On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in 1918, Allied and German troops agreed to an armistice – an end to the fighting. From that date came the recognition of Veteran’s Day, also known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, Veterans, both living and dead, from countless wars fought since the Great War (fought from July 28, 1914, until November 11, 1918), are honored and reflected upon.
Personally, I have a direct connection to the Great War. My great granddad, Alexander E. Ebsworth fought and died on the battlefields of France, just 51 short days before the end of the war.
Though I never knew him, I feel connected to him in countless ways. I felt very close to my grandfather, his son, Alec Ebsworth. I recall the countless books on the Great War in his library at his house. I now possess those books. I feel connected to him through the poems, photos, and countless documentaries that I’ve seen commenting on the carnage of that destructive conflict.
In short, we should acknowledge this day and those Veterans as:
1. They are a part of our history,
2. We all live in a society where people have sacrificed themselves,
3. It builds the fabric of our community,
4. It supports those who have served,
5. It promotes a civic understanding of ourselves,
6. And it creates the idea of a diversity of service.
Mostly I feel connected to my great grandfather through something visceral, something intangible that tugs at my heart every time I watch video excerpts (links below) or especially when I read his obituary. It conjures up indescribable, strong emotions that make me feel connected to that part of my family in no uncertain terms.
Welsh Officer’s Dying Words
Remarkable Career of Col. Ebsworth.
"Give my best love to all at home,” were the dying words to his servant of Lieut.-col. Alec Ebsworth, M.C. Northumberland Fusiliers, whose death in action took place on Sunday, September 22. Col. Ebsworth was the only brother of Mr. William Ebsworth, solicitor, Gallihaf House, Maesyowmmuer, and Bargoed, and brother-in-law of Mrs. Ebsworth, commandant of Hargoed Ladies’ Red Cross Detachment.
Col. Ebsworth gained his first experience of the life of a soldier as a Volunteer, being a member of the Pontypridd Detachment of the old 3rd V.B., the Welsh Regiment, whilst that detachment was under the command of the late-Lieut.-col. Henry Ll. Grover, in whose office he was employed. He did not take kindly to the idea of a sedentary life, and in December, 1894, at the early age of eighteen, he enlisted in the Grenadier Guards. He served with the 2nd battalion of that distinguished regiment during the South African war, and was severely wounded at the Battle of Biddulphsberg, being shot through the foot and hip. He, however, entirely recovered from these wounds, and passed through the non-commissioned ranks, eventually becoming colour-sergeant and drill instructor in his battalion, and he was one of the sergeants on guard at the obsequies of the late King Edward.
From the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, he went to the 1st Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, as regimental sergeant-major, and in that capacity he went out to France with his battalion as part of the original Expeditionary Force at the opening of the present war. In September, 1914, he was offered a commission, but declined it. He was one of those brought to notice by Field-marshal French in his list of January 14, 1915, and recommended for “gallant and distinguished service in the field.” He was also awarded the Military Cross. On December 23, 1915, he was commissioned, and was posted to his battalion, the 1st East Lancashire. At different times he held the appointment of adjutant to a battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, an Army School of Instruction in France, and his own battalion, the 1st East Lancashire. Early in 1917, whilst in England, he was offered the command of an officers’ training corps, but declined it, electing to return to his battalion at the front.
On August 8, 1918, he served with a battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers as second in command. The command of the battalion very quickly devolved upon him, which he held up to the time of his death. He had been wounded and gassed several times during the war. On September 22, 1918, he was shot by a sniper whilst visiting a forward post in the front line, and died, in about two hours. His first thoughts at all times were for the comfort and safety of others, and such were his last thoughts, too, as, after receiving the fatal wound, he refused to allow himself to be carried in, because of the danger to which the bearers would be exposed. He was buried at Anzac-Cemetery, Sailly.
He received the following medals, and decorations:--the Military Cross, the Royal Victorian Medal, the Coronation Medal, the King’s and Queen’s South African Medals (with four clasps), the Meritorious Medal, and the Mons Star, and he received two of these decorations from the hands of King George. His last words, uttered to his faithful servant, late, S.B.—(who had been with him throughout the war) were: “Give my best love to all at home.” He leaves a widow and four children. The family reside at 35, Audley-road, Colchester.
Article from the Cardiff Weekly Mail, 12-10-18
Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Ebsworth,
The British Expeditionary Force