Friday 22 April 2016

The Death of Lieutenant-Colonel Younghusband

Saturday 22nd April 1916: We have learned with regret that Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Younghusband DSO was killed yesterday in Mesopotamia. He came from an old Northumberland family who have always given their sons for service in the army or navy. Owing to the early death of his father, it was thought best that he enter civilian life. This idea not suiting him, he insisted on enlisting in his uncle’s (who had been killed in South Africa) old Regiment, the South Wales Borderers, giving his age as 18 when he was only just 17 years old. A commission was offered him in two years’ time, but he did not see his way clear to accepting it. However, four years later, in 1900, he was gazetted as Second Lieutenant in the Bedfordshires. He saw active service in Jabaland and Somaliland with the King’s African Rifles and in 1901 he distinguished himself by his coolness and resource and management of a maxim-gun in Sanala Zariba. From Somaliland he joined his own regiment, the Bedfords(1), in South Africa. In 1905 he married the eldest daughter of Mr E Thompson-Smith JP, of Colchester (cousin of Mr Geoffrey Howard of Bedford). He again joined the King’s African Rifles in British East Africa(2). In October 1908 he was given his captaincy, while his majority was gazetted September 1st, 1915.

When war broke out he was adjutant of 5th Battalion, Bedfordshires, with which, after a year’s training, he went to the Gallipoli Peninsula, where the 1st/5th Bedfords did so well and earned the name of the “Yellow Devils”. There he won his DSO, for conspicuous bravery on the field of battle and was mentioned in despatches. Having recovered from a wound he took over command of the 7th Gloucesters, being gazetted Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel on January 24th of this year and with them went to Mesopotamia, where he has just been killed in action(3). Twice Major Younghusband has been stationed in Bedford, where all those who knew him loved and respected him. He was a great favourite with his brother officers in all the battalions with which he has served. He leaves a widow and a little girl.

Source: Bedfordshire Times, 5th May 1916

(1) 2nd Battalion
(2) Now Kenya

(3) Part of 39th Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. They were trying to relieve the Turkish siege of Kut-el-Amara but failed and Kut surrendered on 29th April. Younghusband has no known grave and is commemorated on the Basra Memorial. His widow Ethel lived at “Tuggall”, Burke’s Road, Beaconsfield [Buckinghamshire]. He was 39.

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