Edward Maurice Williamson, 1 March 1915

 

Edward Maurice Williamson was the fourth son of the late G E Williamson FRCS and Mrs Williamson of Woodfield Lodge, Streatham. He was born in Newcastle on 23rd July 1893 and entered Crosby House in September 1906, leaving in July 1911. He captained the Crosby House rugby team in his last year, playing at full-back, but they were knocked out in the first round of the House competition by Laxton. He was a corporal in the School’s OTC and a good shot.

His older brothers followed their father’s career, training as surgeons and serving as naval surgeons during the War. Edward Williamson, by contrast was determined on a military career. Entering Sandhurst in 1912, he was later gazetted to the 1st Battalion Notts and Derby Regiment, which was always known as the Sherwood Foresters. Having joined his regiment in Bombay in September 1913, he returned to England in October 1914, and the battalion proceeded to France in November.

Promoted as Lieutenant in December 1914, he was killed on 1st March 1915 near Laventie as British troops prepared for the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. He was shot by a German sniper when he was crossing a road visiting a detached platoon. He was hit in the chest through a screen which had been put up to hide an unprotected part of the line. The Germans apparently often shot through the screen on the off-chance of scoring a hit.

His Company Commander wrote: ‘He was a most excellent subaltern; if he had a fault it was that he was almost too daring. Had he lived, he must have received some recognition at the end of the war.’

Lieutenant Edward Williamson’s sergeant later wrote; ‘If ever there was a gentleman, it was Mr. Williamson. He was one of the few officers who knew how to treat his men as men.’

One of his comrades remembered Williamson’s boxing prowess, probably picked up at Oundle: ‘He was a good boy and plucky. He gave me a black eye last week, boxing, and I shall miss him as a sparring companion. I wish we could get more like him.’

He was buried in the Royal Irish Rifles Graveyard outside the village of Laventie in France. The graveyard now holds the remains of over 800 men killed in the war, 350 are unidentified.

Edward Maurice Williamson was 21 years old at the time of his death.

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow