Monday, 11 April 2016

Death of Captain William Griffiths

Bedford Grammar School, 1907 [Z1130/9/2/1/25]

Tuesday 11th April 1916: Captain William Percival Griffiths, the son of Mrs. A. Griffiths of 162 Bromham Road, Bedford, and the late Revd. J. Griffiths, has been killed in action with the 10th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. An Old Bedfordian, “Griffin” (as he was known) was one of the most promising boys of recent years and had won a senior scholarship at Oxford which he postponed to join the army in September 1914. His commanding officer writes:

“During the fighting on the 30/3/16, he was twice slightly wounded, and most gallantly continued in his duty. He was killed while trying to get a wounded man into the trench. He did not suffer, being killed instantly, being shot through the head. The conditions of the fighting and the trenches were such that it was impossible to take him back. He was buried the same night, close to the place in the front line trench where he fell. The position is registered. I regret that I did not know him personally, as I have only just taken over command  of this Battalion, but I know from all his friends that he was a very fine soldier, and that he died doing his duty fearlessly. He was recommended for his work on March 2nd, and I hope to see his name mentioned in despatches.”

A fellow officer has also written to his parents: “Poor Griffin (as he was known to all of us) was easily the most popular officer with us. He possessed the most wonderful character – brave, cheerful, and intensely lovable. I have never met anyone possessing such an absolute contempt for danger, and we were all constantly warning him to be less reckless. He met his death just after making a particularly daring reconnaissance. He was killed instantaneously, and his orderly was badly wounded at the same time. Griffin had been twice mentioned for distinction for valuable and gallant work, and had he lived would have brought great honour to his regiment. I hope that the knowledge that he died so gallantly and in such a cause will temper your grief. It is simply awful for the few of us left behind to lose such a wonderful comrade and soldier. There are only five of us left that left England last September.”

Source: The Ousel, 24 May 1916 [Z447/23]

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