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seaforth78

Major CAL Yate VC, KOYLI

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seaforth78

Sorry for being tiresome with a repeat of the above officer again, but I am in the process having an essay due to be published in the near future via the Japan Society of London about former British Officers who were Japanese language officers during the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902-1921 and wish to have two incidents clarified. In the LG gazette citation of Yate's VC it states that he led the last 19 survivors of his company towards the Germans until he was wounded. However, I can say this was in fact an error as the following well known photograph shows. 1. He was not wounded and 2. What are the correct pariculars of his escape and subsequent death? I doubt, that as an BO, though enamoured of the Japanese and their martial traditions that he would have committed suicide rather to being re-captured. So what's the REAL story here? I would think if he had a death wish so to speak, he would have gone down at Le Cateau. Any help anyone? Thanks!

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Dawley Jockey

Major Charles Allix Lavington Yate, known as "Cal" was born on 14 March 1872 the son of Prebendary George Edward Yate (Vicar of Madeley from 1859 to 1908).

The Major belonged to a Berkshire family, a branch of which settled at Madeley Hall around the middle of the 18th century. He was educated at Weymouth College. He passed out of Sandhurst ninth out of 1,100 cadets and joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, seeing active service in the Tirah expedition of 1897 to 1898.

He was seriously wounded in the Boer War. On returning to Madeley for a spell of convalescence, local miners met the train at Madeley Market station, took the place of the horses drawing his carriage and pulled him through the streets back to his home in celebration of his many acts of bravery.

He married Florence Helena Brigg from Greenhead Hall, Yorkshire in St Georges Church, Hanover Square in 1903; there were no children.

He became a major in 1912

Major Yates citation in the London Gazette of November 25, 1915 read: "Major Charles Allix Lavington Yate (deceased), 2nd Battalion The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, commanded one of the two companies that remained to the end in the trenches at Le Cateau on August 26, and when all other officers were killed or wounded and ammunition exhausted, led his 19 survivors against the enemy in a charge in which he was severely wounded.

He was picked up by the enemy and he subsequently died as a prisoner of war".

By all accounts he felt deeply humiliated by his capture and there are accounts of several escape attempts. Plans for a fresh breakout by several officers including CAL Yate were already under way when, on 18th September 1914, two German officers visited the camp and asked to see Major Yate alone. After this visit he apparently became visibly agitated and it was agreed that the escape plans should be brought forward and all resources concentrated on his effort.

With the help of his comrades, and disguised as a civilian, he was able to slip out of the camp on the night of 19th September. The following morning, because of his unusual appearance, he was stopped by factory workers, who demanded to see inside his haversack. At this point Major Yate cut his throat with a razor realising that the contents of his haversack would betray him as an Englishman and, at worst (given his fluency in German), he might be taken for a spy. It is possible that he had anticipated such an incident as, the night before his escape, he had apparently swapped his own safety razor for an open razor belonging to one of his fellow prisoners.

Major Yate was fond of riding, hunted with the Albrighton hounds, and played polo and football, and enjoyed skiing. He contributed unsigned articles to Blackwood's Magazine, and was a top class interpreter for French, German and Japanese. He could also speak Hindustani and Persian.

Major Yate's cousin was Sir Charles Yate of Madeley Hall, who was created a Baronet in 1921 and died in 1940.

Major Yates father, the Reverend Prebendary G.E. Yate, 1825 - 1908 was Vicar of St. Michael;s Church, Madeley from 1859 to 1908.

Sorry but doesn't really say why/how he died but thought it may be of use

Dave

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Dawley Jockey

An article in tonights Shropshire Star newspaper seems to confirm my last posting, namely that Major Yate was originally captured uninjured but felt humiliated and after an escape attempt went wrong slit his own throat when surrounded by some German civilians rather than be recaptured.

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seaforth78

Hello and thank you very much for this. I'll take a look at the Shropshire Star and have a look.

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archangel9

"Major Yate was at Torgau and he had also been in Magdeburg. He spoke German very well. After he was captured he was very badly treated. While in the officers’ mess the German officers suddenly heard something about the English, and they all got up and spat on the floor and left the room. This preyed on his mind. I have been told he always said that he would never let himself be taken alive again, but have heard it denied also. After his second capture the Germans brought in his clothes all covered with blood and said he had cut his throat."

Extract from WO 161/95/6. Interview with Captain W. Gordon Barker, Connaught Rangers. 8th November 1915.

Barker wasn't at Torgau when Yate died but was moved there shortly afterward on 29th - 30th September 1914.

John

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Forton

Hi Seaforth78

The story - I hope pretty much the full story - of what happened to CAL Yate is in my new book Meeting the Enemy. It is a remarkable story will lots of other eyewitness accounts from both sides.

all best

Richard

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seaforth78

Thank you both warmly Richard and John for this as I had always been quite baffled about how he actually met his end. Also, Yate was half German and no doubt felt comfortable in his mother's land being conversant with the German culture and its ways, why he would kill himself like that. But I'll add this tidbit to my essay.

An article in tonights Shropshire Star newspaper seems to confirm my last posting, namely that Major Yate was originally captured uninjured but felt humiliated and after an escape attempt went wrong slit his own throat when surrounded by some German civilians rather than be recaptured.

I cannot find this; if possble could you kindly source this for me please? Many thanks!

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seaforths

Thank you both warmly Richard and John for this as I had always been quite baffled about how he actually met his end. Also, Yate was half German and no doubt felt comfortable in his mother's land being conversant with the German culture and its ways, why he would kill himself like that. But I'll add this tidbit to my essay.

I cannot find this; if possble could you kindly source this for me please? Many thanks!

:) Have you seen a book called 'The First Seven Divisions' by Lord Ernest Hamilton? Last revised edition published January 21st 1918 makes mention of him with an interesting footnote that states the Germans killed him. I acquired the book (along with half a dozen others) yesterday in Inverness. If you haven't seen it I will try and photograph it and send on the relevant chapter. I think it might be too fragile to put on the scanner.

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seaforth78

Hello namesake!

Many thanks for this. I will send you a PM shortly..

Best

S78

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seaforths
:) I'm guessing your answer is in the affirmative so I will try to scan and send later today.

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Genevieve Tudor

Just looking into this remarkable gentleman for research on WW1 for BBC Radio Shropshire. Would be really pleased to discover and descendants or relatives.

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peteblue

Hello!

I am a new member from Germany and it was Major Yate who lead me to this Forum.

Who knows thr source of the above famous photograph of Maj. Yate's capture? It must have been taken by the Germans, how does it come into an English newspaper in wartime?

Also I am wondering about the uniforms and equipment of the German soldiers. They do not wear the 1907/1910 uniforms weared by the infantry regiments 66 or 26, which were the opponents of 2/KOYLI at Le Cateau. The soldier at right in the back looks like a French soldier. So maybe the picture was taken at the prisoner camp.

Was it usual for captured British officers in 1914 to be invited to a German officer's mess, especially if they have been disliked so much as described in the magdeburg episode?

I am looking forward to much more interesting information about Major Yate. Thank you!

Pete

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seaforth78

Just looking into this remarkable gentleman for research on WW1 for BBC Radio Shropshire. Would be really pleased to discover and descendants or relatives.

Hello and thank you kindly for your posting. I do apologise for not responding sooner as I was in hospital for quite a while and just saw your post yesterday but here is my response!

I am now in the process of contributing an essay to the Japan Society of London on Yate due to be published next autumn by Brill. Sir Hugh Cortazzi (formerly the British Amabassador to Japan) is the editor and the book is entitled Biographical Portraits, Britain and Japan Volume 9. Since the focus of the collection of the essays will be a strong Anglo-Japanese theme, I will predominately zero in on his Japanese side when he was language officer and later observer in the Russo-Japanese war which he received a decoration for the Meiji Emperor.

Alas, he had no issue and thus his line died out though his family lives through his siblings's children.

Please drop me a PM to further discuss this if you wish.

Best wishes,

Seaforth78

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seaforth78

Hello Pete,

Could you PM me please? I should like to discuss with you in depth about the mysterious photo as well. Perhaps you can help me here in my research!

Many thanks

S78

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seaforth78

Hi Seaforth78

The story - I hope pretty much the full story - of what happened to CAL Yate is in my new book Meeting the Enemy. It is a remarkable story will lots of other eyewitness accounts from both sides.

all best

Richard

Hi Richard,

I just went and ordered your book via American Amazon so should get it this week. I had a 'peek inside' on Amazon and I look forward to it.

One question: Did the Kaiser have to resign the Colonelcy of the Royals in 1914? If it did I'm sure it must have hurt him tremendous as he, like the Czar Nicolas felt with the Greys, took great pride in being their Colonel.

Best wishes

S78

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Forton

Hi S78

I think he probably did it himself. I have a story in the book that says that 'an officer from the Palace...deliver[ed] at the British Embassy a badly packed brown paper parcel containing all his British decorations and insignia, with a message that while he had hitherto felt honoured to possess them he had now no further use for them.'

All best

Richard

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ATNOMIS

Sorry for being tiresome with a repeat of the above officer again, but I am in the process having an essay due to be published in the near future via the Japan Society of London about former British Officers who were Japanese language officers during the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902-1921 and wish to have two incidents clarified. In the LG gazette citation of Yate's VC it states that he led the last 19 survivors of his company towards the Germans until he was wounded. However, I can say this was in fact an error as the following well known photograph shows. 1. He was not wounded and 2. What are the correct pariculars of his escape and subsequent death? I doubt, that as an BO, though enamoured of the Japanese and their martial traditions that he would have committed suicide rather to being re-captured. So what's the REAL story here? I would think if he had a death wish so to speak, he would have gone down at Le Cateau. Any help anyone? Thanks!

Seaforth 78

This is from a Thred I started a fews ago. Hope this helps

Simon

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=161980&hl=yate

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Steven Broomfield

Hi Richard,

One question: Did the Kaiser have to resign the Colonelcy of the Royals in 1914? If it did I'm sure it must have hurt him tremendous as he, like the Czar Nicolas felt with the Greys, took great pride in being their Colonel.

Best wishes

S78

I am open to correction, but I believe German and Austrian Royalty were removed from the Colonelcy of British regiments on the outbreak of war. Same thing happened to the Crown prince, who was a very popular and respected Colonel of the 11th Hussars (PAO) until the outbreak of hostilities. I suspect the kaiser wasn't given an option!

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seaforth78

Thanks to everyone who had helped me on this forum on gathering information about Major Yate, I am delighted to say that my essay was accepted by Sir Hugh Cortazzi today which will appear in Volume 9 of "Biographical Portraits Britain and Japan due to be published in September 2014 by Brill. Very fitting as the 100th Anniversary of Major Yate's death occurs at this exact time.

The book is entirely in English and while not strictly concerning itself with military matters, the subject personalities must have ties to Britain and Japan from 1600 till the present day.

Here is a link to Volume 8 of which my essay on Field Marshal Sir Francis Festing, Rifle Brigade, published by the same publisher appeared last year.

http://www.brill.com/britain-and-japan-biographical-portraits-vol-viii

Will keep everyone updated. :thumbsup:

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seaforths

Congratulations S78! I always enjoy reading your essays and look forward to reading this one. So much cloudiness surrounding the circumstances of his death. Do you remain on the fence over that? I wonder...

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seaforth78

Thanks to you I am now firmly convinced that there was no foul play concerning his suicide; he just did not want to be taken alive and knew that the Germans knew of his pre-war activities before the war when he was a GSO 2 at the WO. Having the dubious honour of being half German and a fluent German speaker, he knew that whatever he was accused of, it didn't look good for him in the eyes of the Germans, hence Yate taking that open razor. According to Lt. Breen's post-war testimony he was totally with the Germans on that incident and also the testimony of the German civilian manager Brottwitz seems genuine. What I did find rather galling (and I am sure at this remove in time, I'm being totally unfair but something sticks in my gut about his wife) was the controversy of her protest of the proceds of her widows pension which her brother-in-law Colonel Yate Bt arranged to be increased to 140 pounds rather than the paltry 70 pounds that the WO said that she would receive. Once she got it, and once the probate of Yate's house and stocks were cleared, she got 2117 pounds and almost immediately married a Baronet (her third marriage!!) thirty years her senior!

I don't think I can marry so quickly if my spouse ended his/her life like the way Yate did and with the constant money hagling and quick subsequent remarriage bothered me.

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seaforths

Yes, it did seem a bit much that she was pleading poverty from her various hotel rooms around the globe. The war created a serious shortage of men let alone eligible ones that would be able to keep her in the manner she was accustomed to. In her case and at that stage in her life, it may well have been a career move rather than a union of love. If you want an insight into how some of the other half lived during WW1, I can highly recommend 'The Secret Rooms' by Catherine Bailey. It certainly shocked me.

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seaforth78

You got that impression too didn't you? The paperwork don't make pleasant reading and I sort of felt sorry that he had a wife like that. But when she married Yate in 1903, this was her second marraige having been married previously to Colonel George Edward Elton Burroughs.

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Muerrisch

Thanks to you I am now firmly convinced that there was no foul play concerning his suicide; he just did not want to be taken alive and knew that the Germans knew of his pre-war activities before the war when he was a GSO 2 at the WO. Having the dubious honour of being half German and a fluent German speaker, he knew that whatever he was accused of, it didn't look good for him in the eyes of the Germans, hence Yate taking that open razor. According to Lt. Breen's post-war testimony he was totally with the Germans on that incident and also the testimony of the German civilian manager Brottwitz seems genuine. What I did find rather galling (and I am sure at this remove in time, I'm being totally unfair but something sticks in my gut about his wife) was the controversy of her protest of the proceds of her widows pension which her brother-in-law Colonel Yate Bt arranged to be increased to 140 pounds rather than the paltry 70 pounds that the WO said that she would receive. Once she got it, and once the probate of Yate's house and stocks were cleared, she got 2117 pounds and almost immediately married a Baronet (her third marriage!!) thirty years her senior!

I don't think I can marry so quickly if my spouse ended his/her life like the way Yate did and with the constant money hagling and quick subsequent remarriage bothered me.

A widow of a soldier, in receipt of widow's pension, automatically lost it if she re-married, or indeed cohabited. Goodbye £140 per annum.

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trajan

Note that there is something of a parallel thread going, questions on uniforms and weapons in the photograph - http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=210898#entry2082463

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