2nd January 1916 Sunday
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After only two days at the Advanced Dressing Station (ADS) Douglas and his men were relieved and he marched his fourteen men back to Vieille Chapelle and then back to Calonne where they received a tremendous reception from the rest of the Ambulance. None of Douglas’s men had been injured and to march back with an un-depleted complement was seen as a great achievement.
The celebrations for our man were over quickly though, as almost immediately he was ordered to report to Robecq where there was a hospital for officers, to act as relief Medical Officer (MO) for the 13th Battalion Welsh Regiment. He was to relieve Lt. Elliot who had been sent earlier to act as MO but had himself been taken ill. Arriving by motor ambulance he was well received by the Colonel and Major D’Arcy Edwardes. For the next few days, Lieutenant Page instructed stretcher-bearers and conducted sick parades. Other duties would include censoring the men’s mail and even getting instruction on riding a horse.
Major Edwardes was born into the family of one of Britain’s most famous entertainment gurus of the day. He was the son of a famous musical comedy impresario, George Edwardes. At the age of only twenty, D’Arcy’s father was managing theatres for Richard D’Oyly Carte who founded the Savoy Hotel in London’s Strand. He became the manager of the Gaiety Theatre and other nearby theatres at the same time, introducing popular shows such as A Gaiety Girl.
A familiar character around London’s theatres in the Strand he helped establish the Edwardian Musical Comedy genre of entertainment. You can read more about him here: http://www.musicalcomedysociety.co.uk/home/history
Son George D’Arcy Edwardes (originally without the last ‘e’) had joined up as a regular soldier in 1907 and having returned from India and South Africa was sent to the Western Front in November 1914 and promoted to Captain in 1915. He was promoted to “Temporary” Major later in 1915, this was a way the army could promote people giving senior rank and privileges without having to pay the full wage of the senior rank. He was killed commanding his unit on July 10th 1916 at Memetz in the Somme and his obituary appeared in The Times* thus:
“MAJOR D’ARCY EDWARDES, who was reported missing, believed killed, during July, and subsequently killed, was the only son of the late George Edwardes, the theatrical manager. He was educated at Eton and Sandhurst, and was gazetted to the 1st Royal Dragoons in 1907. He served with his regiment in India and South Africa, returned home in 1914, and went straight to the front. He was promoted captain in 1915, and soon after was transferred and was made temporary major and second in command of a battalion of the Welsh Regiment, which he was commanding at the time of his death.”
* The Times 11th August 1916: pg. 11; Issue 41243
Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here