Marking the centenary of the death of Sir George Wombwell
Sir George had joined the Lancers in 1852, and at the age of 22 he received orders for active service in the Crimea as aide de camp to Lord Cardigan, the commander of the Light Brigade.
He was at Lord Cardigan side during the charge, and had almost reached the enemy guns when his horse was shot from under him. He found himself, dazed and on foot, in the middle of the carnage.
He managed to mount a stray horse and joined the second line of the Light Brigade as it came crashing into the enemy guns. However, his horse became so exhausted it refused to move no matter how much he tried to it with his spurs.
Masked by the smoke and the confusion of the battle, he managed to sneak past two parties of Cossack lancers. Then he heard a fierce shout and five Cossacks came riding towards him with sabres drawn, ordering him to throw down his weapons. Seeing that resistance was useless he did as he was told. His pistol was seized and he was dragged roughly from his mount.
A Russian officer came up and asked him if he spoke French, which he had learned at Eton, upon which the officer told him not to be alarmed as his men were only rough in their manners. Considering Sir George to be a good prize as he was an officer, he was marched off towards the Russian lines between two of men, with three more behind.
Suddenly, he saw a unit of cavalry ahead of him and heard a harsh voice shout out, a horse you young fool, and come with us! It was Lord Cardigan. Sir George took his commander advice. Another horse came by, which he mounted, bending forward beside the animal neck to avoid bullets fired at him by Cossacks.
Somehow he managed to get away. The Cossacks did not dare to pursue him for fear of the mad English horsemen who had made such a foolish, but courageous, charge. Sir George eventually got back to the British lines, and that night he wrote a letter home which began, has been a dreadful day for the Light Brigade ## ## . He went on to live a long and full life, although one marked by tragedy. Sir George father died in 1855 and he succeeded him as 4th Baronet Wombwell. He was appointed High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1861, and on September 3 that year he married Lady Julia Child Villiers, a daughter of the 6th Earl of Jersey.
They had three daughters named Julia Georgiana (born in 1862), Mabel Caroline (born 1863), and Cecilia Clementina (born in 1864), and two sons. George was born in 1865, and Stephen Frederick was born in 1867.
On February 4 1869, Sir George was involved in a tragic accident while with the York and Ainsty Hunt. A large party of dignitaries totalling a dozen men and horses were attempting to cross the River Ure near Ripley by ferry, which was already swollen and running a torrent, when the horses panicked and caused the boat to capsize. Six men were drowned, and Sir George only managed to survive by climbing onto the hull of the upturned boat.
Tragically, both his sons died on active service. In 1889, Sir George received news that his son George had died in India while serving with the King Royal Rifle Corps.
Then in 1901 he received a telegram informing him that Stephen had died of fever while serving with the Imperial Yeomanry during the Boer War.
Sir George died on October 16, 1913, and was buried in the family plot at St Michael Church in Coxwold. His title and 12,000 acre estate passed to his brother Henry.