Captain Hubert Thomas De La MOTTE


Regiment/Service:
Indian Army
Unit:
29th Punjabis
Service Number:
n/a
Date of Death:
30 October 1918 - Killed in Action
(Actually: Died of Wounds)
Age:
23
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
N. 181957.
Awards:
Military Cross
Mentioned In Despatches


Personal History:

Hubert was born in 1895 in Morpeth, Northumberland, the son of Vital and Susan A. De La Motte, later of Burford, Oxfordshire. In 1901 (Census RG 13/824) the family were living at 'Plympton', Norfolk Road, Margate, Kent. Hubert has three younger siblings, John B., Marion G. and Edward L. G.

The 1911 Census (RG 14/21237) shows Hubert's parents living (private means) at 59 West Street, Buxton and that his father was born in France. Hubert, under name of Thomas, was a Boarder at The Foundation Grammar School, St Bees. Whitehaven, Cumberland. (1911 Census RG 14.31526) He is listed a "Normandy Resident". M. Vital de la Motte, M.A., was a tutor in French of Christ's College, Oxford.

Hubert joined St Bees Schol in 1909 from "Mr Smart's Preparatory, Corbridge-on-Tyne. In 1912 he gained a Prize Cadetship at Sandhurst, and after a distinguished career there, he passed out practically at the head of the list, shortly before the War broke out."

The family were still living in Buxton in June 1920 when Hubert's father, Vital, applied for his medals, although Hubert's death was recorded at Paddington and he is buried in Brookwood Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Britain and one of the largest in the world.
Military History:
Hubert's Medal Index Card shows he originally served with the 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, with whom he served in France being wounded at Neuve Chapelle. He was transferred to the Indian Army and the 29th Punjabi Regiment. The London Gazette, 7th August 1914, suggests this took affect at the outbreak of War, as he is listed in the 'Gazette' as "Unattached - for The Indian Army". Hubert was posted  to France in March 1915 and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 18th August 1915 (London Gazette 15th October).

Hubert was next posted to Delhi and was sent to command the mud fort of Khirgi, on the North-west frontier, where guerrilla warfare was taking place with the Mahsud tribe.

In March 1916 Hubert joined his Regiment, the 29th Punjabis, in East Africa and was part of General Smuts' epic March on Tanga and was commended for his bold reconnoitring bravery. On 8th November 1916 he was promoted to Lieutenant (LG 16th January 1917

On the 17th August 1916 he was shot through the spine near the Wami River. Hubert was
Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Military Cross (LG 13 February 1917)
"For conspicuous gallantry in action. He carried out many dangerous reconnaissances
under heavy fire. He set a fine example of courage and coolness throughout. He was
severely wounded." He was finally promoted to Captain on 8th August 1918

Hubert lived for another two years, helpless and paralysed, after he was wounded, but ".. never for a moment did he lose his keenness of interest for his Regiment and his Old School". He contracted influenza in a club for disabled Officers and died on the 30th October 1918.

He is buried in Brookwood Cemetery (The London Necropolis). In 1917 an area of land in the Cemetery was set aside for the burial of men and women of the forces of the Commonwealth and Americans, who had died, many of battle wounds, in the London district. The state of his Grave, however, is a rather ignominious end for this very brave Officer.

Sources:
· Photo of Captain de la Motte's grave courtesy of Gary Nelson
· I am grateful to Robert (Great War Forum) for the photo of Hubert from 'The Sphere' Magazine
· St Bee's School Roll of Honour

Link to CWGC Record
Captain De La Motte's Grave at Brookwood Cemetery
The inscription on Capt. De La Motte's Grave
Captain De La Motte's MC citation
Capt Hubert T De La Motte
The Military Cross
Hubert (Thomas) does not have an 'official' CWGC headstone, which is a pity as clearly his grave is in desperate need of maintainance.
poppy