Monday 20 October 2014

The Death of Lieutenant Downes

Aspley House

Tuesday 20th October 1914: It was just a month ago that we received a letter from Lieutenant Villiers Chernocke Downes of the 1st Bedfords. Today we have the sad task of reporting that he has died. A telegram arrived at Aspley House yesterday evening containing the tragic news that he had died of wounds on the battlefield on Sunday. An earlier wire on Saturday gave the gallant young officer as wounded. The worst news came as a profound shock to the village and district. Lieutenant Downes was the eldest surviving son of the late Colonel C. Villiers Downes and was heir to the Aspley House Estate. The coming of age celebration was observed with a gathering of the tenantry and a presentation about two years ago in the Parish Hall. Although most of his life has been spent away from home at school and college, Mr. Downes has taken a great interest in village life. He was largely responsible for the formation of the Church Lads Brigade in the village and from its inception was Lieutenant of the Brigade. The lads were greatly attached to him and considered it was mainly due to his fine work on their behalf that they won the cup during one of their summer camps. He was also connected with the Rifle Club. The death of this fine young officer is deeply deplored and the greatest sympathy is felt for Mrs. Downes and her family in their grief. The only surviving son, Mr. Archer Chernocke Downes, Lieutenant in the Cheshires, has just left the country, also for the front, with his regiment.[1]

Source: Bedfordshire Times 16th October 1914

[1] Lieutenant Chernocke Villiers Downes is buried at Longuenesse (Saint-Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Thirty three days later, on 20th November, his brother Second Lieutenant Archer Chernocke Downes was killed with the 2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment and is buried at Poperinge Communal Cemetery.

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