Tag Archives: Monchy-le-Preux

Norman Cairns Robertson

Norman Robertson was born on the 9th January 1876 to William and Mary Elizabeth Robertson. He arrived at Westminster in 1888 where his elder brother, William Alexander, was in his final year. Their younger brother Laurence Grant joined him in 1891. The three Robertson boys were all members of Homeboarders’ House.

It is uncertain what Norman went on to do immediately after leaving the school in 1894. However, on the outbreak of the First World War, he joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps.

On the 20th February 1917, he became a Captain in the 2nd Battalion Royal Hampshire Regiment. During the second Battle of Arras on the 23rd April, Norman was taken prisoner near Monchy-le-Preux. He died two months later, at the age of 40, in a German military hospital at Hanover on 20th June 1917.

His eldest brother, William Alexander was the only one to survive the war; Laurence Grant had already been killed in action during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. In memory of his two brothers, William left a bequest to the National Trust, which enabled the purchase of Sutton House – a Tudor house in Hackney. William also commemorated his two brothers on the Robertson’s Corner memorial on the Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire.

Commemorative plaque at Sutton House
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Edward Savory Wykeham Leach

Edward Leach was born on 12th May 1891. He was the son of Arthur Francis Leach, a barrister from Kensington, and Emily Archer Cook from Brighton. His brother Wilfrid John Leach was in his final year at the school when Edward arrived up Ashburnham in September 1904.

He came second in the Hurdles race final in April 1907. According to The Elizabethan, “another rather poor Hurdles; yet with a little coaching a vast improvement might be made.”

Edward left Westminster in July 1908 and embarked on a career in the army. He arrived at R.M.C. Sandhurst in 1909 and was made 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment on the 5th October 1910.

In March 1914, he was attached to the West African Regiment and was promoted to Lieutenant the next month. He served in the Cameroons from September 1914 until he was invalided home in February 1916. He had been acting as temporary Captain since September 1915, and was made Captain proper on 18th March 1916.

He went out to France in March 1917. He was attached to the 7th Battalion East Surrey Regiment, and promoted to Company Commander. He saw action in the Third Battle of the Scarpe near Monchy-le-Preux. He was killed in action at the age of 26 on the first day of the battle: 3rd May 1917.

Germans shelling Monchy-le-Preux. A battery of the Royal Field Artillery 18-pounder field guns firing in the open in the foreground, 24 April 1917. © IWM
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