Captain Henry Evelyn Arthur Platt
Henry Evelyn Arthur Platt was born on the 13th September 1884 at 111 Queens Gate, Kensington, London. His parents were Agnes Elizabeth Roberts (born in 1857 at Kilmoney House, Co. Cork) and John Harold Platt (born on the 18th May 1855 at Werneth Park, Oldham). Agnes's father was Lt.-Col. Roberts of Renny, co. Cork, and John's father was John Platt who was Chairman of Platt Bros, a textile machine company, and MP for Oldham.
Henry had an older brother John Ernest Hodder Platt who was born 4 years earlier in September 1880 in Holyhead, Anglesey near the then family home at Bodior, Rhoscolyn, Anglesey.
From 1884 to 1889 they resided at Derne Park near Tonbridge, Kent, but according to his journal written in 1903 the home was on "clay soil which did not suit his mother's or father's health" and so the family moved to London living at Grosvenor Place, and then Pont Street.
In 1891 he was living aged 6 with his family at 31 Pont Street, Belgravia, London. They had ten servants – a housekeeper, a nurse, a house maid, 3 kitchen maids, 2 footmen, a scullery maid, and a hall boy.
In 1894 they moved to 44 Cadogan Square, and by 1906 his parents were living at 63 Princes Gate, London.
He wrote in his journal of a 'loving mother, an indulgent father, and the most beautiful country in the world as a home'.
When he was 7 he went to a day school in Thurloe Square, then aged 9 to Park Hill school in the New Forest, and then to Eton at 13 in Hugh Macnaghter's house.
During his first term at Eton when reading in bed with a candle standing on a chair next to his bed, he fell asleep. The bed clothes caught fire, and were extinguished by another boy – Henderson – throwing a jug full of water over them. Evelyn was left with a scar on his left arm.
At Eton he wrote that 'he had few friends, but what he had were good'. He enjoyed his public school life 'in his own queer way, talking only to the boys he was interested in and making 2 friends and a half'.
When about 15 he first began an attempt at serious reading instigated by his friend Bryan.
He liked Thackeray by 15 ½ , Tennyson by 14, and George Bernard Shaw at 16, especially the play 'Arms & the man'. He wanted to appear in private theatricals but something always prevented it, but wrote many plays.
Mathematics he found a 'drudgery being slow of comprehension; Greek, at least Homer he liked; Latin he tolerated'. When in Army class he liked and was fairly successful at History.
He wrote that 'At nothing did he excel, a dismal mediocrity was his rule' which seems quite harsh as his exam results in 1899 showed that he came 5th out of 32.
1899 – Eton - School work – Michaelmas term
1st Garton 1044
2nd L S Platt 913
3rd Wallace 843
4th Bateson 792
5th H E A Platt 763
5th Lord Balgonie 763
32nd Lord Carlow 200
For school work, Lent 1900, he achieved 452 marks out of 770, coming 6th out of 32.
The last two years at Eton he worked as hard as he could and 'contrary to all expectations' passed in with enough marks for the Infantry. Thinking however he was too 'much of an idiot' to get into the Infantry, he put his name down and therefore got into Sandhurst on the Guards list.
Sandhurst he 'liked not at all'. He hated gym as he was weak and never had done any before. He liked the riding in a way, but loathed topography ('four hours twice a week of absolute and entire hell').
He entered Sandhurst 126th, passed the first examination 55th, and the final examination 28th, passing out with honours, doing the 4th best History paper.
He tried unsuccessfully to transfer from the Guards to the Infantry, but instead managed to enter the Cavalry – the 19th Hussars in January 1903. He specifically looked at regiments that were not going to India as it seemed 'pointless to go there and ruin one's constitution for no reason'.
Badge of the 19th Royal Hussars
On 1st November 1909 he wrote "Mother is very ill. I feel very helpless as we seem to able to do nothing except cheep her up a bit. She has been bad, practically in bed the whole time from diabetes since July & now she seems no stronger or the blood no clearer".
Later in March 1910 while in Aldershot he wrote "My dear mother died on Xmas day. The poor darling had the most dreadful pain and discomfort to suffer. Two days before she died she sent for Ernest and me to come to her separately. She said 'my son you have been very good to me' and she kissed us good-bye.
Father was splendid, he slept in her room almost to the end."
3 years later his father died in London on 20th December 1912.
On the 15th July 1911 he married Ella Carmichael at Holy Trinity, Brompton, and they went to Hayling Island for their honeymoon. He had known and corresponded with Ella since 1907.
They lived briefly in Aldershot and had a son John Evelyn Platt who was born on the 18th June 1912 at Trelawney, Cargate, Aldershot, and was baptised on the 21st July 1912 at Holy Trinity. Brompton.
They moved to Kingwood, Thames Ditton, and he was a keen supporter of Moseley amateur swimming club becoming Vice-President.
Ella Carmichael, 1906 by Edmond Aman-Jean, Musee du petit Palais
In June 1912 he was promoted to Captain in the 19th Hussars.
He served in France and Belgium with his regiment from the outset of the First World War in August 1914.
The regiment was split up, with A squadron attached to the 5th Infantry Division, B squadron to the 4th and C squadron to the 6th Infantry Division as divisional cavalry squadrons. All three divisions moved to France with the British Expeditionary Force, and saw action in the Battle of Le Cateau, the Retreat from Mons, the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne and the Battle of Armentieres.
The Battle of Le Cateau was fought on 26th August 1914, after the British, French and Belgians retreated from the Battle of Mons and had set up defensive positions in a fighting withdrawal against the German advance at Le Cateau-Cambrésis. It is considered that Le Cateau is amongst the most successful holding actions in British military history, ranking alongside the Battle of the Imjin River during the Korean War in terms of its strategic effect.
The Battle of the Marne was fought between 5th and 12th September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory with the battle effectively ending the month long German offensive that opened the war and had reached the outskirts of Paris. The counterattack along the Marne river forced the German Army to abandon the von Schlieffen Plan and its push on Paris and retreat northeast, with the Battle of the Aisne beginning on the 13th September where the Germans held a highly defensive position with the British ordered to dig in and beginning trench warfare.
The Battle of Armentieres (13th October to 2nd November) was part of the 'Race to the Sea' campaign, with each side trying to outflank each other, where the British successfully held the line in their sector, against repeated German assaults.
The regiment was brought together again in April 1915, and attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, with whom it would serve for the remainder of the war. It saw action at the Second Battle of Ypres, gaining battle honours for the Battle of St Julien (24 April – 5 May 1915) and the Battle of Frezenberg (8–13 May), where the Germans first used chlorine gas on the Western Front with devastating effect as the Allies were completely unprepared with no gas masks, and Captain Platt was himself gassed.
In October 1915 after a dispute with his Major he transferred to the Coldstream Guards (2nd Company, 1st Battallion). The following letters and case history detail the dispute:
August 31st 1915 Cavalry Club
My Dear Henry,
I had not time to see you personally before I came away, as this was not arranged until just before we started, so I must write what I have to say.
I am sorry, very sorry, to have to tell you that I have irrevocably decided that you must hand over the command to C squadron for the time being to Francis and you are to return to A squadron as second in command….
3 Sept 1915
Thanks for your letter of 31st August received today 3rd Sept, and to which I reply by return which should reach you tomorrow 4th. Re removing me from command of this squadron, I must remind you of a promise you made me before I took it over.
Namely that in the event of your wishing to get rid of me you would not do so on the spur of the moment but would give me a clear month to look round for another job while still maintaining command.
I must ask you to abide by this.
4th Sept 1915
19th Royal Hussars
I hear in certain cases that officers from my branch of the service are occasionally granted the privilege of being attached to the Guards with the ultimate view of an exchange.
I write to ask if this could possibly be permitted in my case.
I.E. to be attached for 2 months to your battalion, and at the end of that period if I was found suitable to apply for an exchange into the Guards or to the infantry in the other event.
I have been thinking about this for some time. We have not been in action since May 24th and I have decided this is what I want to do.
To go direct from where I am and get instruction out here. I'm not quite without experience as have been out here since the start, so particularly don't want to go back now to England or some pestilential base.
One of our chaps joined up direct so I suppose it might be done.
If you could help me in any way I should be most grateful.
I could easily come over à cheval tomorrow Sunday 5th any time you like as our trench diggers return that day & there is nothing for me to do.
But if that is inconvenient I can get a motor from somewhere & come over any other day. As if there is anything doing I would like to see you. I am sending an unfortunate bicyclist with this as letters seem to take about 3 weeks by post going across to my brother Ernest.
Would you please give him a reply.
P.S. Would you please regard the contents of this letter as private as until everything is fixed up I will rather bother Ernest and people in England heard nothing about it.
Briefly my case is as follows – In his interview with me on September 8th Colonel Franks told me he had removed me from command of my squadron because I was 'incapable of training men for cavalry work.'
Against this I would urge :-
2. I have been in active service since the commencement of hostilities. I have taken part in cavalry action & my superior officer was satisfied with my conduct. Colonel Franks has not yet taken part in cavalry action in this war.
3. In the whole of my service everything I have been asked to do I have done well, including an independent command of a squadron of Divisional Cavalry at Aldershot before the war. Colonel Franks admits I have guts but argues that so have 99% of British Officers: this may be true but surely this war has proved that not every officer:
That the officer therefore who has this prowess possesses the 2 essential capacities for a combatant command. I wish to bring 2 entirely independent witnesses to give evidence as to my possessing these 2 capacities. Previous to serving under them I had never met either of them. Their names are Colonel Beale Browne 9th Lancers, Major Sands RE.
H E Platt Capt
I appeal against Colonel Franks removal of myself from command of C squadron 19th Hussars as unjust. I ask in justice to be reinstated not nominally but officially in regimental orders.
If Colonel Franks is permitted to retain command of the regiment, I will take steps to transfer to some other unit as soon as possible after reinstatement.
The reason for removal given me by Colonel Franks was that I was a bad cavalry leader, as we have been digging for about 2 months he has been keeping me in the regiment under false pretences during this period…
I therefore point out that as he did not tell me before the digging commenced and after the last period of cavalry training he was influenced by 2 incidents which occurred at ELVERDINGHE.
They were as follows :- Colonel Franks acted at first as Brigadier to the digging party, my name was in orders as O.C. 19th Hussars digging party.
During one days work before we were properly dug in it was a very bright day & 2 German observation balloons were up. Captain McNeil RE told me it was inadvisable to work in the open so I told the 2 squadrons who were working in an exposed position to wait under the trees while the RE officer and myself hurried round the line to find them work to get on with under cover. Just as we turned to fetch these 2 squadrons I was surprised to see one of them working in the open. I called for the Sergeant in charge & asked him why he had disobeyed my order: he told me Colonel Franks had ordered him out to get on with the work at once.
Colonel Franks then sent for me and asked me why the squadrons were working in the open.
I will point out it was surely needless to give an order directly counter to mine without sending to let me know as I was responsible for the party, also that it was seen unnecessary to order men out to work in the open when there was work to be done under cover.
On another occasion Colonel Franks had given orders that the digging party of the 19th Hussars before going to dig in the morning should be formed up on 3 sides of a square. To do this one side of the square was partly under cover of the trees but the other two were well in the open on the grass.
I considered that:
1. As we were within shrapnel range of the Germans
2 " 200 yards of Elverdinghe which was shelled frequently.
3 There was a chance of spies letting the Germans know we drilled in close formation the same place every morning.
4 It will be difficult to hide if a TAUBE came over suddenly.
4 One shell might do great damage.
That as I was nominally in charge of the regiment the responsibility for the men's safety rested with me.
I went to Colonel Franks before parade and asked him if he thought it advisable to continue the practice.
He said 'Yes I do'.
I then explained my reason and said I was nominally responsible.
He said 'You always have rotten ideas but as the people who have just come up to dig are moderate at drilling they may drill separately for the present'.
After that the squadrons drilled separately under the trees and though they stayed up another 3 weeks or so after that event they did not again drill on 3 sides of a square. I wish to point out that I took the responsibility of disagreeing with Colonel Franks on a point which affected the men's safety….
I wish to state that I would act in exactly the same manner again, that I consider I did my duty and deserved a court martial if I had acted otherwise.
My firm Platt Bros Oldham supply textile machinery to the whole world & we employ about 5000 skilled hands. We specialise in textile machinery but received an order for shell cases. A man called Blanchard a skilled worker who had been given a couple of months trial as foreman was turned on to the job with his gang of men. While superintending the making of these shell cases, he had an arguments re shell cases with his manager. He said he expected the sack at the time but did not get it till later. He immediately went to the manager and asked for his reason which was that Blanchard had 'shown himself hopelessly incapable of supervising the making of textile machinery'. Blanchard then asked why if he was so hopelessly incapable he had not been told before, at the time he was supervising textile machinery making. The manager replied 'because I have a perfect right to sack my foreman whenever I like'.
Blanchard appealed & took his case right up to the directors, bringing his argument as this:
'As the manager had not sacked him while he was supervising textile machinery he (the manager) was strongly biased by events which occurred afterwards & which had nothing at all to do with machinery making'.
He admitted that the manager had the perfect right to sack his foreman whenever he thought necessary but the directors only gave that right on the understanding that they used it justly.
In their opinion Blanchard's manager had used his right unjustly & they decided to reinstate Blanchard on these grounds.
I ask you if you agree to this decision.
19th Royal Hussars
From Captain Platt
19th Royal Hussars
Machine Gun School
GHQ September 28th 1915
Application for Transfer
I have the honour to request that this my application for transfer to the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards be submitted, also that I may be permitted to be attached pending transfer to that battalion on completion of this course of instruction on October 5th.
I have seen the Commanding Officer who is willing to take me.
I have the honour to be
Your obedient servant
H E Platt
14th October 1915
My darling girl,
I have just received orders to join the Guards division. As soon as I get there I will write you my address. If the wire doesn't turn up
Attached Guards Division
Will find me
I shall go there tomorrow taking Pattenall and Black Knight. I have special leave from the 1st Coldstream Colonel to keep the horse if I go there as I rather think I may.
Of course now that Egerton is dead & Darnell wounded it is not quite the same, so if they offered me a company in another battalion when I get to Guards HQ, I shall take it.
Of course I go in my own rank, i.e. as a Captain.
Whether I get a company straight off I do not know. The 1st Coldstream Colonel was going to attach me to for a week or longer then possibly give me one.
I rather think Egerton would have given me a command straight off.
Now my own, read this part well. First of all re being second in command and
I had told my friends that directly Tanner came back to take over C Squadron I would apply to go to the Guards: for the reason that I had done second in command for a year and a year being safely embarqué with the red lasses is as much as anyone's self respect can stand, and if you think this over you will know it so.
Tanner is back, I should thereupon be going to the Guards now irrespective of whatever G.D.F has said or done.
If there a real chance of Cavalry fighting this would not be necessary, but there is no chance for the next 6 months.
That trip to the front line trenches convinced me of that.
And you and John E will I am sure agree that the prospect of 6 months inactivity would absolutely be the last thing necessary for Henry Platt.
Now as to G.D.F's action, he is justified to think whatever he likes, my only complaint is that 2 months after we had done any cavalry work he removes me from command for being a bad cavalry leader.
Obviously whatever he thought he acted in a way to make it as bad for me as possible.
Now as righting myself.
You need have no fear there is nothing to justify, nothing that J.E. need ever be ashamed of.
All 3 of my judges admitted I was capable, had guts, could make men work, had done well.
'Cavalry leading' was the only thing they had against me.
This as you know is impossible to disprove when there's no cavalry work afoot.
They signed & sealed a document to the effect I was a good soldier or I could never have arranged a transfer to the Guards.
Now my own, believe me I am not lucky when I say the very fact of my leaving the cavalry to go to the infantry puts it outside the bounds of any possibility that I can be looked on as anything but a good un; if I had a million enemies they could lie themselves black, but they could not alter the fact that this very act had shown I was no pollution, also that there was nothing against me.
So that's alright isn't it.
J.E. I can assure you will have reason to be much prouder of a pa that's transferred to the infantry than a pa what's sat behind as second in command to an add what's probably going to do nuffin for 6 months.
This is correct as you are clever enough to know.
Now my own you know everything. Please acknowledge this letter as B then I shall know you have got it. You understand don't you I go to the guards as a Captain not a subaltern, that I am at present to be attached pending transfer, that probably I'll go to the 1st Coldstream, that I'll probably be a Company Commander in a week or two.
That I am not going to the M.G..
All my love my own,
Sorry you are bothered like this, but it will all work out.
Please have the other poem sent out to me as quickly as ever you can, & please have the enclosed poem to youth, finished at last, also printed.
London Gazette, 1st Jan 1916
1st Jan 1916
From: Shirwell, Barnstaple
To: Platt. Kingwood , Thames Ditton
Love with heartiest congratulations on Evelyn's name in Honour List from all at Youlston.
Park, Shirwell, Barnstaple was the home of John Rookhurst Platt)
Letter to wife, Ella, 18th Mar 1916
18th Mar 1916
1st Bt Coldstream Guards
British Expeditionary Force
My Darling girl,
Out of your great big heart try and forgive your hub for being worse than a pig and not writing.
It is indeed a crime which merits severe condemnation. Mon amie forgive me.
We have been practicing all sorts of peace time manoevres which of course are strange to an ex cavalryman, n'est ce pas: but I think that I've mastered them well enough. But in the mastering the effort takes the power to write from one.
We are having spats tomorrow which will be pleasant.
That is once held we shall not have to spat again for some time: as you know I'm a miserable athlete but I think the men will enjoy them.
Saw an ex 19th H today who came some way to see me: he was a reservist & transferred voleur voleur to the infantry.
Always a bad walker he did find carrying a pick of much advantage, so they put him in the transport. It was kind of him to come & I appreciate his thought: he used to be Bowdens groom.
My own, cigarettes just come for the men: Sing song tomorrow evening which I hope will go well. There is to be beer & those cigs will help things along.
I see in the paper there is a lull at Verdun: also talk of peace: I wonder how long it will be. I still hold to September 1916. Don't you think so.
What a nice little bonne bouche if the Smuts affair comes off: and I told think it aught.
Delightful Chum is for Egypt: it will do him good to be sent to the Sun for a while: great work on Rita's part: You Carmacs are wonders.
Apparently gambo is having a successful time.
It will be interesting for her if she see Chatram Thiency & Senlir.
Glad Eric is being nice about his fees: as you say it was Buddhist luck.
I hear the old Turks or rather young Turks are for settling down comfortable like if they can: truly they are being spared by the Almighty for some very good reason.
It would have been a wonderful end to the war celebrating the downfall of the Hun in Saint Sofia.
But like Bernard Shaw the Almighty does not facify too definite a last act.
I am wondering how you liked the verses we wrote: they make a splendid song.
Lwarence's guv knows D. Haig & he is going to send a copy of it to him I think.
We are going to write another combined song some day: rather amusing 7 or 8 authors to one song.
Go & see a play now & then my own: please enjoy yourself for me as I shall feel it.
Not many chokes i.e. jokes flying about: I miss the tricks I used to crack with Maclaine: we shall soon be into Spring & then one will be able to arrange faults pour s'amuser: the present still too cold for hanging about.
All my love my own,
May 7th 1916
My Darling one,
I am sorry but I have missed the post to you today. The first time since Aug 17th 1914 I think but it was not my fault. Went to church & on the way back visited Gland Fry who looks very jaded. That devilish muse of hers has worried her more than I can say, and on top of it, she has not seen a _ for 10 months, and is just about at the end of her tether, poor little girl. I feel very sorry for her because she's been so plucky all through – I do hope he will get a flying Batt & have to come home to it. She needs him badly and I know just what she is feeling like.
After leaving G.E. yesterday met Mr Campbell and walked to their house with him. Mrs C. was in front and sailing along in my old macintosh! She said to me I feel very guilty because I am wearing a macintosh which does not belong to me! And we can't make out whose it is !!!! Tableau when I said I had lent it to young Mr C. one day a year ago!! They did laugh.
Came here to find Carlos B and a young lady whom I hope he will not go marrying. She's a friend of Jean's and from New Foundland! Pas moral but a bromide on Carlos's great heart and vile as ever. They had motored down & stayed to lunch and only left at 6pm – so I could not write for the post. Thorney and a Mrs Christopher Lowther also came – and I suspect by now you know why they came. Deb has gone away with the flying man après tout and Sue is with her – Has Hugh seen you yet about it?
I wouldn't write to him just now because the less put on paper the better – but please tell him to look upon Kingwood as a home and tell him that I would love to have Sue.
Somehow I thought Deb meant no nastiness the last time I saw her as she had said that she would not do anything till after the war. I thought & hoped that all would be well but enough of that.
I put a very tired Oily to bed tonight. He is just a little bit out of sorts as it has been very muggy & damp since our return and it's a big change after the heavy rain. He fell down too to add to the worry & cut his knee & both hands pretty badly. It was a job getting the gravel out & he cried rather which made him very tired. He was just Mummy's baby and rested his head on my shoulder when I undressed him & he was asleep in 5 minutes.
Nan has a day off tomorrow, so I shall have him all to myself which will be a great joy.
(Futher pages missing as back of her letter was used in following letter from Henry)
Deb referred to in the above letter is the wife of HEA Platt's brother, who was also serving in the Coldstream Guards, and Sue is their daughter.
11th May 1916
My Darling girl,
I have plenty of paper but it is at my billet so please excuse me writing on the back of your letter.
I enclose Tutus letter, incidentally… Report we are conquerors. Not much news at all at moment; as to Terresto's affair even now I can hardly … and a pity she couldn't have done it before & saved us all a great deal of bother. I think she wants a good smacking but
It is such a mess… Of course I'll tell him your message re Kingwood: but he's such a quaint old beard he means letting Dot keep Suzanne because her friend is so good and she's made such a good mother. Mon dieu!
It's no good taking him seriously…
We've had rather an amusing letter re officers giving away information in letters: it is a notorious fact men who really do the fighting are far less inclined to bark about things in their letters than the other red tabbed gents who have no one to say their name.
If you have fought Huns for a while at fairly close quarters you do not feel dead loud to give anything away.
I'm so sorry the Oily is out of sorts. I hope he'll soon be better.
Duff Warmington is back, he is full of bounce & heart, so I now have 3 officers, him, Samuelson & Dickson.
This ninth I took them for a nice walk in the country among the green fields far from the..
Black Night is outside waiting to go riding so I must go my darling as he doesn't like being at the front. He sends you his best respects.
It's the real turning point.
It is late but not too late, n'est ce pas.
All my love,
15-Oct-1915 - Captain Platt joined from 19th Hussars
29-Oct-1915 - Captain H E Platt special leave to England
18-Jan-1916 - Captain H E Platt returns from base & is posted to no 2 coy to command.
1-Feb-1916 - Captain H E Platt proceeds on leave
14-Feb-1916 - Captain H E Platt returns from leave
15- May-1916 - Capt H.E.A. Platt Killed in Action & Lt G.B.F. Ramsden wounded while out wiring outside Railway Wood. Bright moonlight night. (Ypres Trenches AI Sector).
The Daily Express understands that Captain H.E.A. Platt of 1st battalion Coldstream was killed in action on Tuesday. It is believed that he went out to fetch one of his company officers, who was wounded.
Captain Platt was mentioned in despatches last year, was gassed last May while serving with the 19th Hussars, and was wounded in December. He was known as a fearless officer, and was worshipped by his men. He had nine years service with the 19th Hussars.
He went out to wire when it was very bright moonlight at a place where he thought that wire was essential; and in his gallant way he would not ask a soul to do what he would not set them the example of doing.
His brother Ernest who was also serving in the Coldstream Guards wrote:
"Evelyn was killed at 3 o'clock this morning, helping in one of his Company Officers who was wounded in front of the trenches.
He will be a great loss to his battalion.
He is to be buried this evening. I hope to get some time tonight."
From the Eton College Chronicle, June 3, 1916:
The war cloud hangs heavy over Eton. On entering the precincts of the Upper School there is a Roll of Honour (Etona Non Immemor) on Chapel wall of Eton's sons who have made the great surrender in the war. It now reaches 600 names or thereabouts, and there is now to be added Captain Henry Evelyn Arthur Platt, Coldstream Guards whose anonymous lines only the other week in the College Chronicle attracted attention. They were addressed to a soldier:
"Say not of him 'he left this vale of tears,'
Who loved the good plain English phrase
Nor state 'he nobly lived (or otherwise),
Failed or succeeded' – friend, just say
School friends recall his cheerfulness and courage and love of gardens, picnics and poetry.
He always wrote of himself as a 'scug' at Eton because he had won no glory at work or games but it was 'to be wiped out some day'. And just a year ago he wrote "I happened to have been left behind to hand over the line, and explain necessary details. We pulled through. After the gas had passed and we had got the show running again, for the first time in my life I felt a scug was as good as anyone else.
The day after his death a brother officer wrote, "Here in the company one feels there has gone the life and soul as it were the father of us all. The men worshipped him. An old soldier, once gassed, once wounded, after twenty one months of warfare he retained and infused into others that spirit of the old army that regarded difficulties as things to be overcome. Last night, I think there passed to join the great company of friends who have fallen in the war one of the bravest and best loved by officers and men".
Another officer wrote "We shall have no longer with us that wondrously vital optimistic energetic spirit, of the boy's heart and lion's courage, the idealist and man of action, the poet and leader of men."
He is no longer with us: but some day, the cause will triumph, because "he tried."
For the late
Capt Henry Evelyn Arthur Platt
Killed in action May 15th 1916
"Say not of him 'he left this vale of tears,'
Who loved the good plain English phrase
Nor state 'he nobly lived (or otherwise),
Failed or succeeded' – friend, just say
The above poem was written by H E A Platt and published in the Eton magazine in Spring 1916 shortly before he was killed.
He is buried in Brandhoek Military cemetery, Grave Reference II. B. 8.
Cemetery: Brandhoek Military Cemetery
Area: Ieper West-Vlaanderen
Unit: 2nd Coy. 1st Bn. Coldstream Guards.
Mentioned in Despatches. Killed in action in the Ypres Salient 15th May 1916. Age 32. Son of the late J. H. Platt J.P. and Mrs. Platt of 63 Prince's Gate London; husband of Lella Platt of 22 Chesham Place London. One of the first Cavalry Officers to transfer to the Infantry. Soldier poet and sportsman. II. B. 8.
Brandhoek Military cemetery on Road and Satellite maps:
Ella was born in 1885 and was the daughter of Isabella and William Chalmers Carmichael of Innellan, Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa who as an Advocate in Maritzburg.
She had a sister May and a younger brother Chalmers 'Chum' Carmichael who went through the South-West Campaign with Botha's Horse. He took up Ostrich farming in the Cape Province and ultimately stock farming in Umvoti County before joining the war. He was a Lance Corporal in the South African Infantry and was about to join the 1st/8th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters as a Second Lieutenant, but was killed aged 28 on the 15th July 1916 during the battle of the Somme with the attack on Delville Wood..
His Sergeant-Major wrote: "I regret to learn of your son's death. He was one of my best bayonet instructors while in Bernafay wood. I picked him out to go to the rear and bring up our relief. To do this he had to make his way through the wood under terrific shell fire and guide the relieving troops back to us in the dark. He carried out his duty without a hitch and as you will readily understand the slightest mistake on his part might have meant disaster for those under his care. We had a dreadful time there and poor old A company suffered heavily."
5 years after the death of her husband Henry, Ella, aged 36, married on the 5th October 1921 Major Cecil Rookherst Wigan MC aged 25, who was born in July 1896 in Hampshire, and who served in the Welsh Guards. However in January 1928 she filed for divorce stating that he had had an affair and had taken her money.
Ella then married the Duke Ossolin de Topor of Mexico.
She died aged 53 in 1939.
After her death, her brother-in-law Ernest Platt posted an advert in search of her sisters:
Cecil Rookherst Wigan then married Maud Wishart McKelvie on the 22 October 1947. Maud was the widow of Albert Kirby Fairfax, 12th Lord Fairfax of Cameron and had two grown up children – 1. Thomas Brian McElvie Fairfax, 13th Lord Fairfax of Cameron b. 14 May 1923, d. 8 Apr 1964 and 2. Hon. Peregrine John Wishart Fairfax b. 8 Mar 1925, d. 23 Feb 2012.
He lived at 32 Cadogan Lane, London, and died on the 23 October 1958 at the Acland Nursing Home in Oxfordshire leaving £44,409 0s 10d to Maud.
Maud then married thirdly Brigadier Felix Alexander Vincent Copland-Griffiths. She died on the 18th September 1973.
His son John Evelyn Platt was living in Mexico in 1955 and took legal action against his step father, Ossolin, the Duke of Topor, over the amount of money he was receiving.
John Evelyn Platt died a bachelor in Mexico on April 3rd 1960 aged 47 with his extensive fortune going to his Aunts Mary Carmichael Davison and Jesse Ross Carmichael Shipley.
John Ernest Hodder Platt was born on the 16th July 1880 in Anglesey.
He became a Second Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion, the Rifle Brigade on the 14th December 1889, and then transferred to the Coldstream Guards on the 27th June 1900 for 3 years before becoming a Reserve Officer on 17th October 1903.
He married on the 11th June 1906 Mildred Deborah Green who was the daughter of Major-General Sir William Henry Rodes Green, K.C.S.I., C.B. (1823-1912) who was the son of Vice-Admiral Sir Andrew P. Green.
They had a daughter, Suzanne Deborah Elise Platt, who was born on 24th January 1908.
In 1911 John Ernest Hodder Platt was living aged 31 at 63 Princes Gate, Belgravia, London with his wife Mildred Deborah Platt aged 23, their 3 year old daughter Suzanne Deborah Elise Platt, a nurse, a cook, a lady's maid, 4 house maids, a kitchen maid, a scullery maid and two footmen.
At the outbreak of the First World War, he joined the Foot Guards as a Second Lieutenant on the 19th August 1914, and then served in the Coldstream Guards.
His wife ran off with a Pilot in 1916 and the marriage was dissolved in 1920.
One year later on the 24th January 1922 he married Marie Claire Michaescu, daughter of Colonel A. Michaescu of the Russian Army, Jura Padini Corabia, Romania.
Ernest lived at La Maison des Pommiers, Sark, Channel Islands, and was a member of the Guards Club and the Royal Automobile Club.
They had a son John Evelyn Luca Blaise Platt who was born on the 24th September 1930 in Beechwood Nursing Home, Guernsey.
By 1956 he had lost contact with his nephew John Evelyn Henry Platt and posted a newspaper advert to try and regain contact, believing him to be residing in Mexico.
He died aged 80 on the 5 October 1960 at Villa Pre Martine, Allassio, Italy leaving a widow Thelma Thurston Platt.
John’s daughter Suzanne married Agostine Lanfranchi in 1934 in Marylebone. Agostino was born in Palazzolo, Italy, on the 24th June 1892 and was in the Italian Olympic four man Bob Sled team finishing fourth in 1928 in St Moritz and fifth in 1932 in Lake Placid. After the First World War where he served in the Italian Army as a motorcycle courier and won the Military Cross, he moved to England where he won many motor races with his Alfa Romeo and was the owner of the trading Company A Lanfranchi Ltd which marketed the famous Lanfranchi button for the family firm. In 1940 he left England for Italy and spent his last years in Capri where he died on 15th February 1963. Suzanne died on the 30th December 1989 in Bexhill, Sussex.
John’s son, John Evelyn Luca Blaise Platt died on the 20th October 2002 at Savona, Liguria, Italy.
Three of his cousins were also killed in the War; two were within 6 weeks of his own death in the spring of 1916.
On the 27 March 1916 John Rookhurst Platt who was a Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery was killed near Hill 60, Ypres. http://www.stanwardine.com/genepic/John_Rookhurst_Platt.pdf
On the 30th April 1916 Edmond Ernest Charles Wellesley, who was a Captain in the 9th Norfolk Regiment, was killed by a shell on the Canal Bank near Ypres. http://www.stanwardine.com/genepic/Edmond_Wellesley.pdf
On the 13th April 1917, Lionel Sydney Platt, who HEA Platt had been at Eton with, was a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps and was shot down near Vitry-en-Artois. http://www.stanwardine.com/genepic/platt_lionel_sydney_rfc.pdf
The family tree from his great grandfather Henry Platt can be seen at
1. 8 boxes of information held at The Imperial War Museum Archives, London, relating to Captain H.E.A. Platt. Ref: Documents.13982
Boxes are as follows:
Journal 1902 to 1910 and letters to mother and Ella Carmichael (1907 to 1910)
Letters to Ella Platt 1914 to 1915
Letters to Ella Platt 1915 to 11/5/1916. These include letters of 18th March 1916 and the last letter of 11th May 1916 of which scanned copies can be seen at http://www.stanwardine.com/genepic/Photocopies-of-letters-from-HEA-Platt.pdf
Plays, Diary 18/8/1914 to 6/9/1914, typed letters to Ella from 23/8/1914 to 9/4/1916, Tribunal.
Photograph as a boy, newspaper cuttings re death, location of grave
Marriage certificate, birth certificate of John Evelyn Platt, Photo of Miss Carmichael and Mr E Platt
Death of HEA Platt, newspaper notices, letters of condolence, wife in search of a medium.
Letters Capt C R Wigan 1920s to Ella, and divorce from him 1928
2. Photograph of Ella Carmichael found by Guy French, Perth, WA, who also has in his possession the trunk of 'Captain HEA Platt'.
3. Marriage Certificate obtained via Mr Broddy at ancestry.co.uk, who is a descendant of HEA Platt’s Aunt, Florence Sarah Louisa Platt. http://trees.ancestry.co.uk/tree/4414462/family
4. Platt Family Tree created by Joseph Platt Hall in 1930. Original held at Melyniog.
5. London Gazette, 1st Jan 1916
6. Commonwealth War Graves Commission
7. Biography of 19th Hussars. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/19th_Royal_Hussars
8. Ypres sector map showing Railway Wood http://lt1.mcmaster.ca/ww1/wrz4mp.php?grid=28&map_id=371&view
9. Armorial Familes by Arthur Charles Fox Davies
10. London Gazette entries relating to John Ernest Hodder Platt
11. Divorce Court File: 1215. Appellant: Mildred Deborah Platt. Respondent: John Ernest Hodder Platt. Type: Wife's petition for divorce. Item reference J 77/1647/1215, National Archives, Kew.
12. Agostino Lanfranchi biography. http://www.lampozippers.it/IT/storia/agostino
13. Family tree of Patricia Lewis (who is a descendant of HEA & JEH Platt’s Aunt Lucy Jane Platt) regarding John Ernest Hodder Platt.
14. Cecil Rookhurst Wigan http://thepeerage.com/p43601.htm#i436003
15. Photograph of 'Miss Carmichael and Mr E Platt' from the magazine 'Madame', 22nd July 1911.
16. Coldstream Guards War Diary 1st Battalion Aug 1915 to Jan 1918, National Archives, Kew
William Bridge – email@example.com - June / July 2012
A book is now available containing much more information with many more letters to his wife describing how he was gassed and life in the trenches.
It is available as a paperback in colour or black and white from Amazon, or as a digital download onto your kindle or other electronic device as follows:
Paperback in Colour:
Paperback in Black & White: