Captain Armytage Percy BOSANQUET MC
3rd Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry attached to 5th (Service) Battalion Wiltshire Regiment
Date of birth: 20 August 1893
Date of death: 25 January 1917
Killed in action aged 23
Buried at Amara War Cemetery Plot XVIII Row E Grave 5.
Armytage Percy Bosanquet was born at Lowdham Vicarage in Nottinghamshire, the son of the Revd Claude Charles Courthope Bosanquet and Millicent Percy (nee Percy-Smith) of The Vicarage, St Stephen-by-Saltash in Cornwall.
He was educated at St Mary's Hill School, Horsall near Woking in Surrey, and Lancing College, where he won an Exhibition and was in Olds House from September 1907 to July 1912. While at school he excelled at marksmanship and distinguished himself at Bisley on more than one occasion. He was in the Shooting VIII from 1909 to 1912. In July 1909 he was one of the pair which won the Bronze medal for the Cadet Trophy, and was Captain of the Shooting VII in 1911 and 1912. He was a Sergeant in the Officer Training Corps and was appointed as a Prefect in 1911.
He went on to Christ Church College Oxford and had finished his second year there when war broke out. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Special Reserve of Officers in 3rd Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry on 4 September 1912, and promoted to Lieutenant in February 1915 which was antedated to April 1914. On 2 November 1914 he landed in France, where he was attached to 1st Battalion of his regiment and was promoted to Captain in May 1915. He returned from France in August 1915, and after a period of home service was attached to the Wiltshire Regiment and went to Mesopotamia in November of that year. He was twice mentioned in dispatches, in 1915, and in Sir Henry Lake‘s dispatches of 12 August 1916 regarding the defence of Kut. He was awarded the Military Cross which appeared in the London Gazette of 22 December 1916.
On 25 January the 5th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment, in concert with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, were detailed to attack Turkish trenches at the Hai River. Their objective was to take the front line Turkish trench and also to take a Turkish strongpoint known as Point P10N. In preparation for this the artillery fired intermittently in the hope of cutting the enemy's wire. All ranks were said to be confident of success in the forthcoming assault. At 9.42am, under a terrific barrage from the supporting British artillery, the Wiltshires moved forward on a 400 yard front with the Welsh on their right. Assisted by the artillery the Wiltshires swept into the enemy trench, clearing it quickly and allowing their bombers to begin working towards the enemy strongpoint. Due to the resistance they encountered there they withdrew a distance to allow the artillery to pound the defenders once more. When this was done the bombers rushed forward and captured it. They then consolidated their gains with the assistance of the 88th Field Company Royal Engineers. During the night the Turks counterattacked but were repulsed without difficulty. The attack resulted in the capture of 100 enemy prisoners, one machine gun, two trench mortars and a mineworker. Casualties were two officers killed with four wounded and 33 other ranks killed and 110 wounded. Captain Bosanquet was wounded, and later killed, at Hai River.
Sir Stanley Maude, General Commanding the British Army in Mesopotamia, wrote: “Though personally unknown to you, I feel I must write one line to express to you my very deep sorrow at the death of your gallant son in action.
“I have known and seen a good deal of him throughout the war. First he was in my Brigade in France when he was serving with the Cornwalls. Then subsequently he came to my Division with the Wilts in Gallipoli, and so I may say has served practically continuously throughout the war.
“It is no exaggeration for me to say that I had formed the highest opinion of him, both as a soldier and as a man. He was a brave and fearless officer, always striving to do his duty to the best of his ability, and full of eagerness and keenness. He was always earnest and yet full of cheeriness, and I know how well he has stuck to his duty on more than one occasion when he was far from well. Your boy was, I know, a Lancing boy, a splendid school where I also had a son. His career as a soldier brings nothing but honour and credit to Lancing, for he was one of the best types of an English schoolboy.”
Lieutenant Colonel Haseldine wrote:
“He was shot through the head when leading an attack on the German trenches on the morning of 25th January. He had covered about half the distance when he was struck, and in another two minutes would have been in this position. Although we took heavy toll - this regiment alone accounted for two hundred and fifty Turks killed - it does not make up for our loss.
“I considered Captain Bosanquet one of my most capable company commanders, and his death is a serious loss to the Regiment. I have also lost a personal friend. It was a great pleasure to me to know he had been awarded the Military Cross, especially so, as I had recommended him for the decoration; he was justly very proud of his distinction, and was wearing his ribbon when killed. As soon as it was dark I had his body recovered and taken to our little burial ground on the bank of the Hai River where he was buried by our Brigade Chaplain. He was extremely popular in the regiment and his company, with good reason, would do anything for him or follow him anywhere.”
Brigadier General Lewis wrote:
“Your son was quite one of our best officers, and had already shown his grit and coolness in many a tight corner, and his death is not only a great loss to the Battalion, the 5th Wilts, but to the whole Brigade.”
His Estate amounted to £648 19s 6d. Administration granted to his father.
He is commemorated on the memorial at St Stephen‘s Church, Saltash in Cornwall.