LIEUTENANT ALBERT NEAVE WESTLAKE MC
ROYAL FLYING CORPS
4TH JANUARY 1918 AGE 24
BURIED: NIERGNIES COMMUNAL CEMETERY, FRANCE
Army and Navy Gazette 19 January 1918
Lieut. A.N. Westlake MC RFC missing Jan 4. Will relatives of prisoners of war in Germany kindly ask for news of him?
Mrs Westlake, Wayside, Warham, Dorset
A week later Mrs Westlake, Lieutenant Westlake's mother, put another, identical notice in the Army and Navy Gazette. Nearly three months later, Flight magazine carried the following article:
4 April 1918
In the Hands of the Enemy
The following is an official list, published in Germany, of British machines which the Germans claim fell into their hands during the month of January 1918.
Among the planes listed was Bristol No B 1542 and beside it the comment Lieut AW (sic) Westlake dead.
Westlake served with 27 Squadron RFC and on the morning of 4 January he and 2nd Lieutenant Ewart took off at 09.50/10.50 from the airfield. It was reported that they were then seen "gliding down from 13,000 feet south-west of Denain in combat with EA (enemy aircraft) on return from bomb run to Denain". It's possible that B 1542 was shot down by German ace Wilhelm Reinhard who claimed his seventh victory that day in the area.
Both Ewart and Westlake were buried by the Germans at Niergnies - where they are still buried, the only two allied servicemen in the cemetery.
Albert Neave Westlake was the only son of Albert and Agnes Westlake of Wareham in Dorset. Educated at Shrewsbury School, he was the classic 'golden' schoolboy: head boy, a member of the 1st XI for both football and cricket and stroke in the 1st VIII. Not only this but he won a scholarship to New College Oxford, where he took a first at the end of the first part of his degree. However, he abandoned his degree to join the army.
Commissioned into the North Staffordshire Regiment, he was in France by August 1915. His Military Cross was awarded in the summer of 1917:
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as Battalion Intelligence Officer. When our attack was held up, he went forward under intense shell fire to the most advanced posts, and brought back accurate and valuable information. Later he passed through the enemy's barrage to obtain further information, and finally led a relieving company to the front line under heavy fire. His fearlessness and devotion to duty were beyond all praise."
This citation was published in the London Gazette four days after his death.
Mrs Agnes Westlake chose his inscription. It's a contraction of the words of St John Chapter 11 verse 25. Lazurus is dead and Jesus has just assured Martha that her brother he will rise again. She replies that she knows he will, in the resurrection at the last day:
And Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whoseoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.