Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

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Private Herbert Gerald Montagu

Herbert Gerald Montague

Herbert Gerald Montagu with The Turks In Tripoli

Herbert Gerald Montagu with The Turks In Tripoli

DeRuvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914 – 1924

MONTAGU, HERBERT GERALD, Private, No. 20413, 4th Battn. The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, late Lieut. The Royal Munster Fusiliers, 2ns s. of Alfred John Montagu. Of Braeside, Hillingdon, co. Middlesex, formerly of Colnbrook, co. Buckingham, by his Wife Hester Vaudrey, dau. Of the late James Holland, of Manchester; b. Perth, Western Australia, 20 Nov. 1892; educ. St. Paul’s School, London, where he played polo for the school; won the 1909 Bantam Weight, competition at Aldershot the year of its foundation.; was gazetted 2nd Lieut. 5th Battn. The Royal Fusiliers 1 April 1911, and attached to the 4th Battn. At Aldershot, afterwards became a familiar figure at the Regimental hunts in the Curragh, and well known as an excellent shot. On the outbreak of the Turko-Italian War, anxious to see active service, he offered himself to the TurkishGoverment and after a long and adventurous journey reached Turkish Headquarters. During this Journey he and Mr. Seppings Wright, War Artist for the “Illustrated London News” whom he met at Sfax, also on his way to Turkish Headquarters, were owing to rough weather, stranded on an island, where they existed on octopus and porpoise for three days, threatened meanwhile by a mutinous native crew. After leaving the island their fresh water gave out, and suffering terribly from thirst, they finally reached Zwarra, whence Mr. Montagu proceeded by camel to the Turkish Headquarters. Here he was given the rank of Captain, with a command of 3,000 Turkish troops and Arab irregulars comprising the right flank of the Turkish forces. He was three times mentioned in Despatches, and his gallantry and his control over undisciplined Arab troops led Mr. Alan Ostler, War Correspondent with the Turkish forces, to describe him as the “Paladin of the Desert.” He was severely wounded in Dec., and later returned to England suffering from dysentery, having in the meantime been notified that the War Office demanded his resignation for communicating with the Press, as it was he who sent a cable exposing the massacre of women and children whose body he found in a mosque; subsequently he receieved an illuminated address from the representatives of the Moslem community resident in England. Later he visited Constantinople as the guest of the Minister of War, when he was decorated by the Sultan with the Odre Imperial du Medjidie and the Ordre de la Gloire Nichon-I-Iftikhar, who also appointed him an A.D.C. At this time an attempt was made on his life which happily failed; returned to England in March, 1913, suffering from the effects of typhoid; was reinstated as Lieut. In Aug. 1914, being attached to the Royal Munster Fusiliers; served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, 10th Division, at Gallipoli from july, 1915; took part in the landing at Sulva Bay; was wounded on the ridge at Kislagh Dagh, and invalided home in Sept. with a septic wound and nerous breakdown., being invalided out f the Army after a year’s ill-health. On recovery he enlisted as a Private in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, preferring not to wait in the hope of regaining his commission; proceeded to France 2 Nov., and was killed in action at Moquet Farm, near Thiepval, 25 Nov. 1916, while carrying despatches to the base, only a few days before the recommendation for his reinstatement and consequent return to England. He m. in London, 15 Oct, 1913, Mai Hermoine, only au. Of the late James Cunningham Mitchell, Indian Police, Simla.

Limerick Chronicle, January, 1917.

Romantic Career Ended on battlefield.

The death in action is announced of Herbert Gerald Montagu, a private in the Oxford and Bucks, Light Infantry, formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Munster Fusiliers. Mr Montagu was deprived of his commission in the Royal Fusiliers for joining the Turkish Army in Tripoli without leave. He took a romantic part in the Turkish-Italo war in Northern Africa in 1911, and was subsequently decorated by the Sultan with the Orders of the Mejidie and Nichan-Lftikhar for conspicuous bravery in the field. At the conclusion of the Tripoli campaign he returned wounded to England, and was presented with an illuminated address on behalf of the Moslem community in this country. As Lieutenant in the Royal Munster Fusiliers he tool part in the Suvla Bay landing and in other Gallipoli operations, was wounded at Kislag Dagh, and ultimately returned to England in September 1915, suffering from septic wounds and nervous breakdown. Immediately he was fit he joined the ranks, went to France, and there met his death at the age of 24. He was the second son of Mr and Mus A J Montagu, of Braeside, Hillingdon, late of Colnbrook. He was educated at St Paul’s School.—“Daily Sketch.”



Mr. Montagu, late of the 5th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, who was just leaving for Gharian, promised to convey my letter of introduction to this distinguished officer, whose splendid courage and ability have inspired the whole plan of the Turkish defence.

I had not previously had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Montagu, and greatly enjoyed a chat with him. A severe attack of dysentery had cut short his sojourn with the Arab irregulars, but the comparative brevity of his service at the front had been compensated for by its vivid and exciting character. Probably from lack of experience and an unwillingness to conceal the fact that he held a commission he had been a second-lieutenant “on approbation ” in one of the Special Reserve battalions of the 7th Royal Fusiliers Mr. Montagu found very serious difficulty in making his way to Tripoli. He was detained for nine days at Sfax, but at length succeeded in reaching the Tripolitan coast after a plucky and adventurous voyage in a sailing-boat. On his arrival the Turkish officers had been very kind to him. As a soldier he was naturally of little practical value, for he could neither give nor receive a single order or word of command ; but Captain Emin Effendi, who was in charge of some Arab levies at Suk-ed-Djema, very kindly took Mr. Montagu with him, and the young Englishman was fortunate enough to see a good deal of the desultory scrapping which went on incessantly in this part of the oasis in the earlier weeks of the campaign. He was dressed in an officer’s uniformand sword, which he had somehow secured at Zouara, and showed great pluck in various attacks on the Italian outposts amongst the houses on the edge of the oasis. I was rather amused when, in reply to a joking remark on the wear and tear of his uniform, he informed me gravely that this might well be the case as he had worn it in ” eleven battles “!

The hardships of active service and the bitter cold of the nights had proved too much for Mr. Montagu’s youthful constitution, and he lay in hospital at Suk-ed-Djema for some weeks. Subsequently the Turkish medical staff, who took every possible care of their invalid, had him conveyed to Azizieh, where he was assigned a comfortable room with two soldier servants to look after him. When I arrived at Azizieh he was on the point of yet another removal to the healthy surroundings of Gharian in order to restore him to final convalescence and recovery. I hope Mr. Montagu was adequately grateful to his Turkish companions, for at the cost, in one instance, of inflicting some discomfort on their own wounded officers, they lavished on the young Englishman attentions which I am certain he would not have received from any other nation in the world. The conveyance ready with its three horses to convey Mr. Montagu to Gharian was a transport wagon captured from the Italians and marked as follows : XI Reggto. Bersaglieri. T.S. Carretta Alpina. Verily the incenses arena of the North African desert formed a strange environment for an Alpine “carretta”!

Mr. Montagu was naturally anxious about his future, and to my astonishment seemed to be unaware of the fact that by the King’s regulations officers, including “Militia” officers like himself, or even Territorial officers, are forbidden, not merely to fight in a foreign war a sufficiently obvious provision but even to be present in a country where war exists or is even threatened. Since the commencement of the Italo-Turkish hostilities no British officer has even been allowed to travel to Malta or India through the Italian peninsula. I was already aware of the fact that Mr. Montagu’s commission had been cancelled, but as he was evidently very weak after his serious illness I thought it better to withhold the unpleasant news from him, and I contented myself with quoting instances in which distinguished soldiers who had technically transgressed the civil and military laws of their country by taking service under a foreign flag had, after a period of punishment, purged their guilt and been reinstated. Several telegrams had passed between the British and Turkish War Offices with respect to Mr. Montagu, and the authorities at Stamboul had offered in the event of his commission at home being forfeited to give him a commission in the Turkish Army. This young Englishman has rendered one real service to the Ottoman staff in Tripoli. Amongst the palms of the oasis he had seen with his own eyes concrete cases of the atrocities committed by the Italians in the October massacre. The testimony was accurate and trustworthy, and was corroborated by such fearless correspondents as Mr. McCullagh and the representative of the 11 Lokalanzeiger.” About a week before Christmas Mr. Montagu returned from Gharian and left for England. He wished, he informed me, to stir up public feeling in England about the Italian outrages, and seemed convinced of his power to do this. But, as I told him, this attempt had already been made, and with some partial success, by Mr. Stead, Mr. McCullagh, and others, and history makes itself so rapidly nowadays that the British public would have by this time quite forgotten the very occurrence of the deplorable events of last October. Whether Mr. Montagu will accept a commission in the Sultan’s army or return to Tripoli I do not know, but at any rate he has time on his side, and I hope that he may some day obtain his heart’s desire and become a great soldier.

On Dec. 20th I noticed a troop of twelve camels setting out for Gharian, upon each of which was perched a sick or wounded Turkish soldier. The camel is not an ideal means of conveyance for a man suffering, say, from dysentery or fractured limbs, but the roads in Tripoli admit of nothing else, though the Turks, with their usual consideration, had placed an Italian baggage- wagon at Mr. Montagu’s service, while their own senior officers, in a much more serious plight, were jolted over the dreadful path on camel-back.</blockquote>

From The LondonGazette, 7th November 1911

5th Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), The appointment of; Herbert Gerald Montagu to a Second Lieutenancy (on probation), which appeared, in the Gazette of the 7th April, 1911, is| cancelled.


He initially left with the first line reserves at the landings on 7th Aug, joining the battalion on 14th Aug and being wounded on 15th Aug. Here is the War Diary extract

An attack was ordered along the crest of KTS. The 6th Bn RMF on the right of the crest down SE Slope with 7th Bn RDF in support.: 7th Bn RMF to advance keeping level with the 5th Bn R INNIS FUS…14:00 at 14:00 the Bn began to advance C and D Coys leading, A and B in support. Commands of Coys were now: A Capt CORDNER, B Capt DUNN, C Lt GOOD, D Capt ALPIN… the advance was premature as the 6th RMF had not got away and the left flank of 7th Bn RMF was thus exposed to fire from the crest of the ridge. Casualties occurred as soon as the leading platoons cleared the trenches. The leading platoons of C and D Coy were taken in to shelter by Lts POWELL and GOOD. The remainder of the 1st line remained under cover of a small hillock about 150 yards in advance of the trenches. The snipers on the crest now turned their attention on B Coy enfilading the trench and killing Capt DUNN and Lt O’DUFFY. A Coy further on the left moved forward over broken ground without suffering many casualties. B Coy was lead on into shelter of the hillock by RSM M STACEY. The leading lines were halted by shrapnel and the Bn dug in with entrenching tools awaiting advance of 6th Bn RMF. Capt and Adj M WACE was wounded just in front of the small hill presumably taking orders to the leading platoons. He was brought down to the beach under a hot fire by stretcher bearers having been attended to by Lt CLARKS RAMC…. about 16:30 the 6th Bn RMF and 7th Bn RMF carried the trench immediately in front of JEPHSON’S POST, capturing 30 prisoners. They then advanced along the crest . The monitor shelling the hill ??? advanced. The whole Bn now advanced and led by Lt Col GORE advanced without opposition through very dense scrub and over very steep gullies to a line running from the PIMPLE to the sea. Orders were here received that the Bn should withdraw to original trenches, 7th RDF taking over the line whilst Engineers got to work on breastwork. The Bn therefore withdrew reaching the old line about 20:30. They were then ordered to go up to the crest of JEPHSON’S POST where they spent the night. CASUALTIES: Killed: Officers: Capt J V DUNN, Lt K E O’DUFFY, OR s 11. Wounded: Officers: Capt M WACE, Lt H G MONTAGU, Lt R E LAWLOR, OR s 42. Missing, presumed killed: ORs 7… Lt H G MONTAGU received orders to proceed to beach at 09:00 thence to proceed to report himself at War Office. He attached himself to the 6th RMF on the way however and was wounded with them.

Initials: H G
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Secondary Regiment: Royal Munster Fusiliers
Secondary Unit Text: formerly
Age: 24
Date of Death: 25/11/1916
Service No: 20413
Additional information: Son of Alfred John and Hester Vaudrey Montagu, of “Braeside,” Cleveland Rd., Hillingdon, Middx. His brother, Flight Lieut. R. S. Montagu, was killed in the loss of H.M. Airship “R.38.”.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: VII. N. 7.

Name: Herbert Gerald Montage
Residence: Slough, Bucks
Death Date: 25 Nov 1916
Enlistment Location: Hillingdon, Bucks
Rank: Private
Regiment: Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Battalion: 2/4th Battalion.
Number: 20413
Type of Casualty: Killed in action

Flight Lieutenant (Lieutenant Royal Navy) MONTAGU, Rupert Samuel, D.S.C.

Royal Air Force H.M. Airship ‘R38’, Howden Airship Station. Navigating Officer, August 24, 1921. Killed in ‘R38’ disaster, when it broke up in mid-air south of Hull over the River Humber 24 August 1921 aged 26. H.M. Airship ‘R38’. Son of Alfred John and Hester Vaudrey Montagu of ‘Braeside’, Cleveland Road, Hillingdon West, Middlesex. Native of Essex. His brother Herbert Gerald Montagu was killed in action on the Somme in 1916. Hull Western Cemetery, East Yorkshire UK – 305 29524.

Compiled and Copyright © Julie C Walton 2003
additional information Stephen Mather

The American Navy were so impressed by the R34 that they ordered a rigid airship from Britain. The R38 was the biggest one built with 14 gas cells and six Sunbeam engines each of 350 HP. It was 700ft long and had a speed of 71mph. The airship was built at Cardington and was completed on 7th June 1921. On 23rd June she left Cardington and was delivered to Howden, Yorkshire. Minor girder damage had occurred during the flight and suggestions were made that strength had been sacrificed in order to achieve lightness. The first speed trial was carried out on July 17th at Howden. On August 23rd, she was on her final test flight and, cruising over Hull at an altitude of 2,500ft, flying at 60 MPH, she suddenly broke her back, exploded in mid air and both parts fell burning into the Humber killing 44 out of the 49 on board. There were a number of both British and American airmen on board at the time. A disaster memorial in Hull cemetery contains two plaques, one for the British and one for the American airmen who lost their lives. Those on the plaque marked † are buried underneath the memorial.

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