ON Thursday, there was a special ceremony at Orsett Hall to commemorate Lt. Col. Sir Francis Henry Douglas Charlton Whitmore, 1st Bt. Of Orsett, KCB, CMG, DSO, TD, JP to mark 10th September 1915 when he received command of the Essex Yeomanry and to commemorate the Officers and Men of the Yeomanry and of the 10th Royal Hussars who served with him in the Great War with the unveiling of a Thurrock Heritage Plaque that was sponsored by Thurrock Council’s ‘Great War Committee’.
Colonel Sir Francis Henry Douglas Charlton Whitmore was born April 20 1872, and died on June 12 1962, and is buried in the Whitmore plot in Orsett Church graveyard will be forever linked with Orsett Hall which was his home, the Whitmore Arms pub and the Orsett Show to name a few.
The Whitmore’s arrived in Orsett when Thomas Whitmore took over the Orsett Estate. On his death in 1907, his son Francis took control to run and expand the estate. He had been educated at Eton and in 1892 was commissioned into the 1st Essex Artillery Volunteers. He later transferred to the Essex Yeomanry and served in the Boer War with the Imperial Yeomanry.
In the Great War, he was in the thick of it with many of his own estate workers, who enrolled in the Essex Yeomanry. He was wounded at the Battle of Frezenburg on May 13 1915, part of the second battle of Ypres, with a bullet in the thigh just before the Yeomanry charged a German position. Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Deacon was killed.
After being sent home to recuperate, Francis returned to the Yeomanry, where he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and took command on September 10 1915. The centenary of this is reflected in the unveiling of the plaque yesterday at Orsett Hall. He was wounded again on April 11 1917, at the battle of Monchy Le Preux. He was mentioned in dispatched four times and awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917, the only TA officer to be given command of a regular Army Regiment – 10th Prince of Wales Own Royal Hussars in April 1918.
Colonel Whitmore served as Lord Lieutenant of Essex from 1936 to 1958 and was created a baronet, of Orsett, in the County of Essex, in 1954.
Jonathan Catton, Thurrock’s Heritage & Museum Officer said, “It was very special to unveil the plaque exactly 100 years to the day he received the full command of the Essex Yeomanry and to have his granddaughter at the ceremony. We hope visitors to Orsett Hall Hotel will learn about the link with Colonel Francis Whitmore and his efforts and leadership during the Great War when they see the plaque. We hope to work with the Hotel with some interpretation of his life and works with a display in the ‘Whitmore Suite’ in the near future.”