SOUTHEY, Robert George Melvill

Lieutenant, 1st Bn., Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Born

8th October 1896, Hydrabad, India.
Son of Lt. Colonel William Melvill Southey, 1st Baluch Light Infantry (Indian Army) and Rose Gwendoline Southey of “The Peaks”, Westwood Ho!

Education

Westwood Ho! Junior School, June 1910 - January 1911.
Blundell's School, “Petergate”, January 1911 - June 1914.
He entered Blundell’s at the age of 14 and joined the School OTC attaining the rank of Lance Corporal.

Service

He passed into Sandhurst on 31st March 1914.

Trench Diaries

The 1st Bn. Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry were part of 95th Brigade, 5th Division.  They marched from Ivergny to Candas on 14th July then on to Toutencourt on the 15th, Bresle on the 16th and bivouacked on a hillside south of Becordel-Becourt. The troops returned form the forward area here, “muddy and disreputable but all quite happy and cheerful though obviously tired out” on the 17th July.  Via Fricourt, Mametz and Montauban to a forward position near Longueval on the 19th July.  Here they occupied a sunken road position leading to High Wood. On the 23rd July they attacked, making good headway but fierce counter attacks forced assaulting waves to retire to Pont Street trench. Since 19th July over 500 men were killed, this number reflecting the heavy shelling the battalion encountered the whole time they were in a forward position.

Death

23rd July 1916, aged 20, in High Wood, Somme.
The Comite International de la Croix-Rouge sought witnesses to his loss. Lt/Cpt T.S. Baker 11072 DCLI reported; “I saw Lt. R.G.M. Southey the 23rd July 1916. He was wounded in the upper arm and was trying to get back to his line.”
Pte C.W. Steele 18537 DCLI reported “Last seen by myself and Pte Lurridge, badly wounded in left side and, covered by our rifle fire, he was assisted to crawl away by his servant but was caught in Machine Gun fire.”

Burial/Commemoration

Lt. Southey has no known grave so is commemorated on Theipval Memorial, Theipval,  Somme, Pillar 6, face  B.

Memorial

Theipval Memorial is on the D73, off the Main Bapaume to Albert (D929). The Memorial, 150 feet high, was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and can be seen from many of the battle sites in the surrounding area. It has sixteen piers on whose faces the names of all the men who have no known grave are inscribed. An excellent interpretation centre has been built nearby with research facilities and an “on-line” memorial to the missing which contains much valuable information.

Research

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org
The National Archives, Kew  WO 339/23638
“The Register of Blundell's School, Part II 1882 – 1932” (1932) MAHOOD, A.S., Ed. Entry No.5450
Cemeteries & Memorials in Belgium & Northern France (2004) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 25/490
“British battalions on the Somme” WESTLAKE, R. (2004) Pen and Sword
Field visit (JEA & GRY 28/7/2006)

 

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