King's Own Royal Regiment Museum


Museum & Collections
Contact Us

17th Century
18th Century
19th Century
20th Century
First World War
Second World War
Actions & Movements
Battle Honours

Further Reading


© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Soldiers of the Regiment

Captain Henry Clutterbuck

Henry Clutterbuck was born on 28th December 1873 and served in the ranks of the Coldstream Guards, including War Service in South Africa. He was promoted to Orderly Room Sergeant. He was then Commissioned into the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He transferred to the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment as a captain on 20th October 1907, whilst he was holding the appointment of Adjutant of the King's Own Malta Militia. He joined the 1st Battalion of the King's Own in 1909.  He went across to France with the battalion on 23rd August 1914.

Captain Henry Clutterbuck was killed in action on 26th August 1914 when leading a bayonet charge at Haucourt during the Battle of Le Cateau.

11th December 1914 - Lancaster Observer

Soldiers’ Stories
Detailed account of Captain Clutterbuck’s Death

A sergeant of the King’s Own, recently seen by an Observer representative, told a graphic story of the gruelling which the 1st Battalion King’s Own received in the early stages of the war, of the heroic death of Colonel Dykes, and the tight position in which the regiment found itself, along with the Dublin Fusiliers and other regiments of the brigade. He declared that the Germans were discovered attired in French uniforms, speaking French fluently, and by this means the English were for a short time misled. “Germans came through our lines when we had halted for a very much needed meal after a long march, and as they were attired in French uniforms, we believed they were allies. They picked up bits of information before they were detected.” After describing the incidents that led to the death of Colonel Dykes, and to his parting words to his troops, the sergeant went on to describe the later events of that memorable afternoon and evening. The regiments were reformed as quickly as possible, and the King’s Own, sadly depleted of officers and men, marched down the street of a village. At the end of the street, facing them, was a church, on the steps of which was a number of soldiers, singing lustily, “Rule Britannia.” “Are there any King’s Own men there,” inquired Captain Clutterbuck, as he tried to pierce the gloom. “This way captain,” was the prompt answer, and the company commanded by the gallant captain, marched on. Suddenly the soldiers on the steps of the church jumped up, and called upon Captain Clutterbuck and his company in the name of the Kaiser to surrender. Here again French uniforms and English speech had given the Germans a temporary advantage. “Surrender be hanged,” exclaimed Captain Clutterbuck, realising the situation quickly. “King’s Own fix bayonets, charge,” he exclaimed, and before the astonished Germans had time to think the King’s Own got in some deadly bayonet work. Unhappily, Captain Clutterbuck fell mortally wounded as he was leading his gallant company, but the men rushed on, and gave a good account of themselves against tremendous odds. The companies were not able to reform until dark, when the men were collected from various places where they had taken cover. The sergeant told a gruesome story of the fate of a German officer. He crept up alongside a projection of some sort, with the object of ascertaining if behind it were any of the enemy. His cautious crawling was described in vivid language. He took no risks. He first of all put his hand on the edge of projecting cover, as though to draw the fire of the enemy if they were concealed there. As a matter of fact, there was a single British officer behind the doorway, and he bided his time. He would not be “drawn.” The German officer got his head slowly inch by inch past the edge of the door, and as his neck appeared down came the British officer’s uplifted sword, and the German’s head was severed at a blow. Not a sound was uttered, there was no cry, but a German body fell on one side of the cover, and a German head rolled away on the other side. Needless to say, the reconnaissance did not materialise.

Asked as to the atrocities said to have been committed by the Germans, the sergeant – who was in all the operations up to a late date on the Aisne – said the stories were perfectly true. They burnt and pillaged houses without the least reason, ill treated the non combatants, and certainly made women and old men march in front of them when advancing to shield them from the fire of the British. “It was that kind of thing that made us mad,” added the sergeant , and the thought seemed to stiffen him up, and to put a light in his eye that boded no good to the enemy, “and it is the recollection of what I saw that makes me eager to get back into the firing line.” He added that he had seen fighting in South Africa and elsewhere, but he had never encountered an enemy so far last to all sense of honour, or who disregarded the rules of war so flagrantly as the Germans.


Captain Clutterbuck's gallant death is recorded in a poem, "Just Like Clutterbuck!"

“Just like Clutterbuck!”

(A sergeant of the King’s Own Royal Lancasters says his regiment, at the battle of Mons, got home with several dashing bayonet charges, one of the most brilliant being led by Captain Clutterbuck, formerly a ranker of the Yorkshire Light Infantry, who, with a handful of men, routed four times their number. He paid the price of his gallantry with his life. The Sergeant added; “It was just like Clutterbuck.”)

It was at Mons; the breathless fight
Ran to a second day,
After a storm of shell by night,
A fresh and furious fray;
There, in the hot, unpitying sun,
The Germans gathered, four to one;
Said our Captain, “Duty must be done!”
That was just like Clutterbuck.

He summoned up his company,
And keenly scanned each face;
“The foe are there,” said he, “and we
Must shift them from the place.
Fix bay’nets, boys! We’ll let them feel
Just what it’s like to taste cold steel!”
His smile he tried hard to conceal,
Which was just like Clutterbuck.

Fiercer the deadly fight became,
Hot as the mouth of hell;
The air around was a sheet of flame,
And many a comrade fell.
Up stood the Captain as shrapnel burst
Over the men, who at it cursed;
In the charge he meant to be the first—
That was just like Clutterbuck.

Just a glance at the foe he threw,
On the hillside looming large,
Another glance at the lads he knew-
Out rapped the one word, “Charge!”
He didn’t look, when he’d said his say,
To see if his men sprang to obey.
But he rushed right on, and led the way!
It was just like Clutterbuck.

A ringing cheer in exultant notes
And fine North Country “burrs,”
Swells from the lusty, dusty throats
Of the King’s Own Lancasters;
Sheer up the hill each man-jack speeds,
Nobody falters save he who bleeds,
Racing hard—but the Captain leads,
And that’s just like Clutterbuck!

Never a moment now for talk,
Now is the time to do;
Into the Germans they fairly walk—
Lancashire lads all through!
Four to one! And a shirker might
Think it no shame to take to flight,
But, the Captain thought the odds about right—
Which was just like Clutterbuck.

There in the thick of all the din,
Bang in the front was he,
Like a lion loose, and wiring in—
Leading to victory!
But, when the fight was just on won,
King Death beckoned his bravest son,
His time had come—but duty was done—
That was just like Clutterbuck.

Happy the land with such tales to tell!
It can be conquered never!
Happy the heroes who, like him, fell—
For they shall live for ever!
When British heroes, in British ways,
Achieve great deeds in coming days,
These be the forms of your proudest praise—
“It was just like Clutterbuck.”


Reprinted from “John Bull” 19th September 1914

Accession Number: KO1015/09

© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2014 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum