Captain the Hon Gerald LEGGE
South Staffordshire Regiment
Date of birth: 30 April 1882
Date of death: 9 August 1915
Killed in action aged 33
Gerald was born in London, the second son of Viscount Lewisham, later the 6th Earl of Dartmouth and his wife, Lady Mary Coke. He had a younger brother and two sisters.
After preparatory school and Eton, he came up to Christ Church in 1901. At the time of the 1901 census, he was staying at The Rectory, Quidenham with several other young men, being tutored.
By the time of the 1911 census, Gerald, described as a Planter, was staying with his parents, siblings and other family members, totalling fourteen, at Patshull House, Wolverhampton, bought by the Legges in 1848 and remaining in the family’s ownership for some one hundred years. Twenty-nine indoor servants were employed in 1911.
The Staffordshire Record Office holds the family Papers amongst which there are several letters from Gerald. His school and university letters cover the years from 1900 until 1908. He had visited the United States between August and November 1904, and was in Central Africa during the period 1904-06, Malaya in 1907, Newfoundland in 1908 returning via Philadelphia in early October, and the Kalahari Desert in 1909. In 1914, he wrote to his mother from the Sudan.
In “A Sportsman’s Wanderings” by J. G. Millais published by Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston and New York in 1920, the author makes several references to Gerald:
“My two most earnest and unselfish co-operators in this venture were Colonel Lord William Percy and Captain the Hon. Gerald Legge. Both of these excellent field naturalists were ready to devote many years to help in obtaining material and information in all parts of the world of which our knowledge was deficient.
“The work was, in fact, begun, and Captain Legge had already made an excellent collection of the skins of African and European ducks, whilst Lord William Percy spent a whole year in North America, besides undertaking a very hazardous journey to N.E. Asia to hunt various ducks, study their habits on the spot and collect skins.”
Gerald was a Captain in the 7th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, having commenced service on 4 September 1914.
Millais adds “Poor Gerald was killed in Gallipoli in August 1915 whilst bravely leading his men into action. It was a fitting end for a modest and noble man. He was mortally wounded at Sulva Bay on September 9th 1915. All his life he was a keen naturalist, taking a special interest in wildfowl... As an instance of his keenness in studying ducks I may relate that one day when I met him at Patshull he had just arrived from Northumberland, whence he had brought a nest of teal just hatching out. By telegraphing forward to several stations en route he had secured a relay of hot water bottles by means of which he had succeeded in keeping the ducklings warm.... He was last seen mortally wounded on the ground, and cheering on the men of whom he was so proud.”
He is commemorated on Panels 134 to 136 on the Helles Memorial and on the Memorial at Patshull.
Probate was granted to his younger sister, Lady Joan Margaret Legge on December 4th 1915. He left £19,638-2s.
Lady Joan became a botanist, never married and died in India on 4 July 1939. She is buried in the Valley of Flowers, Chamoli, Utterakahand. Her grave can be seen on the internet.