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  • Courtesy Fred Reed and Coddington Parish
Person Details
15 Feb 1873
He was the second son and heir of James and Annie Thorpe. He was the husband of Elizabeth Cecilia Thorpe (later of 'Coombelands', Pullborough, Sussex) whom he married on 9th May 1904 at Salisbury Cathedral. For further details see 'Extra Information'.
He was educated at Eton and later Sandhurst.
15 Sep 1916
44
293342 - CWGC Website
Major
  • MC MC Military Cross
2nd Bn Scots Guards
(WMA 27714) Inscription on family memorial: 'Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. To the Glory of God and in loving memory of my husband John Somerled Thorpe MC, Captain Scots Guards, of Coddington Hall in the county of Notts and Ardbrecknish Argyll. Joined Scots Guards 1893 served throughout South African War, rejoined his old regiment 1914, was twice wounded killed in the Somme battle while temporarily commanding 2nd Battn Scots Guards on September 16th 1916 aged 43. Mentioned in Despatches, was awarded Military Cross ‘for gallantry and coolness in collecting isolated groups of men at Loos & holding a defence position for three days and nights until relieved. His body lies in the Military Cemetery at Carnoy. RIP.' See also 'Extra Information' for further details of his military career. He is buried in Les Baraques Military Cemetery, Sangatte, Pas de Calais, France.
Personal inscription, CWGC headstone: 'He hath awakened from the dream of life' This extract is from the Newark Advertiser, 27 September 1916: “Major John Somerled Thorpe - Killed after most gallantly leading his company - Buried to the Dirge of the Pipes. A wave of sadness and sorrow passed over the town and district on Wednesday evening, when the official news was received that Major J. S. Thorpe, of Coddington Hall had been killed in France. Unlike his father, the deceased officer was not widely known in the town, as he had chosen the career of a soldier, and had not taken an active part in local affairs. But those who knew him best honoured and loved him most. He bore a name of note in this town, a name closely associated with its progress and prosperity. When he succeeded to the family estates Captain J. S. Thorpe resigned his Commission in the Scots Guards and came to Coddington. Shortly afterwards he married Elizabeth Cecilia, daughter of Canon the Hon. Sidney Meade of Frankleigh, son of the third Earl of Clanwilliam, sometime British Ambassador at Berlin. There was great rejoicing at Coddington over the event, and the bride and bridegroom were welcomed with much pleasure and festivity. Mr John Thorpe was always a favourite with tenants and villagers. They recognised and appreciated his genuinely modest and genial nature, and looked forward to his settling down to the life of the country squire amongst them. For a short while he represented the Balderton Division on the Notts County Council. He also joined his father’s old Regiment, the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, in which he attained the rank of Major. At this period the annual encampment was several times by his kindness held in the Coddington Park or at the Moor, and on these occasions Newark was gay with the green and gold of the popular Regiment, which owes much of his strength and efficiency to the Thorpe family. When the Great War broke out, Major J. S. Thorpe was for a time stationed at Retford in charge of the Sherwood Rangers Reserve Regiment. But actuated, as always, by a high sense of duty, he soon felt called upon to take a more active part in the struggle in which his country was engaged, and in December 1914, he rejoined his old Regiment, the Scots Guards, as captain, soon afterwards taking his place in their ranks at the Front. It was with the Guards he went through the Boer War, and received the Kings Medal with two bars, and the Queens Medal with six clasps for Belfast, Diamond Hill, Johannesburg Driefontein, Modder River, and Belmont. He came through that campaign unscathed, so far as wounds were concerned, but his health suffered and for a time he went to recuperate. For conspicuous services in France in the present war, Major Thorpe was mentioned by Sir John French in despatches. He saw much fighting in France and was twice wounded. Recovering from his wounds the gallant officer returned to the Front. The next his friends heard of him was that he had in January been awarded the Military Cross for “gallantry and coolness in collecting scattered groups of men at Loos, and holding a defence position for three days and nights, until relieved”. Now alas the news comes through that the sneaking missile of a hidden sniper has closed a career of brave endeavour. His soldierly character, bright and courageous spirit reflected all the best traits of an English officer and gentleman. A man of quiet and unassuming manner, he did not come prominently before the public eye, but his fine character and lovable disposition endeared him to all who had the privilege of his friendship. … Concerning the manner of Major Thorpe’s death, and the moving scene of his burial, hard by the field of battle, the following letter in simple terms informs us. It was written by one of the deceased’s fellow officers:- Scots Guards: Saturday (Finished Sunday, 17/9/16) Dear Mrs Thorpe, - John was killed instantaneously by a bullet at short range in the middle of the fight yesterday. Officers near him say he was walking about looking after the men just as unconcernedly (with a rifle over his shoulder) as if he was out for a stroll – not in the thick of battle. No wonder the men of right flank company loved him and carried his body back from the line to bury it in the Military cemetery behind. He is buried – with pipers and his company all out in ---- The pipers played the “Flowers of the Forest” marching in, and after the service the “Land of the Leal”. I’ve known John since joining as a very young Ensign in 1900 – it’s a long time ago – but since he has been with the --- Battalion I have seen much more of him, and shall miss him so badly. Yours very truly, (Signed) J. A. Stirling An officer of the Scots Guards said Capt Thorpe was one of their best officers, and such an influence for good among the young officers.”
Remembered on

Photos

  • Courtesy Fred Reed and Coddington Parish
    Photograph of Thorpe - Courtesy Fred Reed and Coddington Parish
  • (WMA 27714) Family memorial, All Saints, Coddington. Photograph Rachel Farrand (July 2012)
    John Somerled Thorpe - (WMA 27714) Family memorial, All Saints, Coddington. Photograph Rachel Farrand (July 2012)
  • Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone marking his grave at Carnoy Military Cemetery, Somme, France. Courtesy of Murray Biddle
    John Somerled Thorpe - Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone marking his grave at Carnoy Military Cemetery, Somme, France. Courtesy of Murray Biddle