Yeatman, Harry Farr

The only son of Commander Harry Farr Yeatman and his wife Charlotte (daughter of William Temple of Bishopstrow House, Warminster) of Stock House, Stock Gaylard, Dorset. His uncle was Bishop of Worcester. He came to Winchester from Horris Hill and in 1898 went to Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating in 1902 with Second Class Honours in Classical Moderations and Jurisprudence.

In 1906 he entered the firm of Messrs. Trower, Still, Freeling and Parken, solicitors, of 5 New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, and afterwards took the additional degree of BCL. He was later in the Public Trustee Office. At the outbreak of war he joined the Inns of Court OTC and later obtained a commission in the Dorset Yeomanry.

The unit stayed in England until late in March 1915, when they were posted to Egypt, leaving from Avonmouth and reaching Alexandria on 1st April.   On arrival they led their horses ten miles to their camp at El Zalaria, and spent the next fortnight resting to regain condition.  In August 1915 the unit was sent to Gallipoli, where the situation was desperate and fresh troops urgently required.   They were  subsequently involved in much of the fighting, including the attack on Scimitar Hill and Hill 60, an action in which the Dorset Yeomanry sustained heavy losses.

In November that year they were sent back to Egypt, camping at Mena, near Cairo and in January 1916 were successful in quelling the threat posed by the Senussi tribesmen who had been encouraged by the Turks to attack Egypt.  Yeatman was heavily involved in this action.

Conditions in the desert were appalling.  A Wykehamist officer in the South African Infantry, Major Edward Travers Burges (B 1890-1896; killed in action 18th July 1916 at Delville Wood) recalled:  “For weeks we had known what thirst was, with only biscuit and “bully beef” to eat, facing sand-storms, tormented by flies, fleas etc., often foot sore, and our horses growing weaker every day.  But tribute must be paid to all our officers.  We had full confidence in them; they led well, were always helpful and considerate and our success in the desert campaign was due in no small measure to their courage and leadership.   To sum it up, they were “great”.”

The February campaign in Egypt ended with a decisive action at Agagia, when the Dorset Yeomanry charged with drawn sabres against the Senussi rebels across the open desert; a successful but ultimately costly action which left 31 men killed and 26 wounded of the 185 who had gone into the attack.   Half the horses had been killed or injured.   However, the Senussi rebellion was effectively finished.

What was left of the Yeomanry returned to Alexandria in April before undertaking patrols around Upper Egypt to prevent raids by bandits on frontier villages.  They then returned to the Suez area and by February 1917 were at Kantara in readiness for the advance into the Sinai Desert, over some of the worst terrain imaginable.

They saw dismounted action during the First Battle of Gaza on 26th March 1917 but it was not until the end of October that the British launched their next offensive at Beersheba which they captured on 5th November.  They continued the advance, reaching Beitunia, on the high ground overlooking Jerusalem, two weeks later, and going straight into action.

Yeatman fell near Beitunia on the afternoon of November 21st 1917 whilst helping to cover the retreat of the regiment. His half-squadron was retiring, after holding an advanced position against severe odds all day. As they began to move, an enemy counter-attack was launched. When the troops had nearly reached safety, one of his men fell wounded, and Yeatman went back under heavy fire to bring him in, but was himself killed, at the age of thirty-seven.

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Yeatman
  • Forenames or initials: Harry Farr
  • House: C
  • Years in School: 1893-1898
  • Rank: Captain
  • Regiment: Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry
  • Date of Birth: 26th November 1879
  • Date of Death: 21st November 1917
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: NA
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: JERUSALEM WAR CEMETERY, Grave E.56