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Soldiers of the Regiment

2nd Lieutenant Lawrence Seymour Brockelbank


Correspondence Received
as to the fate of
2nd Lieutenant Lawrence Seymour Brockelbank
(Aged 21)
of the 3rd Battalion of The King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

1. 1914 August 5th. Wire from Lancaster to Laurie
“Join depot at once mobilization ordered Adjutant Depot”

2. August 8th Wire from Laurie
“Gone to the front good-bye much love. Laurie”

3. August 23rd Post card from Laurie
“Arrived safely at Boulogne quite well”.

4. October 21st. Captain J H Hardy writes from Junior Naval and Military Club, Piccadilly.
“I regret to say that I do not know what happened to your son after he was wounded. He was wounded on the morning of 26th August 1914. None of our wounded, who could not walk, were got away, and were taken prisoners.”

5. November 1st Lieutenant Douglas C Robinson writes from South Infirmary Cork.

“On 26th August – All the young officers had been accounted for, except your boy. Some men of the Lancashire Fusiliers told me, when they went up to clear away the wounded, that they saw a very young looking officer, the description of which tallied with your son, lying dead absolutely next to our Colonel – unfortunately we could not get up to them afterwards. I regret to say it looks very much as if this young officer was your son, as all the others we have accounted for. I am very sorry I cannot give you more definite information but it was the general opinion amongst all of us after the battle of Cambrai that you son was killed.”

6. November 6th. Lance Corporal Graham (our late gardener) sends Post card from Saltash, Cornwall, Headquarters of King’s Own Lancaster Regiment, says:

“I was speaking to a man home from the front and he knew he was wounded by could not say where he was taken. He did not think he was taken prisoner, as the Germans were driven back.

7. November 6th War Office

“The Military Secretary presents his compliments to Mr Brockelbank, and in reply to his letter of the 22nd October, begs to inform him that a special enquiry has been made to the Base, with the result that he Officer Commanding the Royal Lancaster Regiment has reported that Second Lieutenant Brockelbank has been missing since August 26th and is believed to be killed.
The Military Secretary begs Mr Brockelbank to accept Lord Kitchener’s sympathy in the loss of his son.”

8. November 22nd Charles R Irvine of Drumgoon Manor, Maguires Bridge, Ireland, says:

“Major Parker mentioned your son to me and I asked my son about him, but so far I have not received a reply to any of my letters, though his letters have come through all right, but my son was so severely wounded. I fear he did not know anything till recently.
There is only one other English officer in the Hospital with my son, Miller of the Manchesters. No communications can be got with the Hospitals in Cambrai, the Germans being there.

9. November 27th Mrs Rosamond Dykes (wife of Colonel Dykes of the King’s Own) can get no definite information of where her husband was buried but thinks if your boy fell at the same time they were probably lying in the same grave.

“Sergeant Williams said that the King’s Own managed to bury their dead. Captain Higgins suggested that the Cure of Haucourt might know where and whether the fallen were buried. It is thought my husband was buried in the heights overlooking Haucourt. Mr Irvine and Captain Sparenberg have both been discovered as prisoners.”

10. November 25th Colonel J M Graham in command of the King’s Own Regiment, writes from Fulwell Schools, Sunderland.

“Your letter of the 21st has been forwarded to me from Saltash. Am only too sorry I can give you no real assistance. I have made numerous enquiries myself from officers and men who have come back from the front, but can find no one who saw what happened to you son. I am told Lieutenant Irvine might know something. At present he is a prisoner in Germany. I have new of another subaltern who disappeared at that time. He has now been found in a Convent in Belgium, but as the Germans are occupying the part of the country he is in, he has to lie perdu. He has both his legs broken and the nuns are looking after him, but of course ifit were known where he was, he would be made prisoner by the ‘Huns’.

11. December 3rd. Telegram from Buckingham Palace

“G S Brockelbank, Esqre. Elm Lodge, Blackheath. The King and Queen deeply regret the loss you and the Army have sustained by the reported death of your son in the service of his County. Their Majesties truly sympathise with you in your sorrow. Private Secretary.”

12. December 4th Lance corporal Graham writing from Fulwell, Sunderland

“Private Copperthwaite who belonged to your dear son’s Platoon, and was actually with him on the day that he was wounded, tells me that he cannot say what happened to him afterwards as he himself was wounded and was only saved from being captured by the help of a chum. I have asked him to write you a small account of what happened, but he seems to avoid the subject as much as possible, so I must leave him to write at his leisure, he don’t like to think about it. By what he tells me, they were attacked in the morning of the 24th August and it was the retirement on the 25th that your son Lawrence was hit by a piece of shrapnel shell, he was not mortally wounded as he was seen to be able to walk, but in the confusion he was evidently left behind. Lieutenant Irvine was with him and was also wounded, he is somewhere in the British Isles and may be able to tell you something about him. On that particular day it was impossible to get an accurate account of what happened or of what became of those wounded and left behind, I think it most likely that he was taken prisoner by the Germans and may yet return to you.”

13. December 6th. British Red Cross Society. Boulogne-sur-Mer. Secretary says:

“2nd Lieutenant A G W Broadhurst of King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment who is in hospital here says, that the opinion in the Regiment is, that 2nd Lieutenant L S Brockelbank was killed, but he does not know anything of the circumstances. I shall not of course, accept this information as final, and I hope by further enquiries to obtain better news which I will at once send on to you.”

14. December 12th British Red Cross Society. Boulogne-sur-Mer. Secretary says:

“Cambrai is still in German hands. As soon as we can get any information from that part of the Country, I will endeavour to do so”.

15. December 16th British Red Cross Society. Boulogne-sur-Mer.

“I send you a report given us by Private Graham who says:
“We were drawn up by the roadside at La Bassee. The Germans opened fire. Word passed down to fix bayonets, and we charged.”
This was the last seen of Lieutenant Brockelbank as far as Graham heard from survivors. Graham was of the same Company as Brockelbank.
“After driving the Germans back we returned over the same ground and waited about 25 minutes for Brockelbank’s body to have been found if killed. He may have been taken prisoner. We seem to have suffered very heavily, and there appears to have been rather a ‘mix up’ so that his body might have been passed over. It was broad day-light.”

16. January, 5th, 1915. British Red Cross Society. Boulogne-sur-Mer. H Lubbock for Lord Robert Cecil.

“Private A Bennett, 1489, King’s Own Royal Lancasters, (now in Hotel Trianon Hospital, Versailles) says:
“Lieutenant Brockelbank was missing from a village called ‘Mathrune’. We went to attack the village; he was ahead, we took the village and never saw him again. He was not amongst the dead or wounded. He was ‘C’ Company, I was ‘A’ Company. There was a Lieutenant Morris on his left with a Maxim Gun with his platoon, and the bigger part of his platoon was killed and buried by his own regiment in the morning, but Lieutenant Brockelbank was never seen again. This was about the 17th October after we had left the Arsne, and were attacking towards Armentieres.”
It is impossible to guarantee the accuracy of information received from privates, and as this conflicts with the information already given, I forward it with all possible reserve.”

17. January 15th. Mrs Dykes says:
“When the War is over we shall doubtless know how and where our Colonel was buried. His death must have been instantaneous and beside him lay a young subaltern, whom it is thought was Brockelbank. Mr Robinson with a party of men was sent forward again in the afternoon to try and retrieve the dead and wounded, but the Germans being in strength he was unable to carry out his purpose.”

18. January 26th British Red Cross Society – asks:
“Whether the reports they get of 2nd Lieutenant H A Bricklebank of the Lancaster Regiment who was wounded at Meterien on the 13th November, have anything to do with Lieutenant L S Brockelbank who was wounded and missing at Cambrai on August 26th.

2nd Lieutenant H A B belongs to 4th Brigade
2nd Lieutenant L S B to 3rd Brigade.

19. February 15th Lance Corporal Graham writes from Base Rouen, France.

“I wish to express sympathy to you at the loss of you dead son Lawrence, as there can now be no doubt, as I see his made is Gazetted as the 26th August at Cambrai. Since arriving here, I have seen several men who knew him, and one in particular, who told me that his end was sudden and merciful, as he is able to say he was close to him at the time of his death, and made certain before he left him, that he was gone; in times like these, coming in contact with men who have faced death and hunger the same as comes to the lot of most of us out here, one is struck by the thought that all must be superhuman to come through without it upsetting their mental balance. Yet one seldom hears complaints not matter what the duty or hardship they simply smile and bear it, thank God, we have such men, for if it were left to some, they I believe would prefer giving up, rather than lose the comforts of their petty homes, they cannot realize the grand life this is, providing one is in good health.”

20. March 12th Reverend Gavin McFadyeon, Saltash.

“On Thursday about 120 of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment left for the front. I had a chat with many of them before they started and found two of them who were at Cambrai at the end of August. One of them, Private Copperwhaite, very strangely enough, had for some time been Lieutenant Brockelbank’s servant – and so knew him intimately. He said that young Brockelbank was most popular, that he was a daring officer, and was like most of our young officers, quite indifferent to danger. The King’s Own had been surprised by the German machine guns, and lost heavily. Lieutenant Brockelbank led his men heroically after he had been wounded. A retreat was necessary, and whilst that was in progress he was killed instantaneously by the bursting of a shell. He could not have suffered or been conscious of death. The other private added he was just blown to pieces.
Both the men spoke with deepest respect and regard of the young officer.

21 March 30th From The Times

Special Reserve of Officers

3rd Royal Lancaster Battalion. Following 2nd Lieutenants (on probation) are confirmed in Rank.

Lawrence S Brockelbank, G B Sleigh, W S Eillis, 2nd Lieutenants to be Lieutenants – to date from February 2nd, 1915.

Accession Number: KO1237/23

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 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

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