18TH MAY 1918 AGE 19


"Truly ye come of The Blood; slower to bless than to ban;
Little used to lie down at the bidding of any man.
Flesh of the flesh that I bred, bone of the bone that I bare;
Stark as your sons shall be - stern as your fathers were.
Deeper than speech our love, stronger than life our tether,
But we do not fall on the neck nor kiss when we come together."

Second Lieutenant Hamilton's inscription refers to the opening lines of Rudyard Kipling's 'England's Answer'. This speaks of the blood ties that link the people of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa into the British Empire, and lauds the qualities of the British race and the responsibilities it has assumed in the world.
However, there is more going on with this inscription than just Kipling's poem. The War Graves Commission has only the most minimal information about Second Lieutenant GEAF Hamilton, no Christian names, no parentage and no age. But he was, in fact, George Edward Archibald Augustus FitzGeorge Hamilton, son and heir of Sir Archibald Hamilton and his first wife Olga Mary Adelaide FitzGeorge. Both these families came of royal blood: Olga's grandfather was the Duke of Cambridge, one of the sons of George III, and Sir Archibald was descended from James II. 'Truly ye are of the blood' is a reference not just to the binding blood of the Empire but to royal blood. After the divorce Sir Archibald was given custody of his son but it was his mother's second husband, Squadron Leader Richard Charlton Lan of the Air Ministry, who signed for the inscription.
Olga and Sir Archibald divorced in 1902 and Sir Archibald went on to have a fairly colourful career, which saw him convert to Islam and become a leading member of the British Union of Fascists.
George Hamilton was educated at Winchester, left in 1916 to go to Sandhurst, was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards - the regiment of which his great-grandfather the Duke of Cambridge had been Colonel in Chief for over forty years - joining the 1st Battalion in France in January 1918. By May 1918 the German offensive was beginning to lose steam but their artillery and aeroplanes were still very active. The regimental history records that:

"On the 17th the area occupied by the 1st Battalion was subjected to a severe bombing by aircraft; Second Lieutenant W.A. Fleet and Second Lieutenant G.E.A.A. Fitz-George Hamilton were killed, and Second Lieutenant S.J. Hargreaves and Second Lieutenant G.D. Neale were seriously wounded. The two latter never recovered from the wounds they received, and died the next day. The loss of these four keen young officers was deeply felt by the whole Battalion."