Calwell MC, Theophilus Legate

Calwell, Theophilus Legate (Theo)

Military Cross


9th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)

Killed in action on Saturday 7 October 1916 (aged 24)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 8 C 9 A and 16 A)

Holywood and District War Memorial

First Holywood Presbyterian Church

Sullivan Upper School Holywood

Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) War Memorial

Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Book of Remembrance

Brother of Lieutenant Walter Henry Calwell

Cousin of Private Charles Martyn Legate

Cousin of Second Engineer George William Legate


Theophilus Legate Calwell was born on 30 May 1892 in Shore Street, Holywood and he was a son of Walter and Rebecca Busby Calwell (nee Perry) who were married on 8 January 1875 in First Holywood Presbyterian Church.  Walter Calwell, a clerk from Belfast, was a son of John Calwell, a factory manager.  Rebecca Perry from Cultra was a daughter of James Perry, a farmer.

The Calwell family lived in Belfast before they moved to Holywood where they lived in Shore Street, in the Esplanade, at 84 High Street and in Spafield.

Walter Calwell Senior worked as a clerk, warehouseman and linen warehouse manager in the Brookfield Linen Company, Donegall Street, Belfast and he and Rebecca had ten children including:

Margaret Busby (born 29 November 1876 at 10 Florence Place, Belfast)

Alice Turner (born 9 March 1881 at 38 Summer Street, Belfast)

James Perry (6 March 1883 at 8 Pacific Avenue, Belfast)

Walter Henry (23 April 1885 at 8 Pacific Avenue, Belfast)

William Kirkwood (27 February 1887 in Shore Street, Holywood)

Robert John (27 October 1890 in Shore Street, Holywood)

Theophilus Legate (30 May 1892 in Shore Street, Holywood)

Charles Stanley Allen (9 January 1894 in Shore Street, Holywood)

Theophilus Legate Calwell attended Holywood Parochial National School from 1905 to 1907 and he was a member of the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) from 25 October 1910 to 1912.  He worked as a clerk in the Belfast Banking Company before he took up an appointment with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in London.  He enlisted in London on 29 August 1914 (Royal Fusiliers No. 633), and he obtained a commission in the Royal Fusiliers on 23 November 1914.  It was noted that he was 5 feet 10½ inches tall.  In April 1915 he sustained an accidental injury to his left knee ‘while skylarking’ and in September 1915 a Medical Board concluded that he was fit for light duty but should be excused route marching.  In May 1916 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and in the 25 August 1916 edition of the London Gazette it is recorded that he had been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action:

‘He set a fine example and led with great dash, being one of the first into the enemy’s trenches where he accounted for many of the enemy.  After pursuing the enemy, he went down a deep dug-out with only one companion and captured two officers and twenty men’.

Lieutenant Theo Calwell was wounded on three separate occasions during 1916 before he was killed in action on 7 October 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.  He was 24 when he died and he has no known grave.

Lieutenant Theophilus Legate Calwell is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Holywood and District War Memorial; in First Holywood Presbyterian Church; in Sullivan Upper School Holywood; on the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) War Memorial and in the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Book of Remembrance.