Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Captain Eric Alexander Ogilvie Durlacher, 5th Battalion attached to 2nd Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment, was killed in action on the Western Front.
His parents’ only son, he was educated at St. Paul’s School in London, and St. Augustine’s College and Abbey School in Ramsgate before being articled as a solicitor’s clerk. At the outbreak of the Great War enlisted in the University and Public Schools Men’s Force, Royal Fusiliers. As an ex-cadet of the Officers’ Training Corps he was commissioned into the Special Reserve of Officers in November of 1915.
Captain Durlacher was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in February of 1917, when he was called “the hero of the Clery Raid”. As commander of the raiders he had taken a bugler and a small party of signallers with him to the German trenches. He established a telephone station and calmly reported operations in the midst of the fighting. His bugler gave the signal when it was time to retire, the “Fire Alarm” followed by “Come to the Cookhouse Door”, and then the “Officers’ Mess” call. His raiders went back across No Man’s Land with what was described as “much booty and a number of prisoners”.
On the day of his death Captain Durlacher had been injured during the first charge, but refused to leave his men. He was shot and killed later that day. These words are from one tribute paid to him: “A brilliant young leader, of quick wit and outstanding personality, he was one of the most memorable of the many excellent officers who came to the Regiment”. His commanding officer wrote to his parents: “He was an officer in whom I placed implicit reliance… He was killed in the forefront with his men; despite the fact that he was at the time wounded, he would not leave the line. He is a very great loss to the battalion”.
Captain Durlacher has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery in France. From Weymouth, he was 22 years old.