L0RD GEORGE FRANCIS AUGUSTUS VERNON 8TH BARON VERNON
Captain Derbyshire Yeomanry
Died of disease, Wednesday 10th November, 1915
Buried at Pieta Military cemetery Malta .
The cemetery is located in Triq id-Duburi, 2 Km south west of Valletta on the road to Sliema.
Lord Vernon was born in Hanover Square London in 1888 His family home was at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire and Poynton Towers in Cheshire.
In 1898 George William Henry Warren Venables Vernon died prematurely at the age of only 44, and was succeeded by his son George Francis Augustus, then only ten years old, He never married and was succeeded by his brother Francis Lawrence William ( A lieutenant in the Royal Navy) in 1915. Under the terms of his father's will the young heir became a ward of his aunt, the Honourable Adela Anson.
After completing his education at Stone House Collage and Eton he moved to Poynton to live at the Towers, with Adela and her husband, Captain Anson.
He astonished the village by leading a life of lavish entertainment and was frequently fined for speeding with his new motor car. He became for a time a member of the Diplomatic Corps serving as the honorary attaché in Constantinople. He was also attached to the legation at Munich from 1909 until the outbreak of war . In 1909 there was a coming of age celebration .The village was decorated, and there was a feast for 3,000 people on Poynton Green, with a two day party at which commemorative plates were issued. . This occasion was marred by too much drinking and bad behaviour. Many plates were skimmed over Poynton Pool and sank.
He left an estate amounting to £65,420 with his personal wealth amounting to £47,663 a huge fortune in 1915. He left £2,000 to Maurice York in the estate office at Sudbury and a £50 annuity to his old nurse Mrs Grant.
The Derbyshire Yeomanry were part of the pre-war Territorial Force establishment and were part of the Notts and Derby Mounted Brigade .Of this small regiment only the 1/1 served overseas with the 1/2nd and the 1/3rd left behind to fulfil their home defence role.
The 1/1st Derbyshire Yeomanry were sent to Norfolk 0n August 12th 1914 and were billeted in villages around Diss and Thrandeston .By the beginning of October they were moved to Moulsford where they became part of the 2nd Mounted Division, and with the South Nottingshire Hussars and the Sherwood Rangers they formed the 3rd Mounted Brigade. By November the whole Division were sent to the east coast, billeted round Cromer and neighbouring villages. They remained there until April 1915 when all units of the 2nd mounted Division embarked for overseas.
The Regiment entrained for Avonmouth on April 13th with a strength of 27 Officers, 505 Warrant Officers, NCO's & Men, and 584 horses.
Later that day Captain Lord Vernon embarked upon the transport ship Saturnia with 22 Officers and 378 Warrant Officers, NCO's & Men, The horses, 5 Officers, and 127 Men embarked upon the transport ship Montreal.
They landed at Alexandria on the 27th. The regiment encamped at Sidi bishr then moved on to Cairo. At the beginning of July 1915 ( Whilst the remainder of the regiment looked after the horses) ¾ of the regiment were sent to the Suez canal. Then on August 13th together with other detachments from the division they were sent on to Gallipoli . They landed at Sulva bay on August 17th.
The eight month campaign in Gallipoli was fought by Commonwealth and French forces in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war, to relieve the deadlock of the Western Front in France and Belgium, and to open a supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea .
The Yeomanry Regiments that went to Gallipoli were restructured into just two 'double squadrons' of 160 each, plus an MG Section . The Gallipoli bound men were given infantry webbing which invalided infantrymen from the Cairo hospitals had to show them how to assemble. On leaving Cairo, one regiment marched to the station still wearing their spurs in protest at being used as infantry. They were entrained to Alexandria, embarked on ships and sent straight into Gallipoli with no infantry training. A few days later they were in action marching across the Salt Lake to Chocolate Hill where they subsequently made a disastrous attack . At about 5.00 p.m. the troops of the 2nd Mounted Division, including The Derbyshire Yeomanry, were ordered forward from their reserve position on Lala Baba, near the beach. They advanced, marching in formation, across the bed of a dry salt lake. Because of the clouds of mist and smoke in the air they had little idea of where they were going. The 5,000 men of the five brigades formed in columns by regiment and, marching in extended order, were easy targets for the shrapnel. Most of them halted in the cover of Green Hill, west of Scimitar Hill.Casualties amounted to 78 with 20 dead .
The Derbyshire Yeomanry went in to Gallipoli with 362 all ranks and left less than 3 months later with 78, of which 45 were returned from the Casualty clearing Station on the day of departure. The effective strength was only 33.
It was at Gallipoli that Lord Vernon contacted dysentery. Disease added misery to the atrocious living conditions of the men at Gallipoli. Dysentery began to affect them. Caused by poor hygiene and sanitation, it passed from man to man by flies and in the drinking water. The men became affected by stomach cramps and extreme diarrhoea. Some were so bad that they died, others were evacuated by small ships to Moudros harbour on Lemnos, an hour away. Here the sick and wounded men were transferred to hospital ships that took their cargoes to Egypt or to Malta. The journey would have taken about four days.Lord Vernon went to Malta with hundreds of other cases of dysentery and subsequently died at St Andrew’s hospital on the 10th November 1915. Of the 213,000 casualties on Gallipoli 145,000 were due to sickness
QUOTE FROM THE WESTMINSTER GAZETTE
A correspondent writes to the Westminster gazette. “Lord Vernon was most dearly loved by his contemporaries, the welcoming shout of his name as he came into a room full of them will dwell in our memories. He was very rich and very delicate and unspoilt by either accident. For money he had no care, all he possessed was at the disposal of chance, or of anyone who wanted it, He treated his health with equal indifference .The moment he was out of the doctors hands he resumed his habitual serene recklessness, and no repetition of illness warned him to pay the least regard to himself .That so essentially delicate a man should have struggled through so many months of campaigning is like a visible hammer proclaiming his courage .He was rather changeable and capricious in tastes but quite unchanging in his friends, Fastidious, and impulsive ,his most hasty and witty criticisms were annulled by his unforgettable laugh, kind and gay. Through many months of trying physical conditions abroad his spirits never deserted him .He had ambition and quick ability, and the war seemed to have ended his wandering years and brought him to grips with the world . He was just 27 when he died but no thought of waste can enter in with regard to a life that has devoted so gaily for an overmastering cause.”
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank Phil Underwood for compiling this page on Lord Vernon