Saturday, 18 April 2015

A message from our Honorary President, Lady Jennifer MacLellan about Rupert Brooke

Rupert Brooke's health had never been good, even at home, and after camping on dirty sand by the docks, in Egypt where he was probably bitten, the sore on his lip became swollen and throbbed. By the time he and Patrick Shaw-Stewart were laid up in the Casino Palace Hotel with dysentery he should have stayed there but refused and was in bed for three days on board the "Grantully Castle".   

They sailed up to Gallipoli but the first attack was aborted and that was when the fleet was sent to Lemnos and Skyros.   Rupert thought he had heat stroke at first due to the extreme heat they were in under canvas.   It was probably a combination of everything but the bite went septic and that gradually spread so without antibiotics, nothing could be done.

All this is well recorded by Christopher Hassall's  biography and other reports and I give them more credence than the perhaps a bit whimsical French Log, who were only involved on the last two days because they were brilliantly equipped to cope with the expected casualties and he was nursed in excellent conditions and medics.   He had a much better death than those who died later which must have been a comfort to his mother and friends.

My father hardly mentions the two crosses, made on the ship, and there has been much conjecture as to how they got back to England.   I have been asked several times.   I can only assume he must have brought them back to Athens at any rate, after that , not much is known.

Peter Miller, with whom I corresponded many years ago, of Rugby, produced a very nice little book "the Cross of Skyros" in which he says SC reported to the British Ambassaor inAthens that he had brought back the large cross and left the small one on the grave, it was still there in 1924.   He also says SC compared building the grave to the Pyramids whereas he himself says Stonehenge!   We lived near the latter!

J. MacLellan, 16th April 2015

I am indebted to Lady MacLellan for her very kind help with my posts regarding Rupert Brooke.