COULSON, GUSTAVUS HAMILTON BLENKINSOPP, Lieutenant and Adjutant, was born at Wimbledon, Surrey, on 1 April, 1879, the only son of H J W Coulson, of Newbrough Hall, Northumberland, and of Caroline Unwin, daughter of Henry Unwin, Bengal Civil Service. He was a great-grandson of Colonel Blenkinsopp Coulson, of Blenkinsopp Castle, Northumberland, one of a family of distinguished soldiers. He joined the 4th Battalion (Princess of Wales's Own) Yorkshire Regiment , but left it in his twenty-first year to enter the King's Own Scottish Borderers in July, 1899. In January 1900, he went on active service to South Africa, and for his services in this campaign he was mentioned in Despatches by Lords Roberts and Kitchener, received the Medal with five clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 27 September 1901]: "Gustavus Hamilton Blenkinsopp Coulson, Lieutenant, King's Own Scottish Borderers". He was also awarded the Victoria Cross after his death by King Edward, for his gallantry near Lambrechtfontein, when he rallied his men and saved the guns in a rearguard action, as well as saving his servant's life. He was mortally wounded on this occasion. The decoration was handed to Lieutenant Coulson's representative, and was gazetted 8 August 1902: "Gustavus Hamilton Blenkinsopp Coulson, DSO, Lieutenant and Adjutant, King's Own Scottish Borderers, 7th Mounted Infantry. Date of Act of Bravery: 18 May, 1901. This officer, during a rearguard action near Lambrechtfontein, on the 18th May, 1901, seeing Corporal Cranmer, 7th Mounted Infantry, dismounted, his horse having been shot, remained behind and took him up on his own horse. He rode a short distance, when the horse was shot, and both Lieutenant Coulson and the corporal were brought to the ground. Lieutenant Coulson told Corporal Cranmer to get along with, the wounded horse as best he could, and he would look after himself. Corporal Cranmer got, on the horse and rode away to the column. No 4792, Corporal Shaw (Lincolns), 7th Mounted Infantry, seeing Lieutenant Coulson's position of danger, rode back through the rearguard and took him up on his horse. A few minutes later Corporal Shaw was shot through the body, and there is reason to believe that Lieutenant Coulson was wounded also, as he fell off his horse. Corporal Shaw fell off a few minutes later. This officer on many occasions throughout the campaign displayed great coolness and gallantry under fire". The act for which the Victoria Cross was awarded to Lieutenant Coulson was performed under the immediate command of Major F C Lloyd (of the Lincolns) and Colonel T D Pilcher, CB, ADC (late of the 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment ). Lieutenant Coulson was killed at Lambrechtfontein, Orange River Colony, on 18 May, 1901, aged 22. The following is a copy of a letter written by Colonel (now Major-General) T D Pilcher, CB:
dear mr coulson
You will doubtless have received news of the death of Lieutenant Coulson, and I write in the name of all the officers and men of the column which I command to tell you how sincerely we feel his loss and how much we admire the way in which he died. It may also be some poor consolation to you to know that before I heard of his death I recommended him for the Victoria Cross. On 19 May Lieutenant Coulson, as Adjutant of the 7th MI, about 300 strong (which with a pompom was acting independently under Major Lloyd), went back to see that the camp they were leaving at Lambrechtfontein, about fifteen miles south of Bothaville, was clear of ammunition, etc. At this time the rearguard were attacked, and the enemy pressed on them. Lieutenant Coulson rallied some men, and by his action saved a Maxim gun from falling into the enemy's hands. He afterwards galloped closer under the enemy's fire and got a wounded man on to his horse; the horse was shot. Corporal Shaw, Lincoln Regiment, helped Lieutenant Coulson on to his own horse, but after galloping a short distance felt himself hit through the back and felt Lieutenant Coulson fall off. Corporal Shaw managed to get to our carts, though severely wounded. Colonel Godfray is giving me your address. I am asking Major Lloyd, commanding 7th MI, to write to you. Lieutenant Coulson's body was buried on the scene of action by Dr May, whom I sent back with an ambulance. The enemy suffered more severely than Major Lloyd and party, for six dead Boers were found in one place, and the enemy did not succeed in taking any of our convoy. Please accept my sincerest sympathy in the loss of one whom I knew as a gallant, capable and hard-working officer, and believe me,
T D Pilcher".
VC, DSO, QSA (5) CC Paard Joh D-H Witt (Lt KOSB).
Regimental Museum Berwick-upon Tweed 2000.