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  • Christina Drummond

Lance Corporal George Elton Sedding, 7th Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, Lance Corporal George Elton Sedding, 7th Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment, died from wounds received in action twelve days earlier during the Battle of Loos.

Educated at Radley College in Oxfordshire, he became an orphan at the age of nine, and was brought up by his uncle, a distinguished physician, in Upper Wimpole Street, London. He attended the Royal College of Art and trained as a designer and worker in gold and silver. In 1910 the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society catalogue featured much of his work, including altar and processional crosses as well as jewellery. He designed and gave to the chapel the cross and candlesticks which are still on the communion table in Radley College.

Enlisting at the outbreak of the Great War, he was determined not to accept a commission – being a devout Christian he believed that he could more effectively spread the word of God if he was seen by the soldiers as an equal rather than as their officer. He took specialist courses in scouting and signalling, as well as being trained in the use of the field telephone, and was then sent to France in May of 1915.

On the 11th of October, 1915, his battalion took part in the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt. He was hit by shrapnel in the hand and thigh and placed in a shell hole for safety, to wait for the stretcher bearers to find him. He was not moved until the following afternoon, and began the long evacuation home, arriving on the 17th for treatment at the Hampstead General Hospital. By that time his thigh wound had become septic and the infection had spread, causing his condition to deteriorate to the point that he lost consciousness on the 22nd and died the following day. After his death his brother produced a memoir, “George Sedding: the Life and Work of an Artist Soldier”, and he was included in a publication by the Society of St. Peter and St. Paul, called “A Portrait of Six Christian Heroes”, along with Appian, Alban, Athanasius, Francis de Sales and Ignatius Loyola.

One of his last letters home was written in what was described as “the horror of Ploegsteert Wood”: “I wrote a little prayer last night. . . . There are such a lot of stray bullets about that you want something of the sort to repeat and think of on occasions: ‘Under the shadow of Thy wings, 0 Christ, shall I rest in peace. For as in love they enfold me, I will look up and behold their shining glory, arched in a vault of dusky gold, gleaming with rainbow hues. Gold for sovereignty and power, with all the wondrous graces, charity and love, that colour Thy divinity. So shall I rest in peace, and at my death, 0 Light of Lights, give me grace to come without the shadows, and to look upon Thy most holy face.’‘’

He is buried in the St. John the Baptist churchyard in West Wickham, Kent – his father, the Arts and Crafts church architect John Dando Sedding, had remodelled the church soon after he and his wife moved to the village in 1889, and they are both buried in the churchyard along with their son.

George, from London, was 33 years old.

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