One hundred years ago today, George Butterworth’s body lay, possibly as yet unburied, on a battlefield in the Somme. He was leading a party of men on a sortie up Miunster Alley, when shortly before 4.45 am on 5th August 1915, he was shot in the head. The best authority on Butterwirth remains Michael Barlow’s biography “Whom the Gods Love” is an invaluable source and much of it drawn from family letters (now in Oxford) and material at Cecil Sharp House. Curiously though, there’s little on Butterworth’s war record. Since nearly everything about officers in the 1014-1918 was documented, I went to the War Office records thinking his details would be easy to trace. Then hit a brick wall. No Lt. Butterworth! No wonder Barlow was stymied
So I went to the list of medal and found that Butterworth had enlisted as “Kaye Butterworth!” He’d only been awarded one Military Cross, not three, but that’s till an important achievemenyt Thery fon’y hand out many MC’s/ Although I didn’t access the main regimental records, which aren’t in London, I did find the original regimental War Diary, which is a moment to moment record of what was happening in battle, written down verbatim the action was happening. War Diaries are primary material. They’re sent to higher command behind lines so the generals can follow what’s happening on the front line. Sometimes these diaries are written on scraps, sometimes in pencil and sometimes they’re stained with mud and darker substances. And here is what I found :
and Batty wounded. Other ranks : 4 killed. 18 wounded, 3 shell shock, 5 missing.
The photo at the top shows the officers of the 13th Durham Light Infantry The man circled is supposed to be Butterworth.It’s possible since we know the Kinora films and Morris dancings stills that Butterworth was short and self effacing. Below, Butterworth second from left, in 1912.
Original Source: George Butterworth 100 years ago today