Verschoyle, William Arthur

Verschoyle, William Arthur (Arthur)

Captain

1st Battalion (87th) Royal Irish Fusiliers

Killed in action on Wednesday 11 April 1917 (aged 26)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Christ Church Church of Ireland Church, Dundrum, Co Dublin War Memorial

Christ Church Church of Ireland Church, Dundrum, Co Dublin Verschoyle Memorial

Helen’s Bay Church of Ireland Church (St John the Baptist), Co Down Credence Table

BIOGRAPHY

William Arthur Verschoyle was born on 24 September 1890 and he was a son of William Henry Foster Verschoyle, a land agent) and Frances Harriet Hamilton Verschoyle (formerly Unett, nee Jackson, born in France) of Woodley, Dundrum, Co Dublin and before that, Kilmacud West, Stillorgan, Dublin.  Frances Harriet Hamilton Jackson was a daughter of Edward James Jackson of Upwell, Norfolk.

They were married on 16 June 1888 and had four children:

George John Foster (born 13 April 1889 in Carysfort Lodge, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin; studied at Oxford University; became a Church of Ireland clergyman; died 1954)

William Arthur (born 24 September 1890)

Kathleen Laura (born 7 July 1892 in Woodley, Dundrum, Co Dublin; died 1948)

Francis Stuart (born 9 April 1896 in Woodley, Dundrum, Co Dublin)

William Arthur Verschoyle joined the Army and in 1911 he declared his rank to be Sub-Lieutenant.

During the First World War he served as a Captain with the 1st Battalion (87th) Royal Irish Fusiliers.

His wife’s name was Sarah and for a time he served under Major F G Hill at Grey Point Battery, Helen’s Bay.

Captain William Arthur Verschoyle was 26 when he was killed on 11 April 1917 during the Battle of Arras and he has no known grave.  He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France.

Captain William Arthur Verschoyle is also commemorated on the War Memorial and on the Verschoyle Memorial in Christ Church Church of Ireland Church, Dundrum, Co Dublin and on the Credence Table in Helen’s Bay Church of Ireland Church (St John the Baptist), Co Down which bears the following inscription:

THIS

CREDENCE TABLE WAS

ERECTED BY MAJOR F G HILL QC RGA

SEPTEMBER 1914 TO JULY 1919

TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF THE

OFFICERS WHO SERVED UNDER HIM AT GREY POINT

BATTERY AND GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR KING

AND COUNTRY IN THE GREAT WAR

ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY

CAPT W B PEPPER LIEUT C D D SWAIN

LIEUT D O’RORKE ALSO LIEUT C V DARNELL

LIEUT L H McKISACK ATTACHED RFC

ATTACHED INFANTRY OFFICERS

CAPT W A VERSCHOLE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS

LIEUT O B MACAUSLAND INDIAN ARMY

LIEUT W LA NAUZE ROYAL IRISH RIFLES

Arthur’s brother, Francis Stuart Verschoyle, also served during the First World War.  He was a Second Lieutenant in 2nd Siege Company, Royal Anglesey, Royal Engineers and he was 19 when he died of wounds on 25 April 1915 and was buried in Ypres Town Cemetery (Grave G. 7), Belgium.  After he died Corporal Greenhalgh wrote to Second Lieutenant Verschoyle’s mother:

On the 19th April we left for the trenches, your son being Lieutenant in charge of a mining party. Things went well with us until the Saturday of the 24th, when at 4 a.m. the enemy commenced a heavy shelling which lasted for five hours, and completely destroyed our mine and part of the trench. The shelling having ceased, your son ordered the roll of the men to be called and found there was only himself and two men, of which I am one, left, the remainder having been cut off. I then asked him if he intended leaving the trench, but this was impossible, as there was no way out. We decided to remain until the following night, but unfortunately for us they again started shelling our trench for seven hours. At the end of that time we were ordered to stand to. Your son called another man and myself to the lower part of the trench to man our rifles, as the Germans were advancing. This was at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday the 25th. We were firing together with Captain Jollie of the East Surrey Regiment. After half-an-hour fighting, I was distressed to see your son and Captain Jollie shot. Thinking it was only a wound, I immediately bandaged his head, but, to my profound sorrow, he died. Soon after the Germans retreated back to their own trenches, barring 30 officers and men whom we took prisoners. An officer of the East Surreys spoke in high praise of the coolness of your son, and said his name would be held in high esteem by the East Surreys. There being no other officer left, I was compelled to report myself to our Commanding Officer. I informed him of your son’s death, and the major and officers and men were deeply grieved, as they felt they had lost a good leader and kind friend. 

Corporal J. Whelan also wrote to Second Lieutenant Verschoyle’s mother:

He died fighting with only four men in a trench with him. Lt. Verschoyle himself killed ten Germans in holding the trench so he died a noble and peaceful death. He never spoke a word; his wound was in the head. On the night of the 25th he was to come out of the trenches and one hour before he was to leave he met his death. The evening he was going to the trenches he gave me his fountain pen to mind for him in the presence of our Quarter Master Sergeant, so I made a remark in an innocent way; what will happen if you do not come back?  He said, ‘keep it as a present from me’, so of course Mrs Verschoyle if you would like it I will let you have it willingly, but if you do not want it, I assure you I will treasure it as a keepsake of the officer I loved to serve, not me alone but everyone in the company. 

Second Lieutenant Francis Stuart Verschoyle is commemorated on the War Memorial and Verschoyle Memorial in Christ Church of Ireland Church, Dundrum, Co Dublin; on the Great War Memorial at Castlepark School, Dalkey; in the Hall of Honour, Trinity College, Dublin and on the Roll of Honour and walls of the College’s Memorial Hall at Marlborough College, Wiltshire, England.

After Captain William Arthur Verschoyle was killed in 1917 it was said that his mother, Frances, never recovered from the loss of two of her sons and she died on 20 December 1924.

Their father, William, remarried on 5 May 1926 – Winifred M. Letts (born 10 February 1882, author of the book Knockmaroon which was illustrated by her step-daughter Kathleen Verschoyle) – and when William Verschoyle died on 26 December 1943 his body was interred at Rathcoole Cemetery, Co Dublin.

Winifred Verschoyle died in 1972.