Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Second Lieutenant George Rodolph Fane de Salis, 1st/8th Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment, was killed in action at the front line at Wancourt near Arras in France.
One of fourteen children of Sir Cecil Fane de Salis, J.P., D.L., K.C.B., High Sheriff of Middlesex, he was educated at Hildersham House School in Broadstairs, Lancing College prep school, and St. Paul’s School in London. He served in the Officers’ Training Corps, and in October of 1916 he applied for a commission in the Territorial Force; Captain H.R. Pullinger, the Commanding Officer of the St Paul's contingent of the OTC supported his application and wrote: “Very keen and efficient at his work as NCO has handled his section well and has shown himself a capable leader." He was accepted into the 3rd Officer Cadet Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, and commissioned as Second Lieutenant the following March.
Second Lieutenant de Salis joined his battalion in the fighting near Arras at the end of May in 1917. On the 19th of June, his battalion relieved the 3rd (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers) in the front line at Wancourt, and suffered heavy enemy shelling on the night of the 21st. Second Lieutenant de Salis was killed when a shell fell into his trench, killing him and wounding another soldier. He is buried in the Hibers Trench Cemetery at Wancourt.
A friend of his from school wrote of him, on hearing of his death: "At school he seemed to have no wish to attain those distinctions which are usually sought after, but for all that distinction was part of his nature, and he had in him all the qualities necessary to be a fearless soldier, a loyal friend, a man of honest, blunt, but attractive character." Second Lieutenant de Salis’ older brother, Lieutenant Jerome Fane de Salis, of the same battalion, had died of wounds received in action in October of 1915.
George, from Hillingdon in Middlesex, had just turned 19 years old.