Down Hatherley Gloucestershire Part 1

One is a grandson and one is a great-grandson of this family. Both died in the Great War: Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous MC and Jaffray Fryer Selous Jones.

Those of you who have read my other article on Down Hatherley in Gloucestershire may now about the rather wonderful bronze war memorial plaque and the mesmerising stained glass windows to the memory of Captain T. V. T. T. Neville at Down Hatherley church. But on another wall of this rather astonishing church is another bronze memorial plaque. This time to another rather amazing family.

On a bronze plaque to the Jones family, there is a memorial to Anthony Gilbert Jones, J.P. from Hatherley Court who died in 1887 and his wife Elizabeth who died in 1909; as well as one of their seven sons Francis William Jones who died in 1922.

But also listed on it are two other men.

One is a grandson and one is a great-grandson of this family. Both died in the Great War: Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous MC and Jaffray Fryer Selous Jones.

It reads:

Also of their great grandson Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous MC Captain, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regt. and R.F.C. who was killed in action on the 4th Jan. 1918 (aged 20) while leading his flight over the German lines on the Menin Road near Roulers Also of their grandson 2nd Lieutenant Jaffray Fryer Selous Jones R. E. who was mortally wounded at High Wood, Battle of the Somme, and died at Rouen on the 25th Aug. 1916, aged 24

These young men seem so emotionally distant on that bronze tablet. Immortally contained and memorialised in a single sentence; but these were once men who were once flesh and blood. They breathed and talked, laughed and sang. And then they were gone.

Anthony Gilbert Jones, a local magistrate had several children. One of his daughter’s, Emily Anne Jones married Henry William Maddy in 1871 in Down Hatherley. Henry Maddy was the rector of Down Hatherley. Their daughter Marie Catherine Gladys Maddy (known as Gladys) went on to marry Frederick Courteney Selous in 1894.

Frederick Courteney Selous was born in 1851, he was 43 years of age when he married the 20-year-old rector’s daughter Gladys. They would go on to have two children; both boys. One of whom was Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous – the great-grandson of the local magistrate; the name on the plaque.

But Gladys had married a most infamous man. Self-professed explorer, big game hunter, naturalist and widely believed to be the inspiration for Rider Haggard’s Allan Quartermain. Anyone who has been to the Natural History Museum in London may well have seen a sculpture of the man, but who some now view as less naturalist and more hunter; F. C. Selous DSO. He had left England when he was 20 years old heading for South Africa. He became a hunter and guide spending a lot of time in Africa; but also travelling to Asia, Canada, Alaska and even took President Roosevelt hunting. He had an extensive butterfly collection and had many hunting souvenirs; most of which were donated to the Natural History Museum on his death.

Speaking of which, F.C. Selous worked for the British South Africa Company, but also fought in the First Matabele War alongside Major Robert Baden-Powell in the 1890s. Then when the Great War entered its second year, Captain F. C. Selous enlisted for war at the age of 64 years. He was sent to British East Africa with the unique 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. On January 4th 1917, aged 65 years old Captain Frederick Courteney Selous DSO was killed; shot by sniper looking through his binoculars on the banks of the river Rufiji. He had been engaged in bush warfare against German forces. His death was quite the news; even a senior German officer apologised for the ‘ungentlemanly’ method of death seemingly quite in awe of the man. He was buried underneath a tamarind tree in what is now Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania. In 2007, his grave was re-instated.

One can only wonder at the impact of the death of their father; for both sons were in the war machine although only Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous in action. He had been in France with the Royal Flying Corps from July 1916 after having taken his air certificate in May 1916. He had previously been a Second Lieutenant with The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment.

He was baptised at Down Hatherley Church and went to school at Rugby, like his father before him. In 1915, he had been Captain of the rugby team.

Captain F. H. B. Selous was killed in action on the 4th January 1918; one year after the death of his father. He was shot down by the German forces flying over the Menin Road. He has no known grave and his name lies on the Arras Flying Services Memorial. He won the Military Cross and the Silver Medal for Military Valour from Italy. He died aged 19 years.

His Major wrote to his mother:

It is a severe blow to the squadron to lose him, as he was absolutely loved by officers and men alike, in fact his popularity extended to much greater area than the aerodrome. In the short week that I have known him I have been struck by the courage and keenness of your son, always ready for his job and always going about his work with the cheeriest and happiest of smiles. He was simply the life and soul of the mess.

The names of the father and son lie next to each other on the war memorial in the Rugby School Chapel; as well as on the Worplesdon War Memorial Tablet inside the church where they used to live at Heatherside, Worplesdon in Surrey. And here at Down Hatherley, the great-grandson is remembered. Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous or to some just ‘Freddy’.

The other name on this memorial plaque is to Jaffrey Fryer Selous Jones. He was the son of Frederick Courteney Selous’s sister Annie Berryman Selous who married Richard Fryer Jones (who was also the son of Anthony Gilbert Jones). He was born in 1892 in Johannesburg in South Africa and was only six years old when his father died. An only child. Before the war he and his mother had been living with his grandmother in Longford House near Down Hatherley in Gloucestershire.

Described as handsome and popular, an expert with motorcycles, he went to Birmingham University before the war. He joined the 2nd Birmingham Battalion as a Corporal before being transferred into the Royal Engineers where he was promoted in March 1916 as a Second Lieutenant.

Jaffrey or Jeffrey as he was sometimes known, went to France in September 1915. He died in hospital of wounds received at High Wood on the Somme on the 26th August 1916 aged 24 years of age. He had been serving with F Company, 2nd Battalion Special Brigade of the Royal Engineers; a special unit responsible for the discharge of gas from cylinders. He is buried at St Sever Cemetery on the outskirts of Rouen in France. On his grave is written a line from Rupert Brooke‘s poem The Soldier:

There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed

Brookes’s poem begins:

If I should die, think only this of me, That there’s some corner of a foreign field That is forever England…

In this specific example, that seems to be true. For Fred Courteney Selous died in Tanzania. His son Freddy died somewhere where land meets sky over the Menin Road in Belgium; and Jaffrey Selous-Jones died in northern France. This Selous-Jones clan spread over many a war zone. Yet here in England, rural England is where their memory lingers. The place where none of these men were born or died but Down Hatherley had some connection to them; which meant that even after death, they prevailed.