2nd Lieutenant, Rotheram Bagshawe Cecil (21) – Killed in Action

5th Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment), 1st July 1916 

Rotheram Bagshawe Cecil

Synopsis of Life and Military Service

Rotheram Bagshawe Cecil was born in the third quarter of 1894 at Southwold, Suffolk, and was the youngest son to his father Rotheram Cecil and mother Henrietta Girling of the Manor House, Dronfield, who married at Dronfield, Derbyshire on 29 November 1891. His father had gone to Mentone, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France in 1894 to find relief from Tuberculosis but passed away before Rotheram was born.

The family were financially secure and in the 1901 Census the family were residing in the Isle of Wight and were attended to by 3 domestic helpers.

Between 1909 to 1912, Rotheram attended at Tonbridge School, Kent and was boarding at Park House, 9 Drywall Road, Tonbridge, having moved to that school from Rottingdean School, Brighton.

On leaving school, Rotheram went to work for the Earl of Winton, Wiltshire where he was doing very well.

On the 21 July 1915, Rotheram was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st/5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) and on the 10 January 1916 sailed for France.

Rotheram Bagshawe Cecil – © Sheffield Daily Telegraph 10 July 1916

2nd Lieutenant, Rotheram Bagshawe Cecil, Sherwood Foresters, went missing and was later reported Killed in Action on the 1st July 1916, the first day of The Battle of the Somme while involved on the attack on the Gommecourt Salient, France.

Further information on his military action and conduct can be found on the following link – Tonbridge School, Roll of Honour – Rotheram Bagshawe Cecil.

His body was either not recovered or remained unidentified and he is honoured and remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

His brother, Frederick Rotheram Cecil, who was a member of the 28th London Regiment (Artists Rifles), committed suicide sometime in November / December 1916 by drowning in the river Serpentine, leaving his mother as the only remaining member of the family.

Regimental Diary – 1st/5th Sherwood Foresters – 1st July 1916

The following is an extract of the above diary :-

Fonquevillers – 46th Division’s attack at Gommecourt. Two Brigades assaulting (137th and 139th), and one in reserve (138th) – Two Battalions (5th and 7th) formed first four waves of the assault of the 139th Brigade – 6th Battalion was in support and the 8th in reserve. The objective of this Battalion was the German 3rd Line from the north edge of Gommecourt Wood on the right, to a point 250 yards north where ORINOCO C.T. crossed the 3rd line.

Companies were organised in four waves, the rear Platoon or wave carrying bombs and material for consolidation – D Company was on the right – ‘A’ Company in the centre and ‘C’ Company on the left – ‘B’ Company was detailed to do the carrying. The final bombardment began at 6.25 a.m. smoke bombs were thrown at 7.25 and the first three waves moved to the assault five minutes later.

The enemy set up a triple barrage of artillery and trench mortar fire, and concentrated upon the Battalion front very heavy machine gun fire – The first three waves attacked with great dash and many are known to have reached the enemy’s first trench, but casualties during the advance were very heavy and the enemy opposition strong and well organised – The fourth waves were delayed by their heavy loads and by the muddy state of the trenches due to heavy rains – They moved over the parapet 15 minutes late, the carrying Company was delayed still more, for this time the smoke had to a great extent cleared and the enemy seeing them poured in accurate and withering fire – completely checking further advance.

From aeroplane observation it is thought some men reached and for a time held part of the enemy’s second system, but it was not possible to send up support, and owing to failure on the part of the Brigade on the right to reach their objective. The right flank of the Battalion was exposed. Effort were made later in the day to send fresh troops to the assault, but these were without success. The attack succeeded in its object to the extent that enough troops were held in front of the Division to have attained the whole course of the operations further south. The Battalion was relieved at 7p.m. and moved into billets at BIENVILLERS.

Family

Rotheram Bagshawe Cecil was born in the third quarter of 1894 at Southwold, Suffolk.

His family is shown as follows :-

  • Father – Rotheram Cecil, (1869–1894)b.Hendon, d.Mentone, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France.
  • Mother – Henrietta Jervis Girling or Cecil, born 1869 at Kensington, London, d.1966.
  • Brother – Frederick Rotheram Cecil, born 26 Nov. 1892 at Knightsbridge, London.

Addresses

From information found in the 1901 and 1911 Census and Pension card, the following addresses have been ascertained.

  • 1901 Census – ‘Beechwood’, Ashey, Isle of Wight.
  • 1911 Census – ‘Park House’, Tonbridge School, High Street, Tonbridge, Kent.
  • 1916 – Manor House, Dronfield, Derbyshire.

Medals

Rotheram Bagshawe Cecil was awarded the Victory and the  British War Medals for his service in the Great War.

Memorials

Rotheram Bagshawe Cecil is honoured and remembered along with his brother Frederick Rotheram Cecil on a Memorial Window at St. John the Baptist Church, Dronfield, Derbyshire.

He is also honoured on the Tonbridge Schools Memorial Plaques, Tonbridge School Chapel, Kent.

Tonbridge Schools Memorial Plaques – © Susan Featherstone (WMR-63785)

Links to Additional Information

References

  •  Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  • 1901 Census.
  • 1911 Census.
  • Medal Index Card.
  • Soldiers Died in the Great War.
  • Register of Soldiers Effects.
  • International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • England and Wales Register of Births Index.
  • English Births and Christenings.
  • Tonbridge School Roll of Honour.
  • London Gazette dated 9 August 1915.

Groups

  • None Allocated.

Contributors:-

  • Vincent Stuart
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