Stanstead Abbotts

Local History Society

Andrew Richard BUXTON


3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade

Killed in Action 7th June 1917 aged 37

Born in Hanover Terrace, London on 19th August 1879 to parents John Henry and Emma.  He went to Harrow School and then on to Trinity College Cambridge where he studied zoology.  He was a very keen naturalist and loved walking in the countryside with his three Labradors Zulu, Zenith and Zedok. One of his hobbies was keeping tarantula spiders.Although the family home was Easeneye in the 1901 census he is shown as living with his uncle, Robert Barclay, a banker and JP, at High Leigh, Hoddesdon.

Andrew comes from a famous family, his Great Grandfather Thomas Fowell Buxton with his friend Elizabeth Fry, were two leading 19th Century abolitionists against the slave trade

Prior to the outbreak of war Andrew had spent some time in the USA arriving back in England on 19th December 1913 on the SS Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic.

When the war began he left his job as a local director of Barclays Bank in Westminster and enlisted as a Private soldier in 1914, in the Public Schools and Universities Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers.

After receiving his commission as an officer, in January 1915, he was transferred to the Rifle Brigade where he was serving with the temporary rank of Captain in A Company of the 6th Battalion.  After some months training in England he was transferred into the 3rd Battalion and went to France in July1915.  His unit fought at Hooge, in Belgium in 1915 and were then transferred to the Somme area in 1916 and took part in the battles for DelvilleWood, Flers-Courcelette and Le Transloy. In the early part of 1917 they were involved in the battle for Vimy.

His unit was taking part in the assault on Messines Ridge, part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres. This began on 7th June 1917 with the detonation of huge mines laid underground below the German strongpoint of Hill 60. When these mines exploded the whole of the top of the hill disappeared and the explosion was heard in London, and it is believed that there were thousands of German casualties as a result of this one explosion, many of them buried alive.

Behind the German front line was a secondary trench system known as the Oosteverne line running from the River Lys to the Comines canal, this was the objective of Andrews’s unit.  Although there were relatively few casualties in the capture of the ridge itself, the attempt to capture the Oosteverne line cost over 24,500 allied troops, one of whom was Andrew Buxton.  His unit, the Third Rifle Brigade, had taken their objective and he was following on, in charge of a party bringing up supplies and ammunition, when he was hit by machine gun fire.

He is buried in the Oostaverne Wood Cemetery.

According to probate records he left £30,546.1.1d to his brother Henry Fowell Buxton and his sister Lillian Rosamund Buxton.

He has a memorial in St Andrews Church and also in the Parish Hall, where above one of the doors you will see an inscription stating that the hall is in his memory.  There is a biography of him written in 1918 called “Andrew R Buxton, the Rifle Brigade, a memoir,” and the whole book is available to be read on the internet.  

Medals Awarded: British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1915 Star