Sir George Wombwell




This hand coloured engraving from a portrait of Cornet Wombwell illustrates the uniform worn by officers of the 17th at the time of the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854. It is very similar to the uniform shown in the 1845 portrait, but in 1853 officers were ordered to remove the gold embroidery from their collars and cuffs. The height of the collar was also reduced. The same order stipulated that the size of the czapka be reduced as well. These changes must have been very welcome at the time as campaigning in stiff high, heavily embroidered collars and heavy head-gear would have made things even worse than they were. His charger behind him shows the bridle with the motto on the cross straps, and a glimpse of the shabracque.
He looks the part of a proud victor with his foot on a Russian cannon. It is likely that this was painted in England on his return from the Crimea, and the debris of battle has been reconstructed, including the basket-weave trench re-enforcements on his left.
Sir George Orby Wombwell was 22 at the time of the Charge. He had joined the 17th in 1852 and was appointed ADC to Lord Cardigan for the campaign. When he reached the guns, his horse was killed under him. He mounted another, which, however was wounded and he was shortly after pulled off and taken prisoner, his sword and pistols being taken from him by some Russian Lancers. He managed to escape, catch another loose horse and ride, hell for leather back to the British lines, hotly pursued by Russians. In 1855, he succeeded his father to become Lord Wombwell of Wombwell, Yorkshire. His uniform still exists and can be seen at the regimental museum at Belvior Castle, Grantham.


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by Stephen Luscombe