Friday, 18 January 2013
Charles James Blomfield
Major General Charles James BLOMFIELD CB DSO Haileybury 1868.2 -USC 1874.3 - 1874.3
He was horn at Bow, Devonshire, 26 May 1855, second son of the Reverend George J Blomfield, Rector of Aldington, Kent, and Isabel, daughter of Right Reverend Charles James Blomfield, Lord Bishop of London. He was educated at HAILEYBURY, and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst; entered the Army as Sub-Lieutenant (unattached) 11 February 1875; 20th Foot 11 February 1875; for 1st Class at Royal Military College, became Lieutenant, 20th Foot, 11 February 1875; was Adjutant, Lancashire Fusiliers, 27 August 1880 to 20 November 1883; Captain, Lancashire Fusiliers, 1 July 1881. He married, 18 August 1881, in Dublin, Henriette Elizabeth Briscoe, daughter of Major E Briscoe (The Lancashire Fusiliers), and their sons were: Myles Aldington Blomfield, Commander, Royal Navy (born in 1885), and Patrick Valentine Blomfield, Lieutenant, 2nd Lancers, Indian Army (born 1893). He was Adjutant, Auxiliary Forces, 18 January 1884 to 17 January 1889; became Major 31 July 1890; was Acting Military Secretary to His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, Bombay Army, in 1891; DAAG, Bombay, 27 October 1892 to 9 January 1897; AAG, India, 10 January 1897 to 31 December 1897. He became Lieutenant Colonel 15 October 1898; served in the Sudan Expedition in 1898; was present at the Battle of Khartoum; was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 30 September 1898]; received the Egyptian Medal with clasp, and the Queen's Medal, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 15 November 1898]: "Charles James Blomfield, Colonel, The Lancashire Fusiliers. In recognition of services during the recent operations in the Sudan". The Insignia, Warrant and Statutes were sent to the GOC, Gibraltar and presented by him 15 December 1898. He was in command of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers from December 1899 to 27 October 1900; commanded 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers in the South African War, 1899-1902; was with the Ladysmith Relief Force in the operations of 17 to 24 January 1900, and was severely wounded at Spion Kop.
Sir A Conan Doyle says, on pages 196 and 197 of 'The Great Boer War': "By the morning of January 22 the regiments were clustering thickly all round the edges of the Boer main position, and the day was spent in resting the weary men and in determining at what point the final assault should be delivered. On the right front, commanding the Boer lines on either side, towered the stark, eminence of Spion Kop, so called because from its summit the Boer voortrekkers had first in 1835 gazed down upon the promised land of Natal. If that could only be seized and held! Buller and Warren swept its bald summit with their field-glasses. It was a venture. But all war is a venture; and the brave man is he who ventures most. One fiery rush and the master-key of all these locked doors might be in our keeping. That evening there came a telegram to London which left the whole empire in a hush of anticipation. Spion Kop was to be attacked that night. The troops which were selected for the task were eight companies of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, six of the 2nd Royal Lancasters, two of the 1st South Lancashires, 180 of Thorneycroft's, and half a company of Sappers. It was to be a North of England job. Under the friendly cover of a starless night the men, in Indian file, like a party of Iroquois braves upon the war-trail, stole up the winding and ill-defined path which led to the summit. Woodgate, the Lancashire brigadier, and Blomfield of the Fusiliers, led the way. It was a severe climb of 2,000 feet, coming after arduous work over broken ground, but the affair was well timed, and it was at that blackest hour which precedes the dawn that the last steep ascent was reached. The Fusiliers crouched down among the rocks to recover their breath, and saw far down in the plain beneath them the placid lights which showed where their comrades were resting. A fine rain was falling, and rolling clouds hung low over their heads. The men with unloaded rifles and fixed bayonets stole on once more, their bodies bent, their eyes peering through the mirk for the first sign of the enemy—that enemy whose first sign has usually been a shattering volley. Thorneycroft's men with their gallant leader had threaded their way up into the advance. Then the leading files found that they were walking on the level. The crest had been gained. With slow steps and bated breath the open line of skirmishers stole across it,. Was it possible that it had been entirely abandoned? Suddenly a raucous shout of 'Wie da?' came out of the darkness, then a shot, then a splutter of musketry and a yell, as the Fusiliers sprang onwards with their bayonets. The Boer post of Vryheid burghers clattered and scrambled away into the darkness, and a cheer that roused both the sleeping armies told that the surprise had been complete and the position won. In the grey light of the breaking day the men advanced along the narrow, undulating ridge, the prominent end of which they had captured. Another trench faced them, but it was weakly held and abandoned. Then the men, uncertain what remained beyond, halted and waited for full light to see where they were, and what the work was which lay before them—a fatal halt, as the result proved, and yet one so natural that it is hard to blame the officer who ordered it. Indeed, he might have seemed more culpable had he pushed blindly on, and so lost the advantage which had been already gained". Sir A Conan Doyle goes on to describe the action at Spion Kop, and says that "the losses in the action were very heavy, not fewer than fifteen hundred being killed, wounded or missing, the proportion of killed, being, on account of the shell fire, abnormally high. The Lancashire Fusiliers were the heaviest sufferers, and their Colonel, Blomfield, was wounded, and fell into the hands of the enemy". Colonel Blomfield took part in the operations in the Transvaal, east of Pretoria, 30 November 1900 to 31 May 1902 (was Colonel on the Staff to command District in 1900, and in command of columns); operations on the Zululand Frontier of Natal in September 1901; was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 8 February 1931 and 23 July 1902], and received the Brevet of Colonel 29 November 1900, the Queen's Medal with four clasps, and the King's Medal with two clasps. He became Colonel 24 June 1902; was Colonel on the Staff, commanding Harrismith and Natal Sub-District, South Africa, from 24 June 1902 to 29 June 1906; was created a CB in 1906; became Major General 12 February 1907; was GOC, Wessex Division, Southern Command, from 1 January 1909 to 9 February 1911; commanded Mhow Division, India, from 3 March 1911 to November 1912; commanded the Peshawar Division from 1913 to 25 June 1915, and a Division, Territorial Force, from November 1915 to July 1917. Major General C J Bomfield, CB, DSO, was placed on the retired list on account of having attained the age limit 18 July 1917. Died 3 March 1928.