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2nd Lieutenant William Robert Hamilton

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Coldstream Guards, attached 4th Battalion Guards Machine Gun Regiment), Age 26, Killed 12 October 1917. Tyne Cot Memorial Panel 9 & 10. Son of John and Jane Hamilton, 105 Kloof Street, Cape Town, South Africa. He was born in Dumfries, Scotland and emigrated to South Africa. He was employed as a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University College, Cape Town.


He came to England in December 1915 and in January 1916 joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps. After six months training with the Inns of Court OTC William applied for a commission in the Coldstream Guards and was commissioned on 22 August 1916.  While in training at Victoria Barracks, Windsor he collected his poems together in a book that was published after he had gone to the front line. Modern Poems (Oxford: B. H. Blackwell, 1917). He completed his training first Windsor, as a Gas Instructor, and then by December 1916 in Grantham as a Machine Gun Officer and was attached to the 4th Machine Gun Guards Battalion.


He returned from leave on 10 October 1917 and the War Diary recorded this and his death on 12 October when the Guards Division was attacking the German line at Broembeek and the Houthulst Forest:

War Diary 12 October 1917

Linesman Map

His body was lost and he is listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing.


He reflected on, and anticipated, a future that he would likely play no part in:


War Sonnet I


The spoils of youth are shaken from the net:

The golden promise spilt, and in despite

Of nature’s well-laid plan, a nation’s might

Of intellect becomes a dull regret.

And ye, who lightly talk of England’s debt;

Who muddle into government and war,

Spilling the garnered ointment from the jar

The Past upon the Future’s altar set—

How shall ye meet this greater debt incurred

Of reasonable hope outraged, and how

Restore the sweetness to the People’s song:

Revive its pristine trust in those whose word

May yet precipitate a greater wrong

Than that whose bitterness we harvest now!

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