The Gordons

Lieutenant-Colonel G T F Downham

Colonel George Thomas Frederick Downham died of wounds received at Magersfontein on 11th Dec 1899. He was born in 1855 in Devon and joined the Gordon Highlanders in 1876. He was promoted to Captain in 1883, Major in 1891, and Lieut-Col in 1899, taking over command of the 1st Battalion from Colonel Mathias in July 1899. He served in the Sudan at El Teb and Tamai, the Nile Expedition and the Chitral Relief Force where he was present at the storming of the Malakand Pass.

At Dargai he was involved in the actions on the 18th and 20th Oct 1897, being mentioned in despatches, and also at the capture of the Sampagha and Arhanga Passes. He was also mentioned for his useful work at the Maidan, Waran and Bara Valleys. In the Boer War, when the Gordon Highlanders arrived at Magersfontein to re-inforce the Highland Brigade, the order to retire was sounded without authority and Downham raised himself to demand who had ordered the 'Retire'. He was 300 yards from the Boer lines and was shot. He died later, after an attempt was made to rescue him by Captain Towse, Colour Sergeant Nelson and Lance-Corporal Hodgson. He was buried at Magersfontein.

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