HoC - Research Exhibits - Commemorative Booklet - 1915
The Great War began on a wave of innocent enthusiasm. Commenting on a parishioner who had enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles, the Vicar of St Michael’s, the Rev L McNeil Shelford, hoped that ‘the regular and open air life will bring him better health than he usually enjoys’!
As 1915 progressed and soldiers were reported wounded or sick, the mood became more sombre and in September 1915 the first fatality was announced.
Wilfred Hitching (b. 1895 d. 8 August 1915)
Wilfred Hitching was the second son of Samuel and Gertrude Hitching. He was born in Forest Gate Essex, but by 1911 the family had moved to 40 Hazeldene Rd Chiswick. There were five children, but only three living at home.
A motor engineering apprentice, Wilfred joined the 9th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment and was sent to Sulva Bay, Gallipoli. The landing began on 6 August 1915, and was intended to support the Anzac sector, five miles away. The British Commander Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford was later dismissed for his poor lack of command and incompetence during the operation. Wilfred was killed two days later, aged 20, and he is listed on the Helles War memorial panel 47-51. His two brothers both died from disease between 1914 and 1918.
2nd Lieutenant Henry Gordon Carter (b. 1890 d. 19 August 1915)
Henry Gordon Carter was also a casualty of the Gallipoli campaign. Tall, blond and good looking, until his death in the Dardanelles, everything he touched appeared to be tinged with success.
Henry was born in Yorkshire and attended Leeds Grammar School, but by 1911 the family had moved from Yorkshire via Ealing to 43 Park Road in Grove Park. Henry was an enthusiastic member of the congregation of St Michaels being a Sidesman and also Superintendent of Children’s Services. At the outbreak of the war he enlisted in the ranks, but by January 1915 he had been awarded a commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers. Before sailing in July 1915 Henry inspected the local Boy Scout troop at St Michaels.
Henry was reported “missing in action” on the 19th August and after what must have been an agonising wait for his parents, his death was confirmed by telegram on the 31 October.
His cousin, Firman Gordon Carter, was killed on 2 October 1916 on the Somme and also appears on the Roll of Honour. Both men are commemorated in a window in Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire, Firman’s home village. The “Raphael” window in the Lady Chapel at St Michael’s is in memory of Henry Carter.
Archibald Frank Mortimer (b. 1884 d. 28 August 1915) Trooper 7/881, Canterbury Mounted Rifles, NZEF
Archie, as he preferred to be called, was born in Brentford in 1884, the son of Francis William and Ellen Esther Mortimer, the fourth of eight children. Archie emigrated to New Zealand in 1911 at the age of 27 listing his occupation as ‘farmer’. By the outbreak of war the family settled at 36 Fauconberg Road, Chiswick.
In 1914, Archie signed up, like many non-indigenous New Zealanders who considered themselves British, keen to fight for the mother country. He joined the Canterbury Mounted Rifles (CMR) part of The New Zealand Mounted Regiments (NZMR), which formed a significant part of the ANZACs.
During the military operation at Gallipoli lasted from May to December 2015 and between the ends of May and August in that one year, the Canterburys were to lose more than half their total of casualties for the entire war. Archie was involved in the final stages of the Battle of Chunuk Bair, which began on the 6th of August. On the 27th, there was a second attack on Kaiajak Aghala, the infamous Hill 60 where the Canterburys came under heavy artillery fire. Archie was listed as ‘missing’ and then, on the 28th, ‘killed in action’.
Archibald Frank Mortimer’s name is commemorated at Hill 60 (New Zealand) Memorial, Gallipoli, where he was buried, at St Paul’s Church, Symonds Street, Auckland and at St Michael’s Church, Chiswick. His name was included in the Roll of Honour in September 21st’s editions of the New Zealand Herald and in the lists of casualties published in the Evening Post, Auckland.
Frank Leonard Cunningham (b. 1887 d. 1 October 1915)
Another early fatality on the Western Front was Frank Leonard Cunningham, only child of Joseph Cunningham, Fellow of the Zoological Society. and his wife Sophia.
Frank was educated in Penzance, Mannamead College Plymouth and at University College, London where he obtained his Diploma in Mechanical Engineering in 1907. The family moved from Highgate to 63 St Mary’s Grove some time after 1911. Frank joined the Northumberland Hussars Yeomanry at Newcastle on 26 January 1909. At the outbreak of war the regiment was mobilized almost immediately. Frank died of wounds in the Australian Hospital, Wimereux on 1 October and is recorded in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour.
After his death, his father edited and published a book titled “From Ypres to Loos with the Northumberland Hussars; diary and letters of the late Frank Leonard Cunningham while on active service in Belgium and France, 1914-1915.”