Born: 1879, Newmarket, Suffolk.

Died: 11th November 1901; age: 22; Died from wounds after a deliberate gun shot to the abdomen by a six year old Boer boy, at Orebyfontein, Northern Cape, South Africa.

Globe – London 24th January 1901 – AN EXTRAORDINARY INCIDENTOne of the most surprising incidents of the present war is reported in the case of the death of Private Herbert Harold Hughes, 1st King’s Dragoon Guards, whose widow lives at Dover. The details of the story are vouched for by Sergt. probert, of the deceased soldier’s troop, who has sent full particulars to the War Office, and by his comrade Private Morris Elmer. The affair occurred at Orebyfontein, near Harrismith, Orange River Colony, Capt. Williams, 1st Dragoons, being among those who lost their lives. The small force was skirmishing, when a Boer boy, afterwards found to be only six years of age, walked up to Private Hughes, and, when close to him, deliberately shot him in the abdomen with a revolver he had concealed, the wound provig fatal. The dragoon naturally had not anticipated such an action from the child.

Residence: 6, Waterloo Crescent, Dover, Kent.

Occupation: Carman.

Enlistment Date: 7th March 1898.


Rank: Private; Service Number: 4163.

Regiment: 1st King’s Dragoon Guards, South Africa Field Force.


Clasps Awarded: Cape Colony & Orange Free State.




1881   12, Exning Road, Newmarket, Suffolk.


Herbert was 2 years old and living with his parents.

Harold Charles Hughes, 25, a Stable Man, born Chester, Cheshire.

Louisa Elizabeth Hughes (nee Wilderspin), 25, born Bottisham, Cambridgeshire.


1891   7, Burwell Road, Exning, Suffolk.


Herbert was 12 years and living with his parents & siblings.

Harold, 39, a Groom – Racing Stables.

Louisa, 39.

Florence Kate Hughes, 10, born Newmarket.

Albert Hubert Hughes, 8, born Newmarket.

Sidney James Hughes, 4, born Newmarket – partially blind from birth.

William Gerald Hughes, 1, born Newmarket.


In 1900, Farnham, Surrey, Herbert married Evelena Florence Jones, born 1879.


Soldiers’ Effects to Evelena F. Hughes – widow.


Herbert is also remembered on a private brass memorial plaque erected by his officer and comrades, at All Saint’s Church, Park Lane, Newmarket, Suffolk.


Whitstable Times and Hearne Bay Herald – Saturday, 1st February 1902 – CAVALRYMAN SHOT BY A BOER BOYMrs. Evelena Florence Hughes, of 6, Waterloo Crescent, Dover, gives particulars of the murder of her husband, a private in the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards, by a Boer boy aged six. She states – The daily papers of the 13th November, 1901, gave a very short account of a fight taking place at Orebyfontein, near Harrismith, Orange River Colony, wherein Captain Williams of the 1st (King’s Dragoon Guards), was killed, Lieutenant H. Harris, slightly wounded, and one private dangerously wounded. On the 9th November, the above mentioned soldiers were out skirmishing, when a Boer boy of six years of age, walked up to the private, by name Herbert Harold Hughes, and calmly and deliberately shot him in the abdomen. The shot, alas, proved fatal, for he expired a short time afterwards. The truth of this story is vouched for by his own comrade, Private Morris Elmer, of the same regiment, who has just been invalided home, and was with him when he died. Sergeant Probert, of his troop, has also reported the matter and his letter has been sent to the War Office. We read tales where our soldiers treat the Boer children cruelly. But when a boy of such tender years can calmly walk up to a British soldier and murder him (you cannot give it any other name) in cold blood, they are evidently able to take care of themselves. Might I ask the question, if that soldier had guessed the boy’s murderous intentions, and had shot him instead, would it have been called fair play? No, he would probably have been arrested for the murder of poor innocent Boer children! I might add, that if he had fallen in a fair fight, we could say “He died for King and Country” ; but under these amazing circumstances he met a cruel death.

Private Morris Elmer, service number 4225, of the 1st King’s Dragoon Guards, was reported with Herbert when he died – Frankland Maurice Elmer, was born in May 1881, at Great Waldingfield, Suffolk, son of George Frank Elmer & Sarah Elmer (nee Shynn). On the 7th September 1902, at Middlethorpe, York, 22 year old Maurice accidentally drowned in the River Ouse, by the upsetting of a boat in which he and a friend went out for a row. Inquest held 9th September 1902.

Lincolnshire Echo – Monday, 8th September 1902 – SOLDIER DROWNED IN THE OUSE, York lost his life while boating on the river Ouse. On Sunday evening a soldier named Maurice Elmer was with an ex-soldier named Alfred Baker (of Duke of York Street, York), in a boat proceeding towards the city, when the boat ran into the bank. Maurice stood up to push the boat off, when it capsized. Alfred swam to shore, but Maurice sank. Alfred attempted a rescue, but Maurice’s spurs caught in Alfred’s clothes, and he had to shake deceased off to avoid being drowned. Maurice, who was 22 years of age, belonged to Boxford, Suffolk, and only returned from South Africa six weeks ago, and had been on furlough for a month. The incident was watched by crowds on the bank.


The Boer War.

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