TWO MEN A MEMOIR Rifle Brigade SHREWSBURY SCHOOL MASTERS KILLED on SOMME in 1916 For Sale
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TWO MEN A MEMOIR Rifle Brigade SHREWSBURY SCHOOL MASTERS KILLED on SOMME in 1916:
‘E. H. L. S.’ and ‘M. G. W.’
(Captain E. H. L. Southwell and Lieutenant M. G. White)
Collated and Edited by H. E. E. Howson
This is the rare 1919 First Edition
This is a joint memoir of E. H .L. Southwell and M. G. White, both of whom were masters at Shrewsbury School, and close friends who referred to one another as “Man” and were collectively known as “The Men.” Both were commissioned in the Rifle Brigade early in the War, both were killed on the Somme and both are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Evelyn Herbert Lightfoot Southwell was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford. He became an assistant master at Shrewsbury in 1910. Southwell was gazetted to the Rifle Brigade in 1915 and posted to the 13th (Service) Battalion at Perham Down, then to the 15th (Reserve) Battalion. He was subsequently posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion in France on 30th September 1915 and was killed in action on 15 September 1916 near Delville Wood. He was thirty-one, has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. The book contains letters written from Shrewsbury and the Front to various friends and family members, and diary extracts from France. Malcolm Graham White was born in 1887, educated at Birkenhead School and King’s College, Cambridge. He was briefly an assistant master at Marlborough before moving to Shrewsbury in 1910. He was gazetted to the 6th (Special Reserve) Battalion, Rifle Brigade in 1915 and posted to the 1st Battalion in France in January 1916. He was killed in action in the Battalion’s attack near Serre on 1 July 1916, also has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. The book contains extracts from his diary kept on the Western Front. Fairly brief daily entries give some account of his experiences and these are supplemented by extracts from his letters.
Front cover and spine
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[* to face pages 64, 113, 193 and 257]Commentary and extracts from letters and diaries, with no Table of Contents. Post & shipping information Payment options The packed weight is approximately 800 grams.
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Two Men : A Memoir
M. G. W.
February to July 1916
White landed at Le Havre on February 9, and on the 12th he was at a Base camp at Rouen, where he had stayed in1909. He joined the 1st Battalion on the 18th at Canaples, where for a month it was in reserve, to his disappointment. Three days later he visited Southwell, who was near by.
At the beginning of March he had a chill, and on the 4.th he heard the news of his father's death. He came back to England, though not till after the funeral. While at Oxton he found that he could not get rid of his chill, and was forced to get extension of leave, which lasted for nearly a month. He visited Shrewsbury for the night of April 4, and then left once more for France.
On the 8th he found his Battalion in the trenches at Hannescamps, and had his first introduction to trench life. On May z his Company Commander went away for a time, and he was left in charge. On the 3 rd the Battalion marched from Pommier through Halloy to Beaumetz, for a period of training. A bad week followed for White, for — with characteristic self-criticism — he believed that he was not being as competent as he might have hecn ; but he recovered confidence later.
On May 18 came the first news of the coming attack, and on the 22nd the Battalion moved to Beaussart, from which White went forward to reconnoitre the ground or direct working-parties. Captain Fraser returned on the 31st, and again took charge of the Company. The same work continued. White was at Mailly-Maillet on June 11. On the 22nd they returned to Beaussart for a rest, and two days later the great bombardment began. On July 1 the Battalion went into action in front of Mailly-Maillet ; White was hit in advance of his men ; his servant, who had followed him in the attack, reached him, and asked if he was badly wounded. He said, ' I'm all right ; go on '. At that moment a shell burst near them. His servant remembers nothing more till the time when he was in hospital. Though there was doubt for a time, it is now certain that White lost his life in the explosion.
These are letters written about him after his death : —
From an officer in his Battalion : —
' He is acutely missed throughout the Battalion, both as a friend, and as an officer whose keenness and example make his loss a very grave one to the Regiment.
' You will also be proud to hear that, two nights previous to the attack, he most gallantly conducted a party to search for a fellow-officer who had been caught in heavy machine-gun fire ; the officer returned unhurt, but that does not render the act any less gallant.'
From another fellow-officer, who, as a boy, had known him at Shrewsbury' : —
'I have never known such a real Christian. That was a fine letter of his which West shewed me. Fancy Malcolm talking about being selfish. I doubt if he knew what selfishness meant. If he did, it was only the more fully to understand unselfishness. It was that and his utter sincerity and genuineness which made him what he was. His ideal was always so high, and he was never falling short of it. His ideas were just wonderful, and in the six years that I have known him I have learnt more of what real religion means than anyhow else. He was never tired of trying to put down all bitterness against the Germans, and if he has died, he will have done very much to justify in many people's eyes the ideas which he started in life.'
From a friend, who was also an old Salopian : —
' One always felt that there was about him some indefinable quality, which he expressed perhaps most clearly in his music. When he was playing one of the more ethereal Bach fugues he seemed entirely in keeping with it, and one realised that it was his natural mode of thought. And it was just this that seemed to give him an immense breadth of view, for he lived in a region where small controversial things did not seem to matter. In everything that he talked or wrote about, he expressed views which we instinctively knew were right, and which were the conclusions we should have come to in our highest moments. Only he was always on a plane which we reached at too rare intervals. And yet he was not in the least unsympathetic, for this height and breadth of view only made him the more able to comprehend.
' There sometimes appears to be a region, or state of thought, ill which we are no longer troubled by questions of art and morality, of ambition and honour, of personal afflictions and grievances. One felt that he never departed from this region, but made one believe that for the time one was his companion there.
'I do not think that any of his friends will ever forget him, and one of them will always be entirely grateful that he was allowed to know such a man, to whose inspiration he owes more than he can possibly say or realise.'
These are the last extracts from his writings : —
Monday, Feb. 7. While on leave at Radlett, got a wire telling me to join Expeditionary Force. This is very exciting. Returned to Sheerness in a hurry, packed, and got away again to London.
Tuesday, Feb. 8. It was good to get the departure over, though the excitement of the past forty-eight hours has been in a way good, and the goodness of friends is always such a prominent thing in crises of this kind ; the wires from Graham and Arnold, and from Shrewsbury, and Edwards, and the coming of those people to see me oft. I'm glad Father came, though I had often thought it would be better not to be seen oft. It was great of him.
Southampton at 7.0. Innumerable reportings and embarkations, dark offices, jetties, shining patches of water, railway lines leading nowhere, a great heartening dinner at the S.W. Hotel. — Everywhere kit, and officers, and a strange medley of the miraculous and the inevitable. Went on board the Havre boat at 11.15:, and gradually to sleep. — The most wonderful day of my life.
Wednesday, Feb. 9. Boat started 7 a.m., and I went on deck at 8,0 a.m. as we ran through Spithead with the sun rising behind a bank of smoke and mist which hid Ports- mouth and Hayling. Landed at Le Havre at 1 o'clock.
More reportings and eventual arrival at the Base Camp, where life has become more commonplace, and excitement has gone for a time. Which Battalion will it be? The 2nd seems probable from here, but not necessarily.
Thursday, Feb. 10. Walked about camp all morning. In the afternoon we all went down to Havre, and I shopped at the Ordnance Stores, dined at the Hotel de Normandie, and got news by telephone there that I am for the 1st Battalion Depot at Rouen, Life has become dull here, and I keep reminding myself that I am on the way to the Front, that I am in the same country as the enemy, etc., etc.
Friday, Feb. 11. A repetition of yesterday. More fat meals in Havre. Orders to move to Rouen, 4th Infantry Base Depot.
Saturday, Feb. 12. Rose at 4.30 and, standing upon my bed and wondering miserably how I should ever find and pack anything in the dark, I sang the Volga Boatman Song. The arrival of servants very late only made things more chaotic. After breakfast we set off down to Harfleur Station, down long avenues of poplars which shuddered in the dark. Eventually got into a train and arrived at Rouen about 1 1 o'clock, and went to report at the camp. Simpson left us to go straight up to the 2nd. It is good to see Rouen again. It fulfilled itself again according to my memory, more completely than I had expected. I went and looked again into the font at St. Ouen, and saw down in the water the reflection of the depths of the churchy and I smelt again the quais and the street which leads up to, and frames at the other end, the lonely little church of St. Vincent. We lunched under the Grosse Horloge, and I called at 13 Avenue Mont Riboudct, but the Morels had removed . . .
Two Men : A Memoir
E. H. L. S.
February to July 1916
Soon after returning from leave, and on the day after White reached France, Southwell was transferred from D Company to take command of C Company. This was on February lo, and on the 2oth the Battalion moved south from Belgium into France, moving by train to Halloy (where Southwell speaks of a great ride to get a football for his men), and then, by Occoches and Grand Rullecourt, to Sombrin and Simencourt, where he was again in the trenches. During this journey south he met White near Canaples.
On March 21 a senior officer, Capt. Barclay, took over the command of C Company, though not for long. On April 11 Southwell started for England, but on reaching Boulogne found that all leave was cancelled, and had to return. On April 20 he regained the command of his Company, as Capt. Barclay was transferred to the 1st Battalion ; and it was about this time that Southwell was gazetted Captain.
On May 4. he was home on leave, and spent a day at Shrewsbury. This is taken from a letter written about him after his death :
'He was (as if by intuition) a "discerner of spirits". But (most impressive of all) he was strictly impartial. He never allowed one love to interfere with the claims of another. An instance of this occurred during his last leave. He left his parents during what might (and actually did) prove to be his last leave, in order that he might go to Shrewsbury and see young Blakeway, who was ill. It was the same during the months of his training on Salisbury Plain. He was always going somewhere to see some one (often at a great distance), who he thought would wish to see him.'
After his leave he returned to the same part of the line, where he mentions little of military interest except a gas alarm, on May 20. From this time onwards his letters and diaries are full of the coming of Summer. On June 11 Capt. H. W. Garton, a fellow Etonian, with whose brother he had rowed at Oxford, rejoined the Battalion, and again Southwell lost the command of the Company to a senior officer. For a time he was at the i4.th Divisional School of Instruction at Hauteville, and then returned to the Battalion.
On July I White was killed in an attack before Mailly- Maillet.
The story continues in Southwell's own words :
Sombrin. Tuesday Feb. 29.
We found we had quite a good Mess room in one house, with a kitchen on right • beyond that, barn, with Officers' servants and some A.S.C. L. of that, bed-room used as sitting-room by A.S.C. and Officers' servants by day.
L., black wood mantelpiece, plates, crucifix, and scent- bottles. Beneath it, recess for a stove, but no fire there ; still, it was not cold. Opposite the usual bisected stable door, light wood side-board j placard ' Fete Nationale de Jeanne d'Arc' (when is that?), copy of the ' Angelus'; left of that, big coloured plate of French uniforms, surmounted by France in chariot with two lions — Triomphe de la Rep: Francaise '. R. of that, barometer. L. Centre, table, spotlessly clean, and with the inevitable oil-cloth. R. wall, dresser with our gramophone; 'Souvenir de la Mission de 1912 ' (obscure, these missions).
That afternoon we had a very successful outing ; the only Company that went out, I think. At three I marched and doubled them out of the village ; up the hill ; round an oblong field on right ; easy ; into next field. Short speech on fitness by me in three lines ; physical exercises ; doubled that field also. Rapid march down road i mile more and back pretty smartly (about 142).
In the evening, entered Lewis gunners on Company Roll and wrote to them.
After that we listened to our gramophone and records we borrow from Irving. The chief features I have already mentioned but to my huge delight Polgreen (B), who messed with us, brought his album with Schubert's Unfinished quartet^ and I remembered the Quinby evenings and my Alen. That was very good.
Sombrin. Wed. March 1, 1916.
Procession of boats to-day, I wonder? It is fifteen years since I took part in my first, and a few things have happened since then.
This was one of the mornings when the C.S.M. and I agreed that after the War there would be a few funny things to look back upon. There was a Jot of shuffling about of B ' and ' C ' on the road, to the side of our real road, but the one on which we were drawn up waiting to join the column. We went down it some way, and helped, and turned about. Then ' B ' came, of course through thousands of lorries, all anyhow. So we had to shift down. Too far. Back. Not far enough. Back. About turn. Found old ' B ' with its ' second front section of fours marking time like good 'uns, and nobody else giving a damn ', as I observed to the C.S.M.
However, we did get going then, and had a pretty good march. Very cold, but fresh, and no one was very tired. It reminds me that one does not ordinarily remain as strong as one was before coming out — or so it seems to me. I may be wrong, but I should say that I felt an eight miles' march more than I used to on the Plain. Of course, though, I have been ill since then, and also probably smoked too much ; and I expect one is really no weaker in oneself.
As I was saying, I am afraid one becomes rather a beast of burden on these treks. I was absolutely happy, I think, on the whole of them, or nearly so j but just now the certain glory of the earth is not exactly unremarked, but it is ' noted ' like a message from H.Q., and I am not content with that.
Two Men : A Memoir
E. H. L. S.
July to September 1916
Though he had been anxious about White for ten days, it was not till July 15 that Southwell heard the news that he was missing. For another fortnight he was in the same part of the line as before, and then, on the 27th, the Battalion left Sombrin, and was at rest behind the line at the beginning of August. For the last three weeks of the month they entered ' the land of the Push ', and were engaged in holding on to captured trenches, though they took no part in any organised attack. On September 1 Southwell speaks of the Battalion as back at rest not far from Abbeville ; and during this period he was made ' O.C. Entertainments ', and organised football for the men.
His Company Commander was away on leave, but returned on September 10. On the 15th the Battalion returned to the line, and took part in a big attack. Southwell was far in advance of his men, when a sniper hit him, near Delville Wood. He was killed instantaneously.
These are letters written about him.
From one who knew him intimately throughout his life :—
' His "philosophy of life" was very real, and profound in its depth. It was characteristically empirical, and not traditional, in its method. He worked it out for himself. Never would he move a step farther than he could see, in his search after truth. It was always, I believe, theistic. Long before the end it became definitely and deliberately Christian. Both the Chaplains at the Front wrote to say he never missed a Church Parade or Celebration of Holy Communion, unless his military duties made his presence impossible. One of the Chaplains adds that he did this largely for the sake of others, and not merely for his own sake. The same Chaplain states that it was by his influence that his servant was brought to Confirmation. 'Whatever were the fundamental principles of his philosophy of life, one thing is certain ; he had caught, as if by intuition, visions which "we are striving all our life to find".
' His love of Nature was pathetic in its intensity. It was God's world to him. Whenever he went to a new district, he used to explore the locality and " interpret " it in relation (by way of comparison or contrast) to familiar places at home. He drank it all in with his whole soul as a Revelation of life.
' Akin to his love of Nature was his devotion to two forms of art, music and architecture : with regard to the latter, his description of any new billet was always by reference to " the most wonderful Cathedral in France ", or "the picturesque little village Church". This form of art, like that of music, seemed to be part of his religious life.
' His unflinching devotion to duty was another marked feature of his character. When once he had made up his mind what it was his duty to do, he did it at what- ever cost to himself as well as to others. It was often obvious that, if any such decision hurt others, it hurt him much more.
' His devotion to others was possibly the most marked trait in his life. He loved them (albeit with a discriminating love) as his own soul, and was delighted, in his simple- minded way, when he saw their hearts' response to his appeal.
' Finally, there was his exquisite simplicity. He remained " a child " in temper and spirit to the very end. Of him it could be truly said, " Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile ".'
From an officer of his Company : —
'While he was with us, he was always cheerful, and a great factor in the happiness of the Battalion. As well, he was a very efficient officer, and shewed great keenness. I really think that he liked soldiering • at any rate, I know he was very happy while he was with us.'
From another fellow-officer : —
'I have been in your son's Company since he took over the Company in the beginning of the year, and of course I knew him well in the earlier days after the 25th of September. We all loved him, officers and men, and he was entirely unselfish. The Company, under his command, ran smoothly, and he took an immense amount of trouble over it. The first experience we had of this push, though not so disastrous from the casualty point of view, was far more unpleasant, and all through he was magnificent. If he knew what fear was, he never shewed it. I have already said that everybody loved him — the men would have gone anywhere with him. He was leading them with his usual calmness to the end. 1 cannot tell you how great the loss is to us, the few of us who arc left. Those of us who have been through many things, pleasant and unpleasant, will never forget him.'
From a Tutor of Magdalen : —
' I can hardly bear to write yet, in a sense, I have been expecting the news. Do you remember the day, long ago as it seems, when Magdalen lost the Headship, and the crew came back to the barge spiritless and cowed — all but he ! Ever since I knew that he had gone out, 1 have felt that the gallant spirit which refused to accept defeat on the river would carry him fearlessly through this greater struggle, but only too likely to the death that I sometimes fancied he would almost have desired — the death most worthy of him.
'Nothing, I think, in all my life as a teacher, has given me greater pleasure than to hear from Alington, as I often did, of the great work he was doing at Shrewsbury. Only a few weeks ago he was telling me about it. But I know also, from what he said and partly from a letter he shewed me, that in the trenches he had found himself as perhaps he never had before.
' I think we must not grieve for him. It was a great life, full of force and vigour and enjoyment, nobly laid down and the memory of it will remain with some of us to the last.
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To estimate the “packed weight” each book is first weighed and then an additional amount of 150 grams is added to allow for the packaging material (all books are securely wrapped and posted in a cardboard book-mailer). The weight of the book and packaging is then rounded up to the nearest hundred grams to arrive at the shipping figure. I make no charge for packaging materials and do not seek to profit from shipping and handling.
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