Remembering Tommy Agar Robartes 30 September 1915

Tommy Agar Robartes Cornish LIberal MP for Bodmin then St Austell and heir to Lanhydrock died in action 30 September 1915.

There is a full wikipedia entry about him https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Agar-Robartes 

Captain The Honourable Thomas Charles Reginald Agar-Robartes, in command of No. 2 Coy, 1st Bn, the Coldstream Guards, was wounded in the Battle of Loos on 28 September and killed by a sniper on 30 September 1915 after rescuing a wounded comrade under heavy fire for which he was recommended for the Victoria Cross

Lapugnoy Cemetery Image Source: CWGC

Lapugnoy Cemetery Image Source: CWGC

Amongst the first casualties to be buried in the cemetery which was opened in September 1915, Tommy  is buried in Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, near Béthune.

Looking through the casaulty list below just of his row, Tommy is an ‘Honourable’, high ranking officer and MP amongst sappers and privates, all with the same headstone, such is the democratic genius of Fabian ware and the early staff of the Imperial / Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

T C Agar Robartes headstone cwgc

“Be Thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life” – Tommy’s inscription from his family on his headstone.

CWGC summarise his career in the cemetery register as “Eldest son of Thomas Charles, 6th Viscount Clifden, and Mary, Viscountess Clifden, of Lanhydrock, Bodmin, Cornwall. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. Member of Parliament for St. Austell and Mid-Cornwall since 1908.”

There is a interesting article by National Trust volunteer Caroline Shipton on wordpress about delivering a wreath for Tommy, with a good summary of Tommy’s war expereinces  https://lanhydrock.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/a-wreath-for-tommy-agar-robartes-and-my-grandad-by-carolyn-shipton/

Despite his plain white CWGC headstone in Lapugnoy, he is commemorated by a grander memorial in Truro Cathedral:  “Members of the House of Lords and present and former members of the House of Commons mourning a loyal colleague and a brave soldier have erected this tablet in the Cathedral Church of Cornwall.”

Tommy's memorial, Truro Cathedral (Image Source: AndrewRabbott/Wikipedia)

Tommy’s memorial, Truro Cathedral (Image Source: AndrewRabbott/Wikipedia)

Tommy  is also unusually commemorated in  stained glass at St. Andrew’s parish church Wimpole   and also http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/58472 pictured as a crusading knight with his friend Captain J. Wingfield at Church Norton in West Sussex.

East window, Church Norton, Chichester (©The Friends of St Wilfrids Church Norton, 2006)

https://ukniwm.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/portrait-window-memorials/  He is also remembered at Christ Church Oxford and Eton College.

Had Tommy lived, he would have become heir to the Lanhydrock estates and lands including Devoran. Instead it was his younger brother Francis 7th Viscount Clifden (1883 – 1966),  who later succeeded their father in the viscountcy on his death in 1930. When his successor, the  youngest brother Arthur Victor Agar-Robartes died, this was the end of the line.

Tommy’s  father was Thomas Charles Agar Robartes 2nd Viscount Clifden (1844-1930) and is remembered in a plaque on the wall at Devoran Parish Church – “For many years a patron and benefactor of this church and parish”.

Looking at his portrait on his Wikipedia entry, this Thomas (Tommy’s father) is I think the elderly man photographed donating the Devoran War Memorial Recreation ground to the people in 1919. No doubt Thomas ‘The Lord Robartes’ he would have thought of his son and  his many tenants affected by the war. Had Tommy lived, he would no doubt have been alongside his father at this dedication ceremony.

Dedication stone of the Devoran War memorial ground.

Dedication stone of the Devoran War memorial ground. Note the misspelling of ‘Viscount Clifton’ which should be ‘Clifden’ . Image Source: Mark Norris

Thomas Robartes Memorial steve@kammneves.co.uk

Thomas Robartes Memorial steve@kammneves.co.uk

The Tommy’s suitcase story 

“A trunk containing the military and personal effects of a British officer killed in action during the first world war, was carefully packed away in an attic in Cornwall by his grief-stricken mother, after he died saving an injured comrade in the First World War. In 1999, the belongings of Captain Tommy Agar Robartes were found perfectly preserved after gathering dust for 84 years in the attic of his former home, Llanhydrock House in Cornwall.

“National Trust property manager, Andrea Marchington, opened the trunk. “Inside there were some of the things he used in the trenches. A trench periscope, a monocular, his sword, walnut talc holder, moustache comb, a tiny silver spirit lamp, and a little drinking cup inside a leather case, also made of silver. Everything beautifully made, each with its own case, and giving a rare insight into a serving officer’s life.

“Captain Agar-Robartes’ possessions are now on permanent display at Lanhydrock and act as a poignant reminder of life at the time of the first Great War.” [BBC 11 November 1999 and others.]

Tommy Agar-Robartes, Remembered. 

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