Acworth, Douglas Harry

Major / Coke's Rifles

1885 - 1919

Douglas Harry Acworth was born 27 October 1885, the son of Harry Arbuthnot Acworth of Great Malvern and Anna Mary Godby Acworth (daughter of Colonel C V Jenkins, 47th Bengal Light Infantry) and elder brother of Second Lieutenant John Arden Acworth (D, 1911-1916) Worcester Regiment, who died of wounds on 13 October 1917 (see individual entry).

He came to Winchester College from Mr. Douglas' school at Malvern Link in January 1899 and was in D House, Fearon's, under Mr Kensington. He was a House Prefect in his last year and ninth man on Wimbledon Roll, and a member of the Bisley Eight.

Acworth left Winchester in December 1903 and went on to the RMC Sandhurst in 1904. He again distinguished himself as a rifle-shot. Having gained an Indian Cadetship, he went out to India in 1905 to join the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment. In 1906 he was transferred to Coke's Rifles, Frontier Force, and served with them through the Mohmand campaign of 1908, latterly as Adjutant.

In August 1914 he was home on leave and was detained in England to take part in the training of the New Army. A few months later he joined the Indian Corps in France and in November 1914 received the MC, it is believed for a successful bombing raid, although no citation exists. His name appeared in Despatches about the same time. On 24 November 1914 he received a bayonet thrust to the face and was recommended for the DSO. However, by then it had been decided to make the DSO an award for leadership, and the MC to be the standard award for bravery. Acworth received the first MC ever awarded. In 1915 he was promoted to the staff, and was severely wounded by shrapnel to the forearm and thigh in April of that year while leading a column into action near Neuve Chapelle. On his recovery he joined the staff at Canterbury and subsequently went to Egypt. When the Armistice was concluded he was serving with great credit on the Headquarters Staff of General Sir Edmund (later Lord) Allenby in Palestine.

Acworth died of influenza at Port Said on 6 February 1919, a few days after returning from leave (the CWGC website incorrectly lists his date of death as 21st January 1919). The Order of the Nile was awarded him after his death.

The Malvern News of 15 February 1919 carried his obituary: 'Douglas Acworth was a born soldier. He was a man of magnificent physique over six feet in height (his younger brother was six feet two inches) muscular, active and handsome. He was a splendid horseman, and an extraordinarily fine shot with rifle, gun and revolver. A few months before he came home in 1914 he had won a silver cup as 'the best man at arms in the Bannu Brigade'. Probably there was not a finer officer of his rank in the army – cool steady and patient, decisive and as brave as a lion. And no officer was ever more thoughtful or careful of his men. His regiment was devoted to him, and there is hardly an officer or man who will not drop a tear at the news of his death. He was not a 'bookish' man, but a most earnest student of his profession and of historical and military literature. His father, though no doubt his superior in more literary capacity, yet says that his son’s military essays, reports and despatches are, for lucidity, such as he himself could never have written. He was one of the most modest, quiet and even-tempered of men. Major Acworth was, like his younger brother, a man of profound religious convictions, a simple-hearted and earnest member of the Church of England, and a regular communicant'. 

Major Acworth married Edith Knowles in June 1915 and left a son, Granville William Acworth. Granville was born in July 1916 and came to Winchester as a War Exhibitioner in 1930 and then followed his father into the army.

There is more about Acworth here Major Douglas Harry Acworth, 55th Cokes Rifles - Died Egypt 16/2/19 (

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