Edward Alfred Murtagh Stevens 18 June 1918

Edward Alfred Murtagh Stevens was the only son of Mr and Mrs E Stevens of Pakhoi, China, where his father was the Harbour Master. He was born on 24th September 1898 and entered Oundle and Grafton House in January 1913, leaving in the summer of 1916, just as the Battle of the Somme was beginning. He was a member of the cricket XI for two years and described as “a steady medium paced change bowler who varies his pace well.” With his bowling, he helped Grafton reach the final of the House competition. The match against Crosby took place over three days and Grafton seemed to be on course for victory with a useful first innings lead but the match may have hinged on the fact that Edward Stevens was forced to withdraw on the third day through illness: “At this stage of the proceedings, Grafton had a stroke of very bad luck in losing, owing to illness Stevens, one of their best bowlers and a useful bat.”

Although disappointed in the cricket, Stevens did help his House to win both the Fives and the Rugby competitions in his last year. He also won his school colours for Fives.

In the war, he held a commission in the East Kent Regiment (the Buffs) and won the Military Cross for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty”.  The citation read: “During a hostile attack he led his platoon with great dash and gallantry, in a counter-attack on a hostile strong-point. On the re-taking of this position, which was of great importance, when his bombing section was nearly surrounded, he personally held the block to cover their retirement. He showed great disregard for personal danger and an unselfish devotion to duty.”

On 18th June 1918, Edward Stevens was not so fortunate. He was caught up in the renewed fighting in the Somme region, as the Germans continued to advance westwards in their Spring Offensive.

He was killed, aged 19, north-west of the town of Albert and is buried there in Harponville Communal cemetery on the Somme. At the bottom of his headstone, as a tribute to his son’s beloved school, his father inscribed the words:

God Grant Grace
Oundle School

C Pendill
Yarrow Fellow