“Sons of Claines - Lest we forget”

The action in which he was killed was known as the  Battle of Langermarck.

The official history of the Worcestershire Regiment records; “The Battalion arrived in Flanders on 15th October. They were billeted in Hazebrouck and moved to Poperinghe on the 19th. On the dawn of the 21st the advance began. They advanced from Pilcken Ridge to the crossroads north of St Julien. However due to a long delay in waiting for the 1st Division the enemy had advanced considerably. The fighting lasted all day. “The platoons in the front line suffered severely. Lieutenant FGO Curtler, a very brave young officer, was shot dead while directing the fire of his platoon. Sergeant DM Owins took over his command. Casualties for that day were 18 killed, 39 wounded and 3 missing.” Lieutenant Cutler was mentioned in dispatches for his action, on 17 February 1915.

A feature on Claines very first 1914-1918 Casualty

Lieutenant F.G.O Curtler,

killed in action October 21st 1914, aged 21

The Curtler family have a long and detailed connection with Claines Church. They lived at Bevere House from the 1840’s and owned the Bevere Estate, which extended to 720 acres in the parish. The Curtler family were the Landlords for the tenant farmers whose sons were also serving, such as Corporal Harry Sansome of Oak Farm and Private Barnard of Bevere Green. There are many Curtler family memorials in the Lady Chapel in Claines Church and family graves in the open churchyard. There are also three windows  in Claines Church dedicated to the family. Reverend Thomas Gale Curtler, the grandfather of Lt Frederick Curtler was the first Vicar of St Stephens, our daughter parish.  

Bevere House today

Lt. Frederick  Curtler was the first recorded Claines casualty according to the Church and Institute Memorials.  

The registers from Rugby School (Donkin), where Curtler boys were traditionally sent on their 15th birthday recall;

“Frederick Gwatkin Oldham Curtler was the only son of Frederick Lewis and Nannie Gwatkin Curtler of Bevere House Worcester.

He entered the School in 1907, and left in 1909. He obtained a Commission in the Special Reserve in 1912, and went with the First Expeditionary Force to France in the beginning of the War. He was present at the Retreat from Mons and in the Battles of the Marne and of the Aisne, and in the first Battle near Ypres. He was killed in action near the village of St Julien, on October 21st, 1914, aged 21.

A man of his Company describing the action in which he fell wrote of him in the following terms:- “I cannot see any mention in the papers of one very brave young Officer, my Platoon Commander. We were ordered to advance across some open country in face of the enemy’s guns. We kept on, losing many of our comrades, until within range of the German rifles, when we were ordered to dig ourselves in. I dug head-cover for myself and Mr. Curtler, as he was running from place to place with orders, and in doing this he was shot. We have lost one of our best Officers and a true British Soldier.”

Lieutenant Cutler was serving with the 5th Battalion but embarked with the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. They received orders on the 12th August and sailed from Southampton to Boulogne.

The 2nd battalion was a regular army regiment and formed part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), or the “Old Contemptibles”. The 21st October was the 2nd  day of the Battle of Ypres. His grave is not known and he shares a  panel on the Menin Gate Memorial with  54,000 others whose graves were not known.

It was the death of Frederick, which led to the demise of the family estate at Bevere. Frederick was the only son and the estate passed to his sister Helen in 1938. Despite their fathers’ wishes that the estate should remain in its complete form it was sold off piecemeal in the 1970’s. This was a situation so common to many of the landed families of the early 20th Century.

His name appears on the Church Cenotaph, Institute Memorial and the Rolls of Honour.

Lieutenant Cutler has no known grave but is remembered on the Memorial Addenda Panel 57 of the Menin Gate memorial in Belgium, shown below.

“The Worcesters going into action”

First World War Postcard

More details of Claines War Dead are available here.

If you have any information for these individuals please let us know. We aim to build more features of individuals in the future

Ypres 1918

Ypres today

(Credit. Ken & Jean Clarke)

Lt Curtler, Menin Panel 57

(Credit. Ken & Jean Clarke)

The Menin Gate

(Credit. Ken & Jean Clarke)

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Article written and researched by Geoff Sansome