Design for a monument to Lt Col. Oswald A. G. Fitzgerald, Eastbourne

M334 Design for a monument to Lt Col. Oswald A. G. Fitzgerald, Eastbourne

Date: 1916
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

Lt Col. Oswald Arthur Gerald Fitzgerald (1875–1916) was personal military secretary to Lord Kitchener (1850–1916). 1 Both men died in the sinking of HMS Hampshire off Marwick Head, Orkney, on 5 June 1916. 2 Fitzgerald's body was not buried at Lyness on the island of Hoy, with others recovered from the sea, but was taken instead to Ocklynge Cemetery, Eastbourne, Sussex, where his father was buried. 3

The design shows an upright stone slab 7 feet (2.13 m) high and just over 3 feet (0.91 m) wide at the base, framed at the top and sides by mouldings of stepped profile. Within this border, but slightly overlapping it, is an oval tablet laid lengthways, bearing the inscription and enclosed by a wreath. The angular mouldings have similarities with some of the stone carving at Scotland Street School, and with later decorative work by Mackintosh, especially the hall fireplace at 78 Derngate, Northampton. The classical victor's laurel wreath and the military badges above and below the inscription speak the familiar language of soldiers' memorials. Combined with these traditional elements, Mackintosh's angular, abstract ornament appears all the more unusual.

It is not known how Mackintosh came to make the design, or who commissioned it. Fitzgerald had served for some years with Kitchener in India, and it may have been through Mackintosh's association with Patrick Geddes's Indian town planning work in 1915–16 that the job came his way. The monument ultimately erected over Fitzgerald's grave is very much simpler, and in no sense a realisation of Mackintosh's design. Nevertheless, it contains faint echoes of the drawing, which suggests that whoever carved it may have had access to Mackintosh's design. The oval panel bearing the inscription overlaps the mouldings to either side, as it does on the drawing, and the inscription itself is similar to the one shown in Mackintosh's design: it includes part of W. J. Birkbeck's translation of the Russian Orthodox prayer for the dead from the liturgy of St John Chrysostom (also sung at Kitchener's memorial service in St Paul's Cathedral).

General view of Fitzgerald monument, Ocklynge Cemetery, EastbourneFront of Fitzgerald monument, Ocklynge Cemetery, EastbourneInscription on Fitzgerald monument, Ocklynge Cemetery, Eastbourne

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Notes:

1: The Times, 7 June 1916, p. 10.

2: The Times, 7 June 1916, p. 10.

3: The Times, 9 June 1916, p. 9.