Date of birth: 2 August 1894
Date of death: 12 February 1918
Died of wounds received in action aged 23
Buried at Hampstead Cemeter
Harold Vyvyan Alfred St George (known as Vyvyan) was born in London, the eldest son of Harold Sydney Harmsworth, later 1st Viscount Rothermere, owner of the Daily Mail and the Evening News, and his wife Mary Lilian Share.
He went to Eton in 1908 and came up to Christ Church in 1913. At the outbreak of war, he joined the 2nd Battalion the Irish Guards and saw action in France.
On 13 January 1915 he wrote to his father,
“Hell is the only word descriptive of the weather out here and the state of the ground. It rains every day! The trenches are mud and water up to one's neck, rendering some impassable - but where it is up to the waist we have to make our way along cheerfully. I can tell you - it is no fun getting wet up to the waist and right through, as I did last night. Lots of men have been sent off with slight frost-bite - the foot swells up and gets too big for the boot."
His brother, Vere Harmsworth, was killed on 13 November 1916 aged 21.
Vyvyan was wounded several times and in December 1917 again wrote to his father: "I am now well on my way to England and comfort. I have got as far as the base hospital at Staples. Here I am very comfortable and am having a rest after my week in that hectic spot, the Casualty Clearing Station. My wounds are healing very rapidly - in fact I don't worry about them now. I have been awfully lucky, no vital or difficult spots, such as knees touched."
He died of those wounds in February 1918 at 14 Grosvenor Crescent, London and is buried in Hampstead Cemetery. A week after his death he was awarded the Military Cross.
Vivyan and Vere are commemorated on the Roll of Honour in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Salehurst, Sussex and on the Memorial in Robertsbridge High Street. (Their father had an estate at Hemsted, Benenden, nearby.) Vyvyan’s name is on the Eton College Roll of Honour.
Viscount Rothermere gave an endowment of £20,000 to the University of Oxford for the support of a Professorship of American History to bear the name of Vyvyan who was killed whilst an undergraduate. One of the conditions is that the occupant of the Chair shall be a citizen of the United States.
Probate was granted to his father on 12 August 1918. He left £46,487-0s-2d.
Registered Charity Number: 1143423