The Glengarry

 

DarvillsStSeverAt last people are now contacting Reverend Roger Ryan and myself, telling us how pleased they are that there is an interest in their relative and providing little nuggets of information. Amanda Love from Horley provided more than a little nugget and has allowed us to share this wonderful photograph which she believes includes her Great Grandad’s brother, William Arthur Darvill. Its a lovely group photo, the Darvills were a big family with Tooting connections stretching back many years. All the boys together, three in uniform, two in civvies. A mix of swagger and vulnerability, they cling together almost as one, arms casually draped over the two men at the front to form a tight-knit protective unit. Amanda’s Great Grandad, Frederick Thomas Darvill is seated bottom right and looks straight ahead. The older man beside him is more pensive. William was in a Scottish regiment, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and its as if his wearing the glengarry cap is a way of enabling us to pick him out. Young, fresh-faced and optimistic, he appears the most confident of the group, almost swaying between the two other soldiers. And he must have been a bright lad because he had been promoted to Sergeant by the time he died at the age of 23. A young man in the bloom of youth, this is a photo that must have broken the hearts of those left behind everytime they looked at it. Its hard to read the writing at the bottom, but its a portrait studio address on Tooting High Street. William lived at 46 Hazelhurst Road, the son of Frederick and Caroline. The family have no Scottish connection but William’s Mother was born in France. Eleven of the Summerstown182 came from this road, a main artery leading from the church’s west door towards the Fairlight area and on to Tooting. Close neighbours would have been, Horace Woodley at 26, William Pitts at 28 and George Colwell at 38. A double blow for this road was the V2 rocket attack of 1944 and No 46 was one of the houses struck in the blast. As a consequence a brother was blinded in one eye. Like so many of the Summerstown 182, William was killed in the last weeks of the war, so near and yet so far. He died of his wounds on 6th October 1918. As a member of the 2nd Battalion of the KOSB, he would have very likely been involved in the fighting at the Battle of Hazebrouck. Reverend John Robinson reported in the St Mary’s parish magazine of November 1918, ‘William Darvill died in hospital on 6th October having being gassed’. He is buried at St Sever Cemetery on the edge of Rouen. Some distance from the fighting, this great cathedral city was a centre of twenty major army hospitals. Any one of the 3,000 men buried at St Sever very likely died at one of these. One of them was Captain Charles Lendrum of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who fought for his life for two weeks before passing away on 13th November 1916. We visited him in 2006 and whenever we pass through Rouen on our way to a French campsite, ‘Cousin Charlie’ is saluted as we cross the Seine. We will now also be raising an arm to William Darvill, the young man in the glengarry from Summerstown.

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