Talbert Stevenson 14 November 1917

Talbert Stevenson was a Scotsman from Dundee, where his father ran a dye works. Born in 1895, he was in Crosby House from 1910 until 1912. At Oundle, he was a keen OTC man and won a cup for shooting. He also excelled at French, winning a school prize and appearing in two French plays. After Oundle, he spent some time on the Continent and then studied in Manchester. He looked set to join his father’s business when the war came.

He received a commission in the Black Watch as early as 2nd September 1914 and trained in Dundee and York, before being sent to France in February 1915. He came through the fighting at Neuve Chapelle and Festubert but was then wounded and was out of action for five months before returning to his battalion in France. Later, he turned down promotion to the rank of Brigade Major, preferring to stay with his men as Captain. He was wounded again on the Somme in November 1916 but re-joined his men once more in July 1917.

He was killed by a sniper, on 14th November 1917 near Polderhoek outside Ypres and buried at La Clytte. The chaplain wrote these words to his grieving parents:
“I have just come from his funeral. I am glad we managed to get your boy’s body down from the line. It wasn’t any easy task, and it is a proof of his popularity that there was no lack of volunteers to bring his body down. There was a large turnout at the funeral and the body was carried to the grave by four of the oldest officers. Our pipers played Flowers of the Forest over the grave. The battalion could not have suffered greater loss.”

Talbert’s bravery earned him two Military Crosses. The citation for the second one reads: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He got his battalion into its assembly position with great skill. On the morning of the attack, he made a very valuable reconnaissance, obtaining urgent information under heavy machine gun and rifle fire. His gallantry and courage were most marked.”

His Commanding Officer wrote: “His loss to the battalion is irreparable. Brave to a fault, brimming over with energy and keenness, a prime favourite with officers and men, he also possessed a very old head on young shoulders.”

Talbert Stevenson was 22 years old at the time of his death.

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow