Captain Maurice William Campbell Sprott, M.C.

9th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment

Awards and Decorations: Military Cross

Died: 21 March 1918

Master at Victoria College

Maurice William Campbell Sprott was the elder son of the Bishop of Wellington, New Zealand. Educated in New Zealand, he took his degree at the Victoria University with First Class Honours. He came to England in 1906, and entering Peterhouse, Cambridge, graduated in 1910 with a Second Class in the Classical Tripos and in the History Tripos, Part II. He joined the College Staff in 1911.

When the war began he at once offered his services. He served in the ranks of the College OTC until, in November 1914, he received his commission in the 9th Battalion, The Norfolk Regiment. From early in 1916 he was serving on the western front. He was severely wounded in the Battle of the Somme, and was mentioned in despatches. In March 1917, he gained the Military Cross, and was promoted Captain. About the same time, he became Adjutant. He was killed by a shell on 21st March 1918, at the very beginning of the great German advance.

His most striking characteristics were his modesty, his thoroughness, and his keenness. No one would imagine from the account he wrote of his experiences in the Somme Battle that he was recommended by the Divisional General “for gallantry and initiative in the attack on the quadrilateral east of Ginchy. After the assault had been held up by unsuspected German wire, reinforcements were called for, and he collected a number of men lying out in the shell holes, reorganised them, and brought them up. The collection, organisation, and the subsequent advance were carried out under severe shell and machine-gun fire.”

His Commanding Officer wrote after his death: “Probably no one knows as well as I do the loss he is to the regiment and to the country. As my Adjutant, he carried out his work with the utmost capability and thoroughness. His exceptional brain power was backed by earnest hard work, and his sense of duty was of the highest. Indeed, it was that sense of duty that led to his taking command of the front-line Company in the absence of the Company Commander, and he met his death, like the brave soldier he was, in the front line trench watching for the German advance… He won the Military Cross for “conspicuous bravery in command of a raid on the German trenches.” Even when most occupied (and when he became Adjutant he humorously wrote that he had no time to sleep), he took a keen interest in the work and games of the College, and was looking forward to his return.

The above text appeared in the Victoria College Book of Remembrance which was published in 1920.

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