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Alan Appleby Drew  (1884-1915)

Jack and Alan Drew as young fellows circa 1888.


My hairbrush once belonged to Alan Drew, my father’s great-uncle, who was killed in one of those pointless over-the-top charges in World War One. Prior to his death, Alan taught at Mostyn House (the school near Liverpool where he studied as a boy), learned how to march in Glasgow and spent several years in Shanghai around the time the last Emperor fell from power. Alan’s memory was enshrined in a carillon of bells that now rings at Charterhouse School in memory of almost 700 Old Carthusians who died in the war.




Born on 26 June 1884, Alan Appleby Drew was the second son of Daniel Drew (1850-1914) and his wife Rhoda Drew (1851-1919) of Lowerhouse, Park Hill Terrace, Habergham Eaves, near Burnley, Lancashire.

The Drews originally hailed from Glasgow and Dan Drew, Alan’s father, played for the first ever Scottish international rugby team to take on England in 1871. Alan’s grandfather Alexander Drew was the Scotsman who founded the Alexander Drew and Sons printworks at Lowerhouse.

Alan’s mother Rhoda was the daughter of Joseph Appleby, a well-known corn miller from Enfield and Blackburn.[1]

Alan had an older sister Margery (1880-1923) and an older brother John Malcolm Drew (1881-1935), known as Jack.

Alan was baptised at St Leonard, Padiham, near Burnley, on 26 July 1884.

The Drew children grew up at Lowerhouse, where Dan and Rhoda had lived since their marriage in 1878. [2] Located near the printworks, the house had a large garden and tennis court. Dan Drew as an enthusiastic cyclist, who once built his own wooden cycling machine to a design purchased at the Paris Exhibition. The children also went yachting a good deal in the Lake District and in Scotland.

Mostyn House (c. 1893-1898)


Mostyn House School

In the early 1890s, Alan entered Mostyn House, Cheshire, a boy’s prep school where he would later become a teacher. The school had been founded at Tarvin, Cheshire, in 1854, with the Rev Edward Price as headmaster. In 1855, Mostyn decided to sell his family’s land in nearby Parkgate, south of Liverpool, which the Rev Price snapped it up in order to relocate the school. His nephew, the Rev Algernon Sidney Grenfell, was headmaster from 1862-1874, followed by a former pupil named William Barrett.[3]

During Alan’s time at Mostyn House, the headmaster was Algernon George Grenfell, a son of the earlier Grenfell. AG, as he was known, was one of the foremost educationalists of his time and transformed Mostyn House into one of the finest schools in the land. By 1900 there were 103 pupils at the school which was, accordingly, one of the largest preparatory schools in the United Kingdom.

AG’s brother Wilfred Thomason Grenfell was to become a world-famous missionary doctor and was knighted for his work in Labrador, Canada. [4]


Gownboys 1902, with Alan on the very left of the front row.


Alan, in middle of second row, with Charterhouse Football 1st XI 1902-1903.


Alan on far right of second row, with the Charterhouse 1st XI, 1902.


The Charterhouse Fire Brigade, 1903. Alan is three rows down from the top, on the right


Charterhouse (1898-1903)


Alan left Mostyn House in the summer of 1898. In the Oration Quarter (OQ – early September to mid-December) of that same year, he joined his older brother Jack at Charterhouse School near Godalming in Surrey. He was recorded as a 16-year-old boarder on the 1901 census. He was in Gownboys House and was a “conspicuous” member of the 1st XI football team in 1902-1903. He served on the Athletics Committee and was in the Fire Brigade. According to The Carthusian, he was also a talented singer and entertainer.

(He was probably three or four years junior to T.L. McClintock Bunbury, later 3rd Baron Rathdonnell, whose son William married Alan’s niece Pamela Drew in 1937.)

Over 3,500 Old Carthusians (as ex-Charterhouse boys are known) served in World War One, including at least one who fought for the Germans. Alan would be one of 687 Old Carthusians who died in the war.

Alan left Charterhouse after CQ (Cricket Quarter) in 1903, i.e. late April to late June or early July.




After school, Alan seemingly became a partner in the family business of Lowerhouse Printing Works. This may have been connected to his move to Glasgow, his grandfather’s home city, where the company had an office. He spent three or four years in Glasgow, serving as a lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry (Territorials), aka the City of Glasgow Regiment. [It is to be noted that a Major-General J. S. Drew was also affiliated with the HLI]

In August 1917, his HLI cap badge was found during an August 2017 clean out of the Gate Lodge at Lisnavagh, home to his late great-niece Rosebud McClintock Bunbury. (See Wistorical post).


Shanghai – Ward, Probst & Company (1907-1911)


Alan’s obituary in the Burnley Express states that he resigned the commission and went to Shanghai ‘for business purposes.’ [5] Du Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour says he went in 1907.[6] His record in the Charterhouse Register names ‘J. Ward, Probest & Co. (India Merchants), Shanghai’ as the company he worked with. [7] The name was actually Ward, Probst, and Company, and it seems to have been the latest incarnation of a firm founded by the philanthropist Sir Thomas Hanbury (1832-1907) in about 1853. (A detailed biography of Sir Thomas, from a China perspective, can be found here.) Cecil Hanbury, Sir Thomas’s son, was also involved from 1900, at which time its principals were Walter Cyril Ward and Edward Alfred Probst.

In March 1901, Ward, Probst and Company suffered quite a catastrophe when a pawnshop, an opium shop, two large bathhouses, and several other houses it owned along Fohkien-road were destroyed by a serious fire.[8] It also owned 14 houses that collapsed on the Dixwell Road after heavy rains in September 1901 so clearly all was not well. By 1908, the company had become a partnership between Ward, Probst and Charles Louis Henry Iburg, in conjunction with Leonard Midwood.[10] It seems likely Alan worked alongside Peter Thomas, an architect from Manchester, who arrived in Shanghai to work for the company in 1903. Peter Thomas died in 1919, aged 45.[9]

Alan’s walking stick was inscribed Nantou, China, 24: 9: 10.’ That date is just thirteen days after the birth of his niece, Pamela, my grandmother.  Nantou is probably the walled city west of Shenzen, which lay on the sea route in South China and was regarded as the gatekeeper of the Pearl River and Guangzhou (now Canton). That said, Nantou is also the name of a mountainous region in central Taiwan, famed for its Sun Moon Lake and its tung-ting tea, one of the highest-quality oolong teas. I have not yet worked out which Nantou, if either, was the place that Alan knew.

Alan does not appear on the 1911 UK census, so he may well still have been in Shanghai then. In April 1911, the London and China Telegraph announced the dissolution of the partnership by ‘E. A. Probst, C. L. H. Iburg, and L. Millwood [Midwood?], merchants and commission agents, Shanghai and Fenchurch street, E.C., under the style of Ward, Probst and Co.’[11] The company carried on nonetheless.

On 10 October 1911, the army garrison in Wuhan mutinied, sparking a widespread revolt in the Yangtze river valley that ultimately led to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty that had ruled China since 1644. Was this connected to the devastating fire that ripped through Foochow Road in Shanghai on 9 October? Many of the 70 houses destroyed belonged to Ward, Probst and Company. [12]

The revolt culminated with the abdication of the Last Emperor on 12 February 1912. A few weeks later, Shanghai’s Cusheny Estate on the Canton Road, which the company ran, was engulfed by fire, with 71 houses lost. [13] And yet in 1913, Messrs Ward, Probst and Company was still regarded as one of the principal auctioneering houses alongside Messrs Maitland and Company and Messrs Jardine, Matheson and Company.[14]


Sibling Weddings


Jack and Sylvia Drew.

In 1909, his brother Jack married Sylvia Peart Robinson, daughter of Peart Robinson J.P, of Reedley Hall.

On 20 January 1912, Alan’s sister Margery (1880-1923) married John Oscar Sillem (1878-1958) and settled in London. It is possible there was a scandal when Margery married as she does not seem to have received anything in her father’s will.  The Sillem marriage ended in divorce in 1920.


The Actor?


Bizarrely, there is a record of a 26-year-old ‘actor’ named Alan Drew, born in Burnley, Lancashire, lodging in Westminster, London, at the time of the 1911 census with others including the Rev John Makaffy, aged 78, and Captain Harold Tatum, Indian Army. Is this an error, or what is this about!?


Mostyn House Teacher


He is said to have returned to Mostyn House, his old prep school, prior to the war to serve as a teacher under AG Grenfell, his old headmaster. In the years since Alan left, AG had introduced numerous educational innovations, still in use earlier this century. Over the course of his 40 years in charge, AG built a chapel (where the Alan Drew carillon of bells were installed from 1922 until 1912), a dining room, a swimming pool, a covered playground, a changing room block, a tearoom and a four-storey block on Parkgate front. He also extended the cottage and gave parts of the school its once famous black and white exterior. [15] AG’s son Daryl and grandson Julian succeeded him as headmaster. In 2002, Julian’s daughter Suzi Grenfell became the sixth generation, and first female member, of the Grenfell family to lead the school. [16] The school closed in 2010.

It is just possible that one of the pupils Alan taught was Alec (Alexander Robert) Boyle, a grandfather of my good friend Rohan Boyle, who was at Mostyn from about 1908-1912. Like Alan, Alec Boyle returned to Mostyn to teach in the 1920s. [Grainne Dennison’s grandfather was also at Mostyn] As it happens, Rohan was with my brother Andrew and I (and Mathew Forde) when we found Alan’s grave on the Western Front.

After his death, AG would later applaud Alan for being:

‘… full of enthusiasm and understanding love for boys …… He also loved and believed fervently in music and that Alan was Simple-minded, self-sacrificing, full of enthusiasm and understanding love for boys with a humorous scorn of humbug and with no trace of sacerdotalism [17] or use for Theology, he just loved the Chapel, in which he took services and Scripture Union meetings for the pure joy of making real religion the basis of happy, purposeful, useful life…… I cannot exaggerate the indelible influence of his pure example and activity for good upon the School; such work as Alan Drew’s can laugh at time and Death as surely as any Saint ever canonized.’


Death of Dan Drew, 1914


Alan is recorded as returning from Shangai to the UK in 1913 although this does not tally with the idea that he was teaching at Mostyn House in 1911. [18]  Perhaps this was in connection to the declining health of his father, who was taken ill just after Christmas 1913. To the shock of the community, Dan Drew died on 2 February 1914 aged 64. Alan would be one of the principal beneficiaries of his £68,479 fortune, worth in excess of £5.5 million today. [19]

The Cameronians


When the Great War broke out, he applied for a commission in the Highland Light Infantry, his old regiment, but it was ‘full up.’ [20] Instead he secured a commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), a Kitchener battalion and training unit which was then based in Gourock, on the Clyde near Greenock.[21]

It seems that many Burnley men enlisted in the Cameronians (sometimes referred to as the Burnley Rifles). Some hold that this is literally because it was the same regiment that Alan Drew, the boss’s son, had joined. However, Burnley historian Andrew Gill holds that the Cameronians had a very successful recruiting campaign in the town simply because so many Burnley families were of Scottish descent. In the ensuing war, Burnley (and its districts) would suffer a disproportionate amount of casualties compared to many other towns and cities in Great Britain.

One of our Ellis cousins inherited a brooch which transpired to be Alan’s Cameronian badge.

On 4 November 1914, he was promoted to lieutenant. The battalion left England for the Western Front on 11 February 1915. Just before he left, he wrote in his sister-in-law’s scrapbook:

‘To every life that God hath given he hath allotted a work – the fulfilment of that work comes naturally, and its proper accomplishment should form the sole ambition of that life.’

By 13 February, his battalion were in France where Alan seems to have been based in Le Havre for the next 12 days. On 26 February, the regimental war diary noted that Alan had joined the frontlines in the trenches at Chapigny where a number of Cameronians had been killed or wounded since the start of the month. Two men were killed and three wounded on the day he arrived. Alan himself would be dead within a fortnight. Alan was placed in C-Company, under Major Ellis.

Amazingly, we have a letter that Alan wrote to his mother from the Western Front in early March 1915, in which he gave rich details of his arrival at Chapigny (unnamed, of course, lest the letter be intercepted) and the state of his trench. The letter was posthumously published in the Burnley Express on 7 April 1915, p. 2. It reads:

‘The day (Friday) after I wrote last, I left in the morning by the transport train, and, after some wanderings, eventually reached our headquarters about six that night, and was packed off at once, under the guidance of two signallers, down to the trenches where the regiment was. l am in C-Company, under the command of Major Ellis.

All the officers I have met seem very good sorts.

It was rather exciting going down that night, about half-a-mile across fields in the moonlight – the fields being all mud. It was one’s baptism of fire— though we did not seem to realise it – stray bullets whizzing past you every two or three minutes.

You probably were not seen at all, but a stray bullet can do as much harm as an aimed one—if you happen to collide with it. Before you knew where you were, you were there, ushered through a waterproof curtain into a dug-out, about eight feet long, four feet wide, and about four feet high, where a stove was vomiting some heat and much smoke and fumes, near which were seated the major, and Captain Dodd, another captain, Clarke by name name—the machine gun officer and a subaltern called Dew.

There were two tables at the end, and six chairs huddled together, two cartridge boxes fitted into the mud walls as shelves, and a candle.

That was my introduction to the headquarters of “C” Company.

The floor mud – fairly dry in itself—but when you entered with wet boots your feet were apt to stick slightly. There were three platoons of our company in that trench, the fourth was slightly isolated just next to us, under command of a subaltern named Harley.

After dinner of oxo and sardines, toast, butter, and jam, I was very kindly given the major’s own dug-out in which to sleep. The “bed” was straw on the mud shelf, and you covered yourself with empty sandbags, pulling one half filled with straw over each leg to keep your feet warm. It was very cold that night, but I slept quite decently, and at 5.30 received ‘early morning tea’ and breakfast at 8-30— on tea, ham and eggs, toast, etc.

During the night the Germans don’t fire much artillery, but all the time there was sniping going on—on both sides—every minute or so, a shot from one trench or the other.

The moon was nearly full, so it was never very dark, and the sort of fireworks display the enemy indulge in—of a sort of fireballs to light up the scene, helping our side as much as the other—keeps everything fairly light. We use that sort of rockets too, but not half as much as they do. Next morning after breakfast Captain Dodd showed me round.

Our trench, he told me, was luxury compared with most; it was certainly much better than I had expected. Of course, the weather has greatly improved from what they have had, and only here and there was there water, and that only ankle deep in the bottom the trench.

The actual trench is just sufficiently wide to let two men pass, and about six feet deep, then towards the enemy is a step up with room for a man stand to fire over the sandbags and earth that make the parapet, and in front of the trenches in many cases barbed wire. The men have dug-outs, in which they sleep, and during the night it a most weird sight to see the men on guard—not actually on sentry – huddled round a brazier, all muffled up, keeping warm. I peeped over the top of the trench, and only about a hundred yards off was the parapet and sandbags showing the line of the German trenches. I believe in some cases they are only 50 yards apart, in others more.

Nothing very eventful happened that day. One man had a very slight scalp wound, but about 6-30 they sent over a half dozen or so shrapnel shells. It made one feel a bit jumpy at first, but when you found they were going beyond you and doing no damage, you quickly regained your equilibrium.

That night was again uneventful, as was Sunday – one shrapnel coming our way, without effect also, in the evening.

Again only one man slightly grazed in the scalp. That night I was on duty for the first time, from six to eight, then from two to four, but all was very quiet. It rained a bit during the night, and from that you could gather what the trenches could be like. Of course, one anyhow got very muddy, and by the time we were relieved that night – unshaven and unwashed since one entered the trenches – nobody looked altogether their best.

On Monday 1 March, the night of a full moon, Alan and his men were relieved by the 1st battalion of Sherwood Forresters and billeted at Pont Rirchon. That same day, Captain A.C. Stanley Clarke of the regiment had been among three men wounded while another man was killed. Alan’s letter gave further insights

‘By bad luck full moon on Monday night, when the Sherwood Foresters relieved us, and about seven o’clock filed out. None of the company were hit, but Captain Clarke-the machine gun man—got a bullet in the foot, luckily only a flesh wound. A sergeant and a man of the machine gun section were also hit, though none of them badly, probably only stray bullets, but it was so very bright with the moon that they may have been spotted. We marched back to a billets farm—four or five miles behind the firing line, and there had a peaceful night again.’

Thus, on 2 March, Alan was with the Cameronians when they marched to Merville and went into billets in the vicinity. Nothing of note happened in the ensuing days but Alan added the following observations.

‘The battalion had been in the trenches, three days in and three days out for a rest, for ten weeks on end – since before Christmas – so when we came out this time, after four days in – they were a day and a night before I arrived – we were ordered right back for a week’s rest, which was an absolute godsend to all of them. The next day we consequently marched back another six miles, and are now doing short marches, physical drills, etc., to get some of the stiffness out of them all.

On 7 March, they were relocated to close billets at La Gorgue. (Three men went missing that day, ‘absent without leave.’) On 9 March, there was ‘nothing doing in the morning.’ That evening, they paraded at 10.45 pm and then marched to “Cameron Lane” (Pont du Hom), where a hot meal was issued at 1am on the morning of Wednesday 10 March 1915. That was to be Alan’s last meal.


The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, 10 March 1915


At 2am, Alan and his men marched across country in single file and took their place in the their allotted trenches by 5.30 am.[22] The guns started firing soon afterwards but finished at 7 am as day broke on that foggy March morning.

Trenches at Neuve Chapelle

At 7:30am that followed, over 300 British guns began a gigantic bombardment of the Neuve Chapelle, a village in the Artois region, had been in German hands since October 1914. As the historian Martin Gilbert noted, more shells were discharged in the 35 minute bombardment than in the whole of the Anglo-Boer War, a sobering reflection upon the transformation of warfare in the space of 15 years. As such, the British were confident that the artillery would decimate the huge swathes of barbed wire that marked the German lines defending the village.

At 8:05, the bombardment ceased and 40,000 British, Irish and Indian troops charged through the fog at the German lines, with the Cameronians (and the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards) amongst them. The plan was for this massive assault to rip the German line apart and allow the Allies to seize Aubers Ridge, the higher ground to the east of the village, and maybe even push on to the German-occupied city of Lille, with its important railway terminus, located about 12 miles north-east of Neuve Chapelle.

The fallen at Neuve Chappelle.

Alan Drew also took part in this charge across the meadows, ploughlands and low, marshy, plains. The 23rd Brigade of the 8th Division, which the Cameronians were with, had been assigned the northern sector of the German front line, north-east of the village, which transpired to be the most difficult because, replicating the situation in Gallipoli that same month, the intense artillery bombardment failed to destroy the enemy trenches or the barbed wire defences. As such, the men were unable to break through and instead became sitting ducks when the German machine guns and rifles opened fire. As one contemporary account described:

‘The Cameronians suffered severely. A storm of bullets from rifles and machine guns assailed them, but they never wavered. Go on they could not; go back they would not. Men were seen in that zone of death tearing at the wire with raw and bleeding hands, while their comrades were falling fast around them. Those who survived were obliged to retire and lie down in the open under a tornado of shot and shell, until one company made a gap and broke through the line of defence. Fifteen officers, including the commander, Colonel Bliss, were killed or wounded, and when the terrible day was over only 150 men out of 750 answered the roll call. “You have many noble honours on your colours,” said Sir John French, when he addressed the gallant remnant some days later; “none are finer than that of Neuve Chapelle, which will soon be added to them.”’ [23]

A-Company, under Major Ede L. Hayes, had an especially bad morning, meeting with heavy rife and machine gun fire. They managed to take 70 prisoners by the time they reached the first line but Lt Colonel W. M. Bliss and the adjutant Captain Bray Buchanan were among those already killed. B Company fared a little better under Captain Ferrers ‘and advanced on enemy front line in quick time,’ reaching the first German trench with ‘very little opposition.’

Alan was with C-Company which, along with D-Company, then joined A and B in that first line. The whole regiment then advanced as one on the German 2nd line. They came under heavy German rifle and machine gun fire came and all officers were felled except Major Carter-Campbell and 2nd Lieut. Somervail. At 2:15pm, Carter-Campbell was hit in the head, although he was back in command before long.

Alan’s wise words.

The surviving members of the battalion then occupied some ground near which the 5th Black Watch were digging trenches. They continued to be under ‘very heavy’ machine gun fire until the enemy guns were ‘finally silenced’ at about 4 pm. The survivors spent that night in trench “19. 53”. A hot meal, tea and ‘ample rations’ were brought up Lt & Qr Master Graham. At about 8 pm, the Sherwood Forresters came through the battalion before advancing onwards for a night attack. The Cameronians spent the rest of that night digging and improving the defences of a house by their trench.

Running between the German trenches that day was a young dispatch rider called Adolf Hitler who bounded between shell holes delivering messages for his Bavarian comrades with an enthusiasm that was noted in his regimental diary.

It took five days for Field Marshal Sir John French to concede that the offensive was not working and call a halt to the attack. By that time, over 23,000 soldiers – 7000 British, 4200 Indian and 12,000 German – had been killed or disabled in what David Williams referred to as ‘the battle where the loss of innocence occurred.’

Alan was among the fallen. Most of his fellow young officers in the Cameronians died with him. His death was widely reported in the press, appearing in the Burnley Express on 17 March, The Times’ List of Casualties on 18 March, and the Manchester Evening News on 29 March. My 2014 book ‘The Glorious Madness – Tales of the Irish & the Great War‘ is dedicated to Alan’s memory.

The fact that so many British bombs had failed to explode at Neuve Chapelle triggered the so-called Munitions Crisis in the UK that brought down Asquith’s Government and promoted Lloyd George to Minister of Munitions. It paved the way for greater female participation in the workforce and eventually towards female emancipation. It also led to restrictions on pub opening times as the shell shortage was blamed on drunken factory workers.


The Graveyard in Laventie


In May 2010, I embarked on my first trip to the Western Front with my brother Andrew and two friends, Rohan Boyle and Mathew Forde.  We spent Day One at Ypres, then retreated to Waterloo 1815 for some light relief on Day Two, before returning for Day Three at the Somme. It took us several weeks to recover fully from being so close to the holocaust that was World War One. So God only knows how long it took anyone who was there during the war. Eternity I suppose.

In the midst of it all, we found Alan’s grave in the Royal Irish Rifles graveyard at Laventie, 11km south-west of Armentieres and twelve miles west of Lille. It was Grave IV. H. 4.  It was a nice opportunity to thank him for his hairbrush.

Among others buried here is 24-year-old 1st Lieut. Gerrard Ferrers Nixon (whose brother Ernest was ADC to Sir John Nixon in Mesopotamia) and the air ace George ‘McIrish’ McElroy, who I wrote about in ‘The Glorious Madness. (See ‘The Irish Air Aces‘). While it is unlikely to ever be proven, there is a possibility that the nearby grave of an ‘Unknown British Aviator’ belongs to another Irish air ace, Mick Mannock.


Alan’s Will


A military memorial service was held at Habergham Church, Burnley, in Alan’s honour on Sunday 21 March 1915.[24]

Probate was granted in London on 19 November to his brother Jack Drew, described as  a calico printer, his cousins Alexander Sutherland Drew, described as merchant, and Edward Drew, calico printer. Alan left his property, valued at £25,767 10s. 9d (the net personalty being £25,464) to Jack, who was then resident of The Bluff, Canford Cliffs, Bournemouth. According to, that appears to be in excess of £2 million by present day rates. [25]


Translation of Alan Drew’s carillon from Mostyn House to Charterhouse School.

The Bells


In November 1918, A. G. Grenfell sent out letters to past pupils, and parents of existing pupils, seeking donations towards a war memorial at Mostyn House. Alan’s brother Jack contributed the first £500 of the £1,300 raised. This money was used to commission a carillon of 31 bells, made by Taylors of Loughborough, which were duly installed in the chapel at Mostyn House in memory of Alan “& the other four-score old boys who fell in the Great War.’ [26]

After Alan’s death, his mother left Burnley and moved to Harrogate, Yorkshire, where she died on 3 June 1919, aged 68. (She was buried with her husband Dan Drew in Burnley on 6 June, three weeks before the Treaty of Versailles was signed). As such, Rhoda was not present when the carillon was unveiled with a dedication by the Bishop of Chester on 25 May 1922. In the event that Mostyn House should ever close down, or that ‘the bells could no longer be heard by English boys’, it was decreed they should go – or be ‘translated’ – to another public school, preferably Charterhouse.

Turtle at the pedals that control the Alan Drew carillon in the belfry at Charterhouse, 1914.

Largely thanks to the work of Charterhouse bursar David Williams, that is precisely what happened when Mostyn House sadly closed its doors after 156 years in 2010.[27] The bells were wonderfully re-dedicated on 10 May 2014 in a service attended by eighty people all told including my father, my eldest brother William, myself, our Ellis cousins and Suzanna Grenfell-Marten, representing Mostyn House.

On 26 February 2014, David Williams delivered an address on the bells to some 800 pupils and staff in the chapel at Charterhouse, explaining why the ‘Carillon Bells’ had been so poignantly housed in the tower by the original chapel.[28] Built in 1927, to a design by Giles Gilbert Scott, the nearby ‘new’ chapel is the largest war memorial in the UK, recalling the 687 Old Carthusians who died – the highest percentage of any school in England.

My father later declared: ‘The rededication of the carillon was so fulfilling and beautiful that it takes pride of place in my remembrances for WWI.’

Alan’s hairbrush … alas the dog got a chew on the handle a few years back but otherwise it’s a very fine brush.


Alan’s Hairbrush & Other Legacies


I brush my hair with Alan’s hairbrush nearly every morning. It was made by Finnigans of Manchester who also, we think, made a suitcase with his name on it that my father has. The brush appears to be maplewood and my father suspects it is bristled with badger hair. I also have a hairbrush that once belonged to Alan’s ill-fated nephew Johnny Drew, but that is another story.

In 2015, my cousin Mary Ellis very kindly sent me Alan’s regimental brooch. She believes the brooch either passed from Alan’s mother Rhoda to his sister-in-law Sylvia (assuming she inherited such stuff from her mother-in-law) or was given directly to Sylvia. It may even have been a gift from Alan, or a present to his mother from his father, or even from Jack to Sylvia. All are perfectly credible; the ladies probably wanted to show their solidarity and family involvement in the war.

As such, I have now inadvertently become the custodian of several of Alan’s possessions including his cap-badge, his regimental brooch, his hairbrush and his posthumous medal. It’s extraordinary how he came to be in my life 100 years after the war and it feels most apt that I dedicated The Glorious Madness to him. I’m full of hope that he and I can sit and enjoy a jar together in the next life.

In 2018, my cousin Jacqui Doyle became owner of a very fine silver-topped walking cane inscribed with the name ‘Alan A Drew, Lower House, Burnley, Lancashire,’ as well as ‘Nantou, China, 24: 9: 10.’


(Could Alan be the same as Allan in the Drew photo albums?)




[1] Burnley Gazette, 4 February 1914.

[2] Burnley Gazette, 4 February 1914.

[3] Stuart Dye, ‘Daughter ends tradition of Algernon and sons; School’s new head continues long line of Grenfells in charge’, Daily Post (Liverpool), 5 January 2002, here.

[4] Stuart Dye, ‘Daughter ends tradition of Algernon and sons; School’s new head continues long line of Grenfells in charge’, Daily Post (Liverpool), 5 January 2002, here.

[5] Burnley Express, 17 March 1915.

[6] Extract from Du Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, volume 1, page 116:

DREW, ALAN APPLEBY, Lieut., 4th (Reserve), attd. 2nd, Battn. The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), yr. s. of the late Daniel Drew, of Lowerhouse, Burnley, a partner in the Lowerhouse Printing Works; b. 1884; educ. Charterhouse, 1904-7; left England In 1907 to go into business with a firm of merchants in Shanghai. On the outbreak of war he volunteered for foreign service, was gazetted 2nd Lieut. to the Cameronians, 16 Sept. 1914, and promoted Lieut., 4 Nov. following; left England on 13 Feb. to join his regt. at the Front, and was killed in action, 10 March, 1915; unm.

[7] Charterhouse Register, 1872-1910, Volume 2 (Chiswick Press, 1911), p. 624, but I haven’t managed to see the whole entry yet.

[8] London and China Telegraph – Monday 18 March 1901, p. 4.

[9] London and China Telegraph – Monday 26 May 1919, p. 3.

[10] London and China Telegraph – Monday 06 January 1908, p. 17.

[11] London and China Telegraph – Monday 10 April 1911, p. 18.

[12] Overland China Mail – Saturday 21 October 1911, p. 11.

[13] London and China Telegraph – Monday 04 March 1912, p. 5.

[14] London and China Telegraph – Monday 16 June 1913, p. 5.

[15] Stuart Dye, ‘Daughter ends tradition of Algernon and sons; School’s new head continues long line of Grenfells in charge’, Daily Post (Liverpool), 5 January 2002, here.

[16] Stuart Dye, ‘Daughter ends tradition of Algernon and sons; School’s new head continues long line of Grenfells in charge’, Daily Post (Liverpool), 5 January 2002, here.

[17] Sacerdotalism – the belief that priests are essential mediators between God and man and that individuals cannot approach God on their own – Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican forms of worship are sacerdotal.

[18] Burnley Express, 17 March 1915.

[19] Thanks to Wendy Howard.

[20] Burnley Express, 17 March 1915.

[21] Burnley Express, 17 March 1915. ‘Whilst in Glasgow, he was for three or four years a Lieut. in the Highland Light Infantry (Territorials), which commission he resigned on going out to Shanghai for business purposes. He had been returned about two years, and when war broke out he applied for a commission in the Highland Light Infantry, which was, however, full up, and he took one with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).’

[22] For more information on the 2nd Battalion’s involvement in the battle, see ‘Morale: A Study of Men and Courage’ by John Baynes. This book was written by an officer of The Cameronians and the descriptions of the Battle are heavily based on the eye-witness accounts of several of the officers and men who survived.

WAR DIARY Army Form C. 2118.

The following extracts come from the 2nd Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) war diary for February and March 1915. The diaries give a daily account of the Battalions movements and actions leading up to and including the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. Lieutenant Alan Appleby Drew is shown as joining the Battalion on February 26th and is also listed among those killed during the Battle.

This information was sent to me in June 2010 by Barrie Duncan, Assistant Museums Officer, Community Resources, Museum Development, South Lanarkshire Council. Unfortunately they do not hold any records on individuals and so were unable to offer any personal information on Lieutenant Drew. For more information on the 2nd Battalion’s involvement in the Battle, Barrie recommended the book Morale: A Study of Men and Courage by John Baynes. This book was written by an officer of The Cameronians and the descriptions of the Battle are heavily based on the eye-witness accounts of several of the officers and men who survived.


1st Feb – LA FLINQUE: Draft of 1 Cpl. And 39 men joined from ROUEN. Relieved 2/ Devons in the trenches. One man Killed . LIEUT. W.J. Kerr and three men wounded.

2nd Feb – Trenches near CHAPIGNY. One man Killed and one man wounded

3rd Feb – Trenches near CHAPIGNY. One man Killed and one man wounded

4th Feb – Trenches near CHAPIGNY. Relieved by 2/ Devons and went into billets in Divisional Reserve at PONT RIRCHON. One man killed and two wounded. One man reported missing. 2/LIEUTS. G.V.BOOKLESS and C.T. GRANT joined the Bn.

5th Feb – PONR RIRCHON. Nothing to report.

6th Feb – Nothing to report.

7th Feb – Relieved 2/ Devons in the Trenches. Three men wounded

8th Feb – Trenches near CHAPIGNY. Killed CAPT. & ADJT CO I MAUNSELL & two men. Three men wounded

9th Feb – Nothing to report

10th Feb – Two killed & four men wounded. Relieved by 2/ Devonshire Regt. and went into Brigade Reserve at LA FLINQUE

11th Feb – LA FLINQUE: Nothing to report

12th Feb – Nothing to report

13th Feb – Relieved 2/ Devons in the trenches, casualties – nil.

14th Feb – Three men wounded

15th Feb – One man wounded

16th Feb – Relieved by 2/ Devons and went into billets in Divisional Reserve at PONT RIRCHON. Two men wounded. Draft of 50 men joined from Base.

17th February – PONT RIRCHON: Nothing to record

18th Feb – Nothing to report

19th Feb – Relieved 2/Devons in the Trenches. Two men wounded

20th February – Trenches near CHAPIGNY. One man killed, four wounded.

21st Feb – Two men killed, two wounded

22nd Feb – No casualties. 1 Sergeant, 1 Corporal and 28 men joined from Base. Relieved by 2/ Devons and went into Brigade reserve at LA FLINQUE

23rd February – LA FLINQUE: One man wounded.

24th Feb – 2/LIEUT. S. de T. WILLIAMSON 3rd Bn. Scottish Rifles joined from Base.

25th Feb – Relieved 2/ Devons in the Trenches. One man wounded

26th Feb – Trenches near CHAPIGNY: LIEUT A A DREW 4th Bn. Scottish Rifles joined from Base HAVRE. Two men killed & three wounded

27th Feb – One man killed & one wounded.

28th Feb – One man wounded. W.B. GRAY- BUCHANAN CAPT.

1st March – Relieved by 1st Bn. Sherwood Foresters. CAPT. A.C. STANLEY CLARKE wounded, 1 man killed and two wounded. Billeted for the night at PONT RIRCHON

2nd March – MERVILLE: Marched to MERVILLE and went into billets in vicinity.

3rd March – LIEUT R.H.H. ROBERTSON 4th Bn. Scottish Rifles, one lance Sergt. & 19 men joined from Base.

4th March – Nothing to record

5th March – Nothing to record

6th March – Nothing to record

7th March – LA GORGUE: Moved into close billets at LA GORGUE. Three men missing, absent without leave.

8th March – In billets at LA GORGUE. Nothing to record—

March 9th – Nothing doing in the morning. Paraded at 10.45 pm & marched to “ Cameron Lane “ ie PONT du HOM- hot meal was issued there at 1am 10th.

March 10th [being the day Alan Appleby Drew was killed – tb]- At 2am marched across country to sign post corner – Single file – formed up in trenches as in map “A” by 5.30 am – guns started finished at 7 am. Bombardment of enemy trenches (wire cutting) 7.30 to 7.45 am. 7.45 to 8 bombardment of first line enemys trench – 8.5

A & B Coys left trenches and advanced on enemy front line in quick time – A Coy MAJOR EDE L. HAYES – B Coy CAPT FERRERS – C & D Coys then occupying trenches vacated by A & B. B Coy reached the first German trench with very little opposition – not so A Coy who met with a heavy rifle & M.G. fire – the German wire too was not well cut in front of this Coy by the Guns. A Coy experienced a heavy enfillade fire as the Bn. on its left – the 2 / Middx – could not get forward altho’ making three gallant attempts. About 70 prisoners gave themselves up in the first line trenches. By the time the first line had been reached. Lt Col. W.M. BLISS & the ADJT. CAPT GRAY-BUCHANAN were killed close together practically leading the first line.

C & D Coy followed A & B at a short interval and the whole regt went on taking the German 2nd line – the regt had now arrived at points 21 q 82 & the right flank advanced past 41 as far as 18. the line now held 18, 41, 82 q 21 9.30 am, our guns now shelled 18. Heavy German rifle & machine gun fire came from 22. The 2/ Middlx were now able to advance and our gunners had cleared 22 – the whole line was now able to advance – the Bn occupied 53 & 19 – The Bn reached this point before our scheduled time – the (our) gunners opened fire on this line but fortunately the Bn retired before any material damage was done – they occupied a position 18, 65. At 2.15 p.m. MAJOR CARTER-CAMPBELL who by this time was the only officer left except 2/Lt. SOMERVAIL – was hit in the head & the Bn reoccupied 19,5 3. Where the 5th Black Watch were digging trenches. Very heavy M.G. from direction of Pt 5 began & was finally silenced by our machine guns time about 4 pm. The night of the 10th/11th was spent in trench 19. 53 and defended house 19. A hot meal and tea & ample rations were brought up Lt & Qr Master GRAHAM About 8 pm. the Sherwood Forresters came through the Bn advancing to a night attack. The night of 10th/11th was spent in digging & improving defenses of house.

March 11th – At 5.30 am. C Coy occupied position 55. 19 The remainder of the Bn stayed where they were heavily shelled with high explosive “Blk Marias” & shrapnel – very few casualties not worse than 2 or 3 men hit with shrapnel bullets. The night of 11th/12th was spent in the same position. The Bn again had a hot meal from the cookers brought up with great difficulty as the road was blocked & being heavily shelled.

March 12th – On the morning of this day – the Bn was in and about Pts 19. 55. 53 The subjected to heavy shell fire during the day – but did not suffer much 4 or 5 casualties only About 4 pm MAJOR CARTER-CAMPBELL was wounded & 2Lt SOMERVAIL, assisted by REGTL SGT MAJOR CHALMERS assumed command of the Bn at the time MAJOR CARTER-CAMPBELL was wounded – he was on his way from the 2/ W. Yorks Regt. where he had been making arrangements for a night attack. He was to have commanded both Bns. This command then devolved on MAJ INGPELL 2/ W. Yorks. About 8 pm the Bn formed up in the road at about pt 65 facing South. The Bn formed the advance guard & moved by 29.50. 31.They moved across country & joining up with 2/ Devons & formed a preparatory formation for a night attack. The night attack however did not come off – about 4 am 13th the night operations were cancelled.

March 13th – and the Bn returned to its position 19. 53. 55. In the morning of the 13th the Bn occupied 54. About 8 pm., after spending the day under shell fire, the Bn retired to 22. 77 where they remained all night.

March 14th – Consolidated the above position and about 4 pm retired back by Coys. through the German trenches to orchard 15. 16. 13. this night the Bn was relieved by the 25th Bde. the Bn was in reserve that night i.e. 14th/15th

[23] ‘The Children’s Story of the War’ (Volume 4), James Edward Parrott Thomas Nelson & Sons, London 1915, here.

[24] Haslingden Gazette – Saturday 27 March 1915, p. 8.

[25] Thanks to Wendy Howard.

[26] As an aside, I visited Cobh, County Cork, on 1st December 2014 where I heard the bells ring out from Cobh Cathedral. The story of these bells, installed 1916, is particularly interesting because, like Alan Drew’s bells, they were made by Taylors of Loughborough. The story was told to me by local historian Christy Keating.

Bishop Browne – uncle of the famous Fr. Browne of Titanic fame – was appointed Bishop of Cloyne in 1894 and entrusted with completing the cathedral in Cobh because he had done such a good job of finishing St. Patrick’s Church in Maynooth (on time) while he was President of Maynooth College. Cobb Cathedral was the biggest project ever undertaken by the Catholic Church in Ireland.

When the Bishop initially ordered the bells from Taylor’s perfect amphitheatre with the town underneath the cathedral, the high ground behind it and the harbour in front of it. The Bishop agreed to buy the bells which Admiral Lewis Bayly, the Admiral of the Queenstown Command.

It is said that during the war Admiralty House Bishop Browne gave permission to put these wires on church property in return for which Admiral Bayly provided an escort for the bells from Liverpool to Cobh. While the Royal Navy were meticulous in documenting most things, no documentation of the bells transit to Cobh has yet been found.

Bells such as these must be turned by a quarter of a turn every 100 years on account of the clapper hitting the same spot. After 400 years, the bells will also have to be returned. You can hear ‘The Bells of St. Colman’s Cathedral Cobh’ on YouTube.

[27] In October 2016 my father made contact with Ian Lyon, the first Old Mostonian we knew about, aside from Rohan Boyle’s grandfather. According to Ian: ‘I went to Mostyn House in May 1939 and during that term, and before the bells were silenced for the duration of the War, some people were missing one night on the Sands of Dee and the bells played hymn tunes for virtually the whole night. The then Headmaster, Daryl Grenfell, was not only an excellent Headmaster but he had an excellent business brain. In 1938 he anticipated the onset if WW2 and sold the public swimming pool he owned in Parkgate and with the proceeds he built the Air Raid Shelter. Had the Shelter not existed it was highly likely the school would have been evacuated. Had it been evacuated it would not have been possible to replicate the many amenities the school had. Until the blitz virtually ended in 1942 we spent a lot of time there. I remember one term when we had to go to the Shelter virtually every night.’

[28] Details of the bells and memorial plaque at Mostyn House School are recorded on pages 20-24 of the Introduction to this work, The Chapel of the former Mostyn House School, Parkgate. On 26 February 2014, David Williams delivered an address on the bells to some 800 pupils and staff in the chapel at Charterhouse about the ‘Carillon Bells’. In explaining why they were now at the school, he spoke of AA Drew as follows:

“To find out I enlisted the help of Mrs Smith in Archives. We discovered that yes, A A Drew was an Old Carthusian and he was in Gownboys. Although his academic progress went spectacularly downwards during his time at the school, he was a “conspicuous” member of the First XI football team, he served on the Athletics Committee and in the Fire Brigade and, according to The Carthusian he was a talented singer and entertainer. He left the school in 1903 and went to work in Shanghai before returning to teach at Mostyn House.
At the onset of war he, like many of his generation, joined up, and due to family ties he enlisted in a Scottish Regiment, the Cameronians. He left England for France on 11 February 1915. A month later he was dead, killed in action at Neuve Chapelle, alongside most of his fellow young officers in the Cameronians. You will see his name on the memorial at the West end of this Chapel.
The offensive at Neuve Chapelle has been regarded as the battle where the loss of innocence occurred. More shells were fired on the first day than in the whole of the Boer War, and there still weren’t enough. The subsequent Munitions Crisis brought down Asquith’s Government and promoted Lloyd George to Minister of Munitions. It paved the way for greater female participation in the workforce and eventually towards female emancipation. It also regretfully led to restrictions on pub opening times as the blame for the shell shortage fell heavily upon the drunken factory workers.
The greatest concentration of Carillons is in Flanders. Throughout the First World War their evocative music must have formed a contrasting soundtrack to the gunfire of the trenches. Therefore it is not surprising that many of the Carillons now found outside Flanders were built as war memorials.
After the war, the families of the fallen began searching for appropriate memorials to their loved ones. A A Drew’s family made the inspired choice to install a Carillon at his prep school. His older brother John Drew, also a Carthusian, contributed the first 500 pounds of the 1,300 pound total cost of the bells. As there are four other Carthusians on the Carillon Roll of Honour, it is reasonable to assume that their families also contributed to the Carillon appeal.”

Mr. Williams concluded his fine talk:

“Before he left for France, Alan Appleby Drew wrote in his sister-in-law’s scrapbook ‘To every life that God hath given he hath allotted a work – the fulfilment of that work comes naturally, and its proper accomplishment should form the sole ambition of that life.’
This epigram summarises the guiding philosophy of a Carthusian whose allotted work was to make the ultimate sacrifice. The Carillon is his legacy. Now, one hundred years later, its dedication has been fulfilled and it has been installed at Charterhouse. Poignantly it is housed in the tower of the original Chapel, from where it will continue to “go on speaking” to us all.’