Authored by Karyn Stuckey, Archivist at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
After the guns had fallen silent, thoughts turned to how to honour the dead. Faced with the dilemma of how to commemorate the dead, many organisations created Honour Rolls or memorials. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers created an ornate board, recording the names of its war dead, which is still hung on the first floor landing of One Birdcage Walk. 1,270 Institution members and 8 staff members went on active service: 7.1% of members died; and 12.5% of staff died.
All the membership records for the war period are available online – UK, Mechanical Engineer Records, 1847-1930. The Government requested members names to be put forward for the Engineering Unit of the Royal Naval Division, the Royal Garrison Artillery and then for munitions contracts. In 1916 the Institution’s Council decided that any man on active service who was approaching the age of, or over the age of 28 could apply for Associate Membership without having to sit an examination.
Our Headquarters building also did its bit: almost immediately, the top floor of the ‘new’ wing was taken over by the Prince of Wales’ National Relief Fund; then rooms on the third floor were occupied by the Office of Works for the Explosives Department (Ministry of Munitions), who soon spread to the fourth floor; next the meeting hall was occupied; and in June 1915 the whole of the building was given over to the Office of Works. It was not returned until 1919.
The honour roll has been fully researched and all the stories of those who died have been recorded. There were two others added who had been omitted because they were civilian casualties who had gone down with the Lusitania. Each is listed by name and date of death. Under each name are their membership dates, their professional post at time of joining, their service posting and any details of their death or medals awarded to them. Where they exist, a contemporaneous obituary can also be read. Stories to commemorate the men will be posted here. Membership information is taken from our application forms, service and death information from their official service records. Where contradictions exist for example, on date of death these have been left unless there is clear evidence as to which piece of information is correct.
Sir H. Frederick Donaldson (Image reproduced by courtesy of Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London)
Amongst those who died: were an ex-President, Sir Hay Frederick Donaldson, 5th June 1916, who went down on the HMS Hampshire with Lord Kitchener and another member; Leslie Stephen Robinson/Robertson when she was stuck en route to Russia; William Martin-Davey, 7th May 1915, who went down alongside member Colin Stanley Fenton on RMS Lusitania when she was torpedoed by a German submarine. There were those who died at home or on their way home including, Charles Lysaght Bruce Hewson, 12th April 1918, who fought in the Cameroons Campaign and died on the voyage home having been invalided with fever from Nigeria; and those from/working abroad including, Gordon Porter Cable, 2nd January 1918, an Indian national and Captain, Indian Army, Indian Army Reserve of Officers, Jaipur Transport Corps.
- For further details please see World War I Honour Roll article from Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
- You can also learn more about collaborative exhibit between the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Civil Engineers and the Institution of Engineering and Technology on their dedicated portal.
- Engineers’ records from ICE, IMechE and IET can be searched via Ancestry