George Alfred Limouzin, born in Moulmein, Burma, in 1881, died in Pretoria 1978.
The third son and the last of nine children of Francis Mathew and Theresa Catherine Limouzin (née Halliley).
Lieutenant George Alfred Limouzin
British military service record: (National Archives, online document: WO 372/12)
George Limouzin's military career started as a cadet in the Indian Imperial Police (in Burma) between December 1902 and January 1906 (36 months service) before emigrating to Natal where he served with the Natal Carabineers in the Bambatha rebellion in Zululand in 1906/7.1 It appears that following the suppression of the Zulus by the defeat of Bambatha, George was at the British Army Remount Depot at Weston, near Mooi River in the Natal midlands.
Shortly after the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 George joined a South African artillery regiment, First City Regiment (Grahamstown).2 He was in Britain, probably on a training course, when Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914 and he was swept into the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). He saw action at the First Battle of the Mons (23-24 August 1914) and following the retreat from Mons he returned to join his regiment in South Africa.3 He then saw action with his regiment, under Gen. Louis Botha against the German forces in German South West Africa (now Namibia) until the German capitulation on 9 July 1915. Having had experience of flying as an artillery spotter Lieut. Limouzin was invited by Allister Miller to join the group of South Africans bring sent to, to make up the numbers in the Royal Flying Corps.4
He was awarded the Royal Aero Club licence 2491 at Shoreham (Code: EGKA) on 29 January 1916, flying a Maurice Farman MF11.5 The newly qualified Lieutenant Limouzin may have had a brief tour of duty in France, based at Rouen, in early 1916, but by the middle of that year was following the newly formed 26 Squadron to Tanganyika.6 The squadron was initially based at Mbuyuni near Mount Kilimanjaro), flying BE2Cs and a few all-steel Henri Farman HF27s in support of Gen. Jan Smuts' advance along the Pangani River towards the Indian Ocean.7
It would appear that George fell ill with malaria on 15/01/1917 and was shipped back to South Africa. He was recuperating in a military hospital in St.James in the Cape on 9 June 1917, shipped to Britain July 1918 and committed to the London General Hospital on 10 August 1918, and to Colchester military hospital on 18 November 1918. The squadron having been stood down he was seconded to the Royal Garrison Artillery in Winchester on 27 March 1919, still on light duty.8
The RGA was often supported by the Royal Flying Corps who had devised a system whereby the airmen could use wireless telegraphy to help the artillery hit specific targets. The RFC aircraft carried a wireless set and a map and after identifying the position of an enemy target the observer was able to transmit messages such as A5, B3, etc. in Morse code to a RFC land station attached to a heavy artillery units, such as Royal Garrison Artillery Siege Batteries. George appears to have remained with the RGA until de-mobbed - with permission to retain his rank after surrendering his commission - in 1921.
A single reference - in an article in Vol.2 No.1 of Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies (1970), by Jan Ploeger - records that Lieutenant, later Captain (possibly acting Captain), George Alfred Limouzin served with the Royal Artillery in France until August 1919. The British military record shows that he was then stood down, possibly on account of his age (he was 38 in December 1919).
According to British military records, his registered address in 1933 was 457 Proes Street, Pretoria, South Africa.
At the start of WWII he re-enlisted and, in 1941, was a staff sergeant in the South African forces. His brother-in-law, Richard Blair (the father of Eric Blair, better known as the writer George Orwell), was said to have been the oldest lieutenant in WWI when he enlisted in 1916 (he would have been 59 in 1916), perhaps George Limouzin was the oldest staff sergeant in WWII, being 60 in 1941.
In 1941, when his sister, Nora Ward, wrote to him from 56 Craven Avenue in Ealing (on the outskirts of London), his address was 56 Rhodes Avenue, Pretoria.
George Limouzin was living in Pretoria in 1953 and remained there until his death at the age of 96 in 1978. His descendants, and only living family at that date, were his daughter and two grandchildren.
1 The Bambatha uprising was a Zulu revolt against British rule and taxation in Natal. The revolt was led by Bambatha kaMancinza, a minor Zulu chief, who began launching a series of guerrilla attacks, using the Nkandla forest as a base. After two white police officers were killed in February 1906 a colonial force was raised under the leadership of Duncan Mackenzie and set out to quell the rebellion in April 1906. Among the force raised was the Natal Carabineers, a force of irregular militia. During his period of service George was identified by a number of Indians acting as stretcher-bearers as a fellow exile from the Raj and George is said to have befriended a young Indian lawyer who was acting as the leader of the party of stretcher-bearers because he was one of the few British soldiers who could speak Hindi; M.K.Gandhi, later the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism, Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi encouraged the British to recruit Indians. He argued that Indians should support the war efforts to legitimize their claims to full citizenship. The British accepted Gandhi's offer to let a detachment of 20 Indians volunteer as a stretcher-bearer corps to treat wounded British soldiers. George introduced this young Indian lawyer to another young lawyer, C.K.Ingram in Newcastle, who was shortly to become George's brother-in-law. Both Gandhi and George Limouzin were entitled to wear the Natal Native Rebellion Medal.
2 In July 1913, the First City Regiment (Grahamstown) amalgamated with the Queenstown Rifle Volunteers and incorporated into the new Union Defense Forces as the 4th Infantry (First Eastern Rifles). The regiment served in German South West Africa 1914-1915.
3 Unbeknownst to him his nephew, Neville Lascelles Ward, a 20 year-old lieutenant in the East Surrey Regiment, was just a few miles west on the Conde canal and facing the first onslaught by the invading German forces. Lieutenant Ward was killed in the first hours of action, possibly the first British officer killed in the Great War.
4 Lieutenant-Colonel Allister McIntosh Miller DSO OBE (1892-1951) Reputed to have been the first white child born in Swaziland, he became a South African aviation pioneer. On the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he joined the British Army, but in 1915 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as a pilot. He fought in the skies over the Western Front in France and Belgium, and during 1916 and 1917 returned to South Africa on recruiting tours for the RFC. He is said to have recruited more than 8,000 volunteers, of whom 2,000 were accepted, most of them as pilots. They were known collectively as 'Miller's Boys'. Allister Miller was elected to the South African parliament in 1924 and later lived in Swaziland where the main street of the capital, Mbabane, is named after him. (He is sometimes recorded as Alexander Miller but that appears to be a confusion with his father who was born in 1862).
5 The Maurice Farman F11, known as the 'Shorthorn' because of the configuration of the landing gear, was a two-seater pusher biplane where the observer/gunner sat in front of the pilot (thus reducing the pilot's field of vision). This aircraft was introduced in May 1914 and, despite being withdrawn from service on the Western Front in 1915, the F11 continued to be used by the RFC in other theatres for some years. The HF27 was a later development of the F11 without the earlier type's distinctive landing skids. The Farmans arrived in Tanganyika in very poor condition with warped wings and rotten linen coverings. The aircraft type was considered obsolete by the time it went into service in Tanganyika.
6 - 26 Squadron was known as the South African Squadron, with the Afrikaans motto: 'n Wagter in die lug', which translates as 'A sentry in the sky'; it remains an active squadron and is the only squadron with a foreign language motto.
7 The BE2C was a two-seater aircraft built by the Royal Aircraft Factory in Bristol and introduced in 1912. Originally intended as a front-line reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber, the aircraft was adapted to fill many roles but, by 1916, was being retained in front line service despite having become obsolete, for want of a suitable replacement. The BE2C was, however, remarkably stable in the air and provided an excellent platform for artillery observation and aerial photography duties. These particular aircraft shipped to East Africa were transported in 'knock down' and had arrived without propellers. The fitters had to jury-rig the standard RAF props that they had, and in doing so, put severe strain on the Worlsey Renault engines.
8 Following the German capitulation in Tanganyika, the squadron was under utilised and, in July 1918, the squadron was disbanded at Blandford Camp in Britain.
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