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Sir EH Goschen, Tpr. 47th Coy, 13th Bn Imp Yeo PoW Lindley 31/5/1900 6 years 1 week ago #48739

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The superb Boer War Lindley Disaster Prisoner of War, Diplomatic Corps and Egyptian Civil Service Turkish Order of the Medjidieh, 2nd Class, Egyptian Order of the Nile 3rd Class, and Italian Order of the Crown of Italy 4th Class group awarded to Sir E.H. Goschen, Baronet, later Trooper in the 47th Duke of Cambridge’s Own Company, 13th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry, who was taken prisoner of war at Lindley on 31st May 1900.

Group of 4: Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902, 3 Clasps: Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal; (14182 TPR: E.H. GOSCHEN. 47TH COY 13TH IMPL: YEO:); Turkey – Ottoman Empire: Order of the Medjidieh, 2nd Class, neck badge, silver, gold and enamels, an excellent example of European manufacture, complete with length of neck ribbon and ties; Egypt – Sultanate: Order of the Nile, 3rd Class, neck badge, silver and enamel, complete with full length of neck ribbon and ties; Italy – Kingdom of: Order of the Crown of Italy, Officer, 4th Class with Rosette on ribbon.
Edward Henry Goschen was born on 9th March 1876, the eldest son of the Right Honourable Sir William Goschen, who became the British Ambassador to Berlin, and was in that appointment on the outbreak of the Great War in 1914.

Goschen was also the great-grandson of George Joachim Goschen, the famous publisher of Leipzig, and a grandson of William Henry Goschen, who founded the banking firm of Fruhling and Goschen in London in 1815. He was nephew of the first Viscount Goschen, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and a first cousin of Sir Harry Goschen, Baronet, of Goschens and Cunliffe.

Edward Henry Goschen was educated at Eton, which he went to in 1889 as a member of Mr R.A.H. Mitchell’s House, where, he acquired his lifelong love of cricket, and then followed his father into the Diplomatic Service, when in 1897 he was appointed an honorary attaché to the Embassy in Saint Petersburg, but when the Boer War in South Africa broke out, the then volunteered his services, and attested for one years service as a Trooper (No.22) with the Special Corps of Imperial Yeomanry on 7th February 1900, before his unit was retitled, and he then continued in the service as a Trooper (No.14182) with the 47th Duke of Cambridge’s Own Company, a unit of the 13th Battalion of Imperial Yeomanry, bound for service in South Africa, and as such embarking on 17th February 1900, he was then present on operations in the Cape Colony, the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal, being one of 140 men of his company present on operations.

The Special Corps of Imperial Yeomanry had originally been formed by the Earl of Donoughmore, who had recruited the sort of rank and file which the regular British Tommy was more accustomed to saluting. Most were the sons of the aristocracy or gentry, many, such as Goschen, were old Etonians, and every man who joined, agreed to pay the considerable sum of £130 for his own passage to South Africa, his horse and his equipment. If anyone was still in any doubt that they were gentlemen rather than players, the Duke of Cambridge’s Own, as then became known, agreed to donate their pay to the Imperial War Fund for the Widows and Orphans of Soldiers. A popular joke at the time suggested that they were so socially superior that a special class of foe would have to be found for them as they could not possibly be expected to exchange bullets with the ordinary Boer. The Duke Street Office was deluged with applications and on one day alone more than 100 men applied to join. The rank and file included William Allen, the Liberal MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, two sons of the landowner Sir James Blyth and the Honourable Norman Lubbock, son of Lord Avebury. Such was the demand to enlist in the company that one well-known African explorer, whose name was not made public, offered £2000 and a Maxim gun if he could be assured of a commission. One volunteer who was rejected on medical grounds went off to get a second doctor’s opinion, but was still turned down while another, who had been urged to join up by his wife, was so frightened of what she would say about his medical failure that he demanded a certificate of unfitness.

The Battalion to which the 47th Duke of Cambridge’s Own Company joined out the in South Africa, the 13th Battalion, was as one write put it, ‘the Imperial Yeomanry dream’, as Wyndham, the creator of the Yeomanry, had wanted it to represent the cream of British manhood and the ‘13th Battalion took his scheme to its ultimate extreme’. The 45th Company from Dublin had Masters of Foxhounds and the sons of much of Ireland’s legal establishment in its ranks. The 47th Company, as mentioned, came from some of England’s wealthiest families, and the 46th and 54th from Belfast represented Ulster Unionism’s commitment to the Imperial cause. The battalion’s officers included Lord Longford, Lord Ennismore, the Earl of Leitrim, James Craig, later Lord Craigavon, and Sir John Power of the Irish whiskey distilling family. Politics, money, patriotism and class, the combination was irresistible to the press and public, some of whom dubbed the battalion the ‘Millionaires’ Own’.

On arrival in South Africa, the 47th Duke of Cambridge’s Own Company, well connected as well as well heeled, only spent a week in the unpleasant surroundings of the Imperial Yeomanry camp at Maitland. Admittedly their reward was weeks of training on the edge of the Karoo Desert north of Cape Town but life there was eased by the arrival of the Dublin men to keep them company and of a spectacular array of food, drink and other luxuries which had been sent out from England. On 15th May the two companies arrived in Bloemfontein to meet the Ulstermen, who had come straight from Maitland, and just a week later he newly assembled battalion was given its first orders for active service.

The 13th Battalion was then tasked with joined General Colvile’s 9th Division, which was short of mounted troops, and as such the yeomanry was detailed to link up with Colvile at Ventersburg, south of Kroonstad, but because they were delayed waiting for forage, they did not arrive in time, and Colvile had by then begun his march east to Lindley and then north to Heilbron, taking the right flank during Robert’s march on Johannesburg. The 13th Battalion Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Basil Spragge, was an experienced regular infantry officer, and he was then handed a telegram, the origins of which are still a mystery. The telegram basically ordered Spragge to join Colville at Lindley. Colvile later denied all knowledge of this telegram, and there is speculation that the Boers had tapped the telegraph lines and sent a bogus message to lure the yeomanry to destruction. It was still a risky deception, as Colvile himself was heading to Lindley with the 9th Division, and it he had done so, and then lingered long enough, the yeomanry would have caught up with him, providing much needed strength to the 9th Division. Colvile’s intelligence officer later confirmed that Colvile did not give this order, but despite the speculation it does not seem likely that the Boers did send the order, and more than likely it was just down to bad staff work at British headquarters who had issued the orders to Spragge, and failed to inform Colvile. Nevertheless is played right into the hands of the Boers.

The 13th Battalion marched for Lindley at daybreak on the 26th May, and that afternoon met a party of armed Boers who claimed to be going to Kroonstad to surrender, and Spragge naively disarmed them, invited them to lunch and then allowed them to go. The Boers promptly returned to Lindley with much valuable information. As Private Maurice Fitzgibbon of the Dublin company, son of one of Ireland’s most senior judges, recalled: “The scouts of the Boer commandos at Lindley had been permitted to enter our lines to find out our numbers, our armaments and the amount of our supplies, had even had lunch with us and all this information and hospitality at the expense of a few out-of-date rifles and a few perjured oaths.” The Boer’s now knew of the yeomanry;s approach but Colvile did not. When the yeomanry rode into Lindley the following afternoon, it quickly became apparent that all was not well. Colvile was gone, and no letter or message of any sort left, the town being ominously deserted and the people too frightened to give any information. Within an hour of the yeomanry’s arrival, the Boers opened fire from some of the houses, and the yeomanry were ordered to evacuate the town, which was commanded by hills and difficult to defend, and then retreat to where they had left their baggage some three miles to the west on the Kroonstad Road. After fighting a rear guard action they regrouped on the northern bank of the Valsh River.

Spragge now made the most crucial decision of the entire Lindley affair. He could either make a run for it, or set up his defences and send for help. His decision to do the latter was later heavily criticised, but in reality Spragge could not have ordered a move that night, although there was a window of opportunity, albeit a brief and highly risky one the following morning. By the time the entire Battalion had regrouped outside Lindley it was 5 pm, the men were tired, and so were the horses which had come 87 miles in three days. If Spragge had abandoned the baggage and tried to escape the Boer noose that night, the 13th Battalion would have probably met with disaster. These were inexperienced troops, still soft from too much good living in Britain and unfamiliar with the country; to expect them to make a successful night march on exhausted horses was unrealistic. The only time Spragge might have successfully withdrawn was early the following morning, when his horses and men had got some rest, and before the Boers had gathered about him in large numbers. But even then, if he had abandoned his baggage and ridden as fast as possible towards safety, it was a desperately dangerous course of action. The Boers loved nothing more than sweeping down on vulnerable British columns and the 13th Battalion, which had never fired a shot in anger before it rode into Lindley, would have been easy prey for the Commandos. Furthermore Cragge knew that Rundle’s 8th Division was in the area as well as Colvile, and so his expectations of help were not unreasonable. His decision to stay where he was may have lacked the dash and drama of a gallop for safety but it was based on sound military common sense.

The position which Spragge had chosen was not a bad one, although the need to incorporate grazing for the horses and for a flock of sheep which the battalion had commandeered, meant that it was rather extended. Its centre was a 500 yard wide valley running south from the Kroonstad Road to the Valsh River. On the eastern side were two stong kopjes, the keys to the entire position, which were defended by the 47th Duke of Cambridge’s Own Company under Captain Clive Keith, a former officer in the 3rd Dragoon Guards. The valley was bounded to the north-west by a low plateau rising to a ridge with two conical kopjes. Soon after sunrise on the 28th the yeomen heard the crack of the first Boer rifleshots. The ground was mostly too hard to dig trenches and they lacked the right tools but the British had managed to build a number of stone shelters during the night which provided some cover. Gradually the fire increased in intensity, and as one man of the 47th recalled: “The men on the kopjes under Captain Keith were having a hot time of it. They signalled that there was a heavy fire on them from three different points but they had managed to build breastworks and were keeping the Boers at a distance. It was evident that the Boers outnumbered us and were increasing in strength.” That afternoon Captain Keith, the DCO’s popular commander, was killed by a bullet through the head. But despite some casualties and gnawing hunger, on the 28th and 29th May the British were not under serious pressure from the Boers.

However on the evening of the 29th, Piet De Wet arrived with reinforcements bringing the Boer forces up to about 2,500 men. More crucially, he brought with him four artillery pieces which were to seal the fate of the defenders. On the 30th the Boers drew the circle in more tightly and Spragge found that the grazing for his animals was becoming restricted. By the morning of the 31st the writing was one the wall for the defenders, who had acquitted themselves well despite their lack of experience. During the night the Boers had brought three guns into position south of the Valsch and the fourth onto a flat-topped kopje about a mile north of the DCO’s. Crouching in their positions the latter heard a boom followed by what one observed: “a peculiar shrieking in the air immediately above out heads” as the first shell came in. The DCO’s on the two crucial kopjes took the brunt of the artillery fire. The 47th man observed: ‘Another distant boom and a few moments of expectation. Someone had left a helmet and a greatcoat on a ledge of rock on the summit of the kopje a few yards in front. A few moments after the last boom there was a deafening crash and the piece of rock and the coat and helmet disappeared in a confused volcano of smoke and dust. They had got the range and our minutes were numbered.”

As more and more shells his the DCO’s position, under cover of this fire the Boers galloped up and ensconsed themselves among some boulders on the southernmost of the two stony kopjes. The DCO’s abandoned the position from the southern kopje, and as they retreated towards the northern kopje a white flag was raised by one of their men manning a picquet between the two hills, he being immediately shot in the thigh by one of his comrades. This however caused confusion, and others began to surrender, and also the northern kopje, making Spragge’s position untenable, and shortly after 2,30 pm, he ordered his force to surrender. The casualty list was a long one, Captain Keith and sixteen other ranks were killed, and later Sir John Power and three men died of their wounds, and four officers and twenty-eight men had been wounded. Another fifteen officer’s and 367 men were captured unwounded bringing the total Boer bag of prisoners to more then 400. In Britain news of the disaster was received with stunned incredulity. Questions were asked in the House of Commons and The Times called the surrender a humiliating episode.

Goschen is confirmed as having been present in action at Lindley from throughout the engagement, and was amongst those men taken prisoner, being subsequently released, and then sent home on 26th September 1900. A photograph exists of Goschen as a prisoner of war, this being taken in a POW Camp standing in the centre of the image with a cap on his head. His is identified as “E.H. Goschen, son of the (then) 1st Lord of the Admiralty”.

On his arrival back in Britain, Goschen once again took up his position with the Diplomatic Service, and was then appointed an honorary attaché to the Legation at Tangier. After three years he was sent to Egypt as private secretary to Sir W.E. Garstin at the Ministry of Public Works, and in 1908 joined the staff of the Egyptian Foreign Officer, and was later appointed Controller of the Secretariat in the Ministry of Finance, a post which he held for a long period.

Goschen was appointed an Officer of the Order of the Crown of Italy in the London Gazette for 2nd July 1909, and then appointed by His Highness the Khedive of Egypt to receive the Order of the Medjidieh 2nd Class in the London Gazette for 15th September 1911, and eventually received on the recommendation of His Highness the Sultan of Egypt the Order of the Nile 3rd Class in the London Gazette for 29th December 1916.

Goschen was a good looking man of great personal charm and a very kindly disposition. Socially he became extremely popular in Cairo, and was a good sportsman with a special affection for cricket. In 1929 he succeeded to the Baronetcy on the death of his father, and three months afterwards he was admitted as a Partner in the well known stockbroking firm of Joseph Sebag and Co. In the city, as in Cairo, his personal gifts and lovable character attracted all who were brought into relations with him, and he became one of the Trustees of the Stock Exchange Benevolent Fund. Goschen, who had married in 1908, Countess Marie Danneskjold Samsoe of Denmark, had two sons and two daughters. Sir Edward Goschen, Baronet, of Ardington House, Wantage, died in a nursing home in Oxford in 1933
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