STEWART, William Victor

Stewart, WVSecond Lieutenant, 1st Bn, Monmouthshire Regiment

Born

March 1897.
Only son of Mr. William Steward (Col. Manager) and Mrs. Maggie Steward of Brodawel, Caerleon, Monmouthshire.

Education

Blundell’s School, from age 12, in September 1909 in “Junior House” and then in “North Close” between 1910 and 1914. He sang in the school choir (alto, bass) and was an active member of the school OTC from 1910 to 1914. He played in the corps band, went to camp in 1912 and 1913 and was made up to Lance-Sergeant in 1914. He was in the shooting VIII and played in the third XV. The Blundellian said of him that he was “universally beloved, and he stood for everything that was sound and honourable in relation with his school and his fellows.”

Service

He took his commission early at the outbreak of war, despite being only 18 years old. Early in 1915 Lt. Stewart volunteered to collect ammunition with a party of men, from a company about a mile away, when another company had run dangerously short. A private of the Monmouthshire regiment recounted the event. “They came up with it in broad daylight and were nearly up to their knees in mud and slush. They had the ammunition slung around their necks and managed to reach the trenches about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and had to stay there, wet through until dark. They all deserve recognition and I hope they get it.”

The Offensive

The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence. The campaign finally came to a close in November 1917 with the capture of Passchendaele.

Death

8th May 1915, aged 18.
His orderly recounted the events leading up to his death. “It was about 8.30am when Lieutenant Stewart with a few other officers came to breakfast. Myself and another orderly (who was afterwards killed) made some cocoa and cut some sandwiches. After this Lieutenant Stewart went and rejoined his platoon. It was about 11.30 when I saw him next. It happened thus: The regiment on our right got cut off and were captured. Lt Stewart then came running up and took a rifle from a man who seemed to be helpless owing to shock. He then dashed into the firing line and I never saw him again. It was about 12.45 when I heard the news that he had been killed.”

Burial/Commemoration

2/Lt Stewart has no known grave so is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium, (Flanders); Panel 50.

Memorial

The Menin Gate Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road, astride the main Menin to Courtrai (Kortrijk) Road. This site was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates those of all Commonwealth nations (except New Zealand) who died in the Salient; in the case of United Kingdom, casualties before 16 August 1917. It now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, and unveiled by Lord Plumer in July 1927. Each night at 8pm the traffic through the gate is stopped while members of the local Fire Brigade sound the Last Post in the roadway under the Memorial's arches. Nearby the Cloth Hall Museum has an excellent interpretation centre but apparently no research facility.

Research

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org
Public Record Office, Nationals Archives, Kew: Medal Rolls: WO372/19
“The Register of Blundell's School, Part II 1882 – 1932” (1932) MAHOOD, A.S., Ed. Entry No.5360
“The Blundellian”,  1915  February p159  & June p173
Cemeteries & Memorials in Belgium & Northern France (2004) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 5/58
Field visit (JEA & GRY 11.04.2005)

 

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