Remembering the former Wisley students who died serving their country during the First World War on the hundredth anniversary of their deaths
John Selkirk (1894 -1915)
was a student at Wisley for a short time in 1913. His studies were cut short when his father became ill and he had to return to his native Lancashire to take charge of his father's business. Described by those that knew him as a promising and painstaking student, he had gained horticultural experience at Holmes Chapel Agricultural College and a nursery in Leipzig before arriving as a student at Wisley.
He enlisted in the 10th
Scottish Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment in September 1914. Private Selkirk was killed in the trenches at Ypres on 13 March 1915. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial and on the Liverpool Scottish First World War Memorial in St George's Hall, Liverpool. He was also awarded the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1915 Star.
Ferris Nelson Grant (1875-1915) became a student at Wisley in 1907, and passed his Horticultural Diploma in 1910. He was born in British Guiana and arrived at Wisley having served as a midshipman and a second lieutenant in the navy, but retired due to failing eyesight.
When war broke out he was settled on a smallholding growing fruit at Battle, Sussex. He offered his services and was sent to France with the 5th Sussex Battalion. He was killed during the Battle of Aubers Ridge on 9 May 1915 and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial at Richebourg L’Avoue, Pas de Calais, as he has no known grave.
A letter from a private in his company reads, ‘We would have gone anywhere for him, for he was a Captain who was liked by every man in the company, and we were sorry to lose him. ’
Lieutenant Colonel Langham wrote, ‘The last I saw of Grant, he stood on a parapet giving directions to ‘B’ Company, and they went over like one man.’
Captain Eric Fazen ‘A’ Company 5th Battalion recorded in his diary ‘I remember seeing Captain Grant holding a high marking flag directing B Company. I heard afterwards that Grant led a charge of the 5th and 2nd Sussex. He was very cool and they followed him splendidly’. Captain Grant was awarded the Military Medal, the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1915 Star.
Read all Debora's blogs on this subject
For information on searching for a lost relative visit the Imperial War Museum website, or the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website to search for First World War graves.