Stephen this week attended a Remembrance Service in honour of MPs who were killed on active service in WW1 – including his predecessor Lord Ninian Crichton-Stuart.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Lord Ninian was MP for Cardiff, which covered the areas that now make up the Cardiff South and Penarth, Cardiff West, and Cardiff Central constituencies. He became an MP in 1910 at the age of 27, and died on active service on October 2, 1915.
Lord Ninian – after whom the former Cardiff City ground was named due to his generosity in acting as a guarantor and supporter – was the second son of John Patrick 3rd Marquess of Bute, who used part of his wealth to restore Cardiff Castle, and his wife the Hon Gwendoline Mary Anne.
He was commissioned in 1903 into the 3rd Battalion of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and the following year was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant and served for two years in 1st Battalion, the Scots Guards.
He married the Hon. Ismay Lucretia Mary Preston, daughter of the 14th Viscount Gormanston, in June 1906 and left the army to concentrate on politics, becoming the Unionist candidate for the United Boroughs of Cardiff, Cowbridge and Llantrisant in January 1910. He was defeated, but won the seat at the General Election that December.
In 1911 he became Lieutenant-Colonel 6th Welsh Territorials, and in 1912 took command. At the outbreak of war he and the battalion volunteered for foreign service and joined the Expeditionary Force in France from October 1914. He is reported as telling his men: “I am prepared, as I am sure you are, to lay down my life for my country if required.”
On October 2, 1915, after hours on the road and days without sleep, the 6th Welsh took part in a night attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt near La Bassee. Leading his troops in an effort to save one of his men, who had been left behind when they retreated from a German attack, Lord Ninian was shot in the head by a sniper and died instantly. Of 842 members of the 6th Battalion, only 30 survived the war.
He left two daughters and a six-month-old son (having lost his older son in 1910 at the age of three).
Lord Ninian is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery in France, and a statue in his honour stands at Gorsedd Gardens, Cathays Park.
He was one of 22 MPs to die in WWI, and the Remembrance Service was held in the Chapel by the permission of the Speaker, led by Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin. It was followed by a laying of a wreath by the Speaker next to St Stephen’s Entrance.
Stephen Doughty MP said: “I was honoured to attend this very moving service. Lord Ninian was just 32 when he died leading his men, having already represented the people of Cardiff in parliament for five years.
“In Remembrance-tide, in this centenary year of WWI, it was a fitting memorial to Lord Ninian and all the MPs who not only served their country so well in life, but who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”