Bristol

The Unusual Obituary of Archibald Hugh Conway Fargus

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Archibald Hugh Conway Fargus: photo courtesy of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club

Dr Kim Price has already touched on the devastating effect that WWI had on the second and third generations of the Victorian Professions cohort in his blog post The Sludge of Flanders. There was significant loss of life, with the officer class to which most of our sample belonged suffering the greatest fatalities, but survivors also experienced great difficulties acclimatising to life back home.

Archibald Hugh Conway Fargus was the son of cohort member Bristolian auctioneer Frederick John Fargus, perhaps better known as novelist Hugh Conway. Educated at Clifton College, Haileybury, and Pembroke College, Cambridge, Archibald was ordained as a Vicar and joined the Royal Navy in 1907 as a Chaplain. Although he had left the Navy in 1913, the outbreak of WWI in 1914 prompted Archibald to reenlist, and he was assigned to H.M.S Monmouth which set sail for the Pacific in January 1914. In November 1914, the H.M.S Monmouth engaged in the Battle of Coronel off the coast of Chile where it was sunk, with the loss of all on board.

During his time at school and Cambridge, Archibald had proved himself to be a talented cricketer, winning his Blue for cricket in 1900 and 1901, and representing Gloucestershire County Cricket Club. This cricketing prowess meant that Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack picked up on the story of Archibald’s death at sea, and printed his obituary in their 1915 edition. Somewhat embarrassingly for Wisden (but much to Archibald’s relief!), he had in fact never been on board H.M.S Monmouth because he missed his train to the port, thus placing him in the very unusual position of being alive to read his own obituary. Somewhat ironically, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack failed to record Archibald’s actual death in 1963, only finally printing his correct obituary in 1994.

Dr Jennifer Aston

 

With thanks to Roger Gibbons of Gloucester County Cricket Club. His book In Memoriam Gloucestershire Cricketers Killed in the Great War is available here http://www.gloscricket.co.uk/product/in-memoriam/

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