Tag Archives: Donald Stuart Stirling Smurthwaite

Donald Stuart Stirling Smurthwaite

Photograph of Smurthwaite from Lawrence Tanner’s Journal

The second of the two Old Westminsters to die on 26th October 1914 was also a Grantite at school with Lawrence Tanner. Tanner records Smurthwaite’s first day at Westminster inhis journal:

‘The first arrival was about 5.30pm in the shape of a new boy called Smurthwaite. I found him in the process of re-adjusting his ideas about a Public School. At present he is delighted with everything: the School, the House, the arrangement are all that they should be in his opinion. I took him down and showed him Hall and Chiswicks and told him he would be my fag and he seemed relieved at the mildness of my aspect and appeared surprised as he had pictured himself arising at 5.30am to make me cocoa (I can see myself at that hour drinking cocoa!). I only hope that he will not have to re-adjust his ideas again and that he may find everything in the future as pleasing as he does at present.’

He turned out to be an excellent choice as a fag. Tanner recorded that he

‘spoke to the amazingSmurthwaitetoday and told him my books didn’t seem to have been dusted this term, he said ‘oh that’sSorley, it’s really his business but I spoke to him today about it, however I’ll get my duster and do it!!’ He manages to do for his own pleasure three quarters of thefaggingof the House, always the first to answer ‘Halls‘ etc. Consequently this evening my table was dusted and arranged with mathematical precision, everything arranged in severe straight lines.’

Smurthwaite clearly did enjoy his time at Westminster and was popular with other members of the house – although it was reported that he gave ‘lectures to his Dormitory being an Imperialist on the state of the navy and they can’t shut him up’.

A company of the Blackwatch in the trenches in 1914, wearing kilts

Smurthwaite was an active member of the Corps whilst at school, reaching the rank of Lance-Corporal. Unsurprisingly, upon leaving school hewas admittedwith a Prize Cadetship to the Royal MilitaryCollege,Sandhurst. In 1914has passed out (graduated) fromSandhurst at the head of the list, being the onlycandidate to obtain honours. He joined the 1st Battalion of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) as a 2nd Lieutenant. A number of authors state that the regiment was given the nickname “Ladies from Hell” (“Die Damen aus der H├Âlle”) by German troops, allegedly on account of their kilts and fighting qualities. The regiment went out to the Western Front in September 1914. Smurthwaite was killed in action at Ypres on 26th October 1914.

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