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Lieutenant Alexander Mantle


Harrogate Herald - 6th June 1917

Roll of Honour

Lieutenant Alexander Mantle (London Regiment) younger son of Dr Mantle of Harrogate, was killed in action on May 22nd. He was 20 years of age, and had a distinguished career at Rugby School, which he left to enter Cas?? College, Cambridge, for an arts and medical degree. At ther outbreat of the war he entered the Inns of Court OTC, and obtained his commission in April, 1915. he was promoted full lieutenant in the following September, and went to the Front six months ago. His elder brother, Captain C A Mantle, was wounded five weeks ago, and is now in a London hospital.

Dr Mantle has received the following amongst other letters of sympathy from his son's brother officers :

His Adjutant writes : 

Dear Sir, Consolation at such a time is an impertinence, but I cannot help writing to express to Alec Mantle's father and mother the feelings which as a brother officer I bore towards him. We have been friends - close friends - for over two years, and I have grown to love him like my own brother. His personality was one which for charm and sweetness could scarcely be equalled; keen and absolutely fearless as a soldier, he was literally loved by the men who worked under him. The sergeant of his Intelligence Section broke down completely on hearing the news. One of his men told me tonight that he had always regarded him as the ideal officer; and there is no officer or man in the brigade whose death could come as a more bitter blow to his friends and subordinates.

The circumstances of his end are as follows : 

Our front line was attacked, and reinforcements were sent up over the top to help them. The Germans at once put down a devilish barrage. Alec was asked by his Commanding Officer to go forward with the reinforcements and keep in touch with the situation. He accepted the order cheerfully, and went off from headquarters with his servant. Before he had gone far a piece of shell, which exploded close by, penetrated the left side of his chest, and evidently passed very near the heart. His servant told me that he lost consciousness at once, and the end came in a very few minutes. Earlier next morning he was buried under shell fire quite close to where he fell. We are having a rough wooden cross on the grave to mark the site until circumstances permit a more worthy memorial. That an end should be put to a life so young and so full of every promise is unutterably tragic, but a nobler end no man could meet.

The Chaplain writes : 

Dear Mrs Mantle, May I just send you a line to tell you how very sorry I am that Alec has been killed. We all ;loved him so much, and his cheerfulness and fearlessness were an inspiration to all who knew him. Only a few days ago, one of his men told me that he thought their section had the best officer in the battalion, and the judgment of the men is always true. I used to see a great deal of Alec, as we used to go round the lines together, and we often shared the same hut, and the more I knew him the more I loved and admired him. His death is a great blow to me, so I know how much it must be to you, and this brings you my deepest sympathy in your loss.

His Colonel writes : 

Dear Dr Mantle, I always had a very great admiration for your boy, as I considered him to be so manly and typical of the best material that our great public schools can turn out. He showed much grit and energy when we were in the trenches prior to the evacuation of ---------, and was always ready to explore in front of the wire.

His Captain writes : 

Alec was with me and my company going forward to support the front line, when a shell caught us, and I realised then that it was all up. I did what I could for him, but that was very small, as, unfortunately, I was caught myself. He was one of my subalterns for a time, and I can assure you that nobody was more loved by both officers and men. I feel in his loss I have lost a friend that I shall never be able to replace, and a soldier who will be irreplaceable in the battalion of the brigade.

Mr K A St Hill, his house master at Rugby School, writes : This war has, indeed, taken the very best we have all over the country, but I can assure that of all Rugbeians who have gone, none will be remembered with more affection and respect by all who ever knew him here than your Alec.

W H Breare letter

You will be grieved to hear of the death in action of Lieutenant Alexander Mantle. The lives of all you brave boys are precious to us beyond price. You are our greatest asset, now and in the future. Others may follow in the work pursued by the fallen, but the void can never be completely filled, and the world will be the poorer. Take the case of Lieutenant Mantle. Here was a modest young man, a reservoir of intellectual force. His mental, moral, and physical buoyancy was such that he always came to th top. The basis of his combined forces was personal magnetism - the quality which has such stimulating influence on others less highly strung. He was sensitive to every current of ennobling impulse. At Rugby, and later at Caius College, he became an inspiring force and example. Had he lived, his country would have owed him much in the varied spheres of national development. It was not to be. Yet satisfaction must abide with us that he was able and did focus his rare qualities upon the greatest task that could fall to the lot of man - the defence of his glorious country. The way of Providence are, indeed, inscrutable. We cannot understand why he should be taken from us, yet must be content to believe that it was to fulfil some higher purpose. The brilliant light of his living personality has gone out, but it will continue to glow in our memories, an incentive to all conscious of his character and abilities, moving them to higher and higher endeavour. This much we can realise. Perhaps it is the answer to that problem which is troubling us. May this thought comfort his dear parents in their hour of sorrow.


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