Monday, April 28, 2014

Brigadier Seely and Lieutenant--Captain? Gordon Flowerdew

Some time ago I posted the following:

Gordon Flowerdew, VC, and the Mystery of his Headstone

Gordon Flowerdew, of Norfolk, England; Duck Lake, Saskatchewan; and Wallachin, BC, lies buried at Namps-au-Val British Cemetary, the Somme, France. Flowerdew has passed into history as the man that led "C" Squadron, Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) in their ill-fated charge against German rifles, machine guns, and artillery at Moreuil Wood in March, 1918.
Flowerdew died of his wounds the day after the battle. His marker, maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, lists his rank as "captain". I am informed by a member of his family that he was promoted to captain by the Canadian Cavalry Brigade's commander, Brigadier Seely, on the day he died; although his military records refer to him as "lieutenant" throughout. At least one author has referred to Flowerdew being promoted the same day he died, but (so far) I am not aware of any documentation in that regard--except for the headstone itself.

 It's interesting to speculate with hindsight what Brigadier-general Seely's motivation would have been in promoting his badly wounded subaltern. To make his convalescence easier to bear? To encourage other officers to follow Flowerdew's bold example at Moreuil Wood?
Perhaps Seely knew Flowerdew's days--no, hours--were numbered, and wished to give him some comfort. Some bit of solace for his large family, perhaps. Whatever the motivation, it speaks to Seely's concern for the Canadian cavalrymen, of whom he was so proud.


The Cooking Ladies said...

The hero we know was Tom Mackay. Enjoyed reading this about Flowerdew, Bob. I feel like I know this man after reading your book and hearing his name so often over the years. ~Phyllis

Robert Mackay said...

Flowerdew was a hero, and there were plenty of others on March 30th, 1918. I'm very happy to have been able to tell the story in "Soldier of the Horse".

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