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Maurice Shaw / Schwabe, HLI - cause of death?


clive_hughes
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Hi all,

Lieutenant Maurice Shaw of the 12th Bn. HLI was wounded at Loos on 25 September 1915, and died at Le Treport on 29/30 Sept. following, aged about 44.  He began life as Maurice Salis Schwabe (or Salis-Schwabe, the family had German origins) and was one of Oscar Wilde's set.  In 1911 he changed his surname to Shaw, and having reached France in July 1915 became transport officer for the battalion.  He is described as such amongst the named wounded casualties in the unit War Diary on 26 Sept.  

 

First question - is there any source which might say how he was mortally wounded?  It was apparently first alleged (by Lord Alfred Douglas, cited in Leon Lemonnier's La Vie d'Oscar Wilde 1931) that Shaw/Schwabe was killed "by a party of Germans who had just surrendered and mistook him for a traitor because of his name and his perfect German".  I have also read a version of this as saying he was shot by someone in the German group who heard him speak - in German, or accented English?  Even if he spoke in German to them, they were a little unlikely to have got his name out of him (and unless he made a slip, it was Shaw anyway), so I'm unsure if the tale is true.  Besides, if I've understood rightly, Douglas may not have been a friend of Schwabe's because of his involvement with Wilde and the infamous trial?  Schwabe was a nephew by marriage to the Solicitor-General, Sir Frank Lockwood, and was handily got out of the way by sending him off to Australia and the East Indies.  Is there a HLI or similar source which can verify this story or otherwise?

 

As Transport Officer, at first sight he is unlikely to have been in the attacking force and wounded in that sort of up-front scenario; though maybe a shell might have been responsible for his injuries at longer range? If the tale of offended prisoners is true, it also means that they either hadn't been disarmed by the time they passed through the 12th HLI's transport lines, or were able to seize and use a handy firearm.    

 

Secondly, and related to it, are there patient records from Nos. 3 and 16 General Hospitals, or 3rd Canadian General Hospital, which were the ones at Le Treport at that date, and which might throw more light on his injuries and exact date of death?

 

I should say that my interest is based on his being commemorated on two war memorials relating to Llandegfan on the Menai Straits, where his family (his father was Major-General Salis-Schwabe CB) had a sort of gothic mansion at Glyn Garth.  His sister Mrs Gladys Crompton along with her family had died in the sinking of the Lusitania that May.

 

Clive

 

I've carried on researching, and in De Ruvigny's is a short account, supplied by the family I assume.  It states he was appointed Lieut. & Transport officer to the 12th HLI July 1915, and went to France 4 August (MIC based on a Nominal Roll says 10 July, when his unit crossed over).  He was then "selected for service on the Staff and acted as Intelligence officer" before dying of wounds received in action.  "The General" apparently wrote "Although fully qualified to act as Transport officer, Lieut. Shaw was wasted there on account of his exceptional ability".  Certainly the War Diary only refers to him as its Transport officer, but it does raise the possibility that as some sort of Intell. officer he would indeed have had to talk to prisoners in their own language?! 

Edited by clive_hughes
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  • 1 year later...

Hi Clive,

I'm the author of a book called Oscar's Ghost, which includes information on Maurice Schwabe. I also wrote a couple of articles on him for The Wildean and I continue to research him. I've seen his war service file and it only says he died from "wounds" and another document says "wounds in action." (Most of his service file deals with the fact that he died an undischarged bankrupt and they were trying to figure out who could claim his final pay and effects. “There is no balance in our hands due from Army funds to this deceased officer. On the contrary. His account is overdrawn.”) He died at No 3 Hospital, according to his file and small effects of sentimental value were handed to his mother there. 

 

His business partner, Archibald Walker, wrote in his diary "“Shaw dies of a wound taken in the great advance. The bullet struck the hip, passed through the abdomen and out of the lung, tearing both badly.” Walker was notified of Shaw's death on September 28, and recorded it in his diary, and added the description of how he died two days later. The official record says Shaw died on September 30, so my guess is that he was mortally wounded on the 28th and finally died on the 30th. Lord Alfred Douglas did remain in touch with Schwabe after the Wilde trials. (As it seems did Robert Ross and More Adey) There is good reason to believe that Schwabe/Shaw did serve as an intelligence officer because there is strong circumstantial evidence that he was involved in intelligence before the war. 

 

Laura Lee

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Hi Laura,

Thank you so much for responding to this query of mine. 

 

Perhaps you have a view on Lord Alfred's statement that he was shot by a prisoner, as I'm still left wondering whether this was either a slightly malicious swipe on his part, or whether he was repeating something told to him in good faith?  You likely have more knowledge of their personal situation than I, so I would welcome any observations.  The information from his business partner was very interesting: "the great advance" would simply refer to the Loos offensive I think.  And the sort of wound he describes does sound more like a bullet (at longer or shorter range) coming from somewhere in front, than say a shrapnel ball. 

 

My initial reaction when I read Lord Alfred's version of the story was that Shaw/Schwabe was further forward in the action than I expected him to be; and that a newly captured prisoner hadn't been properly disarmed so was able to open fire.  But that would place Schwabe (whether as Transport or Intelligence Officer) well in advance of where either of his stated roles should have placed him.   

 

I did have a look at the Brigade war diary, but he isn't mentioned at all in the account of the battle or earlier (not that he need be).  It is curious that the 12th HLI diary specifically refers to him as Transport Officer - a job normally carried out a little way behind the trenches.  But the Brigade's pre-battle instructions designated a collecting point for prisoners which on checking I thought wasn't too far from where he might have been as Transpt. Ofr.?  And I don't doubt that his family had the (presumably Brigadier-General's) letter referring to Intelligence matters.  

 

Other than these speculations, I can add that he is mentioned by name on the Llandegfan village war memorial (as Lieut. M.S.Schwabe), and on the Llandegfan panel of the North Wales Heroes Memorial Arch in Bangor, Gwynedd http://www.bangorcivicsociety.org.uk/pages/arch/DSCF4452.htm  However, he isn't on another memorial in the local parish church.   I can attach a picture of the village war memorial for you if you're unable to find one online.  

 

The Soldiers Effects Registers state that after a transfer of £52.14s. (less a charge by ?McGrigors & Co. of £9.3s.10d.), but plus allowances of £6.3s., Lieut. M.Shaw 12th HLI had no balance at his Agent's, but  £49.13s.2d. owing to his estate.  A standing committee of account was held (possibly at unit level) and no claimants (as in unpaid debt) could be identified.   The money owing was classed as "unissued", and indeed the annotations suggest that this fact had been advertised in The Times so that someone could claim the money.  Maybe nobody did; and I couldn't see either a Probate record or a simpler "Soldier's Will" in his name.  

 

I was also unable to find out about his medals (he was entitled to three).  A Medal Index Card exists, recording his arrival in France with his unit on 10 July 1915; but there was nothing on the reverse which should normally identify the claimant and their address.  And though the abbreviations on the card seem to refer to the HLI Officers medal roll, I checked through those entire rolls for both the 1914-15 Star and the British War & Victory Medals without finding him.  It was as if his family hadn't wanted to apply for either his pay or his decorations.  

 

Clive

 

 

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The Soldiers Effects Registers state that after a transfer of £52.14s. (less a charge by ?McGrigors & Co. of £9.3s.10d.), but plus allowances of £6.3s., Lieut. M.Shaw 12th HLI had no balance at his Agent's, but  £49.13s.2d. owing to his estate.  A standing committee of account was held (possibly at unit level) and no claimants (as in unpaid debt) could be identified.   The money owing was classed as "unissued", and indeed the annotations suggest that this fact had been advertised in The Times so that someone could claim the money.  Maybe nobody did; and I couldn't see either a Probate record or a simpler "Soldier's Will" in his name.  

The effects register indicate that no-one claimed the monies. Unclaimed effects were advertised for 6 years under the Regimental Debts Act 1893 (as amended) and published yearly in a list.

Craig

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  • 6 months later...

Hi Clive

I have just come across this forum and topic while trying to research the names of the dead listed on the Llandegfan war memorial. 

The school and church are trying to get together some background to those named on the memorial and I wondered if you might have any information on any of the others on that memorial which might help us.

 

Many thanks

lesley

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Welcome Lesley

Best to create a new topic dealing specifically with the war memorial. Your enquiry will get lost here.

I suggest you then in your first post list the men named on the memorial together with some basic details that you may know, date/year of birth etc.

This will then get the forum working on these chaps

 

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  • 2 years later...

Clive, I am sorry that I did not see your response until two years later. I'd like to discuss Shaw/Schwabe's death more but I don't check in to this forum regularly. If you're still researching this, would it be possible to contact me please? 

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I've edited out  your email address as it's never a good idea to put personal information like email addresses or phone numbers on view as spammers visit and harvest information. @clive_hughes Is still active on the forum and can send you a private message.

Michelle 

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  Is there a possibility that Salis-Schwabe has a French civil death certificate?  I have found a French certificate on Ancestry for another officer who died of wounds at Le Treport - a hospital zone well behind the lines. OK, my man died in 1918 and Ancestry may have zapped the lot but there may be a chance.

(With Thanks to Ancestry) 

 

image.png.34b034cd5e93e17bb7a96bc335e42710.png

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Laura,

Thanks for the new communication.  I will send you a PM as Michelle suggests.

 

GUEST,

I've seen some other French death certificates relating to casualties of interest to myself, but they were all from Calais area, and at the time I had a definite internet link to search in that place.  I guess I haven't branched out into other regions because of uncertainty as to how to do so, but you may well be right about the existence of one for Shaw/Schwabe.  

 

Clive

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Clive- I am not on top of what was available from Ancestry on French civil certificates or whether the practice changed during the war. My 2 local men who died of wounds thereabouts are below. Turner appears to have died at the same hospital, Tuck has a French civil certificate. Again, I doubt whether it would confirm the allegations of treachery,etc. but might contain

 

 

 

TURNER,  GEORGE  HERBERT

Second Lieutenant, 13th Battalion. The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, New Armies, attached  15th  Battalion. (2nd. Birmingham), The  Royal Warwickshire Regiment, New Armies

Died of Wounds received in action near Vimy Ridge, at  3 Military General Hospital, Le Treport, 14th June 1916 age  25

TUCK,  DUNCAN  BERESFORD

Mentioned in Despatches

Captain,   16th (Public Schools)  Battalion, The  Middlesex  Regiment, New Armies, attached  2nd  Battalion, The  Middlesex  Regiment.

Died of wounds  received  in action, 26th  March 1918, at  2 British Red Cross Hospital, Rouen on   Good  Friday, 30th March 1918 age 21.  His wounds  aggravated  by those  previously received in action at Beaumont Hamel, Somme, 1st July 1916.

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Clive,

 

I have been researching the Schwabe/Crompton family's for many years, the information I have on Maurice Shaw is as follows: Parents George Salis Schwabe and Mary Jaqueline James married 9th December 1870 Marleybone Parish Church, Salis Schwabe later became  Major-General in 1898 and was Lieutenant Governor of the Chelsea Royal Hospital, he died in Germany in 1907.

Lt Maurice Shaw 12 Bn Highland Light Infantry, died of wounds received at Loos 30th September 1915, I had read somewhere that Shaw was shot by a captured German soldier, he had heard him speaking German and believing him to be a traitor shot him.

At one point in 1900/1901 Shaw was in Vladivostock Russia working as his sister Gladys Mary and her husband Paul Crompton were living there, their 1st child Stephen was born in Vladivostock in 1901.

 

Shaw also attended Marlborough College and is commemorated on their Role of Honour. I had been in contact with them and their records on Shaw are very limited. Also there was an application for debtors discharge 1908, he was described as a machinery dealer, the address was 86 The Strand, it was held at the High Court of Justice in Bankruptcy number 1187 of 1908. Hearing was held on the 23rd November 1909, 11am Bankruptcy Bulidings, Clerey Sreet. London WC. a bankruptcy notice appeared in the Edinburgh Gazzetter Dececember 25th 1908 page 1420.

 

Cliff

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Dear Cliff

Thanks for that response - I have recently moved house and internet communication has been nil until now.  My records are also still packed up but in due course I'll be glad to add your additional information to what I have.  

I believe that if you make one other posting (eg. a simple response to this message) you can use the private messaging (PM) system on the Forum - click on my avatar/logo and "send a message" should appear amongst the choices. 

 

All the best,

Clive

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