Stanstead Abbotts

Local History Society

  1. Cecil Wilfred SPICER

2nd Lieutenant

2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment

Formerly 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment

Killed in Action 23rd November 1916 aged 35

  1. Born on May 14th 1879, in Goldalming, Surrey, one of 9 children, to Herbert and Martha, who in 1881 were living at a house called Highlands in Putney Heath, together with grandmother Sarah and his uncle and aunt, Henry and Lucy Spicer, with 4 nurses, a cook and a parlour maid. While in the two cottages next to the house lived the coachman and the gardener. 10 years later Cecil was living with brothers and sisters at Woodlands House in Hambledon, Surrey.  At the time of his death his family were living at Cranbourne, St Margaret’s.
  1. Cecil attended Mill Hill School at the same time as his brother Maurice (who also fought and fell, see his page), and was there from 1897 -1898, also in Burton Bank house.

  1. Shortly after leaving school Cecil went to India, and began a new life as a tea planter in Pathemara in the Cachar district of Assam.  When the Boer War broke out in South Africa in 1899, Cecil joined the Indian Mounted Infantry Corps, also known as Lumsdens Horse, a volunteer unit formed in India.  They provided their own equipment and in some cases their own horses, although many were donated by wealthy Indian rulers.  They arrived in South Africa at the end of 1899 and fought throughout the conflict until its end in 1901, during this time Cecil took part in over 80 engagements emerging unscathed.
  1. At the end of the war Cecil returned to India, but before too long he had left and made his way to the West Indies where he took up farming, but by 1911 he had moved yet again this time to Canada, and was farming in Saskatchewan, and then as a lumber merchant where he remained until the outbreak of war in 1914.

  1. Cecil joined the 32nd Infantry Battalion Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on 14th December 1914, at the same time as his brother Maurice.  On his attestation papers he is described as 5ft 10ins tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair.   Due to his previous military experience he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in January 1916 in the 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regt.  He was later transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regt who he was serving with when he was wounded in action.  His unit then became part of the 4th Army at the Battle of the Somme.
  1. Recovering from his wounds he was posted back to his unit and led his men in an attack on Transloy Ridge, where the Lincolnshire’s objective was the village of EaucourtL’Abbaye but it met fierce German resistance, and they were forced to retreat. The 2nd Lincolnshire’s continued fighting for Transloy Ridge but during a later attack Cecil was wounded but got up and continued to lead his men until he was hit again, this time fatally.

  1. His unit commander wrote to Cecil’s parents “He was wounded but with his usual pluck went on leading his company until he was hit again…He is a great loss to the Regiment: his pluck and coolness under the most trying circumstances were beyond praise,” From his regimental chaplain, “He was most popular with his men and would have inspired anyone with courage, we miss him very much indeed.”
  1. It is worth noting that he is described as leading his company, Cecil was a 2nd Lieutenant and under normal circumstances would have commanded just a platoon of 30 men and not a company of up to 250 men usually led by a Captain or Major.

  1. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial.

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