Captain Alexander Adam Seaton

Born in 1885 in Yorkshire, Alexander Adam Seaton was the younger son of the late Rev John Abdiel Seaton, vicar of St John’s, Cleckheaton, Yorks, and Mrs Eleanor Seaton, of Roslyn, Halifax.

After attending Leeds Grammar School, he went up to Pembroke College in 1903 to study history. Here he joined the University’s Rifle Volunteer Corps and transferred to its successor Officer Training Corps. In 1910, Seaton was elected to a Fellowship and in the following year’s census is recorded as being aged 26, a Fellow and lecturer in modern history at Pembroke College. He also became a Government Inspector of Schools.

As a Lance Corporal in the OTC, he was among a number of members of the University who, in October 1914, were granted commissions in the Cambridgeshire Regiment, being posted to the newly formed 2/1st Battalion.

In January 1915 he was transferred to the 1/1st Battalion, which was preparing to go overseas, and promoted Lieutenant. Seaton sailed with the 1/1st Battalion on February 14th, 1915, as the officer commanding D (March and Ely) Company’s No. 15 Platoon.

His early experiences of trench warfare at Ypres in March 1915 included being in the front line at St Eloi with three other officers for a tour of instruction when the Germans exploded a mine under their trenches (for more information please click here). He was lucky to escape death, injury or capture as the Germans overran the position.

Promoted Temporary Captain in April, he was given command of D Company following the death of Captain C A H Keenlyside on July 20th.

Seaton was wounded on September 3rd, 1915, by the explosion of a German shell while D Company were occupying front line trenches in the Rue Du Bois area near Armentieres, and taken to the 82nd Field Ambulance, where he died the following day, aged 31. His batman, Pte Fred Codling, sustained a slight wound to his hand at the same time. Seaton is buried in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, France, near to Capt Keenlyside; the sergeants of A Company acted as the bearers at his funeral service, while men of D Company provided the firing party and Sgt-Dmr J A Tingey was bugler.

His commanding officer, Lt-Col G L Archer, wrote: He was held in the greatest esteem by all. He was absolutely without fear. Not a soldier by inclination, he left his peaceful life as a Fellow of Pembroke solely because he conceived that his duty lay that way and the hour had come for every man to strike a blow for his country. I know that he, with most people, hated the business of war as such, but did not shrink from the great sacrifice.

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Seaton prior to going to France.

This site went live on the 14th February 2015 to mark  100 years since the 1/1st Cambs went off to war.


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