King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Craig, Donald Leslie Langford

Second Lieutenant ▪ Royal Field Artillery

Donald Leslie Langford Craig, born on 14th September 1896, was admitted to King Edward’s School in September 1906. Donald lived with his father, John, a surgeon, his mother, Edith, and his sister and two brothers. His older brother, William, also an Old Edwardian, was a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

At School, Donald was an athlete, competing in flat races and the hurdles. He also served as a regular member of the 1st XV. However, his main talent lay in drama and music, serving on the Committee. Once in 1915 he played a flageolet duet with JKA Robertson, sang a “humorous song” later in the programme, and provided “two excellent ragtime selections” on the piano. He also appeared in the annual Greek Play in 1911, in which JRR Tolkien also featured. A photograph of the performers is held in the Bodleian Library as part of the Tolkien Collection.

In July 1915, Donald was gazetted directly from the School Officer Training Corps as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. On 31st July 1917 (the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele), Donald was reported missing from a trench near Pilkrem where he had been acting as a Forward Observation Officer. He received a Military Cross posthumously in September 1917, with this citation: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when under heavy and continuous shellfire for five hours with his battery. During the shelling, a dump of charges caught fire, and he, with others, succeeded in removing a large pile of neighbouring shell which was all the time in imminent danger of an explosion. His prompt action and gallantry saved a large amount of ammunition and material, and probably many lives.” Donald reached the rank of Lieutenant. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate and appears on the family memorial in Key Hill Cemetery, in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. His medals, including his Military Cross, are part of a private collection in Switzerland.