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
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.