Henry Douglas McNeile was a career soldier and married to Dorothy Maud McNeile, living in The Lodge, Stamford Road, Oakham. He was the son of Henry Hugh McNeile and his wife, of Parkmount, County Antrim and was killed, aged 43, when he fell from a horse on 20 December 1915. Henry is buried near the north-west corner of Fruges Communal Cemetery. His war record has been fully researched by Kenneth Brown and his son Greig from Scotland, who have visited his grave and provided the photographs here. They found the battalion war diary which says on 16 November 1915 Lieutenant Colonel McNeile's regiment moved to the Fruges/Crequy area of north eastern France. The regiment was split into different Squadrons. The HQ Battalion and others were around Crequy whilst the 6th Cavalry Field Ambulance was billeted in Fruges. Lieutenant Colonel McNeile had been the Regimental Commander since May 1915 when the previous commander had been killed. The war diary has an entry for Monday, 20 December 1915, the day Lieutenant Colonel McNeile was killed: "Lieutenant Colonel H D McNeile who had commanded the Regiment since the death of Lieutenant Colonel G F Steele in May last year was accidentally killed by a fall from his horse. It was a most extraordinary accident as he fell on very soft ground and clear of his horse. The fatal nature of the injured must have been entirely due to the angle at which he fell." Kenneth Brown, who researched him told us: "I find the circumstances of his death very sad indeed, he was a very experienced horseman who had participated in cavalry action during the Boer War and had spent all of his military life as a cavalry officer. It must have been a very unlucky set of circumstances that firstly caused him to fall and secondly for him to fall in such a tragic manner. I presume that following his fall from the horse he was conveyed to the Field Ambulance Depot in Fruges where they were unable to save his life, hence the reason he's buried in the local churchyard - the only soldier from the 1914-1918 war there. He is buried among the local French townsfolk, so he's not alone. There are some Second World War airmen buried next to each other in a plot some metres away." The war diary continues recording the events of 20 December: "The day passed quietly and the final of the Troop Football Competition resulted in a victory for the 2nd troop of A Squadron over the 4th Troop of C Squadron," so life for the soldier went on regardless. As Kenneth says, an example of how the death even of a well liked and respected senior officer of the regiment was taken as just another unfortunate result of war. Henry McNeile is remembered on Oakham's war memorial.
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