SAPPER ARCHIBALD RUTHERFORD
28TH FEBRUARY 1918 AGE 21
BURIED: PEMBA CEMETERY, MOZAMBIQUE
This is a very blunt inscription. I wonder whether there was any correspondence over it between Rutherford's parents and the War Graves Commission. We'll never know as this sort of correspondence was not kept when the Commission moved out of London in the 1970s. If there was, presumably the Rutherford's argued that the monarchical ambition they were referring to was the German Kaiser's and had nothing to do with the British monarchy.
Archibald Rutherford died in Mozambique, then a Portuguese colony. Germany's plans to establish a Deutsch-Mittelafrika (German Central Africa), part of the Kaiser's 'monarchical ambitions', had brought her into conflict with other European countries trying to maintain their own influence in the area, particularly Portugal and Great Britain. The outbreak of war gave the Germans the opportunity to expand out of German East Africa (Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) into Mozambique, the northern part of which they occupied 1914. They ran a very successful campaign throughout the whole war in the region, tying up valuable allied troops that could have been used elsewhere.
Rutherford served in the Royal Engineers, as a dispatch rider in a Lines of Communication Signal Company. The announcement of his death in The Scotsman says that he 'died on active service'. This could have been as a result of an accident but disease accounted for the majority of deaths among European troops in this region: dysentery, malaria, influenza, pneumonia.
Rutherford's father, William Duncan Rutherford, a manager in the Edinburgh biscuit manufacturing company of R. Middlemass and Son, signed for his inscription. Many people, then and since, believed that Kaiser Wilhelm's territorial ambitions were a major cause of the First World War. Others blamed it on Great Power rivalry in which Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia were all equally to blame.
I wonder what William Duncan Rutherford really thought his son had been sacrificed for?