|1. Memorial:||Gwalia Cemetery|
|2. Book:||The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918||Pg.116|
|3. Memorial:||The (1940) Scroll - WW1 Roll of Honour||7D GQS|
Awards & Titles:
|Distinguished Service Order |
Mentioned in Despatches
Family :Son of Frank Gilbert and Jessie Ogilvie Beresford. Assistant Priest of St. Mary's Church, Westerham, Kent
Education & Career :
Beresford attended Rossall School 1890–94. His headmaster described him as “a boy of unusual culture and wider reading than most” and “as a school monitor […] always on the side of good”. He matriculated at Magdalen as a Commoner on 16 October 1894, having been exempted from Responsions, and studied Classics. He was awarded a 3rd in Classics (Honours) Moderations in Hilary Term 1896 and took the Preliminary Examination in Scripture in Trinity Term 1896. Because his father’s health was failing, he felt obliged to curtail his studies, so he read for a Pass Degree in Classics. He passed Groups A (Greek and/or Latin Literature/Philosophy) and B1(English History) in Trinity Term 1897, but failed Group D (Elements of Religious Knowledge) in the same term so re-sat the paper successfully in Michaelmas Term 1897 and was awarded a degree in the same term. He took his BA on 9 December 1897 and his MA in 1904. He had hoped to be ordained, but his father’s failing health obliged him to go into the family firm – of which he became a partner in 1899.
At college as at school, he “gave the strong impression of a faithful life and a devotion to all things good and high” and “his character, thus formed, grew naturally at the university”. Sir Herbert Warren, the President of Magdalen, “spoke strongly of his life and influence” and would later describe him as “a particularly gentlemanly man and rather gentle person”. But during his time at Oxford his meditations had convinced him “of a great truth so often overlooked, namely, that the greatest good may be done to the greatest number by influencing the young, more especially the youths of our country”, and, according to Mrs Stuart Menzies, “this was the great work of his life which he never for a moment let slip out of his sight. He was wise enough to see that the physical condition of young men is largely responsible for their moral condition, and that congenial work is as necessary for their well-being as is their food.” So side by side with the duties of his business, he felt called to help older boys at Sunday school and other extramural classes. Because of the interest he took as an employer in the lives and welfare of his employees, he was invited to offer himself as a councillor at Bermondsey, where his firm was based, when the boundary of the London Metropolitan District was extended. An obituarist would describe this invitation as “a compliment paid him for his well-known interest in social matters, his sympathetic mind and self-sacrificing spirit”.
He was much liked at both. When at Oxford he worked, which is not a universal habit of university students. He passed well in classics and hoped to take Orders, but family reasons prevented him entering the Church at that time, and as his father's health was failing he entered business, which was most distasteful to him ; his heart was set on the Church. As an employer of labour when in business, Beresford also took interest in the lives and welfare of his men. In consequence of the interest he took in their social matters he was asked to offer himself as Councillor at Bermondsey. In 1902 he went to live at Westerham, in Kent, going by rail daily to his work. Here again he interested himself in the young men of the place and was founder of the Westerham Cadet Corps, the first parish cadet corps in the country, and all his spare time was devoted to them. It was uphill work at first. Some parents would not allow their sons to join. They feared militarism the first drill was on Farley Common, and the different tone of the boys was soon noticeable. They became smart, good-mannered, and respectful, enjoying the training and looking forward to the time spent with their instructor, who firmly believed that the best possible training and moulding of their characters would be a military one, which would impress upon them the ideas of patriotism, the duty of self-denial, punctuality and discipline, all of which help to build up fine character and conduce to efficiency in every walk of life. He felt strongly that all military training acted as a sort of national university. At last, in 1905, the wish of his life was fulfilled and he was ordained by the Bishop of Rochester, and became curate to the Rev. Sydney Le Mesurier, vicar of St. Mary's, Westerham, where he was working when war was declared. He at once volunteered for service with the troops, his bishop having gladly welcomed his holding his commission side by side with Holy Orders.
- The First World War 1914-1918, World-wide.
|Unit / Ship / Est.: 3rd Battalion London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)|
1/3rd (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers) August 1914 : at Edward Street in Hampstead Road. Part of 1st London Brigade, 1st London Division. Moved on mobilisation to guarding the Basingstoke-Eastleigh railway. 4 September 1914 : sailed with Brigade from Southampton to Malta, arriving Valetta 14 September. 2 January 1915 : left Malta, arrived at Marseilles on 6 January. 10 February 1915 : joined the Gharwal Brigade in 7th (Meerut) Division. 17 February 1915 : transferred to Dehra Dun Brigade in same Division. 4 November 1915 : transferred to 139th Brigade in 46th (North Midland) Division. 16 November 1915 : transferred to 142nd Brigade in 47th (2nd London) Division. 9 February 1916 : transferred to 167th Brigade in 56th (London) Division. 3 January 1918 : transferred to 173rd Brigade in 58th (2/1st London) Division, absorbed the disbanded 2/3rd Bn and renamed 3rd Bn.
|Action : The Battles of Ypres 1917 (Third Ypres, or Passchendaele)|
31 July - 10 November 1917. By the summer of 1917 the British Army was able for the first time to fight on its chosen ground on its terms. Having secured the southern ridges of Ypres at Messines in June, the main attack started on 31st July 1917 accompanied by what seemed like incessant heavy rain, which coupled with the artillery barrages conspired to turn much of the battlefield into a bog. Initial failure prompted changes in the high command and a strategy evolved to take the ring of ridges running across the Ypres salient in a series of 'bite and hold' operations, finally culminating in the capture of the most easterly ridge on which sat the infamous village of Passchendaele. The Official History carries the footnote ?The clerk power to investigate the exact losses was not available? but estimates of British casualties range from the official figure of 244,000 to almost 400,000. Within five months the Germans pushed the British back to the starting line, which was where they had been since May 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel, 1/3 London Regiment.
Previously he had held a commission in the 4th Volunteer Battalion of the Hants Regiment, and was at the time when war broke out captain of the Cadet Corps ; he now joined the 3rd Battalion of the London Regiment. Beresford found he could hold services, attend to the spiritual needs of those around him, and still be a man and a soldier. His previous experience and his keenness made his services the more valuable. First Beresford was sent to Malta, then France and Flanders.
He seemed to have a charmed life, living through three years of incessant danger, having taken part in the battles of Neuve Chapelle, Festubert, the Hohenzollern Redoubt, Bullecourt, Ypres, Givenchy, the Duck's Bill, and Poelcapelle, which was the last, on October 26, 1917. A shell burst close beside him and he only lived a few minutes after being hit. He had not passed through those three years quite unscathed, having been wounded on April 24, 1915, and gassed in September of the same year. After the April wound he was sent home from hospital to be nursed. His promotion had followed quickly on his arrival at the front, and when he died he was a Lieutenant-Colonel and had been mentioned in despatches twice. It was at Bullecourt in March, 1917, he won his D.S.O. : For conspicuous gallantry and ability in command of his battalion during heavy enemy counter-attacks. The skill with which he handled his reserves was of the utmost assistance to the division on his right, and his determination enabled us to hold on to an almost impossible position. He repulsed three counter-attacks and lost heavily in doing so. The assistance referred to was given to an Australian Division. The Adjutant of his battalion was present when Beresford was mortally wounded, and gives a graphic picture of the last scene ; and so does Dr. Maude, who was in the same regiment with him. When Colonel Beresford was hit by a shell bursting close to him, he turned to the Adjutant saying, I'm finished?carry on. A painful pause ; then, to the field-doctor who went to see what could be done for him, I'm finished; don't bother about me, attend to the others. A smile lit up his pale, handsome, and still boyish face. Look after my sister. ... A longer pause, and, This is a fine death for a Beresford, and he was gone. Dr. Maude wrote, His work as a commanding officer was extraordinary. He never spared himself, and though he worked his officers very hard they adored him. It was a pleasure to see the terms on which he was with his junior officers. , . . He was a wonderful man and a great soldier, and had he survived he must have attained high command. All remarked upon his contempt of danger. One evening he was sitting on the ground of another Colonel's dug-out reading his prayer-book, when a piece of shell landed between him and his friend, striking his water-bottle. He went on reading just the same without moving, somewhat to his friend's surprise. A sergeant accounts for this coolness in a letter to the vicar of St. Mary's, Westerham. Dear Sir, Having seen a photograph and a notice of the late Lieut. Colonel Beresford in the daily press and learnt with deep regret of his death, I cannot refrain from sending to his vicar the tribute of one who had the honour to serve under him as a non-commissioned officer and who loved and respected him a; a gallant Christian gentleman. A nobler or better man it would be impossible to find among many good and noble men. A soldier every inch. I have heard the men discussing his coolness under fire say, ' It is his religion that makes him like that.' That is indeed a tribute from men who themselves gave very little thought to religious matters at that time. When he was gassed at Loos in 1915 he was back to the regiment within a week, and I was present at a Celebration of Holy Communion at which he officiated, though hardly able to speak. The welfare of his men was ever near his heart. I do not think he ever thought about himself. . Trusting that you will not consider this letter an intrusion on your own grief, I am, sir, Yours very faithfully, Harold Keen. Lately Coy. Q.M.Sgt., l/3rd London Regiment. A correspondent sent the following to one of the daily papers, referring to Colonel Beresford : Seven months as chaplain in the regiment of which he was in command have left an indelible impression upon my mind of one who had a tremendous sense of duty, and I had a great admiration for his personal intrepidity, his passionate love for the honour of his regiment, and his strenuous life. Yet with it all was his sensibility of the fact that he was a priest of the Catholic Church. His personal fearlessness was the continued astonishment and anxiety of his officers, for (though bearing already two wound-stripes on his arm) he never showed the slightest trace of fear, and if possible preferred to walk across the open to the trenches rather than up a communication trench. I have known him stand on the facades of a front line and talk to his men. It is surely a striking fact and a lesson to some of us that he always found time to say Matins and Evensong, and would walk miles with me to the different companies on Sunday. He died October 26, aged forty-two years. This soldier-priest, a D.S.O. and having been mentioned in despatches, lies in the Gwalia British Cemetery at Elverdinghe, near Poperinghe, and from this quiet resting-place there comes across the sea his last message, Carry on. In 1902 the following notive appeared in the London Gazette regarding the business; NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Frank Gilbert Beresford, Walter Hardy Nesbitt, Percy William Beresford, William Henry Hill, and Herbert Barnett, carrying on business as Wharfingers, at St. Olave's Wharf, Southwark, Sharps Wharf, Wapping, Eversfield's: Wharf, Gravesend, 93 and 94, West-street, Gravesend, and 9, Mincing-lane, in the city of London, under the style or firm of BERESFORD AND CO., has been dissolved, so far as the said Herbert Barnett is concerned, by mutual consent, as and from, the twelfth day of April, 1902, and that: in future such business will be carried on by the said Frank Gilbert Beresford, Walter Hardy Nesbitt, Percy William Beresford, and William Henry Hill, by whom all debts due to by the firm will be received or paid.?Dated this fourteenth day of April, 1902. FRANK G. BERESFORD. WALTER H. NESBITT. PERCY W. BERESFORD. WM. H. HILL. HERBERT BARNETT. He was a Past Master of his lodge. Sources; From ?Sportsmen Parsons in Peace & War? (1919) London Gazette
Probate: BERESFORD, Percy William of the Laurels, Westerham, Kent. Leiutenant-Colonel 2/3rd battalion, London Regiment died 26th October 1917 on active service. Probate London 1st December to Marjorie Beresford, Spinster. Effects £2747 5s 1d.
|Type||Lodge Name and No.||Province/District :|
|Mother :||Apollo University No. 357 E.C.||Oxfordshire|
|Joined :||Boscombe No. 2158 E.C.||Hampshire & IOW|
|Joined :||St Mary Magdalen No. 1523 E.C.||London|
11th February 1896
11th March 1896
28th April 1896
Joined St. Mary Magdelene Lodge No. 1523 on 27th January 1898 and subsequently Boscombe Lodge on 27th September 1899 resigning from the same on 25th May 1903.
He was a Past Master of Apollo Lodge.
The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The (UK) National Archives
- Ancestry.co.uk - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History online
- ugle.org.uk - The records of the United Grand Lodge of England including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
- Founder Researchers : Paul Masters & Mike McCarthy
- Researcher : Bruce Littley