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  • Christina Drummond

Captain Charles Hamilton Sorley, The Suffolk Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, the Scottish war poet Captain Charles Hamilton Sorley, The Suffolk Regiment, was killed in action near Hulluch during the final offensive of the Battle of Loos. The son of university professor and philosopher William Ritchie Sorley, he was educated at King’s College School, Cambridge, and Marlborough College. He was due to take up a scholarship at University College, Oxford, in September of 1914, and had decided to spend some months in Germany until then. Due to Britain declaring war on Germany in August, he had no choice but to return home, at which time he promptly volunteered for military service, joined the Suffolk Regiment, arrived on the Western Front in May of 1915 as a lieutenant, and was promoted to captain in August. It is known that his death was caused by a shot to the head, but his body was not recovered, so he has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial at Loos. The Poet Laureate John Masefield was one of many who considered his death to be the greatest loss of all the poets who died during the Great War. Robert Graves described him as “one of the three poets of importance killed during the war," the others being Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg. In 1985, Captain Sorley was one of sixteen Great War poets commemorated in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey - the inscription on the stone being from Wilfred Owen: “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity." Charles, from Aberdeen, was 20 years old.

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