An Appreciation of Lt-Col. Colonel Machell
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The writer (who served under him in that unit of the new army which he so emphatically made a battalion, and one so fine and competent as any that we have) seeks a passing thought from newspaper readers for the life an work and most gallant death on the morning of Saturday, July 1st, of Lt-Col. P.W. Machell, D,S,O, C.M.G.
The words have already been recorded of at least one wounded soldier who saw Colonel Machell fall shot through the head whilst springing forward with a company of his battalion into one of the most murderous concentrations of crossfire ever seen in this war. He went forward at ????? another stage than he might otherwise have done, because, he, with one of his companies, saw how the triple barrage of machine gun fire was mowing down the lines of their comrades in front. To all present his gallant death was precisely what each day of his life as a commanding officer had been to them, precisely what all of his life had been to everyone who was privileged to know this unfailing strong man – a vividly compelling inspiration to duty, an undeniable stimulus to effort.
His distinguished and honourable record of service in Egypt and England may be traced in the usual works of reference. But over and above all these official facts he was a man who from his youth to his last brave breath never ceased to serve. He knew no other way of life, and no man ever found him idle. Travelling in Canada, working in London or on his family estate in Westmorland, this man served England, and the Empire, all the time just as surely as when at the head of his own Soudanese battalion, in the Government offices of Egypt, or in the training of his splendid “Lonsdales.”
It was the Machell stamp which he placed on every member of that brave band of Border men that has won them honours wherever they have been in England or in France. He asked no more of any man than he himself gave, always every particle of energy and devotion of which he possessed. Vital, real, devoted, tireless, a mortal hater of any kind of sham, a martinet by logical conviction and principle, an aristocratic democrat and an English gentleman without reproach, Colonel Machell was possessed of very exceptional creative and constructive abilities and quite extraordinary character and will. These things he gave utterly and always to his country. He lived and died in the most vigorous service of his country, and it is to be sincerely hoped that no losses or any other causes whatever ill be allowed to lead to the disintegration of the battalion which he raised to such a magnificent standard of efficiency. He gave a tradition, along with their fine training to the Border Battalion that bears the name of Lonsdale, and that, together with the brave spirit of their dead colonel, should be preserved to them for ever.