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Remembered Today:

Pages from a Family Journal


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Memorial Book, published by The Earl and Countess Desborough in 1916.

This book is a memorial Book to the famous poet The Hon. Julian Grenfell and his youngest brother The Hon. Gerald (Billy) Grenfell both killed in 1915.

Lord and Lady Desborough were leading lights of the "Souls" Movement. The book comprises family letters to, from and between their two sons.

Julian served in the Royal Dragoons and was awarded the D.S.O. and M.I.D. and died on 26/5/15.

Billy served in the 8th Rifle Brigade and was killed in action 30/7/15 at Hooge during the flamethrower attack.

Very detailed book printed for private circulation by Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co. Ltd.

The condolence letters in the rear of the book to the family reads like a Who's who of England.


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Men of their time.

Looks good. A bygone age .. without labouring the point.

They were in a different country.


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Thanks, Andy - what a beautiful little boy. And how gorgeously attired. Des is right - it was another country, another mindset. That is one lovely photograph.


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The thundering line of battle stands,

And in the air Death moans and sings;

But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,

And Night shall fold him in soft wings.

From 'Into Battle' by Julian Grenfell. Or, for those who like a more ironic approach to those who stayed behind the lines:

Julian Grenfell –

A Prayer For Those On the Staff

Fighting in mud, we turn to Thee,

In these dread times of battle, Lord.

To keep us safe, if so may be,

From shrapnel, snipers, shell, and sword.

But not on us, for we are men

Of meaner clay, who fight in clay,

but on the Staff, the Upper Ten,

Depends the issue of the Day.

The staff is working with its brains,

While we are sitting in the trench;

The Staff the universe ordains

(subject to Thee and General French).

God help the staff-especially

The young ones, many of them sprung

From our high aristocracy;

Their task is hard, and they are young.

O Lord, who mad'st all things to be,

And madest some things very good,

Please keep the extra A.D.C.

From horrid scenes, and sight of blood.

See that his eggs are newly laid,

Not tinged as some of them-with green;

And let no nasty draughts invade

The windows of his Limousine.

When he forgets to buy the bread,

When there are no more minerals,

Preserve his smooth well-oiled head

From wrath of caustic Generals.

O Lord, who mad'st all things to be,

And hatest nothing thou has made,

Please keep the extra A.D.C

Out of the sun and in the shade

The Desborough family line is now extinct.

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Thanks for the pictures and info Andy. According to 'Up The Line To Death', Grenfell's poems are uncollected, so that's a doubly rare book you've got there. Any idea how many other copies exist? The biography also mentions tha Billy was a poet too. I'd love to read one of his works, if they are in there too.


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Mum and sons photo, and the two little boys are lovely - very handsome family. Bet the boys were emabarrassed all their lives by the bubble hair cuts though...

Hadn't seen the poem about the extra ADC before - thanks, Dave.

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  • 2 months later...

Thread being closed down for look ups.


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  • 1 year later...

Hallo Andy

I've resurrected this thread in the hope that you might add again, if possible, the photo of the Grenfells. I've just come across a brief account of the death of Julian Grenfell in the war diary of the Matron-in-Chief, and then carried on checking out the misfortunes of the Desboroughs - not only did they lose their two eldest sons to the War, but the third son, Ivo, died as the result of a car accident in 1925. Their father had the rather tragic honour of becoming the First and Last Baron Desborough.

I'd be most interested in seeing their photo.

Thanks ----- Sue

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Hi Sue,

Just for you.



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Julian, Billy & Mother


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Julian with Kitchener


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There are quite a few more photographs, let me know if you would like me to place them here for you.


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Thanks very much Andy - beautiful photos, and it adds to my current mental images of Julian dying after two operations for a head wound. I've never been much of one for toffs in general, but having been persuaded to take an interest, I find them increasingly fascinating. As Des said earlier in the thread [and earlier this century] it was a whole different world - such privilege and wealth, but in the end offering no protection against life's trials.

And neither does it today.


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Andy - thank you, I'm more than satisfied with what's there now. I've also discovered that I share a birthday with 'Mother' - different year though :)


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