Military Wiki
Arthur Ferdinand Yencken
Born (1894-04-01)1 April 1894
Died 18 May 1944(1944-05-18) (aged 50)
Place of birth Melbourne, Australia
Place of death Barcelona, Spain
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1914–1919
Rank Major
Unit Royal Field Artillery
Battles/wars First World War
Awards Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches
Relations Edward Yencken (father)
Other work Diplomat

Arthur Ferdinand Yencken CMG MC (1 April 1894 – 18 May 1944) was an Australian businessman. The son of Edward Yencken and his English-born wife Florence (née Orr), the family had built up a very large and successful business over two generations.[1] Like his father before him he was educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (B.A., 1919). He was killed in an aircrash in Spain on 18 May 1944.

War service[]

Yencken joined the British Army at the outbreak of the First World War, being commissioned as second lieutenant into the 6th London Brigade, Royal Field Artillery on 21 August 1914.[2] He was raised to temporary lieutenant on 28 July 1915,[3] which was made substantive on 1 June 1916 when he was also confirmed as a temporary captain.[4][5] He was made a substantive captain on 1 July 1917.[6] He was further promoted to acting major on 22 May 1918, while commanding a battery.[7]

On 26 September 1917 he was awarded the Military Cross.[8] The citation was carried on 10 January 1918 as below:[9]

Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Arthur Ferdinand Yencken, R.F.A.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when his battery was being heavily shelled. He went to the rescue of several men who were imprisoned in a smashed dug-out, and persisted in digging them out. He subsequently put out the fire, which was threatening great damage to his battery position, under continuous and heavy shell fire.

Yencken relinquished his commission on 7 June 1919 as a major.[10]

For his service as an acting major with 236 London Brigade, Royal Field Artillery he was Mentioned in Despatches by Sir Douglas Haig in the London Gazette on 7 July 1919.[11]

Diplomatic service[]

On 10 October 1919 his appointment as a Third Secretary in His Majesty's Diplomatic Service was announced in the London Gazette,[12] and he was gazetted to the British Foreign Office, Diplomatic Service on 4 November 1919.[13] The London Gazette carried an announcement of his appointment as a First Secretary from 15 July 1929.[14] Yencken, was thus an Australian diplomat serving in the British Foreign Office, Australia not having its own representation at the time.

Postings in Washington in the USA, Berlin in Germany, as "High Commissioner" in Cairo, Egypt from 1933–1936, and Rome in Italy,[15] were followed by his appointment on 23 April 1939 as acting Counsellor to the British Embassy in Madrid, where he worked to help preserve Spanish wartime neutrality.[16]


Yencken was a championship level tennis player. He played at Wimbledon in 1914, the Australian Open on 9 December 1922, Wimbledon on 7 July 1923 and again 3 July 1926 and finally in 1927.[17]

Second World War[]

From 23 April 1941 he was appointed Counsellor at the British Embassy in Madrid.[18][19]

Yencken and wife Joyce worked fearlessly in difficult and hostile conditions to repatriate Allied airmen having been being smuggled over the Pyrenees, by ship to the UK. She was a daughter of George Russell, a Victorian grazier. She with her sister grew up on his sheep station, Langi Willi, near Skipton.

On 12 June 1941 Yencken was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George at which time he held the position "Minister Plenipotentiary at His Majesty's Embassy in Madrid".[20] At the time of his death he was British Charge D'Affaires, Madrid.

Yencken died on 18 May 1944 in an air crash south of Barcelona, Spain, when a small aircraft flown by the Assistant Air Attache at Madrid, Squadron Leader H. C. Caldwell,[21] crashed in bad weather killing the pilot, Yencken and a Spanish engineer, it is an event recorded in a book "Flight 777".[22]


On 5 June 1925 he married Mary Joyce Russell in St. Margarets, Westminster.[23]

In 1948 his widow married Sir Denys Pilditch, the wartime director of counter-espionage in India. Joyce lived with him in England until her death in 1975, coincidently in Madrid, though she returned frequently to Australia where her children lived: John, Elizabeth, and David. His eldest son was Dr. John Yencken (1926–2012) distinguished for his services to science in Australia.

The Australian Press announced in December 1944 that Yencken's will left an estate valued at £96,446.[24]


  1. Sayers, Stuart. "Yencken, Arthur Ferdinand (1894–1944)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  2. "No. 28906". 18 September 1914. 
  3. "No. 29376". 19 November 1915. 
  4. "No. 30051". 4 May 1917. 
  5. "No. 30503". 29 January 1918. 
  6. "No. 30762". 21 June 1918. 
  7. "No. 30858". 20 August 1918. 
  8. "No. 30308". 25 September 1917. 
  9. "No. 13192". 10 January 1918. 
  10. "No. 31426". 27 June 1919. 
  11. "No. 31437". 4 July 1919. 
  12. "No. 13550". 13 January 1920. 
  13. "No. 31628". 4 November 1919. 
  14. "No. 33529". 27 August 1929. 
  15. The Courier Mail, Brisbane, 7 Dec 1944
  16. "No. 34640". 27 June 1939. 
  17. TennisArchives – Arthur Ferdinand Yencken
  18. "No. 35414". 9 January 1942. 
  19. The Courier Mail, Brisbane, 14 August 1940
  20. "No. 35184". 6 June 1941. 
  21. Casualty details – S/Ldr HC Caldwell RAFVR
  22. Casualty details – A F Yencken CMG MC
  23. Arthur Ferdinand (1894–1944)) OR (Yencken, Arthur Ferdinand)) NOT exact_creator:"Yencken, Arthur Ferdinand (1894–1944)" NOT exact_subject:"Yencken, Arthur Ferdinand (1894–1944)"&searchLimits= Womans World, 28 July 1925. Yencken marriage
  24. The Courier Mail, Brisbane, 7 December 1944

External links[]

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