A Shot in the Dark – 100 years ago

Cecil Grundy004

Cecil Grundy in his Emanuel School uniform

Cecil Grundy lived with his family a few minutes walk from Wandsworth Common. He was the eldest of 4 boys and attended Emanuel School between 1906-1909. In 1912 he travelled to Argentina to work in Burberry’s Buenos Aires branch. At the outbreak of the First World War he returned to England sailing in RMS Alcantara. He enlisted, serving initially with the Honourable Artillery Company and later, in 1915, he gained a commission in the Middlesex Regiment. On 28 October 1915, whilst inspecting the barbed wire in front of his trenches, 2nd Lt. Grundy was shot in the right thigh. The next morning, 29 October 1915 – exactly 100 years ago today – 2nd Lt Athelstan Douglas Dempster Bonnor, second in command of A Company, 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment – wrote to Cecil’s mother Emily to tell her what happened.

Dear Madam,

I am sorry to say that your son was slightly wounded last night in the right thigh, but it is nothing to worry about and he is quite as well as can be expected under the circumstances as I promised him I would write and tell you at once. I was just going to bed at 10.30 when Captain Bucknall came and ordered me to go on guard in place of your son as he had just been wounded, so I went up at once to the firing line and saw your son who had the doctor in attendance and he immediately gave me your address and asked me to write to you as soon as possible as he was very afraid that you might hear he was wounded and think it might be serious. He was quite normal and only appeared to feel excessive pain if the stretcher-bearers jolted him. I gave him one of my blankets as his servant had already packed his own up and they carried him to the Field Ambulance. I have not been able to write sooner as we have been leaving the trenches today and there has been no outgoing post; but as we went through the big town today (which I am afraid must be nameless) the doctor went in to the hospital and saw your son who he said is quite comfortable today. I think they will be moving him tomorrow and he will commence his journey to England. So I hope you will soon see him. He and I are the only two subalterns in this Company so needless to say we shall miss him very much in many ways.

I saw his binoculars hanging up in our dugout this morning and my servant has brought them down here, but I won’t send them on till I hear from you on him and make quite sure that this address has reached you. So I do hope you will not upset yourself and I might say that the conditions out here are such that most people who have spoken today to me about your son have envied him and wish they could change places with him! I must now stop if you will excuse me as I am absolutely done up after this march and last night,

Yours sincerely,

A. D. Dempster Bonnor.

P.S. We should all be awfully pleased to hear how your son is when he has reached home if you could send us a line.

Next year I am publishing a book on Cecil and his younger brother Ronald’s life in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. You can read their full life stories through their own words and photographs.

Book Cover

Book Cover for forthcoming publicaton