Forbes A.

Captain Alec Forbes, 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment


Killed in action, 3rd September, 1916

Alec Forbes was born in Stokesley in 1887, the second child of Dr William Guthrie Forbes and his wife Louisa Ross Dagg, and the elder brother of William Guthrie Forbes junior. In 1889 at only 26 years of age, Louisa was widowed , and brought up her family (Nina, Alec and William) at Springfield Villas, Stokesley.

(For details of family between 1881 and 1901, see Forbes W.G.).

On Tuesday 3rd April 1906, Alec and his older sister Nina appeared in a dramatic production called ‘The Jacobite’ at the Council School in Hutton Rudby. Nina had already moved out of the family home (Springfield Villas) to work as a governess, an occupation she continued to follow for some years, but their appearance together shows the family continued to be close, and it is tempting to picture their mother Louisa and their brother William amongst the audience at Hutton Rudby.

Alec left Stokesley in pursuit of a career in banking, and in the 1911 census he was listed as a bank clerk, living in Richmond, Surrey, as a boarder with some of his colleagues.

As with many other young men in routine occupations, Alec enlisted in the army the very day after the war broke out, joining the 28th London Regiment (the Artist’s Rifles) on 5th August 1914. He was drafted to France with the British Expeditionary Force as Private 1424 Forbes in November, 1914 and was awarded the Mons Star.

Commissioned Captain in the Warwickshires on 13th February, 1915, Alec proved a courageous officer and was mentioned in despatches. He fought in the major battles of Neuve Chapelle and Festubert (1915) and took part in the notorious Somme offensive of July 1916. It was in the course of this campaign that he met his end, first being reported as missing and then as killed in action at Ginchy. He was 28 years of age and single, and by his will, proven in London on 7th November, his effects (£602 12s 7d) were left to his mother.

Alec’s mother, Louisa, applied for her elder son’s 1914 Star in March 1918, and Captain Forbes was also awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His body lies in Plot XVII, K2 at Delville Wood Cemetery at Longueval.

A note on Louisa and Nina:

Louisa Ross Forbes lived on for many years, dying at the age of 84 on 19th January, 1946. She left £1625 to her only surviving child, her daughter Nina.

Nina Forbes had an eventful life, though she never married. She was a VAD (nurse) during the Great War, and she appears in a photograph which still hangs in the Town Hall at Stokesley. This shows the staff of the military hospital which was set up in Stokesley Manor House, posing against the wall of the Manor House itself. Thanks to information provided by Christine Bainbridge of the Stokesley Local History Study Group, we can identify not only Nina but all those on the photograph from an index in the Local History file 'Stokesley at War' which is shelved in the town library. Click on VAD Photo to see Nina and her colleagues.

Other records show that Nina visited the USA at least once, as she appears as an incoming passenger on the ‘Aquitania’ (a Cunarder) in May 1921. Her name also appears on the records of people crossing the Canada-USA border! On the passenger list, she gives her occupation as musician and her address as 102 Sydney Street in the Regent’s Park area of London. Nina did later return to Stokesley and to Springfield Villas, and lived to the age of 71.

She died at North Ormesby Hospital on 27th September, 1958. She left just over £4900; probate was granted to the National Provincial Bank Ltd.

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