SECOND LIEUTENANT RALPH VIVIAN BABINGTON
9TH OCTOBER 1917 AGE 19
BURIED: RUISSEAU FARM CEMETERY, YPRES, BELGIUM
Second to none, in other words, in a class of his own, unmatchable. It's a lovely inscription for a father to choose for his son. As it's in inverted commas, I thought it must have been a quote from something like a letter of condolence but then James Kerr (@JamesKerr125) pointed out to me that it is in fact a translation of the Coldstream Guards' motto 'Nulli Secundus'.
Ralph Babington was the youngest of five sons. One gets the feeling that he was not robust. In fact one of the reports following his death refers to the fact that "In that small body there was a giant heart". He seems to have been intended for a career in the navy but after spending some time as a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Osborne his health broke down when he was 14 and it was a year before he recovered enough to be sent to Eton. In 1916, when he was 17, he went to Sandhurst, all the time desperate that the war might be over before he'd had a chance to take a part in it. His chance came soon enough and unfortunately it was his life that was over before the war was.
Babington's medal card says that he first entered a theatre of war on 9 October 1917 and that he was killed in action on the 9 November but the 9 October was the date of his death so it's not really possible to say how long he'd been at the front. He was killed when the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards took part in an assault near Ypres between "Broembeke and Houlthoulet Forrest". According to a report in the Eton Chronicle: "He was leading his platoon to the forming-up area on the night of October 8-9, when a German shell burst close to him, killing him instantaneously, and many of his men".
Babington was one of the 5 officers and 35 other ranks killed that day.