STEPPING Stones School, in Hindhead, hosted one of the most moving displays of wreaths commissioned by Haslemere Town Council to remember the fallen of WWI commorated on war memorials in Camelsdale, Grayswood, Haslemere, Hindhead and Shottermill.
The senior school is based at Undershaw, former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the creator of Sherlock Holmes, who rented the house in 1907 to the Rev Edward Carus Selwyn, a retired headteacher at Uppingham.
Tragically all three of the vicar’s sons were killed in The Great War and their father died shortly afterwards in November 1918 aged 65, when his heart failed – many believe due to a broken heart.
Haslemere Mayoress Melanie Odell, who masterminded the wreaths project and helped with the research, described the presentation of three wreaths to hang at the brothers’ former home, as very moving.
Sadly, it was not the only house to display three wreaths.
Mrs Odell said: “Rumour has it that when their father heard his youngest son had died as well, he just faded away. And the last death was so close to the end of the war as well, it was dreadful. It’s hard to say if Undershaw is the most poignant former home in and around Haslemere.
“There are three Wood brothers from Little Hammer Lane, three from Upfolds, two brothers and a cousin from Fieldway – and so the list goes on. It’s heartbreaking.”
Lieutenant Arthur Penrose Selwyn died on May 18, 1916, aged 27. He served with 11th King Edward’s Own Lancers (Probyn’s Horse) and was attached to the Royal Flying Corps at the time of his death.
He was killed on a training flight in Hampshire. During a turn to the right, the aircraft stalled and was seen to nose-dive and plummet into the ground at Holbrook.
Arthur had married his wife Eileen, in Kensington, in November 1915, but he died before the birth of his only child three months later.
He was named after his father, and his middle name was Wakefield, which was the middle name of his uncle Charles, who had died the year before.
Second Lieutenant Christopher Wakefield Selwyn died on May 17, 1915, aged 26. He was attached to 1/5th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment at the time of his death, but had enlisted in the Canadian Infantry in 2014, with the rank of Lance Corporal.
He arrived in England in the autumn with the 1st Canadian Contingent. In December 1914, he was granted a commission in 1/5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment as a Second Lieutenant and went abroad in February 1915.
On May 15, the battalion had taken up new positions on the slopes of Mount Kemmel near Zillebeke. He was shot through both thighs while out on patrol and “though wonderfully cheerful when carried in, died a few days later at Bailleul”.
Lieutenant George Vincent Carus Selwyn died on October 25 in 1918, aged 21. He served with 106th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
George died less than three weeks before the Armistice. The three brothers are commemorated on Shottermill War Memorial.
Headteacher Melissa Grigsby said: “We would like to thank the local community for allowing us to be part of this tribute to the Selwyns and all those who have served and honoured our beautiful country.”