Lieutenant Ronald George Munro DSO MC London Irish Rifles was killed in action on 19 September 1916 at the Somme. He was 32.
Brother Ronald George Munro was born in April in 1885 into a well-off middle class family. His father, George Munro, was the London manager of the National Bank of China. The family lived in Hamstead.
In 1898, when Ronald was 13, he was sent for his secondary education to the Merchant Taylors School. On leaving school he became a territorial soldier with the Artists’ Rifles and joined Jardine, Matheson and Co. For several years he was a manager of Jardines in Kobe, Japan.
At the outbreak of war he returned to Britain, by then 29 years old, and re-enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles. He was commissioned in July 1915 and was posted to 1/18th Battalion of the London Irish Rifles.
He was severely wounded in January 1916 near Loos where he won the Military Cross. The London Gazette of 22nd January, 1916 reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and ability at the Quarries near Vermelles, on the 16th December, 1915. He was in command of a party of Grenadiers in a very exposed position in the front line and repulsed a succession of violent bomb attacks made by the enemy.”
Vermelles was on the Loos sector and the Quarries were a particularly hard fought position. The description in the history of the Division describes the action as a vicious series of attacks and counter attacks over very exposed forward trenches.
The Military Cross is reported in the Ealing Gazette and West Middlesex Observer on 5 February, 1916
“Lieutenant Ronald George Munro (say “S. Saviour’s Parish Magazine”) has been awarded the Military Cross. Two brothers, Hector and Kenneth Munro, are members of S.Saviour’s congregation, and are both in the Army, Kenneth Munro having only just recovered from a serious wound, whilst Ronald is reported seriously wounded…”
He was attached to the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards in July 1916, who were engaged in the Battle of the Somme, which had commenced on 1 July 1916. Pinned down in full view of the enemy and heavily shelled. Munro was fatally wounded and died four days later. An exceptionally brave man.
His battalion diary for the day does not mention his being injured by name; 223 men, about a quarter of the battalion, were lost that day, losses among junior officers were perhaps too heavy to note separately. His will was written in the trenches two days before his final injury in letter form. He knew well the probability of death being experienced by all junior officers on the Somme. His will begins, “Dear Hamilton – My Division will be in the Soup in a few days My Will has gone astray so if I get knocked please see that …… “
Later in the year, on 7th October, 1916 and in the same newspaper that had reported his MC, information about Ronald’s death was published “Ronald George Munro, after winning both the Military Cross and the DSO, died recently in the Base Hospital at Roeun. His two brothers, who are still fighting, are closely connected with S.Saviour’s Church.”
He was made a mason under the Scots Constitution, and joined Rising Son Lodge No 1401 on 15 November 1911, aged 25, whilst working for Jardines in Japan. He resigned in 1914 as part of his return to England.
He had already joined Lodge of Perseverance on 16 April 1913 where he was noted as being resident in Hong Kong, perhaps under his wider Jardines responsibilities.