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Brigadier-General Charles Bulkeley Bulkeley-Johnson CB, ADC, killed in action 11 April 1917.

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[Lieutenant-Colonel Bulkeley-Johnson, commanding officer, 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys) at Kemmel in Belgium, October 1914. G358.]
[Lieutenant-Colonel Bulkeley-Johnson, commanding officer, 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys) at Kemmel in Belgium, October 1914. G358.]

Brigadier-General Bulkeley-Johnson was killed in action on 11 April 1917, on the second day of the Battle of Arras (9 April – 16 May) and while commanding the 8th Cavalry Brigade. Bulkeley-Johnson, who had commanded the Royal Scots Greys 1911-1914, was promoted temporary Brigadier-General to command the 8th Cavalry Brigade on 13 November 1914.1 On 11 April 1917 the task of 6th Cavalry Brigade and that of Bulkeley-Johnson’s 8th Cavalry Brigade was to capture the village of Monchy-le-Preux.2 The plan involved the 8th Cavalry Brigade advancing on the village from the north, while the 6th Cavalry Brigade was to attack from the south; both brigades were to be supported by ‘C’ and ‘G’ batteries, Royal Horse Artillery.3

On the morning of 11 April, the 10th Hussars and the Essex Yeomanry of the 8th Cavalry Brigade had gone forward to take their first objectives.4 Brigadier-General Bulkeley-Johnson, together with his Aide-de-Camp, Captain Eric J. Hardy (2nd Dragoons), went forward, as Hardy wrote, to: ‘reconnoitre the situation of country toward his (Bulkeley-Johnson’s) ultimate objective’.5 Captain Hardy then went on to say: ‘he (Bulkeley-Johnson) was shot through the heart and lungs and he just said “Oh!” and fell at once and never moved’,6

Charles Bulkeley Bulkeley-Johnson was born on 19 November 1867 in Shanghai, China, the son of Francis and Jane Sophia Bulkeley-Johnson.7 Charles attended Harrow School before the Royal Military College Sandhurst, from which he was commissioned on 5 February 1887 into the 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys), being promoted lieutenant two years later.8 From 8 January 1899 to 7 January 1903, Bulkeley-Johnson, by then a captain, was attached to the Egyptian Army.9

On 22 August 1911, Bulkeley-Johnson was promoted lieutenant-colonel to command the 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys). On 15 August 1914, he led the Regiment, comprising 545 all ranks, from York cavalry barracks to Southampton where they boarded two vessels, the SS Californian and SS Blackwell. From Southampton, they crossed the English Channel and disembarked at Le Havre in Normandy on 17 August.10

[Officers of the 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys), pictured at York railway station 15 August 1914, prior to entraining for their journey to Southampton. Lieutenant-Colonel Bulkeley-Johnson is seated fourth from the right. G358.]

Brigadier-General Bulkeley-Johnson was laid to rest at the military cemetery at Gouy-en-Artois on 15 April 1917.11 At the time of the funeral, Bulkeley-Johnson’s old regiment, the Greys, was based only eight miles away at Grincourt.12 The Regiment provided an escort of thirty other ranks, with trumpeters and a firing party. All the Regiment’s senior officers were present, ensuring that due respect was paid to an officer who had served with the Greys for 27 years, three of which had been in command.13

[The gravestone of Brigadier-General Charles Bulkeley Bulkeley-Johnson CB, ADC, Gouy-en-Artois cemetery, Belgium. G608.]
[The gravestone of Brigadier-General Charles Bulkeley Bulkeley-Johnson CB, ADC, Gouy-en-Artois cemetery, Belgium. G608.]
[A telegram from King George V to Francis H. Bulkeley-Johnson dated 21 April 1917, in which The King expressed his sympathies for the loss of Francis’s younger brother, Charles Bulkeley-Johnson. G608.]
[A telegram from King George V to Francis H. Bulkeley-Johnson dated 21 April 1917, in which The King expressed his sympathies for the loss of Francis’s younger brother, Charles Bulkeley-Johnson. G608.]
Written by Paul Newman – Assistant Curator

  1. The London Gazette 28994, 3 December 1914, p.10278.
  2. Bickersteth, p.55-56.
  3. Holt, p.52.
  4. Whitmore, p.93, and Hardy letter.
  5. Hardy letter.
  6. Hardy letter.
  7. G608, 1871 Census for England and Wales and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
  8. Courtenay and Dauglish, p.525, The London Gazette 25670, 5 February 1887, p.10278, and Hardy, S. J.. et al, p.184.
  9. Hardy, S. J.. et al, p.184.
  10. Hardy, S. J.. et al, p.10-13.
  11. Hardy letter.
  12. Hardy, S. J.. et al, p.111-112.
  13. Hardy, S. J.. et al, p.111-112 & p.184.

Sources of information:
– Bickersteth, Lieutenant J.B., History of the 6th Cavalry Brigade 1914-1918. (Phillips & Co., Limited, London, 1920).
– Courtenay Welch, R and Dauglish, M.G., The Harrow School Register 1801-1900. (Longmans, Green, & Co., London, 1901).
– Hardy, Captain E. J., letter to unknown, 15 April 1917.G608. The Regimental Museum of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
– Hardy, S. J.. et al, History of The Royal Scots Greys (The Second Dragoons) August 1914-March 1919 (no publisher’s details, 1928).
– Holt, Captain H.P, History of the 3rd (Princes of Wales’s) Dragoon Guards 1914-1918. (Printed privately, 1937).
– Hughes, P., Visiting the Fallen-Arras South (Pen & Sword, 2015).
– Whitmore, Lieutenant-Colonel F.H.D.C., The 10th (P.O.W.) Royal Hussars and the Essex Yeomanry, During the European War 1914-1918. (Benham and Company Limited, Colchester, 1920).
– The London Gazette. Published by The Stationery Office under superintendence of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, part of the National Archives.
– Title page G608. Bulkeley-Johnson family scrapbook. The Regimental Museum of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
– 1871 Census for England and Wales (The National Archives) accessed via www.ancestry.co.uk.