Herbert Montagu Sawyer (Sc. 1906-07)


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Second Lieutenant, Suffolk Regiment
Born: March 25th 1889
Died: October 12th 1916

Age at Death: 27

Killed in action, France, October 12th 1916
Son of J. Sawyer, Architect, of Kenley, Surrey. Brother to Joseph E Sawyer (BC reg. 3206)

A donation to the memorial statue has been made in honour of this soldier by David Gosling (Sc. 1954-59).

With gratitude and pride for your sacrifice.

2nd Lieutenant Herbert Montagu Sawyer
Herbert Sawyer was born on 25th March 1889 in Godstone, Surrey. His family comprised his father Joseph, an architect, his mother Mary and two brothers, Joseph and Lionel. The family was fairly itinerant in his childhood, moving first to Caterham and then ultimately to Kenley, a village in the outskrirts of the then relatively prosperous town of Croydon where he lived in a house known as ‘The Tower’. The household also included three servants and a French ‘lady companion’ called Marie Sachet. The latter’s role seems rather indistinct in that she was not a governess and if she was a companion she was presumably a companion to Mary Sawyer who, unless she was in some way disabled, would not normally have required a ‘companion’ until old age; companion being often used as euphemism for what we would now call a carer.

Prior to going to Brighton College sawyer was a pupil at Whitgift Grammar School, now known as Whitgift School. However, his parents choose to “finish” him by sending him as a boarder to Brighton College, perhaps on account of it’s rather greater social exclusivity. He therefore entered School House in 1906 at the relatively old age of 17 and stayed there for only one year. After school Herbert followed in his father’s footsteps and became an architect, presumably apprenticing under his father because they continued to live under the same roof.

On the outbreak of war it appears that Herbert Sawyer was commissioned in to the 9th battalion of the Suffolk Regiment which, following its formation in Bury was moved temporarily to barracks in Shoreham, Sussex and Blackdown in Surrey. It is unclear whether Herbert Sawyer’s commission in the battalion arose because of this temporary posting to Sussex or because of some pre-existing family connection with Suffolk, nonetheless rather than a local regiment as one might expect it was with the Suffolk Regiment that Herbert Sawyer fought and died.

The Battalion, was, by 1916 part of the 71st Brigade, 6th Division which fought one of the final actions of the Battle of the Somme in October 1916, the so called Battle of Le Transloy. On the date of Herbert Sawyer’s death the Battalion attacked on a four mile front between Eaucourt and the Bapauame-Pérrone Road and advanced between 500 and a 1000 yards, a distance which Herbert Sawyer paid for with his life.  His body was never found and he is therefore one of the thousands of British soldiers commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial at the Somme in France.

Source: LEST WE FORGET PROJECT, Brighton College 2014/15

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