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2nd Lt. Christopher Armstrong 23rd (Sportsman's Battalion) Battalion Royal Fusiliers (d.9th Apr 1916)Christopher was born on 10th October 1888 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire and was baptised on 21st December at St Mary's and All Saints Chesterfield. His father was Charles Armstrong, born in Little Paxton, a brewer and later owner of the Star Brewery, Cambridge. He was educated at the Perse School, Cambridge, and St Lawrence's School, Ramsgate. Christopher was admitted to Jesus College, Cambridge in October 1907. He excelled at athletics and won the following medals:
After leaving Jesus, Christopher lived with his parents at The Grove, a beautiful regency house set in large grounds, and was studying to take over the Brewery. In 1914 Christopher enlisted as a Private in the Sportsmen's Battalion and was posted to Hornchurch. His nephew, John Vincent Armstrong, reported that he had bribed a doctor to pass him as fit even though he had poor eyesight. The 23rd (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers and 24th (Service) Battalion (2nd Sportsman's), better known as the Sportsmen's Battalions, were among the Pals battalions formed in the Great War.
- 1907 Long Jump
- 1908: 100 yards race. Awarded The Langton Victor Ludorum Medal, Jesus College.
- 1909: Long jump and 1/4 mile race, run in 52 seconds.
- 1909: 2nd place 100 yards and Putting the shot.
- 1910: Long jump
Christopher was then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers 14th Battalion attached to the 6th Loyal Northern Lancashire Regiment in 1915. On 13th October 1915 he was writing a letter to his sister Pearl, in South Camp, Seaford, Sussex, about to go on active service to Serbia, he thought. He was in 38 Brigade 13th Division. It would seem that in fact the Brigade went to Gallipoli. On the 14th November he sailed to Mudros on the SS Olympic from Liverpool.
In February 1916 the Division began to move to Mesopotamia, to strengthen the force being assembled for the relief of the besieged garrison at Kut al Amara. By 27 March, the Division had assembled near Sheikh Sa'ad and came under orders of the Tigris Corps. It then took part in the attempts to relieve Kut. After these efforts failed and Kut fell.
This is Christopher's last letter, dated:29.3.16 "Dear Baba, lots of letters from you the other day many thanks and all that sort of thing. I don't write as often as I ought but as often as I can. As you will doubtless have heard we have done quite a large move lately. From Port Said to Kuweit where is this?,(sic) . From there transshipped and on to Basra, pronounced Busrh, from there to a river boat with a barge alongside each side squashed on board like sardines. There was not room for all the men to lie down at the same time so you can guess. Well we have endured this for 6 days or so and that was comfort to our present place. We went up the Tigris past Qurnah and Amarah and several places past that I suppose, I must not say to where exactly but probably if you have a map it will be 3 places further up and we are short of the firing line by 2-3 miles and from a town as far as it is from Cambridge to Ely 27 miles. In a few days about Wednesday we are in for shouting and sprinting and cold steel. We have had many tries to get forward but up to now have been very unsuccessful. Now it is our turn to have a cut at it and we shall see what will happen. I could tell you all about if I was allowed to. Perhaps next time I write I shall be able to tell you all about what it feels like and all that sort of thing lets hope I shall be able to. Always hope for the best. Well my dear cheers. I am Chris" Written on the back of this letter ‘Chris’s last letter before Sarnai’.
Over 12,600 men were killed, wounded or missing from the 13th Western Division. Christopher went missing. He was found to have been killed in action on 9th April 1916 at Kut el Amara in modern Iraq. He led his platoon in the 1st line into some vacant Turkish trenches but it was an ambush; the trenches were bombed and very few men survived. His name is on the Roll of Honour in Jesus College, and Great St.Mary's Cambridge. He is buried in Amara War Cemetery in plot xviii.J 12. Amara is on the left bank of the Tigris 520 km from the sea between the left bank and the Chahaila Canal. He was reported 'missing' but not presumed dead and his family continued to hope for months afterwards. His nephew said that he was well loved and greatly missed.Ruth Anderson
WO2. Samuel Davidson 16th Btn. Royal Irish RiflesMy great grandfather, Samuel Davidson, joined the Royal Irish Rifles in September 1914, at Brownlow House in Lurgan, Co Armagh. He was in the 16th Battalion which later was converted to the Pioneer Battalion for the 36th Ulster Division.
He trained at Brownlow House in Lurgan, and later at Seaford in Kent, before leaving for France in October 1915. He was wounded behind the ear by a shell fragment on the 1st July 1916 in Thepval Wood before the battle started. He was later gassed at Messines, and suffered the effects of this for the remainder of his life.
He survived the war and was not discharged until 1919. By this time he had been Company Quartermaster Sargent and was an acting WO2 and was either CSM or RQMS.Geoff Davidson
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