WW1 Alumni

Elphick, D

Douglas Elphick

Douglas Elphick

Sergeant, London Regiment (1st Surrey Rifles)

Age 14, Class IV A: 'Captain of Form; does fair work.'

Douglas Elphick was a student at Alleyn’s until 1908. He lived at 67 and then 177 Barry Road, East Dulwich with his father, his two sisters and his brother. He enlisted in the Territorial Force just a month after the outbreak of war in August 1914. After being found fit for service, he joined the London Regiment as part of 21st Battalion and embarked for the Western Front. Douglas served as a Sergeant in France throughout 1916 where continually displayed his capability of leading men in battle. This quality saw him recommended to take up a commission in January 1917 and he was asked to report to River Gauche Railway Station on 16th January 1917 to be transferred to GHQ Cadet School. Shortly after arriving at the station, a last minute change was made to the train schedule which required Douglas to cross from Platform 4 to Platform 11 to board the train to GHQ. During this attempted crossing, he was struck down by a passing train which delivered a deadly blow to the left side of his head. Other soldiers who had witnessed the accident quickly responded by fetching a stretcher to take Douglas to the nearest First Aid Post. However, the force of the blow had broken Douglas’ neck and he died before he was able to receive any medical attention. His remaining personal belongings were sent back to his family in England and an inquiry into his death was launched shortly after the incident which concluded that his death had been a tragic accident. He was considered to be a 'most enthusiastic' member of the 1st Surrey Rifles.