MOSS J. A. Private. Portrait photograph in an Other Ranks Service Dress uniform of the 2nd King Edward’s Horse circa 1915-1917 ( Copyright Imperial War Museum HU 124478).
MURRAY A. S. The Honourable. Major. Awarded Distinguished Service Order.
NORTON-GRIFFITHS John. Member of Parliament. Founded the 2nd King Edward's Horse. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Norton-Griffiths, 1st Baronet, KCB, DSO was born in Somerset, UK on 27/09/1871 and died 27/09/1930. Hewas an engineer, British Army officer during the Second Boer War and the First World War. A colourful figure in his day, known as "Empire Jack", he was also the grandfather of Jeremy Thorpe, a leading British politician. Norton-Griffiths had a meteoric rise as a mining entrepreneur seeking to capitalise on the opportunities emanating from the British Empire. In 1889 he gained his first experience working in the gold mines of Johannesburg, learning about the use of tunnelling and dynamite for the extraction process. He quickly became a deputy manager at one of the gold mines and was involved and arrested in the botched Jameson Raid (1895–96) in the Transvaal. His first big mining operation came in 1902, excavating the terrain of the Ivory Coast for its gold reserves. From 1905–08 he led on the construction of the Benguela railway in what is now Angola. With the backing of financiers, he had formed his own company in 1909 and won a multitude of contracts that included Yarmouth and Weston-Super-Mare piers, Southsea promenade, parts of the London Underground and work as far afield as Canada and Azerbaijan. However, more significantly, he had been tasked with constructing the Battersea to Deptford drainage system and also in 1913 was contracted to lay the sewage system in Manchester. In January 1910 he was elected as a Conservative MP for Wednesbury, standing on a platform to protect British trade and extolling the virtues of the British Empire. Some of his earliest contributions in the Commons included asking for reform of the House of Lords, albeit allowing territories that were part of the British Empire to have representation. In 1913 he also asked Ministers to provide relief to the families and children of workers striking in the Midlands. As Whitehall prepared for war at the end of July 1914, Norton-Griffiths was like many enthused by the prospect of a decisive and quick victory against the Germans. Advertising in the Pall Mall Gazette, he encouraged former soldiers in the Boer War to enlist, leading to the formation of the 2nd King Edward's Horse regiment. By January 1915 fighting had resulted in deadlock and there were already signs that the German military were adapting to the new conditions. Norton-Griffiths believed that his experience in tunnelling and engineering could counter anything the Germans had at their disposal. His ideas filtered up the military chain and Lord Kitchener ordered 10,000 'clay kickers' to be recruited. Drawing on men from his own projects and tapping into mining regions, he recruited over 200 men in the first week. They had the unique distinction of being in a military unit yet with no actual military training or experience. Nine tunnelling companies were quickly created that fell under the remit of the Royal Engineers. As no formal military command existed for the miners, Norton-Griffiths instructed the men to use their skills for defensive purposes in order to detect German tunnels approaching British positions. Norton-Griffiths introduced a range of innovations to assist with the tunnelling, in what was an an incredibly dangerous and arduous process: "The tunneller lay on his back, at 45 degrees to the floor of the tunnel, and facing the work-face, supported by a wooden back-rest shaped like a crucifix. He dug away at the wall into clay before him, using a special long-bladed light spade between his feet. The clay was hauled out by the digger's mate, who worked behind him with another man who helped him load it into sacks to be dragged to the rear. A second team lined the tunnel with wooden props to prevent it from collapsing. "One of the keys to British success lay in detecting enemy tunnels before their efforts alerted German miners. Norton-Griffiths equipped miners with the geo-phone, having seen demonstrations at the University of Paris. The device was essentially an adapted stethoscope but was incredibly effective when used. Miners could monitor German progress from a distance of 100ft in clay and 260ft in chalk tunnels. The British had experienced some success in April 1915 at the Second Battle of Ypres. Having detected a German tunnel close by they managed to detonate it with explosives before the Germans could. However, it did mean that British tunnellers were constantly reacting to the tactics of German mining without offering a more targeted strategy. Norton-Griffiths felt a more aggressive approach was needed and he facilitated a number of measures to aid this. Firstly was the introduction of ammonal, an explosive far more powerful than TNT that would lead to some of the biggest detonations of the First World War. The issue of pay was also a major source of friction for the miners and almost led to strike action. Norton-Griffiths acted as the negotiator between military command and the miners, managing to introduce an escalating pay scale based on experience and skills. Finally, Norton-Griffiths was a keen proponent of deeper tunnels, which led to digging some 70-125ft beneath no man's land and ultimately under enemy lines. Two infamous operations were to define the operations of the miners and the frightening destruction that was now possible. The first happened on 1 July 1916, at the start of the Battle of the Somme. Two separate tunnels had been painstakingly dug in the Picardy region with 900 men working on each one. Packed with 40,000 lbs of explosives in one and 60,000 in the other, the blast was to rip through the ground with a crater 450ft wide at La Boiselle. However, German soldiers had detected the tunnelling just 24 hours before and retreated to safer ground. The blast was so powerful that German soldiers were still killed but as British infantry troops flowed over the top they were massacred by well positioned German machine guns. 11,000 soldiers were killed just along this section and by the end of the day's fighting there were over 57,000 British casualties. Subsequently, in 1917, a co-ordinated attack created a blast so powerful, it could allegedly be heard in London. Tunnelling began in mid-1915 and it would take until June 1917 to reach their intended target, the Messines Ridge in West Flanders, Belgium. 22 tunnels were finally completed, with nearly one million lbs of explosives laid. The resulting blast vaporised all life in its path and the strategy first devised by Norton-Griffiths had proved to be as ruthless as it was destructive. It is hard to gauge the impact of the detonation but estimates have predicted that 10,000 German soldiers were killed and thousands more captured in a state of shell-shock. By 1917 Norton-Griffiths' involvement in the tunnelling process had to come an end. Military Intelligence Department called him up for one final yet hugely significant mission and he was asked to destroy the oil fields of Romania before they fell into German hands. As German troops closed in on the oil fields, Norton-Griffiths arrived just in time to carry out a trail of devastation and damage with the aid of British engineers. Going from town to town with his team of engineers he managed to wipe out the entire infrastructure of the oil fields. The Romanian government and oil producers were promised compensation but eventually received nothing as it was offset against their war debt to Britain. In 1918 Norton-Griffiths stood down from his seat in Wednesbury and was elected to Wandsworth (1918–24). He also helped to form the 'Great War Association', a forerunner of the Royal British Legion. His extraordinary life was to take one final twist. Visiting Alexandria, Egypt, in September 1930 he took a rowing boat out to sea. About an hour later his body was seen floating in the water. When the search party arrived he was found with a bullet through his temple but with no sign of the gun. The coroner's conclusion was suicide and his body was eventually brought back to rest in Mickleham, Surrey. Image copyright: National Portrait Gallery.
OSBORNE. H. E. Captain. Military Cross, G.V.R., 1914-15 Star (Lieut. H.E. Osborne. K. Edw. H.) c) British War and Victory Medals (Capt. H.E. Osborne.) M.C. London Gazette 4/10/1919 Capt. Herbert Edward Osborne, 2nd Res. Regt. of Cav., K. Edward´s Horse. (Mesopotamia) ´For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a retirement from Tickmedash to Mianeh on 5-7/09/1918. He conducted the withdrawal of his small command in face of strong enemy forces over a distance of 55 miles in a most skillful and cool manner. He caused the enemy many casualties, and eventually brought his force through to safety with comparatively few losses.´ Captain Herbert Edward Osborne MC served with the 2nd Battalion, King Edward´s Horse on the Western Front from May 1915; severely wounded in the head by shell shrapnel at Guivenchy, 7/6/1915, and was subsequently rescued under heavy shell fire by Machine Gunner P.J. Pellam, 15th Battalion, Canadian Highlanders; Captain, 24/1/1917; retired, 1/4/1920.