Land Registry memorial plaque

Britain’s declaration of war on Germany on 4 August 1914 brought a united response from Land Registry’s staff.

Chief Land Registrar Sir Charles Fortescue Brickdale recorded how “while enlistment was voluntary, every man of military age applied for and obtained leave to volunteer for active service.

“Afterwards, when the age limits were extended, there were only nine men of military age – all declared unfit for general service –  who were not with the colours, all but one of these being over 30, four over 40, seven married, two not called up.”

Out of a total of 220 male members of staff of military age, 108 served on land and sea and in the air during the First World War, 20 as officers.

Many who were over military age or unfit joined the anti-aircraft or ambulance corps, or became Special Constables or volunteers.

Of those men who served 13 died during the war and another of his injuries in 1921. A further 16 were wounded, one was taken prisoner and two were interned in Holland after the defence of Antwerp.

The men who died are all remembered on a memorial plaque in the foyer of Land Registry’s former Head Office building in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in central London.

The building is now in the ownership of the London School of Economics but every Remembrance Day a group of people from Land Registry return to lay a wreath.

It was Land Registry’s only office in August 1914 so probably all the men who volunteered, served and died would have passed through the foyer.

The previous December a flag had been raised above the recently completed building by Sir Charles to mark its opening and the 50th anniversary of the organisation.

Little can he have then expected how soon government buildings would be lowering their flags in mourning.

The men remembered on the memorial

(We know more about some than others.)

Arthur Smith
Above: Arthur Smith

Archibald Brasnett, attendant, reservist with the Royal Regiment of Artillery, died of wounds on 25 April 1917

Thomas Bull, attendant

Henry Ferguson, scrivener (drafted contracts and other legal documents)

Alexander Glen, joined the London Regiment, died in battle on 25 April 1915

Alexander Grindlay, assistant clerk, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and then the Royal Scots, died on 24 March 1917

Reuben Hayns, joined the Manchester Regiment, died of injuries on 24 January 1918

George Kemp, clerk, joined  the London Regiment, died in action on 6 December 1917

Leonard Kirby, joined the London Regiment, died in action on 28 March 1918

Ernest McDouall, clerk, joined the London Regiment, injured, discharged on 18 October 1918, died in 1921

William Mason, map labourer

William Peterson, clerk, joined the London Regiment, died on 7 October 1916

Alfred Russell

Arthur Smith, attendant, joined the Royal Engineers, died on 17 June 1917

William Webb, joined the London Regiment, died on 22 March 1918


Gavin Curry
By Gavin Curry,
Editor of Landnet, Land Registry’s customer magazine