Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, Lance Serjeant Cecil William Patrick Dean and Captain John Neil Guthrie, 1st Battalion, the Irish Guards, were killed in action during the Battle of Festubert in France.
Lance Serjeant Dean was one of a family of three children, born in Ireland where his father was stationed with the Coldstream Guards, and raised in Camberwell, London. The photograph of him, on the left, is believed to have been taken in the trenches a short time before his death. He fell while leading his men, and there was hope at first that he may have survived. However, a soldier had witnessed him shot first in the stomach, and later in the neck, which ended his suffering.
Another soldier wrote to Lance Serjeant Dean’s mother: “Gallantly leading his section, dear Cecil fell quite close to me. I went to his side but he told me to go on as I might get hit. I advanced with my platoon, and looking back I saw him smiling at me…It was a great blow to his comrades and especially to me, as we have been together for seven years now. The sympathy of the whole company goes out to his bereaved friends, and we hope that the blow may be softened by the knowledge that he fell at duty’s call”.
Lance Serjeant Dean has no known grave, and he is commemorated on the Le Touret memorial at Richebourg l’Avoue. Born in Dublin, he was 20 years old.
Captain Guthrie was the son of Captain John Douglas Maude Guthrie, 19th Hussars, and was the heir to the estates of Guthrie and Gagie. He was commissioned in the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers in 1905, and three years later transferred to the Irish Guards. Shortly after the outbreak of the Great War he was wounded in France, but soon returned to the front.
On the day of his death he was leading his men forward into what was described as an “inferno of rifle, shell, and machine gun fire” when he was struck and killed by a shell splinter. He was well-respected by all ranks, and was described as a gallant soldier who did “splendidly out at the front”.
Captain Guthrie lies buried in the Le Touret Military Cemetery. From Arbroath, he was 29 years old and married.