"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. The 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 – straightforward, 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"
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 Sidney Sussex College, where he joined the Cromwell Ink Club and later enlisted in the army with the Gordon Highlanders in 1914 as a Temporary-Lieutenant.
On 5 May 1915, William was sent to France. On a sunny morning in May 1915, Major Gordon drove from La Panne towards Amentiéres, where he thought he would find the units of his sons, the Gordon- and Seaforth Highlanders. At Amentiéres, he found the HQ of the Seaforth Highlanders and learned that his youngest son was in the trenches but would return soon. Major Gordon then looked for William, and soon, the hunter found its prey. Not long after Edmund returned, Major Gordon took luncheon with his sons at the Seaforth Highlanders mess. It gave Major Gordon tremendous joy to see his sons in good health and spirits. After lunch, Major Gordon departed back to La Panne.
Major Gordon made a second visit to his sons and spent the whole afternoon with them.
On 25 September 1915, the Battle of Loos started, and Lieutenant William Hyde Eagleson Gordon commanded his company of the 8th Gordon Highlanders into the Hohenzollern Redoubt. The attack was supported by the rest of 26th Brigade, consisting of his brother's unit, the 7th Seaforth Highlanders, the 8th Black Watch and the 5th Cameron Highlanders. The 8th Gordon's made good progress, which was later witnessed by one of its soldiers, who wrote in his journal: '... pushed forward to gain more ground, and went as if on parade'
Two days later, William commanded another attack and got mortally wounded to the head. He was evacuated from the battlefield and immediately sent to Etaples Military Hospital. Here he finally succumbed to his wound on September 30, 1915. He was buried with full military honours at Etaples Military Cemetery in the presence of his brother, his fellow soldiers and Commander Lancksweert, who attended the funeral on behalf of the King and Queen of the Belgians.
Major Gordon received the telegram of his son's death at his home in Farmingham, Kent. In his memoirs, he gave the following states about his son: All a son should be', 'Happy and Cheerful', 'The soul of honour and full of lovely gentleness, though at the same time so manly'. Major Gordon put the phrase: Of such is the kingdom of heaven, on William's commonwealth grave.
Major Gordon travelled to Boulogne and was awaited by the Belgian Commander Lancksweert, who guided him to his son's grave. Upon his arrival, Major Gordon saw that the car was packed with exquisite floral tributes from King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth and their household, the Belgian Red Cross and other kind friends. Lancksweert and Major Gordon drove to the cemetery, where they stopped, and Lancksweert stayed in the car. Major Gordon approached his son's grave, which was only marked with a wooden cross and had 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 an extensive group of pale pink roses given by Queen Elisabeth. Major Gordon visited his son's grave many times during and after the war.
GORDON FAMILY TREE
Peter of Ballee William of Ballyskeagh 1697 - ?
Mary Boak Mary Ross
Aaron Gordon William Gordon (1738 - 1831) Margaret Gordon Mary Gordon
Margaret Boak (1744 - 14/11/1837)
Elizabeth(... - 1839) Aaron(1781 - 8/10/1844) Robert of Stragollen (1774- 7/9/1850) William(..- ./1/1837) Mary
Ellen Eagleson (1786 - 21/09/1860)
George (22/6/1824 - 4/6/1896) William(15/5/1812 - 25/2/1814) Aaron (17/5/1814 - 1860) Matilda An (1/11/1817 - 1863) William E. (4/6/1831-15/1/1873) Elizabeth Robert (4/6/1823 - 23/7/1823) Margaret (5/5/1810 - 1816) Ellen (1827 - 1899) Robert (1830 - 1883)
X (1)Marion Hay Forbes
X (2) Emelia M. Dick
Ronald Eagleson William Eagleson Archibald Alexander Robert Aaron Emily Mackenzie Helen Isabelle
x x x x
Vera Newcomb Margaret Katherine Blair Lizzie Maude Smith Graham H. W. Nicholson
Cyriel Vivian Eagleson Colin Mackenzie Blair William "Bill" Hyde Eagleson Archibald G. R. Edmund Robert Adam Cameron Gordon Graham (Nicholson)