We’re very grateful to have received an extensive collection of photographs, papers and sketches relating to First World War officer, Henry Glennie Amis.
Robert Amis contacted the museum and told us he had some material relating to his grandfather. We said we’d love to see what he’d got, so Robert came to visit us…
Commissioned into the 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant on 12 March 1915, Henry Amis transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.
He was one of a number of Yorkshire Regiment soldiers who seized this exciting new opportunity, taking his Royal Aero Club Certificate at Thetford on 22 May 1916 in a Maurice Farman Short Horn aircraft.
Family legend has it that 2Lt Amis was prone to crashing, which may account for his transfer back to the Yorkshire Regiment.
The then Captain Amis was again serving with the 5th Battalion when on 28 October 1917 he was wounded and evacuated, suffering from the effects of mustard gas.
Once he had recovered, he returned to the front line where he faced German’s final throw of the dice, the so called ‘Kaiser’s battle’ which was unleashed on 21 March 1918. Henry and the 5th battalion were in the thick of the fighting; trying to hold back the German advance.
On 27 May 1918 he, along with 24 other officers and 638 Other Ranks, was declared missing.
Amongst the papers donated to the museum by Robert is the diary of Captain Amis’ girlfriend, Dorothy Beckton. On 10 June 1918 she wrote…
‘Telegram saying my H G missing. I felt a sort of stunned at first…A horrible time of despondency, but there is really no need. I think my darling boy is almost sure to be a prisoner in Germany. It is rather heavy waiting but as soon as I can hear that he is safe, will be alright. And we shall be able to make up afterwards. I hope they will treat the dear old boy well. Please God, let it all turn out alright.’
On 27 June Dorothy received word from another Yorkshire Regiment officer that he had seen her beloved ‘HG’ in German hands before he had managed to escape.
Confirmation that Henry was a prisoner came from an unusual source; his bank confirmed that he had cashed a cheque at ‘Rastratt’ north-east of Strasbourg on 18 June.
This gave Dorothy a place to write to, which she did immediately, as well as organising a parcel from Fortnum & Mason. The first news from Henry, written in his own hand, arrived on 25 June. Henry spent the rest of the war as a POW.
Once he was liberated he returned home, first to Leith, then to Ripon where he was hospitalised with influenza but Dorothy got to see him and, thankfully, he recovered (and married her).
Robert is unsure exactly what career Henry Amis pursued after the war, but he does remember his grandfather trying to teach him how to draw battle scenes, which links nicely to the numerous watercolour landscapes, drawings and caricatures we now have in the museum collection thanks to Robert’s generosity.
This is a fantastic archive which we have yet to examine in great detail but, thanks to the care and safekeeping of the Amis family over the years that once we have, we’ll be able to share it.