Gazing down the steps of the British Museum (Natural History) as it used to be known is the marble statue of Charles Darwin, looking past the famous dinosaurs down the entrance hall. Nearby on the wall are the names of the museum staff lost in both world wars at home and abroad.
Darwin’s grandson is not listed among them on this plaque in The Natural History Museum but he is one of the many naturalist and scientist related casualties who died in both World Wars.
Erasmus Darwin IV, grandson of the famous scientist, was killed aged 33 on 24 April 1915, serving as a Second Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards).
He was killed after only a week of active service, typical of the short life of a junior officer, during the Battle of St. Julien, 2nd Battle of Ypres.
Erasmus was buried with a fellow Officer, John Vivian Nancarrow, but unfortunately their grave was lost in the fighting. As a result, he has no known grave and is remembered on Panel 33 Of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
CWGC lists him as the “Son of Horace and Ida Darwin, of The Orchard, Cambridge. Grandson of naturalist Charles Darwin and statistician Thomas Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer.” He was a director of the Cambridge Scientific Instruments Company, founded by his father.
There is a extensive Wikipedia biography of him: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erasmus_Darwin_IV
His story and that of his Regiment and the battle and memorials around the country are well told o0n various websites:
British Museum (Natural History) staff war memorial
We will feature more about the British Museum (Natural History) staff lost in WW1 and the 8 staff casualties from WW2 in future blog posts.
Duncan Gotch of the British Museum staff’s story, killed in WW1, is told here: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/duncan-hepburn-gotch-entomologist-died-neuve-chapelle-11-march-1915/