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TOPIC: Lt. Colonel Arnold Herklots, D.S.O.

Lt. Colonel Arnold Herklots, D.S.O. 2 weeks 2 days ago #69248

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Arnold HerklotsD.S.O. (M.i.D.x2)

Lieutenant, Imperial Yeomanry (attached)
Lieutenant, Army Service Corps – Anglo Boer War
Major, Army Service Corps – WWI
Lt. Colonel, Army Service Corps – North West Frontier

- Distinguished Service Order (GV) unnamed as issued
- Queens South Africa Medal with clasps Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 & 1902 to 2 Lt. A. Herklots, A.S.C.
- 1914 Star with Mons clasp to Capt. A. Herklots, A.S.C.
- British War Medal to Major A. Herklots
- Victory Medal to Major A. Herklots
- India General Service Medal (1908) with clasp Waziristan 1921-24 to Major A. Herklots, A.S.C.

Arnold Herklots was born in Clifton, Bristol, England on 18 October 1879, the son of James Gibson Craig Herklots and his wife, Emma (born Vos). Mr Herklots senior was a civil servant in India which is where he met and married his wife, in Calcutta, on 24 February 1860. Mr Herklots became a Coffee Planter and, one must assume, a reasonably affluent man.

At some stage he and his family returned to India but, having most likely disposed of his business interests – he took his family back to England, sailing from Madras aboard the Clan Mc Pherson on 29 April 1884.

The first glimpse we have of Arnold was at the age of 5 when he was admitted to Bedford Kindergarten School in September 1884. The family were living at 4 Albany Street, Bedford at the time. Arnold was to spend a few years at this school before, in December 1887, being sent to St. Lawrence’s College in Ramsgate, entering there in the Summer Term of 1894 when he was 14 years old. From there he was sent to further his studies at the famous Merchant Taylors’ School – leaving that august institution in 1898.

Whilst at St’ Lawrence’s he had his fair share of excitement. The Thanet Advertiser of 9 May 1896, in an article headed “ANOTHER FATALITY AT DOVER CLIFFS” recorded that:

‘Another fatality has occurred from the cliffs to the eastward of Dover, making the fifth within the past few weeks. On Wednesday afternoon a youth names William Gilbert Hooker, a son of a master at the South-Eastern College, Ramsgate, arrived by train at Martin Mill station, where he was joined by a pupil of the College named Arnold Herklots, who had ridden from Ramsgate on his machine.

They proceeded together from St. Margaret’s Bay and walked under the cliffs to the South Foreland. Near the lighthouse they began to ascend the cliff in search of seagull’s eggs, and when they had got up some fifty feet Hooker lost his footing and fell to the bottom. His companion succeeded in descending safely, and assistance being procured, Hooker was removed to St. Margaret’s Bay, where he was attended by Dr. Polland. The unfortunate young fellow, who was only 17 years of age, expired some few hours afterwards, without gaining consciousness’.

There was a follow-up article in the same publication on 16 May 1896 – a week later: -


In connection with the sad incident from Dover Cliffs, an inquest was held upon the body of the young gentleman, who had sustained fatal injuries by a fall when searching for seagull eggs. His father said: ‘I saw him alive and well on Wednesday morning, when I gave him permission to come with a companion to St. Margaret’s. I know with him he was going; he was also a boy at the school’. (Herklots)

Arnold Herklots, of Linton, St. Mildred’s Road, Ramsgate, said – I was a school companion of the deceased. We met by arrangement at Martin Mill Railway Station on Wednesday at one o’ clock. I rode over on my bicycle and he by train. We walked to the cliffs and along the shore. I had been used to climbing at other places, but not along these cliffs, previously. We climbed a short distance, but obtaining nothing near where there is an iron ladder at the bottom of the South Foreland we decided to go further along towards Dover.

The deceased was not an expert climber or an agile boy. He remarked that the grass was very firm to hold on to. That was all we were holding on by. Just before he slipped I said “Are you accustomed to climbing? Are you apt to get giddy?” and he replied that he did not know, as he had never tried it. Then I told him not come on. A few moments after that I heard the ground below me giving way; I turned and saw him falling, first rolling and then falling sheer.

He did not utter a sound. The impetus going down through him out, and he fell clear some twenty-five to thirty feet on to the flat stones on the beach. It was very steep but not perpendicular. I came down immediately and undid his things, then ran to St. Margaret’s Bay for assistance. The tide was coming in, but he was lying above the high water mark. There was no-one near.

I obtained the assistance of the coastguards and three other men and two men went in a boat. The deceased was alive when I first came down. I did not return with the men, but went for a Doctor and returned with him. Deceased was brought to the bay and taken to the “Green Man” Inn.”

The above serves to indicate that, from a young age, Herklots was exposed to the harsh realities of death – perhaps something which was to serve him well in his military career.

Unlike his brothers, at least one of which went into the Church of England, Herklots wasn’t sent up to Oxford or Cambridge to further his studies – perhaps the family had determined that he was destined for the army? The patriarchal structure of the well-heeled Victorian family dictated that, whilst the older son would inherit the estate, the remaining sons would find themselves as ordained ministers in the Church (where they would then find a living to provide for their needs), or would buy a commission in the army.

Arnold Herklots was the third son and, although the system referred to above had changed towards the end of Victoria’s reign, the vestiges of it were still very much there.

The Anglo Boer War burst onto the international stage on 11 October 1899 with the two Dutch-speaking Republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State in faraway South Africa pitted against the might of the British Empire. The commencement of the war saw several reverses for the Imperial effort and the towns of Kimberley, Mafeking and Ladysmith were besieged within the first few weeks. The number of Imperial troops on the ground were hopelessly inadequate and, after the reverses of what was termed “Black Week”, an urgent call went out for additional manpower.

Aside from the Regular Army, those that responded were Colonials in South Africa, who raised any number of units, as well as the creation of an Imperial Yeomanry, back in Great Britain. The Yeomanry effort was well subscribed – the first wave in 1900 – consisted in the main, of gentlemen who left the comfort of their clubs and their idle lifestyle and volunteered in droves for the “front”.

Herklots who had already been commissioned on 6 September 1900 as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Waterford Artillery (Southern Division) – a Militia unit – signed up for, and was Gazetted on 8 March 1901, as being seconded to the Imperial Yeomanry with effect from 20 February 1901. The Yeomanry were in drastic need of officers and it thus made perfect sense that these would be sourced from the Militia.

Having arrived in South Africa it would appear that he was seconded to the Army Service Corps and attached to Colonel Pilcher’s Column for operations in the Cape and Orange Free State, where he was also attached to General Broadwood. The operational service of most officers, unless they stood out from the crowd, would not normally be covered in any detail in the various histories written on the war but, what makes Herklots different is the remarks column on his medal roll – here it is clearly stated, when confirming his three state clasps, that he was in the “Cape Colony with Lt. Colonel Pilcher’s Column (attached A.S.C.). In the Orange River Colony with Lt. Colonel Pilcher’s Column (attached A.S.C.) and General Broadwood’s Column”. He was then stationed in the Transvaal, at Pretoria, doing convoy duty (attached A.S.C.).

Based on the above I have traced Pilcher and Broadwood’s Columns and actions, assuming that Herklots would have been “in attendance”. The Times History of the War has been widely consulted in this regard.

On 13 March the British forces entered Bloemfontein, seizing the capital of the Orange Free State. This did not, however, occasion the end of the fight as far as the Free State was concerned – the Boer President merely translocated himself and his cabinet to another spot in the country in what was the first of many such moves as the noose around his men tightened. Pilcher, to whose column Herklots was attached, was detached to Leeuw River, some twenty three miles east of Thaba ‘Nchu, to occupy some flour mills. At first it was thought that there was no Boer activity in the area but the situation of Pilcher’s little force was precarious for the next five days – barely 200 strong, it lay across the path of a force of Boers, under Olivier, which could have engulfed it at any moment. Fortunately, Olivier’s intelligence was wanting and he decided to avoid Pilcher and go round him en route to Ladybrand.

Hearing that the residents of the town were wavering between peace and continued struggle, Pilcher took two thirds of his men in a flying descent on Ladybrand. But he only had time to raid the court house and make prisoners of the Magistrate and Veld Kornet before finding that Olivier, with a strong Commando, was closeby. As this Commando approached Pilcher had just time to escape to the covering force he had on the Platberg outside Ladybrand and make god his escape to Leeuw River.

General Broadwood, who had been sent into the district around Thaba ‘Nchu to collect weapons from surrendering Boers was surprised by the size of the force Olivier had in the area. He had no intention of fighting 5000 men and thus determined to march out of Thaba ’Nchu.

Escorted by Pilcher’s force, they headed for Bloemfontein taking civilians along with them. Late that night Pilcher and the convoy crossed the Modder River, having been harassed by Olivier along the way, and made camp at the Waterworks, just outside Bloemfontein. They were also blissfully unaware that De Wet had set a trap for them.

On arrival at the Waterworks, Pilcher placed a few sentries about 200 yards from the bivouac, but neither he nor Broadwood troubled themselves to send any outposts further afield. At 6 a.m. the next morning the Boer guns opened fire on those in the bivouac. Broadwood tried to get the range so that his guns could return fire but thought better of it and determined on a withdrawal, ordering his guns to retire. No sooner had this order been given when Pilcher rode up, reporting that 300 Boers had been seen galloping along the hills to the north in the direction of Boesman’s Kop.

What followed was to become known as the action at Sannah’s Post. “U” and “Q” Battery of Broadwood’s artillery had, in the general commotion occasioned by Broadwood’s decision to withdraw, entered a Drift which was manned by a Boer force in complete silence.

Without a shot being fired the Boers had surrounded “U” Battery and quietly effected their surrender. “Q” Battery, which had come up behind them, wheeled round as De Wet’s men opened fire and headed for the buildings at Sannah’s Post. Once reached they unlimbered their guns and returned the fire.

Broadwood saw an opportunity to turn defence into attack and ordered his cavalry in a flanking movement round the back of the Boers in the spruit however, as they never came on, he deemed it prudent to order a full retirement. This left the remains of “Q” Battery to fend almost for themselves – if they were to save the guns desperate measures would have to be employed. Calling for volunteers, Hornby and Humphries led teams of horses over the open veld to retrieve and bring the guns. Under a withering and deadly fire, they managed to rescue five guns in what was later to become a Victoria Cross action. Pilcher’s outfit and the remainder of Broadwood’s force retired in stages with the advancing Boers reaching to within 20 yards of them before being temporarily driven back. The cost for the British was appalling – of 1800 men fully one-third were either dead, wounded or captured.

Robert’s advance into Boer territory continued relentlessly and in May 1900, with renewed vigour. Central Column which was to march up the railway under Roberts’ direct command, included Pilcher and his men. By the 5th Roberts was ready for the general advance over the Vet River which was accomplished without much resistance, the town of Winburg being occupied along the way. By the 12th Kroonstad had fallen and the Boers were in disarray despite Botha and President Steyn’s best efforts to rally them. Roberts’ now paused for breath and to stockpile his supplies.

On the 16th May Pilcher and his men were sent out on reconnaissance to Bothaville, with orders to capture any Boers who had returned to their farms – this operation netted 24 Boers and a quantity of arms and ammunition. On 24 May General French, to whom Pilcher was attached, crossed the Vaal River and entered the Transvaal – Pilcher, in charge of the baggage, crossed higher up at Lindeque Drift.

Whilst Roberts was preoccupied with the taking of Johannesburg and Pretoria; De Wet was undergoing a resurrection in the recently dominated Orange Free State – he had broken through the line at Thaba ‘Nchu and Roberts immediately ordered Knox to assume command of the three columns under Pilcher, Barker and Herbert, with orders to follow up and engage De Wet once found.

Pilcher was based at Kroonstad, 160 miles from his point of concentration at Edenburg, and he was ordered to entrain and move south on the night of 19 October. On the 26th they reached Oorlog’s Poort with the pursuit of De Wet now beginning in earnest. De Wet and Steyn were found, in a bad position, having breakfast at a farm near Vaalbank on the morning of the 27th. Pilcher galloped on hard, bringing 300 men and some guns into action and De Wet’s burghers made off without offering resistance.

On 1 December Pilcher and Barker came into Bethulie to stock up on supplies. On the 6th Pilcher was sent across the Orange River on a fruitless mission to Aliwal North. On his return he was involved in a number of cat and mouse operations with De Wet who had perfected the art of “hit and run” – attacking isolated and under-strength Lines of Communication and patrols and then, having deprived them of their bounty, galloping off to fight another day. This was guerilla warfare at its best.

On 25 January 1901 De Wet arranged for a gathering of all Free State Commando leaders at Doornberg – they had one object in mind – to strategise an invasion of the Cape Colony. At this point Pilcher’s column, under General Knox, was at Leeuw Kop, south east of Winburg. On the 27th De Wet crossed the border into the Cape Colony on his second raid. Knox, using Pilcher’s column, was ordered to pursue De Wet unaided – Pilcher attacked De Wet at Tabaksberg on the morning of the 29th, and engaged him with the utmost boldness all day, while the heavy Boer convoy wound its way to the south.

Well placed and numerous, the Boers held their ground to the evening, and at night struck back with some effect at Crewe, capturing a pom-pom.

The intention is not to bore the reader with a blow by blow account of every action in which Herklots could, conceivably, have taken part. Suffice it to say that, with both Pilcher and Broadwood, he would have been exposed to plenty of action as the conquest of the Boer forces wound to its inevitable close. By the time peace came on 31 May 1902, the Boers were, with exceptions, a spent force. They had been harried and harassed across the length and breadth of South Africa and were almost out of arms and ammunition. The will to continue the fight was still beating in the bosom of many but cooler heads prevailed and the war came to a close.

The London Gazette of 2 September 1902, under the Imperial Yeomanry (in South Africa), conveyed the news that. “Unattached, Second Lieutenant A. Herklots, on appointment to the Army Service Corps, relinquishes his Commission. Dated 16 August 1902.” The Army List confirms 1 year 177 days service with the Imperial Yeomanry before joining the A.S.C. on 16 August 1902.

Herklots, left South Africa aboard the “Norman” for England on 17 December 1902 and, having arrived home, and after a period of leave, continued his regular army duties. On 1 April 1903 he was one of many A.S.C. officers who joined at Woolwich for a course of instruction in Riding and Foot drill and Gymnastics. Life, for most men in the military, was now a rather peaceful one. He was promoted to the rank of full Lieutenant on 18 February 1904.

A sad event took place in Herklots’ family circle with the death, by Fatal Accident, of his father, the following year. The 19 August 1905 edition of “The Courier” carried the story, under the heading COFFEE PLANTER’S DEATH: -

“At the preliminary hearings, evidence of identification was given by Lionel Vos, a nephew of the deceased. This witness stated that his uncle was aged 71. They went for a walk in the direction of Bridge, and on returning were walking on the road. They were suddenly overtaken by a cyclist. Witness did not hear a bell, but his uncle called to him to look out. They separated but deceased was caught in the back, and was knocked down. The cyclist was on his proper side and was travelling at a fairly good pace. The impact threw him from his machine. The deceased appeared to be somewhat hurt.

John Coppard, Carpenter of Station Cottages, Eridge, said that on the day of the accident he was cycling to Tunbridge Wells, and overtook the deceased and his nephew. When 50 yards off he sounded his bell. They divided, and witness, who was riding on the left side, deceased appeared to step right in front of the machine, and a collision resulted.”

As was frequently the case with army officers, Herklots moved about quite a bit, his appearance in the 1911 Census of Ireland, at the Royal Victoria Hotel in Killarney, County Kerry was, most likely for holiday purposes. This establishment of repute was owned and run by John Maher-Loughnan and an army of staff with Herklots and his wife of four years, Ethel, being the only boarders in residence.

Despite being a career soldier and privy to any number of secrets, Herklots would not have been able to predict that, in just over 3 years time, he and the world would be at war. On 4 August 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm II and his allies declared war on Great Britain and, by association, her allies. A veteran of the Boer War, as we have seen, nothing would have prepared Herklots or his comrades for what lay ahead. The sheer scale and ferocity of the fighting took the breath away of all that were engulfed in it. Thousands upon thousands of lives were, needlessly, lost over a few hundred feet of ground, only to have whatever the one side had gained in the process, reclaimed by the other a few hours later.

It didn’t take long for the British war effort to mobilise and the advance party of their forces, headed across the English Channel into France within a week of war being declared. There was plenty to be done in preparation for the arrival of the main army – the infantry, artillery, engineers and all the other divisions of an army on the move. This is where Herklots and his men were to play such a vital role – in many instances they were the unsung heroes of the war – to them fell the lot of having to supply and prepare all the logistics that would be necessary to make an army combat ready.

Arriving in the theatre of war as a Captain, Herklots was Officer Commanding 59 Divisional Supply Company of the A.S.C’s 1st Divisional Supply Column. The unit war diary paints a picture for us as to what happened in those first few days as it described the situation in Boué and Etreux in August 1914. The A.S.C arrived in Boué on 18 August 1914. At which time it had 2,000 inhabitants and 5,000 soldiers. Boué was a key detraining point for 1st Brigade, 1st Division. 59 Coy stayed in Nouvion.

25 August 1914: the new railhead is at Nouvion. The diary describes that day as being one of great confusion owing to an order having been issued that a general retirement was to take place. A French officer had spread a rumour that the Germans were in Landrecies. The French officer was arrested for spreading false rumours. Boué was overcrowded and there was no room in Nouvion. The unit eventually camped in the grounds of the chateau. Supplies were dumped at Prisches for the retreating troops. (The war, initially, was not going well for the British Expeditionary Force who were on the retreat in the face of a very determined German onslaught.

26 August: Received orders to retreat to St. Quentin. Herklots was involved in setting up supply dumps for British troops on the retreat to the Marne.

It is not the purpose of this work to trace Herklots every move across the length and breadth of the Western Front, suffice it to say that the role he and his men played in the war was key to the High Command’s ability to wage it. The first of many accolades that came his way was his Mention in Dispatches which appeared in the London Gazette of 20 October 1914. ‘

There was time for a spot of leave back home in “blighty” as well. In a letter to the Editor of the Reading Mercury on 27 May 1915, Herklots wrote, under the banner, “The A.S.C. at Earley”: -

“Sir – As it is impossible for the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of 178th Company, Army Service Corps, who have been stationed at Mr Oliver Dixon’s premises, to thank everybody individually for their kindness, I wish to take the opportunity of thanking all the kind friends who have assisted in both helping towards efficiency and also the numerous entertainments which Canon Fowler and his parishioners have so kindly and generously given.

It is with feelings of great gratitude and keen appreciation that all members of the 178th Company, Army Service Corps, leave Reading. Trusting that one and all will take this as a farewell thanks from the company under my command.

Your faithfully. Major Arnold Herklots

So there it was, Herklots had been promoted to Major. The London Gazette of 9 March 1916 carried the news under the heading “Deputy Assistant Director of Transport. (Graded for purposes of pay as a Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General), that Major Arnold Herklots, Army Service Corps, had been elevated to that position with effect from 12 February 1916.

The second of Herklot’s Mentions in Dispatches came courtesy of the London Gazette dated 4 January 1917, but his crowning accolade came with the award of the Distinguished Service Order, which was Gazetted on 1 January 1917. Herklots ended the war as a Major on the Staff of the D.D.S.T. and, having returned to England in 1919, was awarded the trio of medals for the Great War. With them came the emblem for the 1914 Star – as an early entrant to the war, he had qualified for this sought after award. The 1914 Star was initially sent to the R.A.S.C. at Portsmouth but was returned with the comments that “this officer is at present serving in India.”

Almost as a postscript to his war, Herklots was admitted to King Edward Hospital with an Anal Fissure on 10 November 1919 – after treatment he was discharged and placed on disability leave on 1 December 1919.

But what his wife whilst he was in France? Ethel Herklots was not standing idle – she volunteered for service and was a Canteener with the French Red Cross in 1917

Mention has already been made that he was sent to India for service. He was to spend many a year in that balmy climate and was able to add the Indian General Service Medal with Waziristan 1921-24 clasp, to his medal tally. He had qualified for this, according to the medal roll he signed on 7 June 1926, whilst commanding No. 8 (Indian) M.T. Company, R.A.S.C. from 4 April 1922 for a period of 1 year and 339 days. In his own words he stated that, “My name was included in rolls for those entitled to this medal before leaving India, but up till now nothing further has been heard of this application nor am I in receipt of the medal.”

The roll was signed at Portsmouth, indicating that Herklots was back in England for a while. The Portsmouth Evening News of 17 January 1927 carrying the news that, “After the service the old comrades returned to Colewort Barracks, where Lieut. Colonel A. Herklots. D.S.O., R.A.S.C., bade them farewell, this being his last time with the members prior to his departure for India.

He hoped the Association would continue to prosper, and promised that on his return from abroad he would renew his association with the organisation. The parade was then dismissed and the band played an excellent programmed till 1 p.m., the public being admitted to the Barracks.”

The June of 1928 found him stationed in India where, in the regimental newsletter, it was said that: -

‘Hearty congratulations are due to Lieut.-Col. A. Herklots, D.S.O., R.A.S.C., the Vice-President of the Sports Meeting, also to Capt., E. S. Woolf, O.B.E., I.A.S.C, the Secretary, who put in a large amount of time and hard work to make the day the success it was, and to the many officers and other ranks who contributed towards a galaxy of fun and good humour.’

But Herklots long service was drawing to an end – it was announced on 11th March 1930 that, on completion of 4 years' service as a Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel, A. Herklots was placed on the half-pay list (March 10th). Deciding that warmer climes ere more to their liking than an English weather, they opted to live in Italy. From there he and his wife set about travelling the globe – on 6 May 1939, they sailed for Montreal in Canada where they stayed at the Grosvenor Hotel. He was all of 59 years of age. In 1951, at the age of 71, he journeyed to Durban in South Africa for a visit but age and infirmity were catching up to him.

It was announced, on 8th November, 1957 that, after long painful illness bravely born, Colonel Arnold Herklots, D.S.O., aged 78, had passed away at his residence, Pensione Pitscheider, Merano Alto Adige in Milan, Italy. He left an estate to the value of £1395 to his widow.

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Lt. Colonel Arnold Herklots, D.S.O. 2 weeks 2 days ago #69250

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Thank You Rory...… The name is very familiar, I had a Divisional Officer with the same last name so had to read about possibly one of his relatives..... Great research.....

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