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  • Christina Drummond

Lieutenant Thomas Owen Ditmas MID, 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, Lieutenant Thomas Owen Ditmas MID, 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment, was killed in action on the Western Front.

The son of a retired lieutenant-colonel of the York and Lancaster Regiment, he was educated at Kelly College, Tavistock, went on to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1905. He was remembered as a cheerful and happy young man, having excelled academically and at various sports, and also during his military training. Of particular interest to him was the machine-gun course, and he was proud of obtaining the Maxim-gun certificate, as well as winning first and second prizes at the manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain. In June of 1906 he was commissioned into the Devonshire Regiment, and in October joined his battalion in Rangoon. Promotion to Lieutenant came in 1910, after which he volunteered for the Colonial Office, being sent to East Africa to serve with the 3rd Battalion of the King’s African Rifles; he served with the Camel Corps in and around Nairobi. At the outbreak of the Great War he returned to the Devonshire Regiment.

On the day of his death a shell had burst in one of the trenches occupied by his battalion and which came under his command. Lieutenant Ditmas left another officer and the sergeant-major in charge and went to check on the situation. Remarking that it was not serious, and no injuries had been sustained, he began to reassure his men when he was killed instantly by a German sniper. His coolness under fire had been well-noted, and he was Mentioned in Dispatches by Field-Marshal Sir John French for his gallant and distinguished service. He is buried in the Wulvergham-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery near Ypres, with these words on his headstone: “Their glory shall not be blotted out”.

Thomas, from Plymouth, had just turned 27 years old.

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