Friday, 4 February 2011

The Story Behind the Name: Robert Mavor

Whenever you look at a war memorial, it is important to remember that the men and women commemorate are more than just a name on a plaque. This new regular feature will pick selected names on memorials and tell you a little about their lives.

My research into the Bank of Scotland memorials has also meant researching some of the banks which were incorporated into the Bank of Scotland, later HBOS and now the Lloyds Banking Group.

One such bank is the British Linen Bank. Their memorial can be seen in the Bank of Scotland branch in St Andrews Square in Edinburgh, and one of the names on that memorial is Robert George Mavor, MC.

The British Linen Bank First World War memorial in Edinburgh.

Robert George Innis Mavor was born in September 1891, the youngest son of John and Margaret Mathieson Mavor. He was educated at George Heriot’s School from 1903 to 1907, and served his apprenticeship with the Linen Bank in the Newington branch before being appointed permanently in the Head Office. He was a member of the Institute of Bankers.

He was released for military service by the bank on the 21st October 1915, and was commissioned into the 7th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as a Second Lieutenant.

He arrived in France in October 1916, and in April 1917 he was awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Vimy Ridge. The citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He took command of the company during the advance at a time when it was held up by machine gun fire. He reorganized the company and handled it with great skill. His fine example and skill enabled the company to gain its final objective.

The Captain of the company concerned wrote to Mavors’ parents, giving them a little more detail about the events leading to his award:

“I was hit in the knee, and unable to move. Things looked black; but your son, on finding I was hit, took command, reorganized the company, and led them forward, clearing out the enemy and taking our objective, for which splendid work he was recommended by the Colonel. It was magnificently done, and he deserves great credit , especially as he was slightly wounded at the time.”

Despite being wounded he was able to continue his duties, but he would not live to see the award of the Military Cross as he was killed in action at Roeux on the 23rd April 1917.

His Colonel wrote to his parents:

“It is with the greatest regret that I have to tell you that your son was killed on the 23rd, while gallantly leading his men in the attack. He was one of the most capable young officers I had, and had already done splendidly in the Vimy Ridge. His name would have been sent in for special mention.”

A fellow officer wrote:

“He went with B Company to attack Roeux on the 23rd, but unfortunately was killed by machine-gun fire in the woods before reaching the village. His men tell me he was slightly wounded, but refused to give up, like the true and faithful soldier he has always shown himself, until he was mortally hit. He is the greatest loss to the battalion as he was loved by everyone, and his work at all times was beyond praise.”

Another officer wrote:

“I knew your son well, and the longer he was with me the more I appreciated his sterling qualities. Always cheerful and willing, his men loved him and would go anywhere with him; an officer can have no finer tribute paid him…in his death the battalion have lost one of their very best officers, and the company, both officers and men, a bright and unselfish companion.”

Robert Mavor is buried in Section I, Row A, Grave 11/16 of Level Crossing Cemetery, Fampoux. As well as being commemorated on the British Linen Bank war memorial in Edinburgh, he is also listed on the memorial at George Heriot's School.

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