The Division was, when he rejoined his Battalion, in
the same spot as when he left them—i.e., the neighbourhood of Boiry,
but the general advance of 8th August was not far distant, and of
course must have been a subject of military discussion on the spot.
“B.E.F., 26th July.
“The whole Brigade is in the line, but apparently one
does about one day in twelve in the front line, so it ought to be
all right. At present I am with the details left out in a very
pleasant camp. We, Dudley (Coats, the Adjutant), the Commanding
Officer, and I go up this afternoon. Every one in very good form,
and very glad to see me back. Mitchell’s handshake nearly broke my
hand, such was its vigourr
“ Every one seems to be very confident that the
Germans are very low, and the fine seems to be very quiet and
“Michael (Tennant) and Bobby Abercromby are with me
here, and Dalison comes up to relieve the latter in a few days.
“I went over to the Brigade last night to see them.
The Brigadier in great form. I’m dining there to-night. Michael is
going to be a great success. We discuss ‘B’ with animation. Tony
Maynard has done well with Left Flank, but they are all pleased to
see me back, I think. I must say I miss old ‘ Sherlock ’ horribly.
Poor old Sherlock. What a loss he is.
“The weather still continues vile, though to-day it
hasn’t actually rained yet. But I prefer the sun for summer
campaigning, though of course it makes it easier for Rupprecht to be
“1st Scots Guards, 31st July 1918.
“Your charming letters arrive, the best thing that
each day has to bring. What fun we had— and I hope that total ruin
is not the result. A wonderful day and an amazingly quiet line, in
which we are engaged in the amusing, interesting, and rather arduous
task of instructing Americans in the art of war. They are very apt,
very keen, and very ignorant. I’ve got two officers up with me,
Michael and Dalison who must be reminded very poignantly of Egypt by
a day which is African in the splendour of its sun and sky. I think
I told you he was an eminent Egyptologist, and is aged thirty-eight.
The Brigadier came round this morning — in very good form. I feel a
thrill of joy every time I get my ‘Henry’ from him—an honour
bestowed on no one else in the Battalion—except, of course, dear
Victor—who is more charming than ever. All the chaps are in roaring
cue. Macintosh sits in the next room in the dug-out, and to hear him
talking to the American Company Commander’s servant is an education.
“Mitchell is enjoying life immensely—telling the
Americans all about everything. Now I must stop and go and dine with
the Yank Captain.”
This association with our American Allies was very
interesting to Henry. A day or two later he refers to them as most
amusing, and very bored with the trenches, and full of ardour to get
over to the Germans and “do them in.” The line, however, he
describes as absolutely quiet, “which makes a very good schoolroom.”
Another piece of news (welcome but unavailing) now
came to the effect that his name had just (5th August) gone in for
the Staff. “This doesn’t mean that I shall go for several months,
but it just puts my name on to the waiting list. Of course leaving
the Battalion is vile, but it is not a chance to be missed. Victor
was delightful, and said I ought to go : if any one deserved it, I
But it was not to be. Previous experience led me to
expect that once Henry had mentioned the matter it would within a
very short time become a fait accompli, and from what we
subsequently heard from Macintosh I fancy that this was in his own
mind also. Whether, however, he for once misjudged his chances, or
whether the impending advance determined the authorities to retain
meantime a Company Commander who had shown his aptitude as a general
utility man, we shall never know. There was more desperate work
“5th - 10th August.
“To-morrow Pip Warner, I, and other youths go into
the line with an American Battalion. Pip at Battalion Headquarters,
the others one each with a Company. Rather a bore, but it can’t he
helped. One will be so hideously uncomfortable, as the Americans
know nothing about messing or food or comfort, which are the only
things that matter in the line. I go in as a sort of consultant. I
shall give excellent advice, but avoid exercise as much as possible.
The hot weather makes one very lazy and disinclined for active
participation in the War.”
16th August 1918.
“Me voila in the line with our Allies—who are proving
surprisingly competent, which is a blessing, as it leaves me with
nothing to do—except sleep and make myself comfortable. The Company
I’m with is in the support line—where I spent my last three days
before going to the details, and as my Company comes up here again,
I shall know the place fairly well by the time I’ve finished. There
are four officers—the Company Commander, a charming-looking youth
from Virginia; a pleasant youth from New York; a rather
Jewish-looking little man from Detroit, I think; and the fourth, a
Wild West gentleman, who looks exactly like a professional pugilist.
The men are the most surprising mixture of nationalities. I’ve got
Macintosh up here, also an orderly named X., an amazingly brave
little man from Broxburn, who insisted on coming up with me—rather
touching, especially as I had had to reduce him to the ranks when he
was a Corporal. He is much more comfortable as an orderly. There are
five of us attached to the Battalion—Pip with Battalion
Headquarters, and one each of the four corps— self, Scott, N. C.
Tufnell (3/G.G.), and Rupert Fellowes an ex-Brakenbury scholar
(1/C.G.) The time is 7.30. We are just going to dine—after which I
shall go to bed and sleep all night. Rumour has it that we attacked
again this morning in the south, to get the Germans out of the
Noyon-Roye-Chaulnes Line. If we can do that he will have to go back
to the Hindenburg Line again. Expert opinion thinks he will do that
in any case. I got a long letter from Marjorie G. yesterday. The
little New Yorker is very much in love with some heavenly Marne or
Sadie whom he took to ‘ Going Up ’ (in New York) just before coming
over here, so we sing the tunes all day. Well, must descend to the
dug-out. I’ll continue after dinner. Dinner is not yet on the tapis,
so I will finish. The American Commanding Officer is a man of
enormous energy, and goes round the line incessantly. Four years
hence? 'Boy’ comes back on the 18th, I think. In the meanwliile Jack
Brand is more than adequate.
“Our mail is coming up with the American transport,
so I hope it gets here all right.”
“Ralph has come back from leave. Marvellous. He and I
dined at the Corps Officers’ Club last night. Very pleasant, with a
band playing ‘Pinafore.’”
21st August, 5.30 p.m.
“A frightfully hot day. Ye Gods, how hot ! which the
British and French signalised by doing an enormous attack, of which
we formed the left. I am in with Battalion Headquarters. [He also
had specially made in London a Company Headquarters flag and flags
for each of his four platoons (Nos. 13, 14, 15, and 16). These he
took out with him in July, and they were used whenever the Company
•was behind the line. Such things were in his opinion good for
the esprit de corps of the Company, and no doubt he was right. The
Headquarters flag now in our possession is reproduced on the outside
cover of this book.] Two Company Commanders go in, and of the other
two not doing the attack one goes in with Battalion Headquarters—and
the whole affair has so far been extraordinarily easy. The tanks who
were assigned to us were not very helpful; however, the chaps did
everything themselves, and the casualties are very light. Left Flank
have only had one man slightly wounded. I had a most strenuous night
last night taping out 'the chaps’ assembly positions. Ralph was
commanding the Left Front Company of the Coldstream, and is all
right, thank Heaven! Our Battalion Headquarters are in what used to
be my old Company Headquarters. Quite comfortable : Victor, Dudley,
and myself. Pip has just appeared—from the details; he is left
out—with news. Everything seems to have gone very well, and the
French did a rawching show yesterday. The heat is a little trying,
but Macintosh is getting the water situation in hand. I must shave,
then I shall be more comfortable. The Colonel in excellent form;
every one very pleased. The Brigadier has been up—in crashing cue,
and pouring with perspiration. Michael2 did most awfully well in the
attack, and with a corporal and one orderly captured fifteen Boches.
Mitchell also scored heavily, and did in eight Germans emerging from
a dug-out. He described the same to me with gusto. Marsham Townshend
took Left Flank in. The platoon sergeants too were splendid. Will
write again to-morrow.”
Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatch of 13th September 1918
contains the following passage :—
“The Guards Division, which in March and April at
Boyelles and Boiry Becquerelle maintained the northern pivot of our
defences, on the 21st August attacked at Moyenneville, capturing
that village and Hamelincourt. On the 24th August, St Leger was
This, then, was the beginning of their share in the
great advance which only stopped (untimely) at Maubeuge on Armistice
Day. The crucial day was 27th September, upon which was made the
successful attack on the Hindenburg Line, and on that day Henry’s
work finished. It was a different Henry from the one who left us
just two months before, for he had meantime been given an insight
into things of which before he had been barely conscious, and which
are still hidden from the eyes of many of us. Had he been destined
to survive another fifty years, the death of his friend Ralph
Gamble, which occurred at this time, could not have failed to
influence his life. His letters from now onwards evince a steadfast
faith in the Hereafter which, however inherent it may he in most of
us, seldom finds such confident expression—at least at so early an
age. None who knew Henry could suppose him to be capable of being
simply carried away by the emotion of the moment. He would write
nothing that he did not believe. These letters therefore shall
stand, intimate though they are, because they show the true depth of
character of which he has otherwise left no written expression. They
are also a worthy tribute to a friend who was himself in all
respects worthy, and to a friendship which, born indeed at Eton, was
truly an outcome of the War, which drew real soldiers so close
“1st Scots Guards,
22nd August 1918, 9.45 r.M.
“I can only write about myself to-night. Ralph was
killed this evening, and nothing is the same. I loved Ralph more
than any one in the world except you two. It was only this afternoon
that I had lunch with him in his Company Headquarters, and now I
shall never see him again—in this world. He was almost faultless —if
any one can be that. Looks such as he had come from inside, and he
was absolutely spotless through and through. He was marvellously
brave—as brave as any one I have ever seen. But writing is no good.
God, how I wish I could talk to you about him; but you will
“John and Eric and ‘Sherlock’—I could remain the same
because I had him to talk to: they were his friends as well as mine,
and now he has gone and I can’t be quite the same.
“I think he was killed at once, so he didn’t feel
anything. But I can’t write any more. I can’t see the paper
“My friendship with him was perfect—and life can’t be
quite the same, especially out here, where I’m alone. All love from
“1st Scots Guards,
24th August 1918.
“The Brigade is now out of the battle, having lost
about 50 per cent of its effectives—but it is going on daily, and we
shall probably move forward behind the advance. The 1st and 3rd
Brigades have got to do their turn.
“They buried Ralph this afternoon. We came out of the
line about 4 this morning, but I managed to get up to the Main
Dressing Station, where I saw him—for the last time. He must have
been killed instantaneously, thank God. Life without him will be
almost unbearable. You can’t realise what it is, and to what extent
the War binds people together out here. And he and I used to do
everything we could together. From the very first day when he
arrived at the 1st Battalion Coldstream—on the day that we came out
of the Somme—1st October 1916— seeing him and doing things with him
have been the chief objects in my non-official life. I try to think
that it’s only seeing him off on a long journey at the end of which
we shall meet again as we used to do—but it’s terribly hard. I
suppose, like John Dyer, he was too good for this filthy world. He
was so marvellously brave and so wonderful with the men—because war
and soldiering were no more his aim than they were mine.
I thought I’d forgotten how to cry. Now there are
times when I just can’t stop. The pipers come to-morrow, and I shall
get my own three right away somewhere, and make them play ‘The
Flowers of the Forest.’
“God has taken him now, and I’m left with the memory
of him in all the phases and chances of the last unforgettable two
years. And so one must just go on, never doubting that the time will
come when I shall see him again.
“I wish you’d known him better, but you will some
day. Loads of love,
“1st Scots Guards,
25th August 1918.
“I went to see Ralph’s servant to-day. The Coldstream
are out next to us.
“What a meeting we should have had after the battle.
He would have dined here and I should have lunched there, and this
afternoon we should have gone over and had tea with the Brigade. But
what’s the use of saying all this? I've got his cap star, and
Jeffery Holmesdale is going to get me one of his books. By the way,
I’ve got one of them at Redhall. Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnets’ in a
reddish cover. I think in my room. Could you look it out for me and
send it? The pipers played ‘The Flowers of the Forest’ to-day. It is
a wonderful thing, and this evening my own people played it for me
“If we don’t move forward I shall go and see his
“Thank God I’ve got the Company. It helps to take my
mind off. They were perfectly marvellous in these last shows. They
captured Hamelincourt single-handed. Fortunately few casualties.
Most of them slight gas. Michael did magnificently, and will
probably get a D.S.O. How I wish I had taken them in. Delightful
men: how marvellous they are.
“How charming the people in the 1st Battalion
Coldstream are. Jack Brand is a wonderful man, their Colonel. He
understands. So does ‘Boy.’ So does dear Victor.
“I’ve got 'the Goo ’ a steel helmet, and told the
transport to send it off. I hope she gets it all right.”
“26th August 1918.
“It’s nice having Michael. There’s just him and me in
L.E. now. We had six officers wounded, two sick, so we’re very short
in the Battalion. I can talk to him so easily about Ralph. It does
help me such a lot going over this last two years. How wonderful
they’ve been. John and Eric and ‘Sherlock’ and old Logie Leggatt and
he. I shall see them all some day. Till then—out here at least—Left
Flank. I’m going to see the Brigadier and ask that should I ever go
on the Staff I may always be with him. I couldn’t bear any one who
hadn’t known Ralph. L.F. are marvellous.
“The battle goes well. These marvellous Canadians
captured Monchy - le - Preux to-day. All the eagles are gathered
together for the stroke which is to break the Hindenburg Line for
ever. 52nd, 51st, they’re all here. How he would have loved it. We
would have discussed the whole thing and gone over all the old
ground again— Ribecourt, Flesquieres, Bourlon Wood.
“God bless you all—and him.—Yours,
“Poor Mrs Coats; I wrote to her last night. We found
Eric’s body when we attacked.”
“1st Scots Guards,
29th August 1918.
"Even looking at a map now is perfectly grim. Every
place is so full of associations—especially all the places we are
coming to now as we go forward—all the places we retreated through
in March the 22nd, when he went up with the Coldstream to Henin, and
I went up with the Battalion to Boiry Becquerelle—as liaison from
the Brigade at Mercatel.
"Just a week to-day I was sitting with him in the
sunken road the other side of Moyenneville, having lunch, and two
hours afterwards he was killed. It’s a funny thing. I wonder why a
wooden cross and a little plot of earth should mean so much—when he
is far away—and yet I don’t suppose so very far.
"Can’t you see the 51st Division once more going
through the Chemical Works at Roeux— marvellously romantic! Old
Scott has got the 'Mikado’ out here. The gramophone is a great
comfort. All the tunes he liked, and we used to play at Arras. I
expect he can hear them now.”
“1st Scots Guards,
4th September 1918.
|I’ll make use of a pause in our pursuit of the
retreating German to write. I’m at the moment just behind the old
Hindenburg Line, looking once more at Bourlon Wood, more to the left
than where we were in November. The Germans are retreating, and
presumably to the Hindenburg Line, and we are just walking after
them to see what happens.
"We had a proper attack on a place Lagnicourt
yesterday morning—complete with barrage, &c. —and there was not a
soul in the place.
“I got your latest letters written on the 29th —in
the middle of the night in a small hole in the ground, where Michael
and I were eating a good meal cooked by Macintosh.
“The sight of Bourlon Wood brings Ralph back so
tremendously. All these places do. I got a letter last night from
Osbert Peake—who was, I think, his greatest friend after me.
“The Coldstream are in reserve this time, and I
should just be writing to him via the Brigade to tell him what was
happening. Everything did centre round him. All that Cambraitime— I
always used to find the Brigade, or he would come along to the
Battalion. Every day at Gouzeaucourt he and the Brigadier used to
come up—and then when we came out of the line what meetings and
arrangements; and most of the time I find myself thinking as if it
was all unchanged—and then the truth comes back and hits one a great
blow—just like telegraph poles beside the railway lines.
“A wonderful day to-day—how impossible this sort of
thing would be in bad weather. We are just going to have lunch—so
called. I’m not really very hungry, but I think Michael is rather.
Gerald Drummond was killed yesterday. We are frightfully short of
officers now, but personally I’d rather do things ’with one like
Michael and the sergeants than a lot of people who only take up
accommodation and do nil.
“I’ve made a lot of new corporals—all toppers. Still
sitting here: just behind Mceuvres. I’ve got a letter from Tuppy
Headlam, which I enclose. Just hits off the situation.
“The Brigadier more wonderful than ever. He is
practically running the whole advance. What a man.”
“1st Scots Guards,
9th September 1918.
“Just out of the line after a very strenuous and
tiring week. In this part of the line the attack has come to a
standstill for the moment —chiefly because of the Canal du Nord,
which will have to be turned, probably from the south, where we are
well across it. They are getting on wonderfully with the railways.
The broad gauge is right up here now. The place we captured on the
4th and the Arras-Boylleux railway is nearly through. It’s a
tremendous thing getting the Boulogne-Paris direct route
through—also Hazebrouck. It gives us so much better elbow-room for
“Torquil Matheson has got the Division. He started
the War as second in command of the 3rd Battalion Coldstream, and
was the hero of Landrecies. He has since commanded the 4th Division
very well too.”
“1st Scots Guards,
14th September 1918.
“Nothing of interest—except heat. We had a fine day
to-day, and so trained religiously all the morning. The Brigadier,
as usual, appeared and watched us. He always comes to see us—to tell
the others how things should be done, I suppose!
“I’ve just read ‘Eminent Victorians’—so good, I
thought, and not at all what the criticism had led me to expect. I
suppose to the old-fashioned attitude of canonising every remarkable
person it would jar horribly, but personally I don’t want to think
of Florence Nightingale as a gentle saint moving silently from bed
to bed—which she wasn’t. .
“Gordon again. It doesn’t make me think him any less
great to know that on occasions he drank. Read that, and your
reverence for Gladstone will be put to the test indeed. Arnold, I
think, is probably the one which would outrage preconceived notions
more than the others. But I know nothing about him, and so
Strachey’s picture of a perfect specimen of a prig leaves me
unmoved, except by laughter. Manning I also know nothing about. I
think he will interest you more than any. You must get it.
“The Battalion go up to-morrow. As I said, I don’t go
up, and L.F. are in reserve, so I shan’t have any misgivings.
Mitchell goes in, and Marsham Townshend commands the Company.
“The Americans have started, I see, and quite well
too. The Germans must be feeling very queer, I should think.
“Victor is back with the details—about twenty miles
away—I shall stay with the transport, and Pip is commanding the
Battalion. How more than good he is.
“I’ve got a most charming collection of young
corporals now: all quite young, rather wicked, and very keen.
They’re going to be thoroughly good.
“Last night we had a very good show. A bombing
gentleman was caught by about ten searchlights and then held. Like a
great silver moth he moved across the sky, moving every way to
escape the light, but it was no good. They held him tight, and then
suddenly one saw little points of fire darting out at him from
something one couldn’t see, but which we knew was a British
aeroplane. Then suddenly roars of applause from all the troops who
had come out to watch this; one of the bullets must have got his
petrol tank, for there was a sudden burst of flame—and the Boche
falls slowly to the ground, a blazing mass. Superb, and of course
that sort of thing at night is always much finer.
“Jack Brand has put Ralph in for something, and the
Brigadier has made it a D.S.O.—a great thing. He, J. C. B., has
given me a copy of the recommendation. It says as much as any words
can say. But nothing can describe what he was —always.”
“1st Scots Guards,
18th September 1918.
“We are frightfully short of officers now. I suppose
the people at home will do something about the matter soon. We want
about twelve junior officers at once, but I don’t suppose we shall
get any, also very short of men. The Companies aren’t much above
ninety rifles in the line. I have got the most intriguing armlets
for my Company orderlies—red, like the ordinary ones they have—but
with the S.G. crest in silver, and L.F. in blue—one letter on each
side of the crest.
“Also this stamp, for all official correspondence.
The money I should spend on smoking I spend on these tilings
instead—so it is all square. Isn’t it nice?
“I’ve just heard that Christopher Barclay was very
badly wounded yesterday. Ralph’s Company Commander—also Horris Hill
and Eton. One more. But gallant A. and intrepid B. are still with
“1st Scots Guards,
19th September 1918.
“I’ve got some hooks out, which is a mercy,
including 'In Memoriam,’ which expresses my present state of mind
more perfectly than anything else could. Four weeks ago to-day, and
just about now, six o’clock in the evening. We have got no officers.
However, I don’t mind very much. But it prevents one relieving ‘ the
hoys,’ such as Michael & Co.”
“I went to see Ralph’s grave to-day. All the way
round by Arras, where I went into the theatre. My God! how it takes
one hack going to a place like that. I went to our old Brigade
Headquarters —the house is shut up, and has been badly knocked
about. Then down that well-known Arras-Doullens road. It’s a
wonderful thing that 'In Memoriam.’ I just sat there and read it,
with its almost uncanny power of being applied to one’s own
“I came hack by the C.C.S., where Christopher Barclay
is. He was as badly hit, so the Sister in charge of the ward
informed me, as it is possible for any one to he, hut they said he
was doing as well as possible. Shot right through the stomach. They
took the bullet out of his hack. Poor Christopher. I haven’t been on
the Arras-Bapaume road since 22nd March, when I went up with the
Battalion and Ralph went up with the Coldstream, to the Army Line
just behind the Henin Ridge—and then back we both went to Mercatel.
“What a golden memory.”
21st September 1918.
“We get our mention in ‘The Times’ of the 20th. The
1st Battalion Coldstream had the shoot at the Boche attack. We
relieved them that night and came out to-night. L.F. have had at
least fifteen casualties, mostly gas. Rather unlucky. Fortunately
only one N.C.O.
“Our officer situation is becoming very serious
—though, as I’ve said before, I am quite happy with Michael, Marsham
Townshend, and my wonderful galaxy of N.C.O.’s.
“I enclose a photograph of ‘Mitch’ and ‘Fred,’ my
Company Sergeant-Major on the right, and Company Quartermaster
Sergeant. Take care of it. Mitchell is the most typical Guardsman;
just look at the set of his cap. What a charming man he is. He is
getting the D.C.M. for the 23rd, as is my Aberdonian, Nicol —you
remember the man—he was a Corporal then—who sat outside my pill-box
before the 9th of October. He’s a great favourite of the
Brigadier’s. Younger, the Corporal I wrote to, is getting the D.C.M.
He did frightfully well, and got wounded in the leg. Not a bad
“The Battalion comes out to-night, so I’m just going
off to see that everything is ready for them. I should think they’d
be out for three or four days.
“1st Scots Guards, B.E.F.,
24th September 1918.
“As usual we, Left Flank, are much better off than
any one in our mess, &c.—with our blue tablecloth, china, and
things. I dined at Battalion Headquarters the night before last.
Quite good dinner, but service (as they say in advertisements of
hotels) very inferior. Tin plates and mugs. Horrors of every sort.
Newspaper on the table instead of a tablecloth, &c. Very odd,
because it’s no trouble to have those things. It’s simply because
they have no real instinct for comfort. I had tea yesterday with the
7th H.L.I., who are next to us—in the Lowland Division. The people
from Palestine. Very good, and more typically Scotch than anything
you’ve ever seen. Little sturdy men with tammies and Harry Lauder
faces. It did me good to see them. Most tremendously Hech ! There
was an excellent clergyman at tea, their Chaplain. A most gloriously
Scotch man, and I should think damned good.”
26th September 1918.
“Darling Mummy and Daddy,—An idle day as regards
writing yesterday. No English mail again. However, there’s no news,
and therefore no material for epistolage. Weather good again, thank
Heaven ! We’re really in very comfortable circumstances here. Two
nights ago Hugh and a charming boy called Encombe in the 2nd
Battalion dined. Quite pleasant. And last night Alec Robartes—as
usual very amusing.
“Reggie Barker in this Company and Bobby Abercromby
got fifteen partridges and a hare here yesterday with twenty bores.
The place swarms with them. One of the sergeants in ‘C’ Company is,
I think, the Duke of Westminster’s head-keeper—so they arranged the
most scientific drive with great success.
“The Germans get more and more depressed, and no
“My God! aren’t these strikers incredible? The time
has really come for the shooting of some of them—except that I’m
sure they would if they were really a serious menace. I like Air
Gompers. How the Snowdenites loathe him. I hope the Naim weather is
“Matheson came round to see us to-day. An impressive
man. Loads of love,
Early on the morning of the 27th September began the
attack upon the Hindenburg Line, which proved to be the opening of
the last and crowning phase of the War.
The sector covered by the Guards Division extended
from the village of Demicourt northwards to the Bapaume-Cambrai
road, to the west of and facing the Canal du Nord. The attack was
opened by the 2nd Guards Brigade, with the 1st Scots Guards on the
right, the 1st Coldstream in the centre, and the 3rd Grenadiers on
the left. In the attack they had to cross the Canal, the bed of
which was of course dry, and the first objective was about a mile
Before zero on that morning Henry had already written
a letter to a poor woman in Aberdeen, telling her of the death of
her nephew and ward. “He was one of my best men, one whom I could
ill afford to lose; and though for him everything is now well, the
wrench and emptiness are terrible indeed for those at home.”
Those were probably Henry’s last written words, and
undoubtedly they conveyed the expression of a faith and
understanding which were really his.
The objective was duly reached, and he led his own
Company with complete success through a trying barrage which caused
considerable loss. What then happened has been narrated to me by one
of his Company who was with him. [James Paul, gamekeeper to Sir
Archibald Edmonstone at Dun-treath Castle, Stirlingshire.] He
climbed out of the trench to reconnoitre, there being a machine-gun
post in the neighbourhood which was inflicting damage on other
advancing troops. He was shot by a sniper (probably) when within a
few yards of the trench, and four men who gallantly went out to try
to bring him in were all killed or wounded. Then Paul and another
man with great heroism went out—without their rifles. They were not
fired at, and they carried Henry in. It is thought that carrying no
rifles they were mistaken by the Germans for ambulance men. Henry
was shot through the chest. He lived a very few minutes, and never
His Life was finished, but his memory will live in
the hearts of many friends. Chapters of this book show how many he
had in every class, of every age; and there may be some of a wider
circle who will read these pages not without interest, recording as
they do the life of a boy who died indeed when he was twenty-one,
but who had within him (besides the many graces which sweeten life)
just those qualities which our country now most requires in her
sons— Faith, Courage, Vision, Character.
Hundreds of letters brought us grateful testimony of
the admiration he had earned, the love in which he was held by his
friends, and the influence which he had on the lives of many of his
companions. Only five or six are printed here, and at the end I am
setting forth some lines which came to us anonymously, and of which
we have never learnt the authorship. In so doing I take the
opportunity of thanking our unknown friend for the comfort he sent
us in a time of trouble.
“Headquarters, Scots Guards, Buckingham Gate, S.W.,
1st October 1918.
“Dear Mr Dundas,—I can’t tell you how very distressed
I am to hear to-day the sad news that your son Henry was killed in
action on 27th September with our 1st Battalion. I regret to say I
have no details to give you, but I hasten to send these few lines to
express on behalf of the whole Regiment our most sincere regrets and
heartfelt sympathy with you and yours in your severe loss and great
“Henry was one of our most promising officers, and
had gained a splendid reputation as a Company Commander—he was in
fact the best Commander serving with the 1st Battalion, and was
destined to make a great name as a soldier and Scots Guardsman. He
was beloved by the men under him, and popular with all his brother
officers. His loss to us is indeed a very severe one, and at the
present juncture most terribly felt. I have had nothing but the most
excellent reports of his gallantry and splendid work during the
whole of his service,. and his place will be very hard to fill. I
know that his Company had a very trying and difficult task during
the fight, and that they suffered very considerably in spite of the
grand manner in which Henry led them.
“I can only again assure you that we all mourn the
loss of a splendid Scots Guardsman and a most charming brother
officer, and can assure you that his memory will always be held in
loving regard and esteem by the whole Regiment. —Yours very
J. W. Smith-Neill.”
“28th September 1918.
“Dear Mr Dundas,—It is very hard to have to write and
tell you that your splendid son Henry was killed yesterday. Death
was practically instantaneous, and he could have suffered no pain.
He was shot by a sniper, the bullet going through his heart. He was
buried to-day in a small British Cemetery at Boursies. All officers
of the Battalion, the whole of his Company, and many other men were
at the funeral. The Pipers played ‘The Flowers of the Forest’—a
lament which he loved—at the end of the service. All will be done to
make his grave as nice as possible, and a cross is being made.
“Henry was the life and soul of the Battalion, and
was loved by us all. As a soldier he was magnificent, so wonderfully
capable, gallant, and cheerful. He was adored by his Company, who
would have followed him anywhere. I know that it is the death he
would have chosen. He was commanding his Company, of which he was so
proud and fond, in an entirely successful attack at the time.
“I cannot tell you how deeply we all sympathise with
you and Mrs Dundas, and if any one in this Battalion can do anything
to help you at any time, I hope you will let us know.
“I was personally very fond of him, and shall miss
him more than I can say, both as a soldier and as a most delightful
and charming friend.
“Please accept my very deepest sympathy in the loss
of your wonderful, brave boy.—Yours sincerely,
(Lieut.-Col. Commanding 1st Bn. Scots Guards).” “28th
“Dear Mrs Dundas,—I write to offer my sympathy for
the sad loss you have received. I can hardly realise yet that he is
gone from amongst us and that we shall never hear his cheery voice
again. The Captain died a true soldier’s death, leading his men into
action. They had reached their objective when a machine-gun bullet
laid the Captain low. I am glad to say he suffered no pain, as he
was unconscious, and he only lived a few minutes after being hit. We
brought him back with us that night a long distance from the firing
line, and we buried him this afternoon on the outside slope of a
ruined village. He sleeps in the centre of a little green square of
grass, and on ground that he helped to recover during our second
last attack. He was liked by every one as a thorough sportsman, and
as a leader of men he was hard to beat. His kit will be sent home in
due course, but I am going to send you a few small articles by post
which I know he valued. The little book of poems has been his
constant companion since it arrived a few weeks ago. You must excuse
me if my letter seems crude, but it is hard for me to express what I
feel for the loss of my Captain. I have been his servant for over a
year, and I never had a wrong word from him during that period. The
bagpipes, which he loved so well, played the 'Land o’ the Leal’ when
he was laid to rest. I beg leave to express my heartfelt sympathy
for the loss you have sustained, but you have the consolation of
knowing he was a true British gentleman and an extremely brave man,
who gave his life for his country and died with a smile on his face.
Again offering my deepest sympathy and condolences. —I am, the late
“1st November 1918.
“Dear Madam,—Just a few lines on behalf of the
Company to tell you how sorry we were to lose your son, our Captain;
and I cannot tell you how much he is missed by us all, as we had
been in many tight corners together, and we always knew when we had
your son leading us we would get through if there was a way through
at all, and I am sure we shall never get another like him, as he was
so good both in the field and when we were out—only he was too
brave, and on the 27th he was an example to all, and it was nothing
but his disregard for danger and his courage and skill under a
terrible fire that pulled us through, but I am sorry to say that we
lost a lot of our Company that day; but Captain Dundas led his men
to the very last, and was the same as he always was—a hero. I cannot
put into words how sorry we all are to be without him, and the whole
of the Company send their deepest sympathies. I would have written
before, but we have been very busy in the fine, so I hope you won’t
think this out of place at this time. We are still getting on very
well, but we have a lot to do yet but everything is looking much
better. Hoping you are in the very best of health. —I remain, yours
(Sgd.) A. Mitchell, C.S.M., L.F. Coy.”
“15th Bn. Highland Light Infantry,
12th April 1919.
“Dear Mrs Dundas,—You will forgive me writing, I am
sure; but after many days I got your address and a living touch with
your home. I joined this Battalion a fortnight ago, having served
formerly with the 1/5th and l/7th H.L.I. of 52nd Division in
Palestine and France, and also in other Units. Talking over
experiences at dinner last night young Younger and I happened to
mention the Scots Guards. I asked him if by any chance he had known
a brilliant lad by the name of Dundas, and it transpired that they
had been at school together and had been friends. I met your very
gallant son between Noreuil and Quant about the 23rd September last
year. His Battalion and ours were in reserve, about a mile apart.
Our pipe-band was playing in the afternoon, and I. saw your lad
wandering through our lines and then sitting down to listen to the
music. He told me that he was very fond of pipe music, and that he
had just come across to hear our band. We had tea in our little
mess, and a long chat, and he returned two days afterwards. Then our
Corps moved towards the Canal du Nord. The Guards were on the right
of our Division. Some days later I was burying men at Graincourt and
a doctor came along. He told me that he was with the Scots Guards. I
asked at once for Dundas, and he told me, to my great sorrow, that
he was killed in action a day or two before. We only met twice, and
spent in all about two hours together; but I must say that amongst
the many officers I have met in various Units I met none like your
son. I cannot just say what quality in the lad captivated me. He was
to me a Bayard, without fear and without reproach: the efflorescence
of magnificent young manhood. He was a brave soldier, admired and
loved by his men, for with all his splendid intellectual qualities
he possessed a so rare lovableness and the secret of making friends.
“It was no surprise to me to learn later that he was
a brilliant scholar of Eton and Oxford. Not that he paraded his
learning: the very reverse. He was most unassuming; but one could
not mistake the quality of the lad. Such men cannot die. They are
for ever in the keeping of our God, Who wastes nothing.
“May God comfort you in your peculiarly sad loss; and
may the gracious memory of your beloved and winsome lad grow dearer
year by year, until you.meet.
“With regards and sympathy.—Yours sincerely,
Alex. Macinnes, C.F., 15th H.L.I.”
“Adelphi Terrace House, Strand, W.C.,
“Dear Mrs Dundas,—I thought so much of your boy that
though you don’t know me you will perhaps allow me to say how deeply
I sympathise with you. He was a great friend at Eton of my boy,
Peter L. Davies, and sometimes came here. The last time I saw him
was at Eton in July, and I assure you that I thought him a brave
sight. There was an air of the gallant knight about him always that
drew one to him, it so well became him. He seemed to me, knowing
some little of what lay beneath that, to be marked out for notable
things. We must accept that the best of all is to stand the test of
J. M. Barrie.”
A Tribute to Henry Dundas,
FROM ONE OF HIS BEST ETON FRIENDS.
“I loved Henry—and Henry, I know, returned my
devotion. If our tastes were not all mutual, and if our interests
were not all the same, these very differences only tended to cement
our affection, and increase our mutual respect.
“Henry’s extraordinary power of concentration, his
varied interests, and above all his intense enthusiasm, made his
personality unique, and his every doing of interest. Nothing he ever
did lacked character. That was the secret of his early life. That is
what made him what he was, and that is what gives his memory a
peculiar and a particular freshness.
“In the broadest and best sense of the word, he was
an artist at whatever his hand found to do. The affair of the moment
was the one and only thing that mattered—on it he concentrated all
his genius, and on it he lavished all his buoyant enthusiasm.
“But far above all else was his great and generous
love for those people and things he held most dear. In this he
showed a depth of feeling —an honest frank confession of
sentiment—which it is rare to meet.
“Such a combination of capacity for taking in, and of
generosity for giving out, would surely have been equipment for any
future. Henry was not only worthy of these great gifts, but he made
the most of them. Blessed by nature with great qualities, he gave
freely of them all until he demonstrated ‘ the greatest love of
“It is with gratitude for what he did with his life,
no less than for what he gave during his life, that I offer this
“It was always more than a pleasure to be with Henry;
it is an honour and a privilege to remember him.
V. A. C.”
27th September 1918.
Young Lion-heart is gone,
Who to the end ne’er strove but to attain;
Through death to deathless life he has passed on,
Nor made the crowning sacrifice in vain.
The peace he died to win
Was dawning on those tragic fields he trod,
When through the dawn his gallant soul went in
To the full glory of the Peace of God.
Brilliant distinguished boy!
A boy in years, a proven strong-souled man
In high achievement; his the enthralling joy
Of filling to the brim his fife’s brief span.
For Love’s sake let your courage match his own;
Make no vain lamentation o’er his grave:
Life more than even he has ever known
Thrills through him now: Mourn bravely for the Brave.