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The Impact of Arras: The Hayworth Family In The First World War

By Euan Loarridge, PhD candidate in History at the University of Glasgow

Hayworth Family 1910

Annotated photograph of the Hayworth Family taken around 1910. Seven years later, this family would be irrevocably changed by the Battle of Arras.

On April 15th 1917, Second Lieutenant Harry Asher Hayworth was killed in action during the 1st Battle of the Scarpe, part of the wider Battle of Arras (April 9th – May 16th). Less than a month later, on May 12th, Harry’s elder brother, Second Lieutenant Frederick Hayworth, was also killed in action, near the village of Monchy-Les-Preux, just to the south-east of Arras. The two brothers who had lived together, studied together at the University of Glasgow, enlisted together in the Glasgow Highlanders, become officers together into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and trained together throughout 1915-16, subsequently died together in the same offensive.

As part of the 2014-18 Centenary Commemorations, Harry and Fred’s story has become the focus of research at the University of Glasgow, teaching at Lenzie Academy and now a short segment on BBC Radio Scotland as part of the World War One At Home series. Biographies for both brothers, recently updated for the anniversaries of their deaths, can be found on the University of Glasgow Online Roll of Honour. This post will expand on their story by reflecting on the support the rest of the Hayworth Family provided Fred and Harry during the War and later how they dealt with their deaths.

Hayworth Brothers

Photographs of 2/Lts. Harry and Fred in the uniform of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, likely taken sometime in 1916.

The Campsie Red Cross Society:

Although only Harry and Fred fought at the Front, they were not the only family members involved in the War effort. Their parents, Bank manager William Hayworth Sr. and his wife, Jane Asher Hayworth, both became active members of the Campsie Red Cross Society. In January 1916, less than a month after Harry was commissioned, William Sr. was appointed Treasurer for the Society, while Jane was appointed to the Committee. In these capacities, they were heavily involved in fundraising for the auxiliary hospital in Lennox Castle and organising the manufacture of thousands of knitted articles for the troops serving at the Front.

The Society itself, however, was not without controversy. One letter to the Stirling Saturday Observer noted the lack of working class representatives on the Committee, stating that:

They [the working classes] do not recognise the wives of works’ managers, landed proprietors, minsters and other professional men as representatives of those who will in all likelihood have the experience of engaging with the spade work.

Stirling Saturday Observer, 22/01/1916, p.4

The reference to ‘professional men’ and their wives is perhaps a direct reference to banker William Sr. and his wife Jane. Nevertheless, the couple continued to assist the Red Cross Society for the next two years, carrying on even after Harry and Fred were killed at Arras. However, the deaths of his sons took their toll on William Sr., and it was left to the eldest son, William Jr., to handle Harry and Fred’s personal estates in November 1917. Indeed, within a year of their deaths, William Sr.’s health failed him and he was transferred from his job in Campsie to a new post in Stranraer.

Campsie Red Cross

Newspaper clippings from the Stirling Saturday Observer concerning the activities and controversies of the Campsie Red Cross Society. The Society was one the many ways that William and Jane supported their sons in France.

Breaking the Banker Mould:

By 1918, William Sr. had worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland for almost 40 years and there must have been a strong pressure for his sons to follow him into the banking profession. The 1911 Census shows that two of them, William Jr. and Fred, had also begun careers in banking. Meanwhile, Arthur, the second son, qualified as a Lawyer, which would likely not be seen as a serious departure from the family traditions. Indeed, it may have influenced Fred, who went on to take a class in Scots Law at the University of Glasgow.

Hayworth Census 1911

The 1911 Census return for the Hayworth household at 59 Royal Bank House, Lennoxtown. By the time the Census was taken the eldest son, William Jr., had already left home to pursue his own career as a banker in Glasgow. However, Fred can still be seen to be working as a clerk for RBS, perhaps even in his father’s local branch.

Harry, however, certainly deviated from the example set by his father and elder brothers by choosing to pursue an Arts degree at the University of Glasgow. How his family reacted to this decision can perhaps be understood from the way in which they chose to commemorate his death. Today, Harry is buried beneath a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone in Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery in Arras. His headstone bears a personalised inscription requested by the family, which reads ‘Student in Arts; University of Glasgow’. Why the family settled on this inscription is impossible to know, but to use this space to highlight Harry’s academic career, as opposed to the usual biblical or poetic quotation, makes it seem unlikely that they disapproved of his choices.

H. A. Hayworth Gravestone

Harry’s CWGC Headstone in Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras. Note the personalised inscription near the bottom which was requested by his family.

Obituaries In Scotland’s Newspapers:

Interaction with the CWGC was not the only way in which the family commemorated Harry and Fred’s lives. The most immediate and public way that they did so was through the writing of obituaries and biographies for newspapers. It is possible that the family prepared these in advance, or set to them immediately after they received the news, as the first obituary appeared in the Scotsman the day after the family were officially notified of Harry’s death. Although newspapers were not obligated to publish obituaries, they would usually do so if the death was newsworthy. The fact that Harry and Fred were the sons of a local bank agent and officers in the local regiment probably helped convince newspapers to print their story.

The information contained in these obituaries not only provides detail on Harry and Fred’s lives, but also sheds light on how the family wished for them to be remembered. The brothers are presented as multi-talented, with their academic and career achievements presented alongside their ‘rare musical abilities’ and ‘deep interest’ in cricket and golf. However, there are many aspects of their characters which are absent in this representation. Harry, for example, had a love for poetry which does not feature. During the War, he carried with him a collection of poems which included works by Horace, Ovid, Jagore, and some of his own composition. After his death, this collection was returned to the family. The omission of such an important part of his life, not only demonstrates how these documents often fail to capture the entirety of a person, but also how difficult a task compiling such a thing must be for a grieving family.

Hayworth Mix1

Left: Harry and Fred’s Obituaries in the Kirkintilloch Gazette and Stirling Saturday Observer. Right: the cover page of the poetry collection that Harry carried with him in France.

Other Acts of Commemoration:

Over the next few years following the Battle of Arras, the Hayworth family continued to commemorate Harry and Fred in small ways. In January 1918, Harry and Fred’s elder brother Arthur Hayworth named his new-born son William Asher Hayworth. The choice of the middle name ‘Asher’ was perhaps made in memory of Harry as well as in honour of his mother Jane Asher. During the Second World War, William Asher served as a navigator in 37 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force. On May 20th 1942 his plane was shot down and his body was never recovered. His name now appears on the Alamein Memorial in Egypt.

A similar fate nearly befell Harry and Fred’s younger brother, Herbert Walter, who, as soon as he was old enough to do so, enlisted in the Army in the spring of 1918. It is interesting to note that he joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, the same regiment his two elder brothers had died serving with. Thankfully for his parents, the War ended before Herbert could finish his training and so he was never sent abroad.

Shortly after Herbert’s enlistment, Harry and Fred were amongst 27 local men honoured in a memorial service at the Campsie Parish Church. Over the next few years, their names appeared on a number of war memorials, including: the Campsie War Memorial in Lennoxtown (1923), the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel (1929), The Lenzie Academy War Memorial (1921) and the Royal Bank of Scotland War Memorial (1923). In 1922, William Sr. applied to the War Office to collect his sons’ Victory and British War Medals which remain in the family to this day.

Hayworth Mix2

Left: Pilot Officer William Asher Hayworth, K.I.A. 1942. Centre: Harry and Fred Names on the WW1 tablets in the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel. Right: Article from the Kirkintilloch Herald announcing Herbert Hayworth’s enlistment.

One small part of the impact of the Battle of Arras was the Hayworth Family’s loss of two of its youngest members. This impact did not fade with the memorialisation of the 1920s, nor with the deaths of the last of the Hayworth brothers in the 1970s. In fact, the effect of Harry and Fred’s death at Arras is still felt today by their descendants and by the students and staff of the University of Glasgow and Lenzie Academy. Most recently, on Easter Monday, April 17th 2017, representatives from both the University and the Academy, came together in the Memorial Chapel to hold a short ceremony in Harry’s memory. As part of the 2014-18 Centenary commemorations carried out by the University, both Harry and Fred were honoured by the planting of the poppy cross in the Memorial Garden on the anniversaries of their deaths.


With special thanks to the Hayworth family of Canada for the provision of Harry’s poetry collection and photographs of Hayworth family members.

Photographs of Second Lieutenants Harry and Frederick Hayworth provided by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum at Stirling Castle.

Articles from the Kirkintilloch Gazette, Kirkintilloch Herald and Stirling Saturday Observer were acquired from the British Newspaper Archive.

Census returns acquired from the National Records of Scotland website ScotlandsPeople.

Photograph of Harry Hayworth’s grave provided by the War Graves Photographic Project.


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