The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 1 No 7 - December 1970

Tribute to the late Major Geoffrey Tylden ED

by Major J.J. Hulme

On 9th February, 1970, Major Geoffrey Tylden died at St. Julians, Sevenoaks, Kent, in England.

Born in England on 24th May, 1883, he was a great nephew of Captain Richard Tylden RE, the gallant defender of Whittlesea during the 8th Kaffir War, and came of a distinguished military family. He was educated at Wellington but poor eyesight prevented his entry into Sandhurst and a career as a regular soldier. This did not prevent his serving as a volunteer in England and as an officer in 1st Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry during the South African War, 1899-1902.

Liking South Africa, he purchased a farm in 1903 at Kommissiepoort, District Ladybrand, and lived there until 1946 when he returned to England. He joined the Active Citizen Force in 1913 and commanded a squadron of Brand's Free State Rifles in the Rebellion of 1914 and in the German South West Africa campaign. After his return to the Union he served for a time as an Intelligence officer. He rejoined the ACF in the l930s and served during the 2nd World War as an officer in the First Reserve Brigade.

His contribution to the study of South African military history was immense. He was a keen member of the Society for Army Historical Research and served for some years on its council. Most of the material in that Society's Journal of South African interest came from his pen. He was also, from its inception, a frequent contributor to Africana Notes and News. The Journal of the Historical Firearms Society of South Africa and the Journal of our Society have both had the privilege of receiving and publishing his work.

He was the author of three books, ''The Rise of the Basuto", "The Armed Forces of South Africa" and "Horses and Saddlery". Each of these works constitutes a serious and pioneering study of the subject treated. In addition to these, however, Major Tylden compiled a book on the military forces of the British West Indies, unfortunately never published through the withdrawal of official interest, and at the time of his death he was engaged in writing a further work on harness and saddlery.

Geoffrey Tylden was thorough, painstaking, completely open-minded, a lover of fact and of detail. He was kindly, approachable, willing and happy to give the benefit of his vast knowledge to those who shared his interests.

His later years were marred by ill-health and serious injury. His mind, however, remained crystal clear and his interest in life unabated to the end. His letters were a joy to the recipient, full of the meat of fact, sound advice and friendship. To those of us who knew him his passing is a deep personal loss. The study of South African military history which is deeply in his debt faces a gap which will not be filled easily.

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