Offer, Cecil Henry
At the time of the 1901 census, Cecil Offer was eight years old, suggesting that he was born in 1892. He lived at 72 Canon Street, Winchester, with his mother Sophia (a needlewoman), brothers Albert (fifteen, an under-gardener), Ernest George (thirteen, a paper boy), and Frederick (six). He also had a sister, Ethel (nine years old in 1901). His father is not listed in the census.
Offer came to work at Winchester College as a Science School assistant in 1908, and worked there until the outbreak of war. He was a member of the College Servants’ Cricket and Football Clubs.
In 1911 he joined the territorial 1/4th battalion Hampshire Regiment. After the outbreak of war they sailed for India in October 1914, later proceeding to Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), taking part in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the garrison at Kut-al-Amara. The Battle of Umm-el-Hannah saw the end of attempts to break through to the beseiged British forces at Kut. There were several unsuccessful attempts to retake the town, during the course of which some 23,000 men died. On 21st January 1916 another attack was made over an area some 600 yards deep, and less than a mile wide but the British troops came under heavy rifle, machine gun and shrapnel fire.
One officer said later that “The fighting on 21st was a pure slaughter. It was too awful”. Very few attackers reached the Turkish trenches although they continued until they were within about 150 yards. However, the casualties were so great it was impossible to take advantage of their gains. It had rained heavily in the days preceding the attack and it rained all day on the 21st, with the ground becoming a sea of mud. It was at some point during the day that Offer was killed.
He was at first listed as missing – he had been seen to fall although no-one knew whether he was wounded or killed, but it soon became clear that he had died.
Offer’s name was not included in any of Winchester’s commemorative publications after the war, nor in War Cloister, although teaching staff were commemorated. This omission was brought to the school’s attention by Shaun Hullis, a Classics don at Winchester College, in 2006, and he was added in a space on the north wall of War Cloister on June 16th 2006. He is also commemorated on panels 21 and 63 of the Basra Memorial.
- Surname: Offer
- Forenames or initials: Cecil Henry
- House: Staff
- Years in School: 1908-1914
- Rank: Lance Sergeant
- Regiment: 1st/4th Battalion Hampshire Regiment
- Date of Birth: 10th March 1892
- Date of Death: 21st January 1916
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Outer G4
- Decoration: NA
- Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on Panels 21 and 63 of the BASRA MEMORIAL