On the 2nd of September 1915, Mrs. Ethel Mary Wentworth Brown was driven to write another letter concerning her brother, Lieut. Edward Burtt.
see: “Leaving All That Was Dear” The Lieutenants – EDWARD BURTT
On the 30th May 1915 Mrs. Wentworth Vardon Brown of Beaumonts, Edenbridge, wrote to her neighbour Henry Crichton Sclater. She addressed him as General Sclater; he was Adjutant-General of the Forces, under Lord Kitchener.
The September letter, was addressed to The Secretary, War Office.
The writer, Ethel Mary, was the youngest child of Edward Robert and Ellen Mary (nee Killick) Burtt. She had two brothers Charles Killick, the eldest, and Edward; they were very close in age.
Her father was the manager of a successful lime business in Camberwell, operating on the Grand Surrey canal. Her mother Ellen Mary came from Edenbridge, a small country town in Kent.
BURTT – KILLICK – On the 10th. inst., at Edenbridge, Edward Robert, second son of C. Burtt, Esq., of Camberwell, to Ellen Mary, eldest daughter of the late R. Killick, Esq., of Crouch House, Edenbridge.
23 December 1862 – Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser.
Ethel and her elder brothers, Edward and Charles, were born in Camberwell.
By1871 the family had moved to their mother’s birth place, their address Eagle Lodge, Marlpit Hill, Edenbridge.
According to Jerrold’s 1907 “Highways and byways in Kent”
A couple of miles or so west of Hever is Edenbridge, near to the Surrey border, where another Kent Brook, before its junction with the Eden, forms the county boundary.
Edenbridge is a small, unattractive town mostly scattered along the high road: south and north of it the country rises through varied and well wooded scenery, in the one direction to Markbeech, Cowden and the Sussex border, in the other to Crockham and its wooded hill, at the further side of which lies Westerham. From the summit of Crockham Hill we have an extensive view not only of the valley from which we have risen but access acoss it into Sussex and westerley into Surrey.
Edward and Charles attended Tonbridge Castle School and Tonbridge Public School, Ethel had a governess.
The brothers then carried on the family lime business in Camberwell.
On Friday the 17th. April, 1896 the Kent & Sussex Courier of Tunbridge Wells gave a gushing and detailed account of the wedding between Ethel Mary and Wentworth Vardon Brown.
FASHIONABLE WEDDING AT EDENBRIDGE.
One of the prettiest weddings it has ever been our lot to witness took place on Wednesday last and was between Wentworth V. Brown, of Ingledene, Four Elms, Hever, and Miss Ethel Mary Burtt, only daughter of Mr E. R. Burtt, Eagle Lodge, Edenbridge.
The bride wore a handsome white satin Duchesse gown on which was draped a beautiful old Bussels lace veil that belonged to her grandmother. A small coronet of real orange blossoms was covered by a tulle veil, and festooned with a diamond ornament. Her other ornaments were a diamond necklace and brooch. She carried a handsome shower bouquet, composed of nephetos, myrtle, and orange blossom.
A long account of the guests and donors of presents follows.
In the census for 1891 her husband’s occupation is Wharfinger (like her father and brothers). At first they lived in her husband’s home, Ingledene Cottage. Ethel was 23 years younger than Wentworth Vardon Brown.
There are regular advertisements for staff by Mrs. Wentworth Brown from the time at Ingledene and in the following years.
WANTED, a Thorough HOUSE-PARLOURMAID for small house in the country; two in family; housemaid kept: must be willing and obliging, with good personal character ; wages £22 all found. Ingledene Cottage. May, 1897
Their eldest child, Winifred Mary, was born in 1897, and this advertisement duly appeared:
WANTED, Thoroughly-experienced NURSE, to take lady’s first baby, eight months old; good needlewoman; personal character indispensable; quiet country situation ; wages £27. all found. Ingledene Cottage. March, 1898
Soon followed by:
WANTED, Young Single-handed FOOTMAN for small house in the country, understanding his duties well; wages £22 to £24, all found; three in family, four servants kept :-Ingledene Cottage. May, 1898
The family moved from the small Ingledene house to the desirable residence of Boons Park, Four Elms, Edenbridge. This was a much larger building and required more staff.
WANTED, a Thorough Single-handed HOUSEMAID; some assistance: three in family; wages £24, all found but beer. Boons Park, Edenbridge.
There were seven servants- Butler, Housemaid, Hall boy, Kitchen maid, Coachman, Laundress.
Photos by kind permission of Mike Harris: www.mikeharrisphoto.co.uk
Their son Thomas St. Barbe Wentworth was born there on the 4th. April, 1900.
In the1901 census Mr. Wentworth Vardon Brown’s occupation is Merchant & Warehouseman, Colonial produce, and Employer. He owned land and property and had farming interests.
By 1903 the Brown’s decided to leave Boons Park and have a new home built. They commissoned the Arts and Crafts architect Robert Weir Schultz (1860-1951), who designed “Beaumonts” in the ‘Country Cottage’ style.
see David Ottewill – Architectural History: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, Volume 22: 1979 p.99 – “The design itself was not fully executed”.
A second design by Schultz was carried out and is described in:
“COUNTRY COTTAGES AND WEEKEND HOMES
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS AND PLANS OF COTTAGES BY WELL-KNOWN ARCHITECTS.”
– John Hudson Elder-Duncan. Published 1912 Cassell & Co. Ltd. London.
Photo G. Martin. Country Cottages and Weekend Homes. p.198
“COUNTRY COTTTAGES AND WEEKEND HOMES” p. 187.
“Beaumonts,” Edenbridge, Kent. Robert Weir Schultz, Architect.
“No book on English domestic Architecture would be complete without some examples of the excellent work of Mr. Schultz. The three examples shown in this book are examples of the inimitable note of domesticity, free from ostentation and vulgarity, which has been more fully explained in another chapter. “Beaumonts” is a fairly large house, built of red hand-made local bricks. The upper part of the walls on two sides is tile hung on brick-nogging, and, on the third side, rough-cast on metal lathing. The dining-room and hall have oak furnishings, and the principal staircase is of oak. The ground-floor plan shows large drawing-room, dining-room, and sittinghall, with servants’ hall, kitchen, scullery, and offices. On the upper floor are seven bedrooms, bathroom, linen cupboard, and box-room. The cost was about £2,400.”
Apart from a busy social life, often with brother Edward who now lived in Ingledene Cottage, the couple fulfilled the charitable demands of their position.
Mr Wentworth V. Brown was on the Board of Guardians, which administered the Poor Law in Sevenoaks; President of the Four Elms Agricultural Society; Manager of the Four Elms school; supporter of the Home for Working Boys in London, and the Zenana Mission; associated with the establishment of the London Polytechnic in Regent Street; member of the P.C.C. and a Church Warden or Sidesman.
Ethel also diligently supported charitable works.
Mrs Wentworth Brown was ‘at home’ at ” Beaumonts,” on Wednesday afternoons. Garden Parties and Sales of Work for good causes were held there, and meetings for the League of Mercy.
Present at a meeting one afternoon in 1909 were Lady Harriet Warde, the Hon. Mrs. P. Bowes-Lyon, and Lady Burrows.
Her name regularly appears in reports of weddings and funerals and her year’s round was marked by decorating the church on its festivals.
The August of 1914 brought an end to her golden Edwardian afternoon.
In August 1915 did she regret her letter to General Sclater?
The Admiralty announced the loss of the Royal Edward on Tuesday, August 17th. at 12:40 p.m.
The Press Bureau, official disseminator of War news, then released the announcement.
Press Bureau, Tuesday, 1.45 p.m.
The Secretary of the Admiralty issued the following at 12.40 p.m. to-day:-
The British transport Royal Edward was sunk by an enemy submarine in the Aegean last Saturday morning. According to the information at present available the transport had on board thirty two military officers and 1,350 troops, in addition to the ship’s crew of 220 officers and men.
The troops consisted mainly of reinforcements for the 29th Division and details of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
Full information has not yet been received, but it is known that about 600 have been saved.
Under varying headlines, evening and extra editions of newspapers broke the news to the general public.
ROYAL EDWARD TORPEDOED IN THE AEGEAN SEA.
OVER 1,600 TROOPS AND CREW ABOARD.
Some papers added a photo and history of the ship with a commentary on the event. There were a few messages from the saved. The disaster was acknowledged but it was the first transport to be lost in spite of the many trips: it was tribute to the marvellous work of the British Navy.
The next day, Wednesday 18th., the daily papers reported the story countrywide.
British Troop Ship Sunk.
Torpedo Attack In Aegean. 600 Survivors. Feared Loss Of 1,000 Lives.
Posters announcing ROYAL EDWARD LOST appeared outside newsagents and carried by newsboys in city streets.
If Ethel and her elder brother Charles Killick had seen The Times’ report of the 18th., the name which appeared was E. Burt.
This was repeated in the Friday, Aug 20th. edition:
THE LOST TRANSPORT
OFFICERS SAVED AND MISSING
Of the following officers who embarked on the Royal Edwad at Alexandria no report has yet been received:
Lieuts. W.H. Lund and E. Burt, A.S.C. (18th Labour Company).
The first Ethel and her brother knew of the disaster was the sight of a poster.
They knew their brother Edward was on the Royal Edward.
On seeing the news, Charles Killick Burtt, living in 2, Barton Street, Westminster, went at once to the War Office. He was told no names had been then received.
Ethel must have joined Charles in London, as they both went every day to the Casualty Department.
She was not happy with their reception: they were received “with most scant courtesy and I (can) only say rudeness.” No wire had been sent to her brother Charles Killick whose name had been given to the War Office in the event of anything happening. After almost three weeks they had been absolutely told nothing, hence her letter to the War Office, written Thursday, 2nd. September.
Ethel’s friend General Sir Henry Sclater assured her that a wire should be sent if there was any news. She also applied through a cousin to Mr. Gibson, Secretary to the King’s Privy Purse.
This account in the September 2nd letter of their actions since the news first broke is written hastily, almost illegibly, revealing her desperation.
Her appeal for news ends:
“The anguish of waiting has been most terrible & I am sure some details must have come to you by now I can only say the treatment we have received has been deplorable.”
A report appeared on Friday, 27th. August in the local newspaper:
EDENBRIDGE MAN MISSING AT THE DARDANELLES.
Among those on H.M.S. Royal Edward, the transport which, was torpedoed in the Aegean Sea, was Lieut. Burt. A.S.C., of Edenbridge. He embarked at Alexandria on the ill-fated ship, and no news has so far been heard whether he is lost or among the survivors, and general anxiety is felt in Edenbridge as to his fate. 27 August 1915 – Kent & Sussex Courier – Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
The photograph would have been supplied by the family. The surname is again spelt wrongly!
There was news, hidden in communications to and from Mr. Stanley W. Jamieson, MS 3 Cas. (Military Secretary 3 (Casualties, Officers), War Office, Private Secretary to Deputy Secretary of State for War).
A WAR OFFICE POST FOR MR. STANLEY JAMIESON.
Owing to a temporary breakdown in health, Mr. Stanley Jamieson was a few weeks since discharged from the 9th Gloucesters “medically unfit,” and consequently ceased to be staff-quartermaster-sergeant of the 78th. Brigade…..He has accepted an honorary post in the Officers’ Casualty Dept. of the War Office. 31 May 1915 – Gloucestershire Echo – Cheltenham.
On that same Friday night, the 27th. of August, the brother of Lieut. E. Burt, A.S.C. called at the Casualty Office, and presented his brother’s card. He stated that his brother, to whom the card referred, was on leave in England until the afternoon of 14th. August, when he left for France to rejon his unit – the 71st. Compy. (M.T.) A.S.C. 2nd. Indian Cavalry Division Supply Column.
He further stated that his brother had never been attached to the 18th. Labour Company. A.S.C., and that he would be greatly obliged if an official contradiction of the report that Lieut. E. Burt was Missing could be sent to his mother as she was greatly upset by the news.
(Letter to Stanley W. Jamieson from W.B. received 28/8/15.)
The mother of Lieut. Eric Burt was immediately informed
“that the officer reported ‘missing’ on the 14th. cannot possibly be Mrs. Burt’s son and must be another officer.
The Military Secretary very much regrets that an error should have been made but the report was repeated exactly as received from Alexandria.”
Stanley W. Jamieson at once forwarded the information to his superior:
Lt. E.Burt A.S.C. (18th.Labour Coy.) missing since 14/8/15 Royal Edward. The next of kin were therefore telegraphed 27/8 giving this information. That same evening a brother of this officer called here making attached statement.
It is now presumed that casualty refers to Lt. E. Burtt A.S.C.
It should be noted in the first list sent of those who were transported by Rl. Edward the name was spelled Burtt.
Would you rectify correct name, please?
He was told: Wire Alex. – CW 30/8
This he did at once:
Wired Base Alex.
Lt. E.Burt A.S.C. 18th.Labour Co. reported missing from R.Edward 14 Aug. this officer now in France does report refer to
Lt. E. Burtt A.S.C.
AAG Base Alex replied Aug. 31st.
Lt. E. Burtt A.S.C. correct.
The Next of Kin details were sent for and the form initialled by M.S.3 Cas:
Lieut. E. Burtt A.S.C. (18th. Labour Coy).
Chas. K. Burtt Brother 2, Barton Street, Westminster S.W.
Mrs Wentworth Brown Sister Beaumonts, Nr. Edenbridge, Kent.
On Thursday, 4th. September, Stanley W. Jamieson drafted the telegram to be sent to Charles K. Burtt.
Beneath the heading POST OFFICE TELEGRAPHS (Inland Official Telegrams only.) around the official coat of arms came:
O.H.M.S. I certify that this Telegram is sent on the service of the War Office.
TO C.K.Burtt 2 Barton St. Westminster
Deeply REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT Lt. E. Burtt A.S.C. is now reported missing and
believed drowned from the Transport Royal Edward. Lord Kitchener expresses his sympathy.
FROM SECRETARY WAR OFFICE
Next day Ethel finally had a reply to her letter:
The Military Secretary presents his compliments to Mrs. Brown and in reply to her letter of September 2nd regrets to inform her that a report has now been received that Lieutenant E.B.Burtt, Army Service Corps, is amongst those missing, believed drowned, from the Transport “Royal Edward”.
This information has been telegraphed to Mrs. C. K. Burtt, the unavoidable delay in so doing is greatly regretted.
The officer originally reported was Lieutenant E. Burt of the same corps and the casualty was duly reported to his next-of-kin.
When it was found that an error had arisen, a special inquiry was made, and until the answer was received from Alexandria no definite information could be given.
The Military Secretary begs to express his deep sympathy to Mrs. Brown.
(Hastily typed- extra B in Edward’s name and Charles addressed as Mrs, the ‘s’ deleted.)
Hoping Against Hope
From Beaumonts another letter – above her address is a faint, cancelled, note in a different hand –
on Royal Edward but no trace yet
Also the CNR oval stamp – GENERAL PASSENGER DEPT. RECEIVED
Her letter begins-
12 (of September)
I am writing to ask if you could possibly give me any address of survivors of crew of the Royal Edward I had a very dearly loved brother on her & can get no details from any
whereone, except ‘Believed Drowned’ if anyone could possibly tell me if there was any chance of his being picked up or on tone of the numerous islands his name Lt Burtt of the A.S.C. & he with Lt. Lund were taking out 200 men if only I could get address of some of his men but possibly some of your men afferoufficers or men could give me some idea if any other them reported saved could have swam to shore anywhere. he was a very strong swimmer —- I hope you will excuse my bothering you but it is so terrible not being able to find out anything of what happened which will of course be treated in confidence —-
(Mrs.) Ethel Wentworth Brown.
The words “give me any address of survivors of crew of the Royal Edward” have been underlined by a recipient. The letter was forwarded to the War Office.
The reply from M.S. 3 (Cas.) 15th September assured her-
“there is no chance of Lieutenant E. Burtt, who was reported “believed drowned,” being still alive, as search has been made in the Islands.”
At last the Truth
Towards the end of September an officer who had been saved contacted the family. He told them that after the attack he saw Edward standing with a brother officer on the starboard side of the ship. There was great confusion but Edward reached a lifeboat safely. As the ship sank a mast broke and fell on him, killing him instantly.
At last she knew, her painful search over.
Unspoken is the truth that his body would have been slipped from the boat, the space needed for a living survivor.
Did she realise this at first, or did her brother have to gently explain. This was one funeral she would not attend.
Life continued with good works and the social round. Her name appears at weddings and funerals and the rota of the Church decorations. Later in 1915 she was awarded for her efforts a medal known as the Order of Mercy. This was bestowed “as a reward for personal services gratuitously rendered in connection with the purposes for which the League was established.” The History of the League of Mercy
BESTOWAL OF THE ORDER of MERCY
Princess Alexandra of Teck was present yesterday at St. James’s Palace on the 16th. annual meeting of the League of Mercy, an organisation which exists to help King Edward’s Hospital Fund and the voluntary hospitals.
Princess Alexander bestowed the Order of Mercy (sanctioned by the King) upon a number of ladies and gentlemen.
The Times Wednesday, Dec 22, 1915.
Edward is remembered in Edenbridge on the town War Memorial which is in the churchyard at the west end of St. Paul’s church, Four Elms. The Dedication was given by the Bishop of Rochester and the Memorial unveiled by General Sir Henry Sclater on Sunday 16th. May 1920.
His name is also on a panel outside the Edenbridge and District War Memorial Hospital.
COTTAGE HOSPITAL AS WAR MEMORIAL
A public meeting was held at the Oddfellows’ Hall, the High Street, Edenbridge, on Wednesday 18th December, 1918. Its aim was to discuss the possible foundation of a Cottage Hospital in memory of those who fell in the War. There was a good attendance of names familiar in the district, including Mrs.Wentworth Brown.
A Cottage Hospital for Edenbridge was needed – at times there was a wait of days and weeks for a vacant bed in the nearest hospital. Even the smallest operation was difficult to perform in private houses; much preparation was needed and the antiseptic arrangements were usually not suitable.
A committee to represent the parishes in the district was formed; Mrs. Wentworth Brown was a member.
20 December 1918 – Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser
The Edenbridge Cottage Hospital was formally opened on Saturday 23rd. October 1920.
Two years later a memorial in the form of a tablet and shrine erected at the entrance to the Hospital was unveiled. Ex-servicemen of Edenbridge and district contributed to the cost.
The tablet was designed by Mr.Percy Potter, London Road, Sevenoaks and carried out by Messrs. A. Burslem & Sons of Tunbridge Wells.
The unveiling on the evening of Saturday 29th. May 1922 was performed by General Sir Henry Sclater. He said he could not conceive of a better Memorial than the Hospital. They were there to witness the completion of the Memorial. The personal touch was now apparent. As soldiers they knew the names of those inscribed, and they felt full of sympathy.
There are 203 names including Ethel’s brother Edward.
The inscription reads:
TO THE MEMORY OF
THE MEN OF THE DISTRICT
WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR
ERECTED TO THEIR HONOUR
BY THEIR COMRADES
Photo thanks to the League of Friends Edenbridge Hospital: Edenbridge Hospital – The League of Friends
In the same year, as noted on his MIC, Edward’s British War Medal was claimed by his sister Mrs. Wentworth Vardon Brown of “Beaumonts,” Edenbridge, Kent. She would also receive his memorial plaque and the scroll.
With his parents, Edward is remembered on the family grave monument in Holy Trinity, Crockham Hill, Kent.