King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Malins, Edward Francis

Second Lieutenant ▪ South Wales Borderers

Edward Francis Malins, born on 5th September 1898, was admitted to King Edward’s School in January 1913, transferring from King Edward’s Camp Hill where he had spent four years. He was awarded a Foundation Scholarship in 1915. He was the younger twin of Wilfrid, who died of acute bronchitis at the age of one. This tragedy had a huge impact on Edward, causing him to “pine until his parents were greatly alarmed, lest they lose him as well.” Although his health was a cause for concern on many occasions, he grew up “gentle and considerate and kind to animals”. He lived with his parents, Mary and Joseph, the headmaster of Yardley Secondary School, and his sister, Edith, in Danford Lane, Solihull (and later in Arden Road, Acocks Green).

At School, Edward was a talented scientist, placing 1st in his class in Biology and 3rd in Chemistry and Physics, and winning a prize for laboratory work in 1916. He was also a “humorous debater” and a Lance Corporal in the School Officer Training Corps. His plan was to study medicine.

Edward left school in April 1917 and was immediately gazetted as a Second Lieutenant to the South Wales Borderers. He left for France in October 1917. The German attack on the Northern Sector of the British front began on April 9th, 1918, and two days later Edward’s Battalion was in the line, east of the forest of Nieppe near Merville, offering a “desperate resistance to the oncoming German hosts.” They held onto their position until their headquarters were surrounded and captured. It was while crossing open ground from post to post that Edward was hit by a sniper’s bullet, which passed through his arm and, traversing his field pocket book, a notebook, maps and letters, penetrated his stomach. After receiving medical attention, he was carried towards a place of safety by the Reverend Kenelm Swallow and two soldiers. One of the soldiers, Private Green, the Chaplain’s servant, was shot dead by a sniper in the attempt, and the other, who was already wounded, was struck again. Edward was admitted to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station, where his first thoughts were for his mother. At 2.20am, on Friday 12th April, aged nineteen, Edward passed away peacefully. He is buried in La Kreule Military Cemetery in Northern France.

Edward’s many letter from the battlefield to his father were “graphic and cheery, and reflected his loveable disposition.” After the war, Edward’s father published a book of his son’s letters in memory of his “Noble Boy who brought sunshine and joy wherever he went, and who, at the call of his country, stepped forth cheerfully and offered Her his service and his life.” The book also includes a letter of condolence from Cary Gilson, who expressed his “heartfelt sympathy,” adding that, “you will know that it is sincere; I have endured – and am enduring – the same blow myself. We may well be proud to have had such sons; but it is useless to pretend that these are not sorrows that will last us the rest of our own days here.”