Erle, Christopher

Captain Christopher Erle (C, 1887-1890) was born on August 14th 1873 and came from a strong Wiccamical family. Son of Twynihoe William Erle (Coll. 1840) (whose mother, Mary, was a daughter of the Reverend Francis Fearon) for many years a Master of the Supreme Court, and Mary Erle (daughter of John Bogle of Woodside, Torquay). The family home was Bramshott Place, Liphook. His great uncle, Sir William Erle, (College 1804-1811 and New College, Oxford) was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and married Amelia, daughter of the Reverend Dr David Williams, Headmaster of Winchester and Warden of New College.

Christopher Erle came to Winchester from Rev. A.L. Hussey’s school at Folkestone, and in his last year shot for Wimbledon VIII. He was gazetted to the Royal Scots Greys in 1895, and after a few years with them left the army to read for the Bar. On the outbreak of the South African War he volunteered for service and was appointed to the staff of the Imperial Yeomanry. In March 1901 he returned home to recuperate after being shot in the arm and developing a fever. At the conclusion of the war he returned to his studies, being called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1902. For some years he had held the rank of Honorary Major in the 3rd Hampshire Regiment but in September 1913 he relinquished this commission.

In August 1914 he rejoined the Army and resumed the rank of Captain, this time with the 10th Battalion Hampshire Regiment. Ill-health forced his resignation in October, thereby being spared the horrors of Anzac Cove when his Battalion was posted to Gallipoli in 1915. On his recovery Erle was posted in September 1915 to 1st (Garrison) Battalion, which had been formed for static defence duties and was staffed by experienced solders whose wounds or illnesses rendered them unfit for active service. It would appear that at this time he was drafted to the 1st Northamptonshire Garrison Battalion.

However, in October 1915 the Northamptons were sent to the Gallipoli peninsula, arriving on the Greek island of Lemnos at the beginning of November. There they stayed until February 1916 when they set out for Alexandria for guard duties around the Suez Canal, protecting facilities such as the nearby airfield, supply depots, and wireless and telegraph stations.

Captain Erle died on 10th February 1917 of an unspecified illness in the Military Hospital in Alexandria, aged 44. He was buried in grave B.8 of the Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery.

His obituary appeared in The Times of 17th February 1917:

“Captain Christopher Erle, Northampton Regiment, of Bramshott Place, Liphook, Hants, for some time Hon. Major in 3rd Hampshire Regiment, and formerly of 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys), was the only surviving son of the late Twynihoe William Erle, a Master of the Supreme Court, of Bramshott Place, and of Mrs. Erle, of 17 Parkside, Knightsbridge, and a great-nephew of Sir William Erle, some time Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; he was the last descendent of the Erles in the male line. He was educated at Winchester, and after leaving the Army, read for the Bar. On the outbreak of the South African War in 1899 he volunteered for active service, and was wounded. At the end of the campaign he returned home, and was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple. He again volunteered on the outbreak of the present war, and died of illness at a military hospital abroad on February 10th”

Erle’s medals were sold at Bonhams in 2003. His sword is with a private collector.

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Erle
  • Forenames or initials: Christopher
  • House: C
  • Years in School: 1887-1890
  • Rank: Captain
  • Regiment: Northamptonshire Regiment
  • Date of Birth: 14th July 1873
  • Date of Death: 10th February 1917
  • How Died: Died on active service
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer H4
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery: Grave B.8