World War 1

Search the known records to date of those lost from the wider Alnwick area in World War 1

Generally showing where they are commemorated, when they died and some basic facts about each person. There are gaps, however, so if you can fill in any missing details do please contact us.

Robert Oakley Vavasour Thorp, MC

Robert Oakley Vavasour

Thorp, MC


Service Number:

2nd Lieutenant

Northumberland Fusiliers, 1st Battalion, attached 64th Trench Mortar Battery (N.B. Plaque at Church of St. Maurice, Ellingham, Northumberland refers to 3rd Battalion)



Saulcourt Churchyard Extension, Guyencourt-Saulcourt

Service History:
Thorp enlisted with the Royal Fusiliers, 21st (Service) Battalion (4th Public Schools) in October 1914, thus entitling him to the 1914-15 Star. His regimental service number was PS/3294. He reached the rank of Sergeant before being posted to the Oxford School for Officers in 1916 after which he was gazetted later that year as a Second Lieutenant with either the 1st or 3rd Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers.

On 14 October 1916, Thorp was involved in a raid on German trenches at a point opposite Luke Copse to secure important information about the line of the enemy's artillery. The raid was led by Lieutenant D. P. Hadow & included 2 officers & 47 other ranks of ‘Y’ Company. Thorp's role was to lead a ‘souvenir’ squad on the right flank, consisting of a NCO & 8 ‘bayonet men’.

When the raiding party reached the German trench, they found 2 German sentries on duty. One of the sentries attempted to attack the party but was wounded & taken prisoner by Thorp. The other was killed as he tried to run away. Shortly after, the signal was given for retreat & the raiding party returned safely to the British trenches having captured one prisoner & sustained no casualties.

‘The Fifth in the Great War...’ (Sandilands) recalls that ‘On this night, Second Lieutenant Thorp, whose conduct throughout had been admirable, had been given a first opportunity to show the high qualities of leadership which were to distinguish him on many later occasions.’

For his part in the raid, in November 1916, Thorp was awarded a Military Cross &, according to the 'Manchester Evening News', ‘It is understood that the award of this honour is due to the part he played on raid to a German trench.'

The award’s citation reads ‘For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led a successful raid against the enemy with great courage & determination, himself killing two of the enemy & capturing a prisoner.’

Thorp was later invalided home with trench fever but returned to the Western Front in 1917, attached to the 64th Trench Mortar Battery. He was killed in action on 22 March 1918, aged 39, at Saulcourt near Epéhy.
(Sources:; 'The Fifth in the Great War - A History of the 1st & 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers 1914-1918' [1938; Brigadier H. R. Sandilands, CMG, DSO; pp. 163-165];

Born in 1877, at Llangaron, Herefordshire, the second son of the Rev. William Tudor Thorp, by his second wife Mary Louisa Thorp (née Jones), of Charlton Hall, Northumberland.

Rev. Thorp had been previously married to Emily West, who had died a couple of years after the birth of her fourth child. Their marriage bore four children - Elizabeth Jane; Thomas Alder; Richard Fenwick; & William Tudor (born & died 28 November 1869) - thus, Robert Oakley Vavasour was the fifth son of the Rev. William Tudor Thorp.
(Source: Chris Thorp; Great nephew; Via the websites of Northumberland Archives & Bailiffgate Museum; November 2018)

Educated at Berwick Grammar School & King's College, Cambridge, where he received a BA on 19 June 1900 & a MA on 19 December 1900.

Joined the Berwick Naturalist's Club on 13 October 1904, & was, according to their history, ‘a good entomologist’.

Became a Schoolmaster & worked at the Mercer's School, Holborn in 1901; at Pocklington School from 1901 to 1905; at Trent College in 1905; at Scarborough College from 1906 to 1911 where he was the Modern Languages Master; & Thorp then went on to work as an Assistant Schoolmaster at Manchester Corporation School from 1911 to 1914 before joining the Army on the outbreak of WW1.

Thorp's family were the Alnwick solicitors Dickson, Archer & Thorp.

Cousin of 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Tudor Thorp (Royal Field Artillery, 83rd Brigade, 'D' Battery) who was killed in action on 16 September 1917.

Local Memorial:
Ellingham War Memorial Ellingham, Roll of Honour & Memorial Plaque at St. Maurice's Church (Source: Scarborough College First World War Memorial