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Boer War DSOs 2 months 3 weeks ago #84232

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Picture courtesy of the London Medal Company

QSA (1) Cape Colony (LT. COL. A.C. BENNETT. WT: YORK: REGT.);

Alfred Charles Bennett was born circa 1856 in Colewood Park, Hove, Sussex, the son of Saint John Bennett, a barrister-at-law, and Sophia Bennett, of Colewood Park, and also 31 Cambridge Square, Hyde Park, London. Educated privately, he was then commissioned into the British Army Militia on 19th July 1876 as a Sub Lieutenant and Supernumerary into the 4th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. On 13th December 1877 his father died, leaving his estate to Alfred Charles Bennett and his brother, Saint John Colwood Bennett. Bennett was promoted to Lieutenant on 19th July 1876, and then transferred from the 4th West Yorkshire Militia into the Reserve of Officers as a Lieutenant on 11th September 1880.

Bennett was then promoted to Captain in the Militia with the 4th Battalion, Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) on 25th November 1882, and then married Emma Charlotte on 17th June 1886, she being the eldest daughter of the late Francis Vere Hopegood, 70th Regiment, of Hadley Hurst, Hadley, and widow of the late J. Wilmot Lambert, Rifle Brigade, of Woodmansterne and Banstead. The marriage occurred at the Church of St. John the Evangelist at Dumfries, and was reported in both The Morning Post, and The Army and Navy Gazette. It is noted that his wife was then living in St Lochmaben in Scotland, and that he was living in St Martins in the Fields, London.

By the outbreak of the Boer War, Bennett was a Major with the 4th Battalion, and found himself being mobilised on 16th February 1900, and granted the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 20th June 1900, and then granted the local rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army whilst commanding the 4th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment on active service in South Africa from 18th July 1900 through to 25th March 1902, when present on operations in the Cape Colony.

For his gallant and distinguished service in command of his battalion and other duties, Bennett was awarded a Mention in Despatches in the London Gazette of 29th July 1902, one of 7 men from his battalion to be so honoured, and was then appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order in the London Gazette for 31st October 1902, this being the only such award made to his battalion, and gazetted together with the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal to another battalion member, Corporal A. Lumley. During the war, Bennett served as the Commandant of Boer Prisoners of War at Simon’s Town, and was also at the same time, the Officer Commanding troops at Worcester, Cape Colony.

Bennett retired shortly after returning from South Africa, and having joined the Reserve of Officers, then settled in Ardleigh, Essex, as well as maintaining a home at 20 Brunswick Place, Hove. With the Great War he returned to uniform, and saw home service as a Lieutenant Colonel on the General List and employed as a recruiting officer at Southend-in-Sea. It seems that by this time he lived apart from his wife, who had set up home in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. His main place of residence was by then given as Ardleigh Park, in Ardleigh, Essex, he being noted as a well known local resident, who had taken considerable interest in local and church affairs. Bennett died whilst in service on 16th January 1915, and he is buried in Ardleigh Cemetery.

Dr David Biggins

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