In a letter dated July 5, 1916, days after the launch of The Somme offensive, Major Herbert Hoskins wrote a letter to his mother that brought heart-breaking news about his brother.


My dear Mother

I am now back with the Battalion and only yesterday knew that Cyril had been killed.  I expect you will know before you get this letter.  I have seen several of the 8th fellows and all are loud in their praise of his deeds and tell me he was fine.  It was a day of many fine deeds and for anyone to stand out particularly must have done remarkably well;  Cyril did that.

I’ll just tell you shortly what happened.  The 8th had to take the first, second and third lines of Bosh trenches. 

The guns were supposed to put all machine guns out of action, but for various reasons as events proved, failed to do so, the result being that as soon as the 8th got out of their trenches they were met by heavy fire, and on one knows what machine gun fire is who has not been under it.  Well,Cyril walked along the parapet on top and rallied his Company, got then out and formed up in line and then advanced towards the Bosh first line.  

He was already hit in the shoulder, but pistol in hand he took his men ahead.  He got another wound, but kept ahead.  It was at the third line as he was aiming at the Bosh that he was shot dead.

You can be assured he suffered no pain and died a glorious death, leaving nothing but praise and admiration behind for the wonderful way he led his Company.  This also shows up when I tell you that only two out of the four Companies got out at the appointed time.   The 5th and 6th did wonderful work and everyone is saying so.

I am distressed at losing him, but so proud he proved his worth and died not only doing his duty but doing it so wonderfully well.  I have talked with some of his men who were near and they are as proud of him.  His body will be where he fell as the Bosh retook all the ground.

I am going to look through his kit and send some home.  There is a rush to catch the post now so I’ll write again.  Do not be downhearted, as it would not be fair to his memory;  you should feel proud at his leadership.  He is the first Hoskins to fall, and fell covered in glory. 


Major Hoskins was serving in the Royal Warwickshire Regt.

The information was supplied by Frances Hoskins, Herbert's granchild, who tells us that he survived the war.

The family were originally from Birmingham and later moved to Blockley.

Lieutenant Cyril Hospkins' body was never found. His name is inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial.