William Hyde Eagleson Gordon was born on 23 august 1893, as the twin-brother of Archibald George Ramsay Gordon. He studied at Haileybury College and enlisted in the army, with the Gordon Highlanders in 1914 as a Temporary-Lieutenant.
On the 5th of May 1915 Major Gordons eldest son William was sent to France and the youngest was sent just 5 days later. On a sunny morning in May Major Gordon drove from La Panne towards Amentiéres where he thought he would find the units of his sons, being the Gordon- and The Seaforth Highlanders. Major Gordon travelled to Ypres, where he stopped to visit the grave of his old friend Colonel James Clark, who had died on the 10th of May 1915. His grave was located in a schoolyard, together with some other casualties. He then travelled further on to Amentiéres where he found the HQ of the Seaforth Highlanders and learned that his youngest son was in the trenches, but would be back soon. Major Gordon eventually met his sons at the Seaforth's mess and they had lunch together. It gave Maj. Gordon a tremendous joy to see his sons in good health and spirits. Soon afterwards he had to start back to La Panne.
Sadly at the end of September 1915 Major Gordon was informed of the death of his eldest son William, who was killed during the battle of Loos which started on the 25th of September 1915. Lieutenant William Gordon enlisted in the 8th Gordon Highlanders and was incorporated into the 26th brigade, which consisted of the 5th Cameron Highlanders, the 7th Seaforth Highlanders, the 8th Black Watch and the 8th Gordon Highlanders. A soldier of the 8th Gordon Highlanders wrote the following of the battle:
'... pushed forward to gain more ground, and went as if on parade'
Lieutenant William Hyde Eagleson Gordon got mortally wounded in the head on the 27th September 1915 and died in Etaples Military Hospital on 30 september 1915. He is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery.
The telegram came to Major Gordon when he was at home with his wife and Major Gordon describes his son in his memoir book 'Culled from a diary' as 'All a son should be'. He was always 'Happy and Cheerful', 'The soul of honour and full of lovely gentleness, though at same time so manly'.
William Gordon's College Tutor and later Vice-Chancellor of the University wrote the following about William:
"Boy as he was, he has died a man's death, offering himself simply and without reserve, for his country. He stands out in my mind as one of the most childlike pupils I have had - childlike in the truest sense. One may say of him, Talium est regnum coulorum (such is the Kingdom of Heaven). He was always so keen to do what he could. Study was a great labour to him, his mind worked slowly, and he had to spend more time and thought over his reading than most men. But he persevered bravely and did not spare himself or give up hope. From the first his character shone out clearly – straight forward, upright, pure. But it seemed to me that in this respect he developed in a marked degree, even in the short time he spent among us here. He gained in force, though he kept his gentleness of manner. For my part, I thank God for his example in the College, and for the great sacrifice which he was privileged to make"
Major Gordon mentioned in his book that the Boulogne Commandant Lancksweert guided him to his son's grave. When Major Gordon arrived in Boulogne from England, his car was loaded with exquisite floral tributes from King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth and their household, the Belgian Red Cross and from other kind friends. Lancksweert and Major Gordon made the long drive to the cemetery where they stopped and Lancksweert stayed at the car. Major Gordon approached his son's grave which was only marked with a wooden cross and already been flower-decked. He then laid the flowers he had brought from home and planted some thymes and rosemary from their garden. Lancksweert then presented a very large group of pale pink roses that were given by Queen Elisabeth. Major Gordon visited his son many times during and after the war.
Major Gordon was sent for by King Albert I who expressed his sorrow dwelling on the assured hope of reunion in the Beyond. Major Gordon states in his book: 'What a splendid man to have at the head of a nation!'. Afterwards Queen Elisabeth received him, and also gave him richly sympathy and showed sorrow, which made him very emotional.
MENTIONED ON THE FOLLOWING MEMORIALS:
SIDNEY SUSSEX COLLEGE - ANTE CHAPEL MEMORIAL
HAILEYBURY COLLEGE MEMORIAL
THE MAJOR A. A. GORDON SOCIETY, founded in 2019, is the worlds prominent international non-profit educational society for preserving the historic legacy of Major A. A. Gordon and his family.
The Stewart Society