Humphrey Arden

2nd Lt Humphrey Arden R.G.A.

Humphrey ArdenHumphrey Warwick Arden was the only son of Rev. W.H.P. Arden, vicar of Whiteparish, Salisbury, and Mrs Arden and was born in 1892. He came to the Dragon in 1904, was a boarder in School House, and left in 1905. Though only at the Dragon School for two years he greatly distinguished himself both in work and play. He won prizes for a Diary of the Summer Holidays in 1905, for Recitation, and Mr Blockley’s prize for Church History. He sang at the School concerts and won his colours in the XV. He acted the part of King Charles of France in Henry V in 1905, and of Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet in January 1906. He was elected to a scholarship at Radley in December 1905, where he was a Prefect, won the prize for Greek Iambics, stroked the winning Senior IV and rowed for the School at Henley. In 1911 he was elected to an Exhibition at Queen’s College, Cambridge. He rowed twice in the University Trial Eights and stroked his boat to victory in the Wyfold Cup at Henley in 1912. He went temporarily as a master to Eagle House Preparatory School and was about to enter Cuddesdon to prepare for Holy Orders when the war broke out.

He got his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1915 and was killed on the 6th June 1917 during the battle of Messines Ridge, aged 25. He is buried at Bailleul.

Humphrey ArdenLetters from H.W. Arden to the Draconian

His Commanding Officer wrote: ‘I have recommended that he should be mentioned in despatches for attending to a wounded man under fire on 2nd June and for going across at the time he was wounded under heavy fire to restore the telephone communications. He was an admirable brave young man, a valuable officer, and his loss were a disaster were it not that the good that such noble lives do lives after them.’

Another officer wrote: ‘During the last few days your boy was really great. The Battery had been under heavy shell fire and we had a large number of casualties. Humphrey was amongst them and did magnificent work. He was so cool and tender with the men. When I came in I found him out in the open attending to a wounded officer. He was taken to Bailleul, but died of his wounds, which were severe. We have marked his grave with a cross. Of his work I may say he was most capable. I do not think any Observation Officer has done more solid and profitable work out here. Though he never won honours, he has deserved them time and again and I know he was recommended on three different occasions. But he never coveted them. He would say with a charming smile, “Don’t worry about me, I’m all right.”. No officer in the Battery commanded such respect. To the men he was a god, and they honestly worshipped him. Their universal comment was, “We have lost our best friend.”

On the second anniversary of Humphrey’s death, a memorial Calvary was dedicated to his memory by the Bishop of Stafford in Yoxall Churchyard, where his grandfather, Dr Lowe, was rector for many years, and where twelve generations of Ardens lie buried under the high altar. The inscription reads: ‘In thanksgiving to Almighty God for the beautiful life and glorious death of Humphrey Warwick Arden, B.A.’

Humphrey was one of those whose lives gave promise of a brilliant future. A Cambridge Honours man, a great athlete, a musician of no mean promise, one who exercised extraordinary influence on his fellow men, a lover of all the arts and of everything beautiful. A week before his death his fellow officers unanimously decided to recommend him for the Military Cross, which had been offered to the Battery.

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