Primrose McConnell

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That unusual and somewhat puzzling name, Primrose McConnell, inevitably aroused interest during the reading, long ago, at the annual reunion dinner of the Roll Call honouring those Old Loughtonians who lost their lives during the First World War. Which probably led to more of the young McConnell’s background emerging when a collection of documents were found by Daniel Church among the papers of his late father, who was an Old Boy of Loughton School.

The 1907 School Magazine showed a photograph of the young Primrose McConnell accompanied by a tribute from the School. (abbreviated)

“He joined the School’s First Form in September 1898, aged 8. From the start he displayed much individuality of character, with very decided opinions on many subjects, which he clung to with tenacity. His progress through school was steady, sure and firmly founded. In his last year in 1906, he was Senior Monitor and School Captain and won the respect and esteem of both masters and boys alike.”

The photograph is clearly of a good-looking young man and no explanation is given for the unusual name for a boy. Perhaps his contemporaries at school might have known the answer.

But among millions of tragedies in the dreadful war that began eight years after he left school, Primrose McConnell’s gifts and influence were never given their chance to flower in full maturity. Just before the end of the First World War, some ten years after the photograph was taken, Captain P McConnell, MC, of the Royal Field Artillery, lost his life in battle.

Captain. “D” Battery, 101st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Killed in action in France & Flanders on 18th September 1918. Aged 28. Son of Primrose and Katherine McConnell, of North Wycke, Southminster, Essex B. Sc., Medallist and Steven Scholar in Agriculture (Edinburgh University). Born at Ongar, Essex. Awarded the Military Cross. Commemorated: Doiran Memorial, Greece.
(extract from Essex: Southminster War Memorial)

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