George Culme-Seymour

Captain, Kings Royal Rifles Corps

Adjutant, Queen Victoria's Rifles

(1878 - 1915)

George Culme-Seymour was born in Kensington, London, on March 8, 1878, to Mary Georgiana Watson, age 32, and Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, 3rd Bt. G.C.B., age 41.

On 27th Jan 1897, he joined the 5th Btn The King's Royal Rifle Corps; "George Culme-Seymour, Gentleman", as a Second Lieutenant [London Gazette,p467,Iss26817,26 Jan 1897].

On 28th July 1900 George Culme-Seymour was serving in Ingogo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, when he was 22 years old. A 2nd Lt with the 2nd Btn KRRC he was leaving for Durban to embark on the SS Orient for Ceylon as escort for Boer prisoners of war. [Annals KRRC,Vol4]

On 9th August 1900 George was in Colombo, Ceylon; he was 22 years old, camped at Diyathlawa, in charge of Boer prisoners.

The 2nd Btn KRRC embarked on SS Clive on 31 Dec 1900 for Bombay, India, arriving on 7th Jan 1901, and then travelled onwards by rail to Rawalpindi.

It was about 1901 that his father Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour and family rented Wadenhoe House until after WW1.

On 22 March 1906 George was made Captain....."The King's Royal Rifle Corps, Lieutenant George Culme-Seymour to be Captain" [London Gazette,p3467,Iss27914,18 May 1906].

He married Janet Beatrix Orr Ewing, daughter of Charles Lindsay Orr Ewing and Hon. Beatrice Mary Leslie Hore-Ruthven, on 7 December 1909.

Their son Mark Charles was born on 20th December 1910.

In the 1911 Census George and his family were living with his parents at Wadenhoe House, where there was a 'Captain George's Room'.

Their daughter Angela Mary was born on August 3rd 1912.

On 1st Jan 1914 George was made Adjutant of 9th(County of London) Btn, The London Regiment(Queen Victoria's Rifles); "Capt George Culme-Seymour, KRRC, to be Adjutant" [London Gazette,p261,Iss28791,9 Jan 1914].

Soon they were off to war.......

On 18 Apr 1915 at Hill 60, Ypres, Belgium, George reported...... "We’ve got the hill alright but we’ve lost a lot and I can only hope and believe they lost more. The whole cutting is full of dead and wounded, and it’s the same in the trenches. All the time wounded men kept passing us, chiefly hit in the head, judging by the bandages. I’ve put the (QVR) battalion at 15 minutes notice. The Prussians are against us and, of course, pretty tough fighters. Everything will probably quieten down tomorrow. They made continuous counter attacks all last night and two of their companies were wiped out by our (QVR) machine-gun". [Capt. Culme-Seymour]

On 22 Apr 1915 they were nearby and witnessed the consequences of the first German chlorine gas attack.

This account by AR Hossack of Queen Victoria Rifles........

"It was Thursday evening, 22 April 1915. In a meadow off the Poperinghe-Ypres road, the men of the Queen Victoria Rifles were taking their ease. We had just fought our first big action in the fight for Hill 60. We had had a gruelling time, and had left many of our comrades on its slopes. Now some of us were stretched out asleep on the grass…  As the sun was beginning to sink, this peaceful atmosphere was shattered by the noise of heavy shell-fire coming from the north-west. As we gazed in the direction of the bombardment, where our line joined the French, six miles away, we could see in the failing light the flash of shrapnel with here and there the light of a rocket. But more curious than anything was a low cloud of yellow-grey smoke or vapour, and, underlying everything, a dull, confused murmuring. Suddenly, down the road from the Yser Canal came a galloping team of horses, the riders goading on their mounts in a frenzied way; then another and another, till the road became a seething mass, with a pall of dust over all. Plainly something terrible was happening. What was it? Officers, and staff officers, too, stood gazing at the scene, awestruck and dumbfounded; for in the northerly breeze there came a pungent, nauseating smell that tickled the throat and made our eyes smart. The horses and men were still pouring down the road, two or three men on a horse, I saw, while over the fields streamed mobs of infantry, the dusky warriors of French Africa; away went their rifles, equipment, even their tunics, that they might run the faster. One man came stumbling through our lines. An officer of ours held him up with levelled revolver. “What’s the matter, you bloody lot of cowards?” says he. The Zouave was frothing at the mouth, his eyes started from their sockets, and he fell writhing at the officer’s feet. “Fall in!” Ah! We expected that cry; and soon we moved across the fields in the direction of the line for about a mile. The battalion is formed into line, and we dig ourselves in. It is quite dark now and water is being brought round, and we hear how the Germans have, by the use of poison gas, driven a French army corps out of the line, creating a huge gap which the Canadians have closed pro tem. About midnight we withdrew from our temporary trenches and marched about for the rest of the night, till at dawn we were permitted to snatch what sleep we could under a hedge. About the middle of the morning we were on the move again, to the north, and were soon swinging along through Vlamertinghe. About two miles out of that town we halted in a field. Here our company commander, Captain Flemming, addressed us. “We are,” he said, “tired and weary men who would like to rest; however, there are men more weary than we who need our help. We may not have to do much; we may have to do a great deal. Whatever happens, fight like hell. I shall at any rate.” A few moments more, then off we go again towards that incessant bombardment, which seemed to come closer every minute. The Scottish Borderers led the brigade, followed by the Royal West Kents, then ourselves, all with bayonets fixed, for we were told to be prepared to meet the Germans anywhere on the road. We were now in the area of the ill-fated French Colonial Corps. Ambulances were everywhere, and the village of Brielen, through which we passed, was choked with wounded and gassed men. We were very mystified about this gas, and had no protection whatever against it. Next morning, the adjutant, Captain Culme-Seymour, was chatting to Captain Flemming a few paces away from where I was lying, when up rushed a despatch rider and handed him a message, which he read aloud to Flemming. I caught three words: “Things are critical.” In about five minutes the Colonel had the battalion on the move. We moved off in double file by companies, our company leading; as we did so a big shell burst in the midst of D Company, making a fearful mess. We moved on quickly, with short halts now and then. As we skirted Ypres there was a roar of swift-moving thunder and a 17-inch shell, which seemed to be falling on top of us, burst a quarter of a mile away, covering us with dirt. It seems to be raining shrapnel. Captain Flemming falls, but struggles to his feet and waves us on with encouraging words. We double across a field, and in a few moments come on to the road again. We found ourselves amongst a crowd of Canadians of all regiments jumbled up anyhow, and apparently fighting a desperate, rearguard action. They nearly all appeared to he wounded and were firing as hard as they could. A machine gun played down the road. Then comes an order: “Dig in on the roadside.” We all scrambled into the ditch and started to work with entrenching tools… A detonation like thunder, and I inhale the filthy fumes of a 5.9 as I cringe against the muddy bank. The German heavies have got the road taped to an inch. More and more of these huge shells, two of them right in our midst. Shrieks of agony and groans all round me.  The road becomes a perfect shambles. For perhaps half a minute a panic ensues, and we start to retire down the road. But not for long. Colonel Shipley stands in the centre of the road, blood streaming down his face. The gallant Flemming lies at his feet, and the adjutant, Culme-Seymour, stands in a gateway calmly lighting a cigarette. “Steady, my lads,” says the Colonel. “Steady, the Vics. Remember the regiment.”  The panic is ended. “This way,” says Seymour. “Follow me through this gate here.” As we dash through the gate, I catch a glimpse of our medical officer working in an empty gun-pit like a butcher in his shop. Many were the lives he saved that day. Once through the gate we charge madly across a field of young corn. Shrapnel and machine-gun bullets are cracking and hissing everywhere. Ahead of us is a large farm, and advancing upon it is a dense mass of German infantry. At last we reach the farm, and we follow Culme-Seymour round to its farther side. The roar of enemy machine guns rises to a crazy shrieking, but we are past caring about them, and fall into the farm’s encircling trench. Not too soon, either, for that grey mass is only a few hundred yards off, and: “Rapid fire! Let ’em have it, boys!” And don’t we just! At last a target, and one that we cannot miss. The Germans fall in scores, and their batteries limbered up and away. At last we have our revenge. But the enemy reform and come on again, and we allow them to come a bit nearer, which they do. We fire till our rifles are almost too hot to hold, and the few survivors of our mad quarter of an hour stagger back. The attack has failed, and we have held them."

On 7th May 1915 an attempt was made by the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry with QVRs in support to recapture Hill 60. Capt. Culme-Seymour was killed, shot through the head leading a company over a trench barricade. He was 37.

On 31st May 1915 he was Mentioned in Despatches: 9th Btn The London Regmt (Queen Victoria Rifles). Culme-Seymour, Capt G, KRRC (Adjutant) (killed).[Suppl London Gazette,pp5975-6004,Iss29200,22 Jun 1915]{names of those recommended for gallant & distinguished service in the field}.

George is remembered on Panels 51/53 of the Menin Gate at Ypres in Belgium.

He is also remembered on Wadenhoe's War Memorials.

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