Friday 23 April 1915 – We Lost 877
Sub Lieutenant Rupert Chawner Brooke (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) the poet dies of sunstroke at age 27 just before the landing on Gallipoli. Brooke was born into a well to do, academic family, his father a housemaster at Rugby School, where Rupert was educated before going on the King’s College, Cambridge in 1913. He was a good student and athlete. He numbered among his friends E M Forster, Maynard Keynes, Virginia Woolf, and Edward Thomas. He was made a Sub Lieutenant September last year, accomplanied the Antwerp Expedition in October and sailed with the British Mediteranean Expeditionary Force on 28 February. His war petry appears in the volume entitled 1914 and other poems and in his Collected Poems. Brooke’s reputation, aside from the myth of the fallen ‘golden warrior’ that his friends set about creating almost immediately after his death rests on the five war sonnets of 1914.
The German attack on the allied lines at Ypres begun the previous day is resumed, however, the Germans find Canadians filling the gap in the line left by the gassed Algerians during the preceding afternoon. Resistance is stiff, and, in classic Western front style, the attack bogs down with no further significant gains though the Germans take several hamlets.
The British government declares a blockade of Cameroon.
Lance Corporal Frederick Fisher (Highlanders of Canada) is awarded the Victoria Cross in the neighborhood of St Julian. He goes forward with the machine gun which he is in charge of, under heavy fire and most gallantly assists in covering the retreat of a battery, losing four men of his team. Later, after obtaining four more men, he goes forward again to the firing line and is himself killed while bringing his machine gun into action under very heavy fire, in order to cover the advance of supports. He is the first Canadian born soldier to win the Victoria Cross serving in the Canadian Army.
Today’s losses include:
- Two Great War Poets
- The grandson of naturalist Charles Darwin
- The winner of the 1914 Boston Marathon
- The great great grandson of Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant who sided with the English during the American Revolution
- The father of a World War II Victoria Cross winner and future Canadian Member of Parliament
- The son of a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario who will be killed with his wife when RMS Lusitania will be sunk next month
- Captain of the British Columbian Rugby team
- Three battalion commanders
- The son of a Baronet
- The son-in-law of the 1st Lord Farrer
- The son of a Major General
- The son of a Surgeon General
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- The grandson of a member of the clergy
- An Olympic Marathon runner
- Multiple families that will lose one of three sons
- Multiple families that will lose two sons in the war
- An example of two brothers killed together
- A man whose brother-in-law will be killed
- A man whose twin brother will be killed later in the war
Today’s highlighted casualties are
- Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Percival Dearman Birchall (Royal Fusiliers commanding 4th Central Ontario Regiment) is killed at age 38. His brother will die of wounds in August 1916.
- Lieutenant Colonel Ernest William Rokeby Stephenson (commanding 3rd Middlesex Regiment) is killed at age 46. He is the son of the Reverend W Stephenson.
- Lieutenant Colonel Arthur George Burt (commanding 1st York and Lancaster Regiment) is killed at age 50.
- Captain Walter Leslie Lockhart Gordon (Eastern Ontario Regiment) is killed at age 24. His brother will be killed in May 1917.
- Captain Bertie Noel Lumsden (Seaforth Highlanders) is killed at age 29. He is the middle of three brothers who are killed in the Great War.
- Captain Cecil Mack Merritt (Manitoba Regiment) is killed at age 38 when during a charge he is hit in the leg after which he stands up to shoot and is himself shot in the head. He is the father of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt Victoria Cross winner in the Second World War and Member of the Canadian Parliament from 1945 to 1949.
- Captain Gilbert Davidson Pitt Eykyn (Royal Scots attached Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 34. He is the son of the late Reverend Pitt Eykyn.
- Captain George Crowther Ryerson (Central Ontario Regiment) is killed in action at age 32. He is the son of Major General George Stirling Ryerson Memaber of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for Toronto from 1893-98 and his wife Mary Crowther Ryerson who will be killed in two weeks in the sinking of RMS Lusitania.
- Lieutenant Robert William Sterling (Royal Scots Fusiliers) is killed in action at Ypres after holding a length of trench all day with fifteen men. He gained the classical scholarship to Pembroke College, Oxford in 1912 and won the 1914 Newdigate Prize with his poem “The Burial of Sophocles” and was one of the Great War Poets. He dedicated the poem To J H S M killed in action March 13th 1915 to John Hewitt Sutton Moxly.
- Lieutenant John Raphael Hamilton-Dalrymple (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed in action at age 25. He is the son of the late ‘Sir’ W Hamilton-Dalrymple 8th
- Lieutenant Zouch Austin Turton (Norfolk Regiment attached East Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 28. He is the son of the Reverend Zouch Horace Turton Vicar of St Mary’s Southtown who has a second son who will be killed in September 1917.
- Lieutenant Cameron Donald Brant (Central Ontario Regiment) is killed at age 27 leading his platoon. He is the great great grandson of Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant who sided with the British in the War for American Independence.
- Second Lieutenant Erasmus Darwin (Yorkshire Regiment) the grandson of the naturalist Charles Darwin is killed in action at age 33. He was also the son-in-law of Thomas Henry, 1st Lord Farrer.
- CSM Reginald Unsworth Green (Honorable Artillery Corps) is killed at age 26. His two brothers will be killed in 1917.
- Private John Rupert Weigall Hollands (Quebec Regiment) is killed at age 22. He is the son of the Reverend Charles William Hollands Rector of Carbonear.
- Private Richard Huartson (Lancaster Regiment) is killed at age 41. His brother was killed at home last September when struck by a train while guarding the railway near Reading.
- Private James Draycott (York and Lancaster Regiment) is killed at age 25. His brother died of wounds one week ago.
- Private Francis Jackson Reid (Alberta Regiment) is killed at age 30. He is the son of Surgeon General Sir A Scott Reid KCB.
- Private James Duffy (Manitoba Regiment) dies of wounds at age 24. He was the winner of the 1914 Boston Marathon. He also raced in the 1912 Olympic Marathon finishing fifth.
- Private Henry Gulliford (Manitoba Regiment) is killed at age 27. His brother-in-law will die of wounds in June 1917.
- Private Villiers Henry Plantagent Somerset (Manitoba Regiment) is killed at age 24. He is the grandson of the Reverend Villiers Henry Pantagenet Somerset.
- Private Oliver Fyson (Manitoba Regiment) is killed in action north of Ypres when taking part in the charge of the Canadians that saves the British line. He is a twin who was born in October 1884 and went to Canada where he captained the British Columbian Rugby team. His twin brother will be killed in Salonika in September 1918 and they are sons of the Right Reverend Philip K Fyson DD formerly Bishop of Hokkaido, Japan.
- Private C H Collins-Williams (Central Ontario Regiment) is killed in action at age 24. He is the son of the Reverend T C Collins-Williams.
- Brothers Arthur age 34 and Reginald Lawrence age 32 are killed together while serving in the Alberta Regiment at Kitcheners Wood.