MICHAEL HARGREAVE MAW­SON

GREAT-GREAT-NEPHEW OF PERCY CLIVE MP

History of War - - PARLIAMENT’S SACRIFICE -

Percy Clive was the Lib­eral Union­ist MP for Ross and had fought dur­ing the Boer War, where he was wounded. Dur­ing WWI he rose to the rank of lieu­tenant colonel in the Gre­nadier Guards, was twice men­tioned in despatches and dec­o­rated sev­eral times. Clive was killed in ac­tion at Buc­quoy on 5 April 1918. His great­great-nephew Michael Hargreave Maw­son is a re­spected his­to­rian of the Crimean War.

What are your thoughts on Led By Lions?

I think it’s a won­der­ful idea. The phrase

“lions led by don­keys” ac­tu­ally dates back to the Crimean War. Out­side the walls of Sev­astopol a Rus­sian sergeant said to his English coun­ter­part, “Your men are like lions but your of­fi­cers are don­keys,” and prac­ti­cally ev­ery of­fi­cer in the war wrote this down and sent it home in a let­ter. How true the phrase was in the Crimea is open to de­bate but clearly Neil [Thorn­ton] has proven that in the First World War it was rub­bish. The men were in­deed ‘lions’.

What kind of sol­dier was Percy Clive?

Percy was killed in ac­tion in an ex­tra­or­di­nary act of gal­lantry, which was only one of a se­ries that he had per­formed dur­ing WWI. Prac­ti­cally ev­ery­body seems to think he was awarded the DSO [Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Or­der], but he wasn’t, and Neil Thorn­ton has tracked this down and proved it. How­ever, it goes to show the way he con­ducted him­self and the scrapes he got into that peo­ple came to the con­clu­sion that he must have had a DSO!

How im­por­tant is that sto­ries like Percy Clive’s are re­mem­bered?

Percy had a son who went on to be killed in the Western Desert dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, which led to that side of the fam­ily dy­ing out. Ul­ti­mately, these deaths led to the end of that en­tire fam­ily.

I think it’s very im­por­tant that ev­ery­body’s story is re­mem­bered, par­tic­u­larly when we’re in the po­lit­i­cal state we’re in now. We’re inches away from leav­ing the Euro­pean Union that has pro­vided us with a peace­ful con­ti­nent for 70 years. I have been read­ing a lot of WWI mil­i­tary his­tory books over the last cou­ple of years in the con­text of the cen­te­nary anniversaries, but the thought of war is be­com­ing con­ceiv­able again as we leave the EU. Our exit from the EU could mean that it breaks up and causes new na­tional ten­sions to arise. It’s a ter­ri­fy­ing time now to look back at what a Euro­pean war means. It’s not ac­tu­ally an­cient his­tory and could be to­mor­row’s news.

What can the ex­am­ple of lead­er­ship pro­vided by the fallen MPS and sons of WWI teach sit­ting mem­bers of the Com­mons?

The chances are that in the same cir­cum­stances to­day’s House would re­act in the same way. I don’t think there’s an ab­sence of lead­er­ship in our cur­rent MPS and I don’t think they need to be taught how to stand up and be counted. But it is al­ways well to look back and say, “These are your peers. These are the ex­em­plars you should be fol­low­ing.” How­ever, I don’t think we have any pusil­lan­i­mous MPS or any cow­ards in the House; they stand up for what they be­lieve in. Jo Cox didn’t serve on a front line in a trench but she was out there and she died for what she felt was right.

“EV­ERY­BODY SEEMS TO THINK HE WAS AWARDED THE DSO, BUT HE WASN’T, AND NEIL THORN­TON HAS TRACKED THIS DOWN AND PROVED IT”

A de­pic­tion of the fight­ing at Buc­quoy, where Percy Clive MP was killed in ac­tion in April 1918

Con­trary to be­lief, Percy

Clive did not re­ceive the Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Or­der (DSO) but was awarded the Lé­gion d’hon­neur and Croix de Guerre by the French

Led by Lions. MPS and Sons Who Fell in the First World War by neil Thorn­ton is pub­lished by fonthill Me­dia. for a re­view turn to page 88.

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