b. 12/10/1880 Streatham, London. d. 07/11/1918 Limont near Fontaine, France.
Arthur Moore Lascelles (1880-1918) was born at Wilby Lodge, Nightingale Lane, Streatham, London on the 12th October 1880. He was one of four children, one girl and three boys, born to John and Mary Elizabeth Lascelles, who were originally from Wales. In 1881, the family moved to Llugny, Pennal, Machynlleth, Merionithshire in North Wales, but after three years moved again into a leased property that belonged to the Pryse-Rice family in Penmaendyfi, Pennal. One of the daughters of the Pryse-Rice family, Dorothea, was married to Lewis Pugh Evans, who was later to earn a VC at Zonnebeke on the 4th October 1917.
Lascelles was educated at Malvern School and then Uppingham School, before attending Bangor College. He went on Edinburgh University to study medicine but abandoned his studies in 1902 and emigrated to South Africa, on the 11th August. There he enlisted in the Cape Mounted Rifles as a Trooper, and also met and married Sophie Hardiman, with whom he was to have a son Reginald George. In South Africa he fought as a Trooper in the early months of the First World War against Boer rebels in the De Wet Rebellion and against German forces in South West Africa, but in October 1915, with the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant, Lascelles decided that he wished to return to England and continue the fight in Europe. He obtained a discharge and left South Africa for home with his wife and son.
In December 1915, Lascelles, then aged 35, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion Durham Light Infantry, possibly choosing the Durham’s as his younger brother, Reginald George, had been an officer in the regiment, before he had died in an accident in India in 1904. After training, Lascelles was attached to the 14th (Service) Battalion and joined this battalion in France in July 1916, and was wounded for the first time on the Somme that September. On the 15th June 1917, Lascelles led a successful daylight trench raid near Loos, and was awarded the Military Cross for his “great courage, endurance and initiative”.
On 3 December 1917, during the Battle of Cambrai, the 14th Battalion were holding trenches on the canal at Masnieres under intense German shelf fire when Germans attacked. After a very heavy bombardment, during which Captain Lascelles was wounded, the enemy attacked in strong force, but was driven off, success being due in a great degree to the fine example set by this officer, who, refusing to allow his wound to be dressed, continued to encourage his men and organise the defence. Shortly afterwards the enemy again attacked and captured the trench, taking several of his men prisoners. Captain Lascelles at once jumped on to the parapet, and, followed by the remainder of his company – twelve men only – rushed across under very heavy machine gun fire, and drove over sixty of the enemy back, thereby saving a most critical situation. He was untiring in reorganising the position, but shortly afterwards the enemy again attacked and captured the trench and Captain Lascelles, who escaped later.
On the 23rd March 1918, King George presented Lascelles with his VC at Buckingham Palace. After the presentation, Lascelles went home to his family, who were living in the Birmingham suburb of Olton, whilst Sophie worked in a munitions’ factory canteen and Lascelles recovered from his wounds, though little could be done for his damaged right arm.
In October 1918, he volunteered once again for active service and joined the 15th (Service) Battalion, at the Base Camp at Etaples on the 14th. The war, at this stage, was almost over, with the German Army on the verge of defeat, and on the 7th November, the 15th DLI crossed the River Sambre and advanced east. At Limont-Fontaine, some Germans stood and fought but the village was quickly taken after a bayonet charge. This, the last battle fought by the 15th DLI, cost the battalion over 100 men killed or wounded and amongst the dead was Lascelles. He was buried in an isolated grave on the southern outskirts of Limont-Fontaine, but in 1919, his body was exhumed and reburied in Dourlers Communal Cemetery, south of Limont-Fontaine. Lascelles widow remained in Birmingham, but moved from Olton to 110, New Avenue, Acocks Green before returning to Merionithshire. In 1983, the VC, MC and campaign medals were purchased for £18,500 by the regiment. They are currently in storage following the closure of the Durham Light Infantry Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY MUSEUM, DURHAM.
BURIAL PLACE: DOURLERS COMMUNAL CEMETERY, FRANCE.
PLOT II, ROW C, GRAVE 24
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.
Thomas Stewart – Image of the Lascelles VC Medal Group when on display at the now closed Durham Light Infantry Museum, Durham.
Paul Lee www.memorialstovalour.co.uk – The two images of the North Wales Heroes Memorial and the War Memorial both at the University of Bangor, Wales.