Major Philip Musgrave Neeld WROUGHTON
Date of birth: 1887
Date of death: 19 April 1917
Killed in action aged 29
Buried in Gaza Cemetery
Philip Musgrave was born in Chaddleworth, Berkshire, to Philip and Evelyn Mary Neeld, daughter of Sir John Neeld, 1st Baronet. Philip had six older sisters and a younger brother.
His father of Woolley Park House, Chaddleworth, was an English Landowner and Conservative Member of Parliament for Berkshire 1878-1885, and for the Abingdon Division 1885 to 1895. In 1878 he was a Major in the Yeomanry Cavalry in Great Britain, Berkshire.
In the 1891 census the family was living at Woolley Park, near Wantage in Berkshire (the county boundary was moved in 1974 placing Wantage in Oxfordshire), with twelve servants.
In the 1901 census Philip was in Mr Ramsay’s House at Eton.
In 1910 his father died and Philip inherited the estate which passed, on his death, to his nephew. It appears that his younger brother, Christopher, died in 1903.
Philip was mobilized 4 August 1914, a Major in the Berkshire Yeomanry, and served in Gallipoli, Egypt, Sinai, Palestine, and Senussi.
The Second Battle of Gaza was fought on the 17th - 19th April, with the main assault planned for the 19th. The Imperial Mounted Division was ordered to mount a diversionary, dismounted, attack. After a strong Turkish counter-attack the Sixth Mounted Brigade, held in reserve, was called up: they advance at a gallop. Eyewitness, Lieutenant O Teichman (Veterinary officer of the Worcestershire Yeomanry), later writing in the Cavalry Journal of 1936, described the action thus:
“The situation of the Worcestershire Yeomanry, indeed of the 5th Mounted Brigade was very critical when an urgent message was sent to the 6th Mounted Brigade. Looking south-westwards from the Atawineh Ridge across two miles of level ground towards the Wadi Munkheileh. The writer could see the latter enveloped in clouds of black smoke from the shell which were bursting over it. Suddenly he saw a sight which thrilled him: out of the wall of smoke which hid Munkheileh there emerged a mass of horsemen which gradually opened out in to extended order and filled the foreground. it was the Berkshire Yeomanry led by their CO Lt Col J T Wigan, and C Sqdn Bucks Yeo. Disdaining to dismount, for they knew it was only a matter of minutes, the yeomanry galloped on, here and there a horse and rider coming down as they covered the two miles between the Munkheileh and the Atawineh Ridge. Dismounting the yeomanry came in to the advance at once and after driving the Turkish front line of the Turkish advance, they effectively re established the broken line.
The Berkshire Yeomanry took a number of the enemy trenches and fought off further Turkish attacks. Major Philip Wroughton, much loved by all ranks, was fatally wounded by shellfire during the battle. Subsequently, as in the first battle, the British troops were ordered to withdraw.”
The cross from Major Wroughton’s Grave, Gaza, Palestine, now in St Andrew’s Church, Chaddleworth.
A Memorial Cross was built alongside the A338 about 4 miles south of Wantage and is maintained by the family who gather each year on the nearest Sunday to Major Wroughton’s death for an Anniversary Parade. As the yeomanry moved forward in April 1917, Major Wroughton instructed his army servant (batman/groom/driver) to ‘keep his head down‘, so the man survived although the Major was killed. When the man came home he told his young sons to attend the Anniversary Parade at the Memorial every year since he owed his life to Major Wroughton. The two sons (one died recently and the other is 90 in 2011) obeyed instructions and have attended every year.