Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, Lance Corporal Cecil George Sandbrook Rawlings, 1/12th (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment (The Rangers), was killed in action east of Ypres.
His parents’ eldest son, he attended Salisbury School and Denstone College, and at the age of sixteen embarked on an apprenticeship with a furniture manufacturer in Kensington. In October of 1913 he made the decision to join the army, and arrived in France on Christmas Eve, 1914.
Captain Ashley Arbuthnot, who would himself be killed three months later, wrote to his parents: "Just as it was getting light on the morning of the 15th, two platoons under Major V. Hoare were sent out to obtain information for the Brigade Gen., and to act as supports to troops in front. It was not an easy task to move across the open in daylight, but Major Hoare's leading was skilful, and he found the way into the shelter of a trench. When he had got three-quarters of the men in the trench a shell burst right in the trench, and I most deeply regret to say killed Major Hoare and three men, one of those killed I grieve to say was your son. He was killed in action doing his duty. When darkness came on in the evening we buried him about 30 yards behind the trench. A Capt. of the King's Royal Rifles read the burial service by the light of an electric torch, while we stood round in a half-circle to prevent the Germans seeing the light and firing on us. I can assure you that your son's death is a real loss to the company; he always did his work so calmly and efficiently, and at the same time he was a great favourite with the whole platoon."
Lance Corporal Rawlings is buried in the Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, at West-Vlaanderen in Belgium, and is named on the Great War memorial in the parish church of Sarum St. Martin in Salisbury. The church contains a finely-carved rood screen which was dedicated specially in his honour by the then-Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Frederick Ridgeway – on the church’s website it is stated that to see this screen illuminated by evening sunlight is very moving.
Cecil, from Milford in Wiltshire, was 20 years old.