George Elliott Benson
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British soldier, who died a hero’s death in the Battle of Brakenlaagte in the Second Boer War.
Benson joined the Royal Artillery as a lieutenant in 1880 and first served in the Sudan, fighting in the brutal Battle of Tamai (where two Victoria Crosses were won) and the Battle of Hasheen (where he was slightly wounded.)
His next experience of service was in the Fourth Ashanti War (1895-96) under Sir Francis Scott.
In 1896, as Brigade Major, he served with the Dongola Expeditionary force under Kitchener and two years later was in the Nile Expedition to rescue General Gordon in Khartoum.
Benson was then selected for special service in South Africa in the Second Boer War, serving with the Kimberley Relief Force under Lord Methuen. At the Battle of Modder Rover (28 November 1899) he took over from Lieutenant-Colonel Northcott, who had been killed, fought at the Battle of Magersfontein (11 December 1899) and took part in the Relief of Kimberley (15 February 1900).
On October 31, 1901 the much-feared 2000-strong No.3 Flying Column Benson commanded was attacked, in blinding rain and mist, by the Boers under Louis Botha, Grobler, Brits and Viljoen. In overwhelming numbers. they stormed a ridge held by the small, isolated rearguard of Benson’s forces, killing 123 men out of a total of 160. Benson rushed to the thick of the action, and though mortally wounded, continued to direct action and rally his men. In addition to Benson, 12 other officers were killed and 16 wounded. This rearguard action allowed the main column time to deploy and set up a defensive perimeter, preventing the attacking Boer forces from riding on and capturing the main column as originally planned. The Boers left the field with the spoils they could carry and the British carried in the wounded to the entrenched camp during the night.
This action, at Brakenlaagte, is regarded as one of the most savage of the entire war.There is a memorial to Benson in his home town of Hexham, in Northumberland.
This is a very fine signature in ink, cut from a letter, on a piece measuring 5" x 2.5". In very good condition. RARE.