn on July 20, Laing’s column was attacked. Several nativese fought their way to the laager, but were killed before breaking inside. The battle lasted three hours before case shot from Laing’s 7-pounder and his machine guns drove the warriors away


The Matopos, which were too extensive to blockade and as the troops found out, very difficult to storm, consist, of a jumble of rude precipitous kopjes, about 60 miles long and from 10 to 20 miles broad, dotted throughout with huge boulders, which concealed the entrance of innumerable caves, from the recesses of which unseen marksmen could with impunity, attack advancing troops and from which they could, if pressed, retire unopposed to some similar position in an adjoining ridge, and so successively take up position after position without sustaining any serious loss.


Carrington sent to the Matopos the largest force he could muster, nearly eight hundred, under Col. Plumer. On the 20th of July a simultaneous attack was made from the east by Major Tyne-Laing, and from the north by Plumer, They both succeeded in dislodging the enemy, whose position appeared almost impregnable. , However it became obvious that little or no way had been made towards the conquest of the hills, as the positions stormed and conquered one day could be again re-occupied on the following by the enemy. So even after the successful action of August 5th, in which Plumer drove five impis from the strong position in which they were established, it was realised that with the casualties of the whites equalling, even if they did not exceed in number, those of the natives, that any attempt to subject the Matopos rebels by arms would require a far greater force than could possibly be brought into the field or maintained under the existing conditions of transport and supplies.


On August 13, a detachment of 50 mounted infantry of the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, had ridden into Plumer’s Matopo encampment-the first regular British infantry to arrive on the scene. By then however the fighting was effectively over.


It was recognised that even with additional forces that there would be a heavy loss of life, a continuation of hostilities over the sowing season, and the consequent shortage of food during the course of the following year. In the end the British under Cecil Rhodes resorted to negotiations and in late August a peace treaty was signed.


The Second Matabele War left Rhodesia badly scarred. Hundreds of white settlers and soldiers had been killed and homes, ranches and mines burned and horrific reprisals inflicted on the natives, who were seen by many British as wild dogs that needed to be put down. Native casualties are unknown, but are generally assumed to have been close to 2,000. It would take generations for the countryside and its inhabitants to heal.


With the standing down of the Belingwe Force in September 1896, it is probable that George then moved straight to Giffords Horse, which was involved in the Matabele campaign as part of the Bulawyo Field Force and wihch was to be invlved in suppressing the revolt in Mashonoland to the north.


The revolt which had started in Mashonaland in June 1896 was not finally over until December 1897.To the whites, who regarded themselves as liberators of the Holi caste peop;e , the decision by the Mashona to revolt came as an unwelcome shock. After a few raids, however, the Mashona chiefs, lacking the Matabele's centralised command, and anyway being historically hostile to each other retired behind their fortified kopjes and stayed on the defensive. Not as serious as the revolt in Matabele land but still over 100 white settlers were brutally murdered. The the last of their chiefs did not surrender until October 1897. W.


Units involved in quelling this revolt consisted of about 850 men distributed as below:

(a) Artillery troop
(b) Engineer troop
(c) Greys Scouts
(d) Dawsons Scouts
(e) Giffords Horse
(f) Afrikander Corps


This assumption that George was in Gifford's Horse is based on the fact that he was with that unit in the Great Imperial parade through London the next year.


He received The Queen's South Africa (QSA) Medal Evidently there had been once some doubt as to whether irregular forces qualified. The following is an extract from War Department document in the National Archives at Kew referring to an earlier decision to award decorations to local forces.


The expression “Local forces raised in our colonies and their dependencies and who may be called upon to serve with our troops in military in operations”, has been liberally construed, as officers and solders of the colonial forces have been granted that decoration [the Victoria Cross] for operations in which no British regular troops were employed and even when hostilities were not approved by H.M. Government.


It is likely however his medal was issued by the British South African Company. In 1896 Queen Victoria sanctioned the issue by the British South Africa Companyof a medal to troops who had been engaged in the First Matabele War. In 1897, the award was extended to those engaged in the two campaigns of the Second Matabele War, namely Rhodesia(1896) and Mashonaland (1897). The three medals are the same except for name of the campaign for which the medal was issued, inscribed on the reverse.


He rode in the hon. Maurice Gifford’s troop (Gifford had been involved in the Matebele and Mashonaland wars) in the Jubilee Procession and Review of the 22nd June 1897, through the streets of London. This was as much a celebration of Empire as Victoria’s 60 years on the throne. Over 30,000 British and Colonial troops took part.


The following extract of a letter from his Aunt, the writer Charlotte Yonge, to her niece Helen, refers to his involvement in the fighting and his participation in the Jubilee parade.


He [George]as one of the 14 Rhodesian Horse, had no end of honors[sic], the mob tried to kiss their medals (which were not the right ones after all, they get them tomorrow from the Prince at Buckingham Palace) He had to ride alone on some, and his admirers mobbed him so that he had to get a policeman to keep them off lest his horse should kick them, but they say those horses are a wonder to all themselves they are so good in a crowd, and don’t kick even when naughty little boys stick pins into them He has been 2nd I could not finish yesterday owing to visitors, I was going to say he had seen fearful sights in Mashonaland, going about to bury the murdered in one place 9 people of three generations – and at one place they were in great danger, shut in on a mountain by the enemy and their rockets not seen. He was at a post in the lion country afterwards but the wild lions were very shabby and thin, not near so handsome as those in the Zoological Gardens. He is coming to the Vicarage as soon as Henry and Alethea come back from Torquay where they go on Monday.


His next posting was back in Africa with the Cape Mounted Police, which was where he was in when the Boer war started. This force was established in 1882. It was a civilian para military force and apparently an effective one, established to maintain order amongst both natives and whites in the unruly north western districts of Cape Colony, which did not come under the purely military force of the Cape Mounted Rifles. It had bases in King Williams Town, Kimberley (where George was stationed) and Cape Town. The force had up to 1900 men and was very mixed both as to nationalities and races, Europeans and natives and British colonials, and also as to social composition, varying from gentlemen and professionals to farmers and trades people, adventurers and labourers.


With the outbreak of war between British and Boer in 1899, George was once more to be in the wars. There were many tensions, which led to that war and many crucial events and personalities. In essence however the conservative God fearing largely rural Boers of basically Dutch descent feared that they would be swamped and their way of life threatened by the ever increasing numbers of British pushing up from the South, lured by the goldfields. By the summer of 1899 there was a feeling that if the British with their ungodly money making ways were not pushed out now, it would soon be too late.


In London the authorities were aware of the approaching crisis and in the summer of 1899 Baden Powell, one of the army’s more energetic solders, was appointed C in C of the North West Frontier Forces. Baden Powell arrived at Cape Town on the 25th July 1899 and was there joined by a number of officers known to him from previous campaigns, including Colonel Plumer, with whom George had come served in the Matabele War.


The Rhodesia Regiment was created in 1899 primarily from recruits from Matabeleland was a mounted infantry formation. Their first commanding officer was Major Plumer. The Regiment, was raised and trained in Bulawyo. Plumer had been sent back to South Africa with war imminent and had raised the Rhodesia Regiment of some 450 men in rapid time, many of the men, including George, had served under Plumer before. As a unit they were reasonably well trained (George probably had more experience than many) and were well equipped. On the 3rd October, they left Bulawyo and marched down the Tuli Road. His regimental number was 366 and his rank was Squadron Sergeant Major. He served in D Squadron. It was part of the South African Field Force.


Baden Powell wrote:


"My orders were to raise two battalions of mounted rifles to mount train equip and supply them with the minimum of delay ...... Also I was to take charge of and organise the police of Rhodesia and Bechuanaland as part of my forces and to make as little show as possible in these preparations for fear of precipitating war. The object of my force and its establishment on the North West border of the Transvaal was in the event of war was to attack Boer forces away from the coast so they would not interfere with the landing of British troops and secondly to protect our position in Rhodesia and thirdly to maintain British prestige among the great native tribes in those parts."


Frustrated in the Cape, for the authorities there wanted to conciliate the Boers, Baden Powell went north up to Bulawyo in Rhodesia. One of the officers, Godley, wrote of the chaos. "with horses that had never seen man and men who had never seen horses” Clearly George was not in that category.


In first Transvaal war General Gordon had written, “Regulars should only act as a reserve, the real fighting should be done by special irregular corps commanded by special men untrammeled by rules”. Reporting on the Boer war the Times said Army should have raised a lot more local units from South Africa. As it was at the start the available forces wee almost entirely local. .

Saturday, 21 October 1899, saw some of the most intense fighting to date in the War since it commenced on the 11th of October Early that morning, Captain Blackburn of 'D' Troop, Rhodesia Regiment led a sixteen-man patrol along the river Tuli towards Point Drift. A two man picket was left at Rhodes' Drift while five men, under George traveled along the border road towards the Drift, taking the horses with them. On that morning, however, the Boer Field Cornet Briel had decided that there should be a determined push into Rhodesian territory from Pont Drift to try to drive away the Rhodesian menace which had attacked his watering parties. He had sent several Boer patrols over the river and one of these unexpectedly came across and ambushed Yonge's party as it neared Point Drift. Yonge was killed instantly and the Boers captured the horses, several guns and the remaining four troopers. A skirmish, not even an engagement led to George's death after ten years service in the regular and colonial forces.

The South African War Casualty Roll states that two troopers, as well as George, were killed near Tuli in the 21st October. The other troopers killed were H.G. Levy and G.H. Nethercott.


He was buried at the Fort Tuli Pioneer Cemetery. The grave inscription reads SGM George Alan David Yonge I 3 1861 – 21 10 1899. There is no photo. The records also refer to a number 176132172 but it is not known if this a plot number. The War Graves Division of the National Monument Office of South Africa has no records as to any burial.


On November the 4th 1899, just only two weeks after George was killed, Charlotte Mary Yonge wrote a letter to Ellie [ ] saying


"My dear Ellie


Thank you for your letter, we have heard nothing more, and hardly look for anything, and indeed there has only been one letter from him since he joined Baden Powell, but that was enough to leave us in no doubt that it is himself. I am so glad he had that year at home after the Matabele War.


He was very much loved here. There was to have been a "Social evening" but the people begged to put it off for they could not enjoy it.


Yours affectionate


C.M. Yonge"


Clearly the news of his death or probable death had been received even earlier. This was due to the introduction of the electric telegraph and submarine cables, earlier in the century. The news of the relief of Mafeking, took only days to reach London.


On November the 24th 189 Charlotte Mary Yonge wrote a letter to Mary [ ]


My Dear Mary


I do not suppose we will hear anything about Dear George till Col Plumer's campaign is over- he had very little with him, he left his medal and his watch, the great gold one Mamma used to carry, at home but of course he had a smaller one for use – Frances has just sent out of socks and etc for Col Plumer's troop – our people have taken up eagerly to sending things.....


Your most affectionate CM Yonge


A foretaste of many poignant letters that would be sent less than twenty years later.


A brief obituary appeared in the December 1899 edition of the Otterbourne Parish magazine.






We are very sorry to have to record that amongst those brave fellows who have fallen in South Africa is to be numbered the above, who, however, we feel very sure, would have gladly laid down his live for his Queen and country, and of whom, therefore, we in Otterbourne are all proud.


George Alan David Yonge was the third and youngest son of the late J. B. Yonge (Rifle Brigade), of Otterbourne House. He was for a time a Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion (Militia) Royal Irish Regiment. He enlisted in the 7th Hussars, in which regiment he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant-Major. [this is wrong, he only reached the rank of Lance Sergeant in the Hussars. Obviously a confusion with his rank in the Rhodesia Regiment] He afterwards joined the Belingwe Field Force in order to take part in the Matabele War in 1896, for which he received a medal. [The medal was probably for service in the subsequent Mashonoland campaign] He then came home, and rode in the Hon. Maurice Gifford’s troop of Rhodesian Horse in the Jubilee Procession and at the Jubilee Review in 1897. Returning to South Africa he served for a short time in the Cape Mounted Police at Kimberley, and just before hostilities broke out with the Boers he joined Colonel Plumer’s Regiment. He lost his life in skirmish on the Crocodile* River. The deceased was about 28 years of age.


A Memorial Service in the form of a celebration of the Holy Eucharist was held on the Saturday morning after the sad news of his death was received. The relatives of the late Mr. Yonge desire us to say how very much they have appreciated all the kind sympathy shown them by so many in the parish, and especially by those who knew him from his boyhood. - R.I.P.


*There are in fact two Crocodile rivers in that part of Africa. One runs east into the ocean at Lourenco Marques and the other is one of the headwaters of the Limpopo. The latter must be the correct one.


Probate of George's estate was obtained in 1901. The official extract reads:


"1901. George Allan David Yonge of Colonel Plumer's Regiment died on or about 22/10/1899 at Rhodes Drift Rhodesia. Administration London 22/2/1901 to Emma Francis Yonge, widow. Effects £2708.13.6. Resworn October 1903 £4880.8.8, later £4022.55."


George was unmarried; the reference to Emma Francis is to his mother.


In 1914 further letters of administration were taken out. The official extract reads:


"1914. George Allan David Yonge, formerly of the Cape Mounted Police, a squadron sergeant major, serving latterly in Colonel Plumer's Regiment. Died on or about 22nd October 1899 at Rhodes Drift, Rhodesia. Administration (limited) London 18th April to Thomas Kerchever Arnold, solicitor, attorney of Francis Arthur Yonge. Effects £3146.03.11.”


He was to have been one of six residuary beneficiaries of the estate of his aunt, Charlotte Mary Yonge. A codicil to her will, made in May 1900, says "and whereas my nephew George Alan David Yonge mentioned in my said will as one of my residuary legatees, has recently been killed in South Africa fighting for his country ......"


There is a plaque to him inside Otterbourne Church, which reads


To the Glory of God and in loving memory of George Alan David Yonge Sgt Major in Col Plumer’s regiment who was killed in action at Point Drift Rhodesia Oct 22nd 1899 in his 28th year.”


This death date is at variance with his death certificate which states that he died on the 21st October.




Mafeking by Duncan Milne

South Africa and the Transvaal by Louis Creswicke

South Africa War Casualty Roll

The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Packenham

With the Flag to Pretoria – A History of the Boer war

British South African Company- Report on Native disturbances in Rhodesia 1896-7

Charlotte Mary Yonge by Christabel Coleridge

Peter Still of South Africa

National Archives WO 32/7419

George Yonge Army Service record papers - National Archives

The Letters of Charlotte Mary Yonge – University of Newcastle, Australia

The Matabele rebellion, 1896 : with the Belingwe field force by Laing, D. Tyrie

Nauhaus by Hilda Honiball

Latest comments

27.10 | 10:41

Hi Ian....Has taken me a while but finally found your website. Brilliant. Will be in touch. Julian Hastings

20.06 | 13:06


Thanks. Praise always appreciated! I presume you are a descendant of Peter Herbert. You can email me on for fuller reply


19.06 | 23:35

I am the Great-Great Grandson of Walter Francis Duke Young. This is such a great website and so interesting to read about the Yonge family history!!

27.05 | 17:13

Thank you for this account of Charlotte M Yonge. I wouldn't say she was a recluse, however, judging by her letters.