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News > Heritage > Battlefield Cross Rediscovered

Battlefield Cross Rediscovered

Bradfield Remembers: Captain Alan Caldicott
20 Oct 2022
Battlefield Cross from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Battlefield Cross from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

This week our new Archivist John Cardwell has discovered a metal battlefield cross in the Archive which we missed when we displayed others in Chapel Corridor for the centenary of World War One back in 2018. It is dedicated to Bradfieldian Captain Alan Caldicott.

Born on 19 March 1887 in Coventry, Alan arrived at Bradfield in September 1901 and left in July 1905. He was a prefect at Bradfield and after College joined the Imperial Tobacco Company working in Blantyre, Nyasaland in 1907. He was living in Bristol for two years before the war and a member of Clifton Rugby Football Club.

When the Great War commenced in 1914, Tanzania was the core of German East Africa. He joined the 10th Battalion The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and rose to Captain attached to the 1st/2nd King’s African Rifles (KAR).

They were stationed in Nyasaland, now Malawi and deployed on border duty in British East Africa (BEA now Kenya). The companies remained in BEA and were involved in operations against parties of German raiders who were attempting to demolish sections of the Uganda Railway. On 1 April 1916 the four companies contained 51 British officers and 353 Askari and with a draft of 1,115 non-commissioned officers and men from Nyasaland were redesignated to become the 1st and 2nd Regiments of the KAR.

The Germans started attacking Kibata and the fort there in Dec 1916. The Western Front Association noted; “A 1/2 KAR detachment under the command of Captain Alan Caldicott (10th Battalion The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment) was sent up onto Picquet Hill to strengthen the defence during the attack. The KAR Askari assisted in repulsing the enemy, but Captain Caldicott was shot dead. After last light "C" Company 1/2 KAR under Captain R C Hardingham MC (Middlesex Regiment) took over Picquet Hill. The surviving Baluch defenders evacuated their wounded and withdrew to recover. "C" Company had planned to make a night attack against the Lodgement but this was called off when it was seen that the young Askari had been badly shaken by the intensity of the German artillery fire.”

Alan had been killed in action during this exchange on 7 December 1916.

He is buried at Dar Es Salaam War Cemetery in Tanzania. The inscription on his gravestone reads “FRUSTRA NISI DOMINUS” a popular motto derived from Psalm 127’s first verse which translates to “Without God [it is] in vain [frustration]”.

His metal battlefield cross which is held at Bradfield bears his name, battalion and date of death and his name is also recorded on the Bradfield College War Memorial (see images below).

An additional memorial and a commemorative tree has been planted in his memory at War Memorial Park in Coventry.

We will ensure that his memorial joins the other battlefield crosses on the wall outside Chapel in time for Remembrance Sunday as we commemorate him for many more years to come.

For more details about all our grave markers from the Great War and their mapping done by "Returned from the Front" website here


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