|Lieutenant Druce Robert BRANDT|
6th (Reserve) Battalion attached to B Company 1st Battalion (Prince Consort’s Own) Rifle Brigade
Date of birth: 20th October 1887
Date of death: 6th July 1915
Killed in action aged 27
Commemorated on the Menin Gate Panels 46-48 and 50
|Druce "Drucie" Robert Brandt was born at "Rookcliffe", Palace Road, Streatham, South London on the 20th of October 1887, the younger son of Robert Edmund Adolphus Eugene Brandt, a Russian timber and grain merchant, and Florence (nee Druce) Brandt of 15 Lennox Gardens in London and later of 23 Brompton Square, London SW3. He was christened at Christ Church, Streatham Hill on the 4th of December 1887. He was known by his family as Bob.
He was educated at Hazelwood School from the age of nine and a half until July 1901. He was a member of the Football XI in 1898, 1899 and 1900 when he was Captain in the latter two seasons. He was a member of the Cricket XI in 1899, 1900 and 1901, being Captain in the latter two years. He won the School Boxing Prize in 1899 and was a member of the Choir. The school magazine wrote the following on his 1898 football season: - "(Inside right) full of dash, and, at present, most useful when he plays a "selfish" game, as his ideas of passing are peculiar. But for so young a player he is full of passion."
They also wrote of his 1899 football season: - "(Captain), inside right. Individually a brilliant forward, possessing pace, pluck and skill, and a good screw shot, but he must learn to avoid blocking his outside man and to make more use of his comrades."
They wrote of his 1900 football season: - "(Captain), Centre forward, possessing great dash and determination and no little cleverness individually, he is always a source of danger to the opposing defence. His value cannot be overestimated, but he is discounted by a failure to utilise his "wings" to equal advantage, and by a tendency to fall back and aid the defence, thereby impairing his usefulness in attack; is an excellent shot with his right foot."
Of his 1899 Cricket season they wrote: - "A merry hitter of the horizontal style; a smart and effective wicket keeper and fine field anywhere."
They wrote of his 1900 cricket season: - "Captain, and as far example goes, a right good on. His batting has improved enormously, and with a little more variety of strokes would be first rate. His hitting is brilliant, and far safer than last year. He is an excellent wicket keeper, and fields equally well anywhere ."
They wrote of his 1901 cricket season: - "(Captain). With even more powerful hitting than last year, and improved defence, he might fairly be reckoned first rate, but for an inclination to hit at the wrong ball, and to hit at a straight half volley with a not quite straight bat. When he chooses to play a defensive game he can stay in forever. A magnificent field anywhere, a fine wicketkeeper, and a good and intelligent Captain."
On leaving the school the magazine wrote of him: - “....takes to Harrow the most remarkable combination of mental and physical qualities in the history of the school. he has done splendid service as Captain of the School and of both Elevens, and his future career is likely to be a brilliant one”.
He went on to Harrow School, where he was in Mr Davidson’s House from September 1901 to July 1906. While at Harrow he was always first in his form and won almost every school prize, coming first in his class in every year he was there. He was a member of the Cricket XI from 1905 to 1907 and of the Football XI from 1903 to 1905, being Captain in his final two years. He won the Light Weight Public Schools Boxing Championship which took place at Aldershot in 1903 and threw the cricket ball 120 yards. He was appointed as a Monitor in 1904 and won a Leaf Scholarship in 1906. His housemaster wrote of him that he: - ”Came nearer to being my ideal of a boy than any boy I have ever known.”
In December 1904 he was elected to a Domus Classical Exhibition at Balliol College Oxford which he just failed to convert into a scholarship the following year. He entered the college in October 1906 and achieved the best First Class Honours in Classical Moderations of his year in 1910. He was elected as a Craven Scholar in 1908. He kept wicket for Oxford against Cambridge in 1907 and would have won a Blue but felt his work was more important. “I hate working for a Blue” he wrote. He also played football for his college and was a member of the MCC. In 1910 he was elected to a Tutorial Fellowship at Brasenose but felt he should be doing something more practical and as a result he resigned his fellowship in the summer of 1913. He joined the Oxford University Officer Training Corps where he was a Cadet Lance Sergeant and achieved Certificate A in November 1909. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on the Unattached List for the Territorial Force on the 18th of March 1911 and was attached to the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards from the 21st of March to the 17th of April 1911. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 10th of January 1913 and he resigned his commission on the 12th of December 1913.
He then moved to Bermondsey joining the Oxford and Bermondsey Mission to “study the social problem”.
On the day war was declared he applied for a commission in the 5th Battalion Rifle Brigade in an application which was supported by Mr. R. Gibson Fellow and Tutor at Balliol College. On the 12th of August he underwent a medical examination at Rochester Row where is was recorded that he was five feet eleven inches tall and that he weighed 161lbs. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th (Reserve) Battalion Rifle Brigade on the 15th of August 1914. He joined the battalion at Sheerness on the same day where he became Adjutant, Musketry Inspector and was promoted to Lieutenant in February 1915. He stayed there until May 1915, delayed partly by an accident to his foot, and on the 13th of May he went to France where he was attached to the 1st Battalion of his Regiment who were positioned in the Ypres Salient.
On the 3rd of July 1915 the battalion received orders to mount an attack to occupy the German trenches on the line of the Cinq Chemins Estaminet- Boesinghe Road, a distance of some fifty yards from their own front line. The assaulting companies entered the front line on the 4th of July in preparations the attack. On July the 5th 1915, Captain Graham, the commanding officer of B Company was wounded and Robert Brandt was transferred to command the company for the attack the next day where B Company was to be on the left of the attack. Later that day Brandt wrote to a friend “It’s very difficult to think of anything beyond tomorrow.”
At 5am on the 6th of July 1915 the British artillery commenced firing on the German front line and, after a delay to check that the German wire had been cut, the Rifle Brigade went over the top at 6am carrying the German trenches at 6.11am with few casualties. Drucie Brandt led B Company in this attack and, cheering his men on, fell on the German parapet shot through the head. The German position was captured and consolidated. Casualties for the attack were three officers killed with four wounded and thirty three other ranks killed with one hundred and seventy five wounded and twenty five missing.
His father received the following telegram dated the 10th of July 1915: -
"Regret to inform you that Lieut. D.R. Brandt Rifle Brigade was wounded July 7th. Further news will be telegraphed when received."
He received a further telegram dated the 21st of July 1915: -
"Regret to inform you that Lt. D.R. Brandt Rifle Brigade previously reported wounded in now reported wounded and missing July 6th."
He was posted as missing and a series of interviews were undertaken in an attempt to establish his fate.
Testament of 6792 Rifleman Clark, Rifle Brigade, taken at Bury Military Hospital on the 7th of January 1916: -
"Informant states that on July 6th at Ypres on the canal after the charge and taking of the German trenches we were in the trench and Lt. Brandt had been telling us to keep down and not expose ourselves. When he raised his head it was hit by a bullet. I did not see Lt. Brandt hit but I saw him lying dead, as I stepped along the trench afterwards. We kept the trench he was killed in, so he was probably buried by our men."
Testament of 700 Rifleman G. Grove, 1st Rifle Brigade, taken at No. 2 General Hospital (Casino) Havre taken on the 18th of April 1916: -
"I saw him killed on the 6th July 1915 at 6.30am. We made an attack and went over the parapet at 6 o'clock. He was in charge of B Co., and was on top of the German parapet urging his men on. A piece of shell wounded him all over, and he was killed instantly. We still hold the trench. I know nothing of his burial."
Testament of 1833 Rifleman G. Leaver 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade taken at the King's Lancashire Convalescent Hospital, Liverpool: -
Informant states that "On 6th July 1915 at "The Salient" near Ypres, we made a charge at 6 o'clock in the morning, and took a German trench, which was about 400 yards away. About 9 o'clock the enemy made a counter attack with their bombers. As they approached Lieut. Brandt, who was in the charge, rushed on to the parapet and started firing his revolver at them. He was shot through the head, I saw him fall, and he was killed instantly. The stretcher bearers went to him, and put waterproof sheet over him. He was buried near Lieut. Gibbs on the night of 7th July. I knew him quite well, he was my officer at Sheerness. He was about 28 years of age, about 5 feet 11" in height, dark moustache, just turning grey, very fresh complexion."
The Harrow Memorial Book of the Great War wrote: -
"No name more justly entitled to honour and affection will be found in the long list of those who have fallen than that of D. R. Brandt. There have been few at Harrow to rival his combination of intellectual and athletic distinction, none in whom strength of character and personal charm have more happily blended both elements. As an athlete, perhaps the most dramatic of his individual feats was his carrying of a relatively weak House XI to victory in the Cock House Match of 1906, when he not only scored 61 out of 136, and 120 out of 266, but by sheer invincible determination took 11 wickets in the two innings, with the result that his House won by 5 wickets. Some may remember how, hurrying into Speech Room for Prize-giving after the match, and not being able to arrive till the proceedings had well started, he was covered with confusion by a spontaneous and universal roar of applause a little incident, perhaps, but one probably unique in its way, and eloquent from its very spontaneity. His services to his House can perhaps be more easily imagined than set down in detail; assuredly the influence of his character and of his capacity for friendship and for leadership did not end with his time. His services to the School were summed up by Dr. Wood in the pleasantry with which he gave him his leaving prize he had many irons in our Harrow fire, and all his irons had been gold."
The Balliol Club Magazine of 1915 recorded: -
He was a great scholar and a good athlete - he kept wicket for Oxford against Cambridge in 1907 - and a man of very many interests and quantities of friends. His life at Oxford was always a busy one, yet he found time in it to be with us often in the Club. And what we probably remember best about him was a most infectious energy and a plentiful sense of humour - and behind it a strength of character, which almost unconsciously made anything mean or unclean impossible for him. No one could be with him and not feel lifted into a more vigorous and healthy atmosphere.
In 1920 a book was published by Murray entitled “D.R. Brandt, some of his letters” edited by Charles Clay.
He is commemorated on the war memorial at Harrow School, on the memorial at Balliol College Oxford and on the MCC memorial at Lord's Cricket Ground.
|Went on to Harrow School|