WINDLE, Michael William Maxwell

Lieutenant 8th Bn. Devonshire Regiment.

Born

November 1893.
The eldest son of the Rev W.H. Windle, Vicar of All Saints, Prince’s Park, Liverpool and formerly Vicar of Oldham, Hampshire.

Education

Blundell's School, entering as an exhibitioner at the age of 14 yrs and was in Westlake; Sept 1907 – Summer 1911.
Later, he gained a scholarship to Exeter College Oxford where he took a Second in Honours Mods.

Service

He had been in the OTC at both Blundell’s and University and when war broke out, was within a few months of completing his degree but left his studies to obtain a commission in the Dorsetshire regiment. On September 24th 1915, he started a letter to his family, hoping to be able to complete it the next day.  It was picked up by an officer in the first German trench at Loos after it had been captured. “Scene - The same billet we occupied last time in the village of shells.  Time,  8p.m.  Supper is over, my pack is ready, and we don’t parade for another hour so I’ll pass the time by starting this letter, which I hope I may have a chance of finishing later.  We are moving up tonight into the trenches from which we are going to attack tomorrow morning.  That being the case it was particularly nice this evening to get no less than four letters and parcel.   We have moved up here last night and all day long have been listening to the biggest cannonade I have ever heard. I wish I could give you some idea of it.  The sound that preponderates is like the regular thump of a steamship’s engines. But across this from time to time comes the thunder-clap of a gun being fired or a shell exploding while the shells as they pass moan like the wind in the trees.  Its slackened a bit now but tomorrow it will be twice as loud excepting during the last few minutes before we go over the parapet.  Then, I suppose machine guns and rifles and bombs will swell the chorus.  We have about 200 yards to go before we reach their first system of trenches on the rising ground to our front.  I hope that won’t present much difficulty and if the guns have any luck we should top the hill all right.  After that there are at least two more systems of trenches, each about 1000 yards apart which will be up to us to tackle, I wonder if we shall do it?  One can hardly imagine what it will be like.  In fact just at the moment one’s interest in the affair is far more that of a spectator than a participant.  Funny thing but there it is. Perhaps the dramatic sense is rather a blessing.  I think Aristotle had something apposite about it but I can’t remember now.  Anyway this, viz, letter writing – is a great relief.  You get so interested in your conditions that they cease to annoy you. But to return to the classics. Thucydides is a gentleman whose truth I never appreciated so thoroughly before.  In his description of the last great effort of the Athenians to break out of Syracuse he tells how the officers lectured and encouraged their men right up to the last moment, always remembering another last word of counsel and however much they said it would still be inadequate.  Just the same with us no.  We’ve all lectured our platoons, but something still keeps turning up and after all we can only play an infinitesimal part in Armageddon!  Well we are parading in a minute.  Goodnight and heaps of love.  To be continued tomorrow.

Death

26th September 1915.
He was killed the day after writing his letter and within a month of his 23rd birthday, after just two months at the front.

Burial/Commemoration

2/Lt Windle has no known grave so is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Panel 35 to 37. Loos-en-Gohelle, France.

Memorial

The Loos Memorial forms the side and back of Dud Corner Cemetery, and commemorates over 20,000 officers and men who have no known grave, who fell in the area from the River Lys to the old southern boundary of the First Army, east and west of Grenay. Loos-en-Gohelle is a village 5 km north-west of Lens, and Dud Corner Cemetery is located about 1 km west of the village, to the north-east of the N43 the main Lens to Bethune road. It stands almost on the site of a German strong point, the Lens Road Redoubt, captured by the 15th (Scottish) Division on the first day of the battle. The name "Dud Corner" is believed to be due to the large number of unexploded enemy shells found in the neighbourhood after the Armistice. On either side of the cemetery is a wall 15 feet high, to which are fixed tablets on which are carved the names of those commemorated. At the back are four small circular courts, open to the sky, in which the lines of tablets are continued, and between these courts are three semicircular walls or apses, two of which carry tablets, while on the centre apse is erected the Cross of Sacrifice.

Research

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org
Public Records Office, National Archives, Kew: WO 339/11407  and  Medal Rolls WO372/20
“The Register of Blundell's School, Part II 1882 – 1932” (1932) MAHOOD, A.S., Ed. Entry No.5235
“The Blundellian”, 1917
“Cemeteries & Memorials in Belgium & Northern France” (2004) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 13/295

 

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