Lieutenant George Keith Elliott - died 8/9/1918
3rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers attached 25th Battalion (Montgomeryshire and Welsh Horse Yeomanry)
Keith was born in Nottingham, on 6th February 1898, the eldest son of Dr George Elliott and Katherine T Elliott (daughter of the Rev Robert Cowan of Brighton) of The Cedars, Baschurch. After attending Inst, where he was a Junior Scholar, he was also educated at Shrewsbury School and at University College Oxford, where he gained an Open Science Scholarship and was a member of the Officer Training Corps.
He was planning profession in medicine but instead applied for a commission was gazetted a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 1st March 1917. He served in Egypt, then in the Palestine campaign in 1917-18, where he was appointed Brigade Water Supply Officer before being promoted to Lieutenant on 1st September 1918.
Keith was attached to the 25th battalion and proceeded with them to France in May 1918, where he was promoted to Lieutenant on 1st September 1918.
He took part in several engagements during the driving back of the enemy from Bray and Peronne and was killed in action near Ronssoy, near Ste Emilie. His commanding officers wrote:
“His patrol got checked by heavy machine gun fire and rifle fire and many were hit. Keith, with no thought for his personal safety, pushed on himself with his runner to get to his patrol, and crossing the open, was met by a hail of bullets. Keith is a great loss to us; he was, without exaggeration, the most popular officer in the battalion, his men idolized him and he gave his life trying to save some of them. When he was in my company in Egypt and Palestine, I always regarded him as my best Platoon Commander and since I have been second in command and now in command of the battalion, I have changed that to best in the battalion"
His former commanding officer, Lord Kensington, wrote
"His youth and charming manner endeared him to all - always cheery, we all loved him. He had grown into such a fine lad and we were all very fond of him. He had lately very much distinguished himself at physical training and bayonet fighting and was appointed Instructor of Bayonet Fighting to the battalion. I feel almost as if one of my own boys were in his place, but I know that his gallant young life was ungrudgingly given whilst nobly doing his duty in his country's cause"
Keith is buried in Ste. Emilie Valley Cemetery, Villers-Faucon (ref II E 15), Somme, France.
Second Lieutenant Thomas Brignall Elliott - died 1/7/1916
10th Royal Irish Rifles
Thomas was born on 5th May 1887 in Stockton-on-Tees, the son of Thomas and Annie Elliott of "Tremona", Knockdene Park, Knock, Belfast and later of "Sandown", Chichester Park, Belfast.
After Inst, he attended the Royal Universiry of Ireland. He was working as a clerk when he enlisted as a private with the 8th Royal Irish Rifles on 8th September 1914, in Belfast. Thomas had previously served as a Lieutenant with the Boys Brigade for 3 years, and was commissioned on 30th November 1914, in the East Belfast Battalion. He subsequently transferred to the South Belfast Battalion in March 1915.
He was killed on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, at the age of 29. The 10th Royal Irish Rifles were tasked with attacking the southern section of the fifth German line, at the Schwaben Redoubt.
Chaplain the Rev James Quinn, writing to the family, after they had initially been told he was “missing”, informed them: “He fell leading his men on the morning of the 1st Inst. It is hardly possible for him to have been left lying where he fell if the wound had not been mortal, as the ground has been frequently and fully searched. Of course, until his body has been found, there is just a slight chance for him, as wonderful and almost incredible instances of survivors are returned on such occasions, but up till this afternoon, there are no traces of him. I had a special interest in Tom since I got to know him out here, as it was like old times when I was curate in Bangor”.
Various other reports were received about Thomas' actions that day. One informant stated that he had seen Thomas in No Man's Land, wounded in the leg, half kneeling on the ground and "waving a small Union Jack to urge us on". He was later seen in the 3rd German line, suffering from shell shock. Another stated that he was with Thomas "when he was hit in two places, through the back of the head and through the cheek. Lt Elliott then sent him with a message and when he was about 50-60 yards away he looked back and saw Lt Elliott fall as though he had been hit again although he could not be sure. I may say that the place where these officers were first hit was subject to a fearful enfilade fire from Machine Guns and as there was practically no cover, the probablility was that they would be hit again as they lay on the ground".
Thomas is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (pier and face 15A and 15B), Somme, France. His two brothers also served in the war.
Private William Erskine - died 30/12/1916
1st Battalion Royal Fusiliers - service number 47516
William was born in Belfast and living there, when he enlisted in Romford.
He was killed in action on 30th December 1916. The battalion were in Divisional Reserve at the Northern Huts, Mazingarbe. The was diary states: "Dull Day. Usual standing fatigues and guards. 50 men went cable laying at night. Casualties 1 other rank killed."
William is buried in Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe (ref II J 6), Pas de Calais, France.
Lieutenant Hugo Bell Fisher - died 23/11/1917
2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers
Hugo was born on 5th April 1897, the only son of Dr. Hugh Fisher and Elizabeth Bell Fisher of 4 College Gardens, Belfast. After Inst, he attending Queen’s University Belfast, where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps.
Hugo was reported as being missing on 10th November 1917, the last day of the Passchendaele campaign, and later discovered to have been taken prisoner. The 2nd Royal Muster Fusiliers were taking part in the 1st Division attack on the Goudberg Ridge. They lost over 400 men that day, in which, for a time, they withheld a German counterattack on a position called Void Farm by throwing mudballs at them. The Germans mistook them for bombs and fell back.
Private Kennedy of the 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers reported -
“I am in “C” Company, No 11 Platoon. Soon after passing the first German lines of trenches right down in the valley, I saw 2nd Lt Fisher lying on the ground on his face with his hands spread out. I passed him and went on.”
Lance Corporal Milos wrote -
“I saw Lt Fisher being hit in the stomach. He fell in his face in the mud and did not stir again.”
Hugo’s mother received a letter from her son on 21st November, sent from Limburg, a clearing station for the wounded. She reported that “he writes very badly that he is feverish and wounded in the left foot.”
Hugo died on 23rd November 1917, at the age of 20, in a German field hospital in Beveren, Belgium, from a shell splinter wound to his left thigh. He was originally buried in the Military Cemetery at Beveren, but was re-interred at Harlebeke New British Cemetery (ref. XI A 8), Flanders, Belgium.