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Reverend Rupert Edward Inglis , Chaplain to the Forces

September 18, 2019


Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 1916, the Reverend Rupert Edward Inglis , Chaplain to the Forces, was killed during the Battle of Ginchy.

The son of Major-General Sir John Eardley Wilmot Inglis, K.C.B., Defender of Lucknow in the Indian Mutiny, and grandson of the first Baron Chelmsford, Lord Chancellor, he was educated at Rugby School.  He attended University College, Oxford, and Ely Theological College, being ordained in 1889.  He held curacies at Helmsley and Basingstoke, and in 1900 was appointed Rector of Frittenden in Kent.  He was also an England International Rugby Football player.

In July of 1915, Reverend Inglis became Chaplain to the Forces and was sent to France, attached to the 15th Infantry Brigade, 6th Division, on the Ypres Salient.  He wrote copiously to his family, friends and parishioners – one such letter explaining why he chose to serve:  “I have felt that in this great crisis of our nation's history, everyone ought to do what he can to help. I have said this both publicly and privately, but it has been hard to tell people that they ought to leave their homes, to go out into strange and new surroundings, to endure discomforts and danger—perhaps to face death—it has been hard to tell people that this was their duty and then to remain comfortably at home myself.”

During the Battle of Ginchy on the Somme he put himself in danger by going out to search for wounded men, day or night.  On the day of his death he had joined stretcher-bearers attempting to bring in a wounded man from the battlefield.  He was struck by a fragment of shell, and while his wound was being dressed he was hit by another shell and killed instantly. 

A fellow officer wrote:  “Whilst his Brigade (and Division) had been in the big fight he had been acting rather as a free lance - making his quarters back at the transport lines, and going up for longish spells to help with the wounded at the Advanced Dressing Stations near the line.....and helped in the finding of wounded not only belonging to his own Battalion, but to others in the Division. I cannot overstate the sorrow there is today in the Brigade. “They simply loved him” so said several officers and men in the Shropshires to me to-day.  He has fallen doing gallant work for others and is loved and mourned throughout the Division.  The Brigadier and others had tried to restrain him, but the need of those poor lads, lying out wounded hour after hour, could not be denied.”

Although then buried near the battle site, his body was not later recovered.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, on the Frittenden war memorial, at All Saints' Church in Basingstoke where he was a curate, and at St. Mary's church, Frittenden, where there is a memorial as well as a lychgate dedicated to him.

Rupert, from Frittenden in Kent, was 52 years old and married with three children aged five, ten and fiftee




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