duke of cornwall's light infantry

A Portrait of Second Lieutenant William Alexander “Alec” Forbes painted by his Father, famous Irish artist Stanhope Alexander Forbes RA, 1916. Painting is at Cornwall’s Regimental Museum The Keep, Bodmin, Cornwall, England, PL31 1EG. 

From all appearances, both Stanhop & Elisabeth were to use their son as a model, judging by the number of blond-headed lads which later turned up in their works. Alec was commissioned into the Army in mid-August 1916 at the time that the Battle of the Somme was being fought with appalling intensity.  He returned home to Cornwall for his embarkation leave where his father painted this portrait.  Alec sailed for France at the end of August joining the First Battalion of the DCLI on 1 September. The Battalion was resting at Meaulte, having come out of the line that day after fighting one of the bloodiest battles of the Somme offensive – Delville Wood. During the previous 11 days the Battalion had lost 22 officers and 500 soldiers. The 1st Battalion had been detailed to take part in the forthcoming attack on Guillemont. The village itself had been totally destroyed by shellfire, but the ruins occupied an area of tactically vital ground for which the British had fought for several weeks. The Battalion marched from Meaulte to the front line during the night of 2 / 3 September and was in its assault position by 4 am. Zero hour for the DCLI was noon and by 5.30 pm the ruins of Guillemont and the surrounding area had been captured and secured by the British.  During the attack Alec Forbes, together with 3 other Second Lieutenants, were killed leading their platoons. Out of these 4 young officers, 3 of them – Forbes, Teague and Hitchens - had joined the Battalion together two days previously. Stanhope managed to visit his son’s grave as early as May 1919 by hitching a lift with his brother who was on official business in France.  He reported to the Prowse family, whose son Arthur had died along with Alec, that ‘I found it the most terrible ordeal and indeed I was scarcely able to endure it’. Later in the year Forbes visited his son’s grave again. 

I liked this painting so i figured why not post it since I’m from Cornwall. Never been to the museum oddly enough….