Norman Stuart Edmondstone 7 November 1917

Norman Stuart Edmondstone was the eldest son of Mrs M A de Gruchy of Harrow. He was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1896 and came up to Dryden House in January 1913 at the age of 16. He won a maths prize and helped Dryden win the swimming cup.

Leaving school in the summer of 1914, after just five terms, he first joined the navy as an ordinary seaman, but then gained a commission in the Queen’s Westminster Rifles and went with them to Palestine. He was killed on 7th November 1917, at Kauwukah, east of Gaza, after being hit by a shrapnel bullet whist waiting with his company for the order to assault the enemy’s position.

Two previous attempts to take the town of Gaza by frontal assault in 1917 had failed but the new commander, Allenby, learnt from his predecessor’s mistakes. He moved his headquarters from a first class Cairo Hotel to the Front Line, which helped to boost British morale and he then determined to take the town without the massed frontal assaults which had failed twice before. Haig might have learnt something from his tactics. Gaza fell in a week and Allenby went on to capture Jerusalem the next month.

Norman Edmonstone was killed, aged 21, before his men could launch their attack and was buried at Imara and was later moved to Beersheba War Cemetery, near the Negev Desert to rest alongside nearly 1300 other British casualties from the war in Palestine. His headstone bears the following inscription: “He is quietly calling us from paralysing grief to high endeavour.”

His Colonel wrote: “He is a very serious loss to me and to the battalion, as he was an untiring and dependable officer with a very good knowledge of a soldier’s duty…He was universally beloved by men and officers, and this I mean literally for he had a very lovable disposition.”

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow