Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Major Alexander Malins Lafone V.C., 1st County of London Yeomanry (Middlesex, Duke of Cambridge's Hussars), was killed in action in Palestine.
The eldest son of a hide and leather merchant, he was educated at Dulwich College, then Cooper’s Hill Royal Engineering College Runnymede, and City and Guild’s College in London. He worked at Messrs. Marshall & Sons, an agricultural machinery manufacturer in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, then for three years as assistant manager and engineer to the Jokai Tea Company in Assam, India. He then joined his father’s business and became a director of several companies.
In 1899, Major Lafone joined the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry with the rank of sergeant, and served in the Second Boer War, during which he was wounded in the right eye. He received the Queen’s South Africa Medal with three clasps, and on his return to England was commissioned into the Middlesex Yeomanry. In 1903 he joined the Colonial Service and took up a post in Nigeria, but ill health forced him to return home, after which he took up an engineering position until the outbreak of the Great War, when the Middlesex Yeomanry were mobilised.
In April of 1915 Major Lafone was sent to Egypt, after which he served in the Dardanelles, the Balkans and Palestine. On the day of his death, at the Battle of El Buggar Ridge, Palestine, Major Lafone’s actions earned him the award of the Victoria Cross “for most conspicuous bravery, leadership and self-sacrifice when holding a position for over seven hours against vastly superior enemy forces.”
The citation continues the story: “The enemy were shelling his position heavily, making it difficult to see. In one attack, when the enemy cavalry charged his flank, he drove them back with heavy losses. In another charge they left fifteen casualties within twenty yards of his trench…When all his men, with the exception of three, had been hit and the trench which he was holding was so full of wounded that it was difficult to move and fire, he ordered those who could walk to move to a trench in the rear, and from his own position maintained a most heroic resistance. When finally surrounded and charged by the enemy, he stepped into the open and continued the fight until he was mortally wounded and fell unconscious. His cheerfulness and courage were a splendid inspiration to his men, and by his leadership and devotion he was enabled to maintain his position, which he had been ordered to hold at all costs.” He is buried in the Beersheba War Cemetery in Israel.
Alexander, from Liverpool, was 47 years old.