Researched and written by Anne Wright
Major M N Perrin
Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC)
Maurice Nasmith Perrin married Susan Frances Preston at St. James’ Church, Weybridge on 28 August 1917. The bride, a resident of Weybridge, was the daughter of Walter and Susan (nee Davidson) Preston of Curlew Hope, Mayfield Road. The groom was already a serving officer with the RAMC which he had joined in August 1914.
He had been born on 28 April 1887 in Hampstead, London to Henry and Ida Southwell (nee Robins) Perrin. His only sister Muriel followed two years later. Henry was a successful merchant and Ida an artist and sculptress. Their home in 1901 was at 23, Holland Villas Road, Kensington. Maurice was educated at University College Preparatory School, followed by Clifton College where he did a special science course in the sixth form. He went up to Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1906 and graduated in Natural Sciences in 1909. Maurice registered at St Bartholomew’s Hospital on 23 September 1909 to pursue his medical studies. He emerged in 1913 with a Bachelor of Surgery degree and as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. Maurice then served as a house-surgeon under Sir Anthony Bowlby.
When war broke out he was offered a commission with the Royal Artillery and by January 1916 when he became engaged to Susan he was attached to the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. If he was a battalion medical officer with this group he would have been responsible for setting up a regimental aid post on the front line. Here the injured were brought in straight from the fighting. The numbers could be overwhelming. He would have encountered vicious wounds, the effects of poison gas and as the war continued increasing cases of psychological trauma then known as ‘shell-shock’. Maurice also served at No. 4 General Hospital which was based at Versailles from September 1914 to January 1916 when it moved to Comiers until April 1919. This would have been a large facility situated close to rail lines from which the casualties would be unloaded. A general hospital such as this was the final stage in the ‘evacuation chain’ before men were shipped across the channel for further treatment. Some did recover sufficiently to return to the war without needing evacuation.
Maurice became an acting Major instead of a temporary Captain on 24 July 1918 (Supplement to the London Gazette, 5 Sept 1918, p. 10503) and then relinquished his commission on 1 Oct 1918, subsequently transferring to the Royal Air Force ( London Gazette, 17 Jan 1919, p.1060). In February 1919 Maurice was appointed medical officer to the Royal Air Force in the Midlands.
On 28 April 1919 he and Captain Edwin Haynes, an experienced pilot, attempted to take off from Castle Bromwich aerodrome in a Bristol Fighter (BF 5098); the engine failed in taking off, the plane stalled and then drove into the ground with such force that the engine was displaced and the radiator plunged into the earth. Captain Haynes was killed and Maurice was admitted to 1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham. He died the same day.
This was a tragic time for the Perrin family. Maurice’s sister died just a month before him and he left not only a widow but a baby daughter, Moyra, born in May 1918. He was buried in Weybridge Cemetery on 7 May 1919 (grave no. 2382); the inscription on his headstone records that ‘…he entered on the wonderful and peaceful adventure on his 32nd birthday 28 April 1919 – Love Conquers All’. When his wife died in 1974 she was buried in the neighbouring grave and her headstone carried just one inscription – Love Conquers All.
Susan Perrin lived with her parents-in-law and daughter. In 1905 the Perrins had bought a second home at The Cottage, Bushey Heath and became committed members of St Peter’s Church. At the ceremony for laying the foundation stone of a Memorial Chapel in the church Susan, a talented soprano, sang a negro spiritual, Sunset and Dawn as well as Ave Maria ‘with great feeling’. She lived at the family home in Kensington, which she inherited in 1953, until her death. Moyra Perrin did not marry and died in 1999.
In the image provided by Bushey Museum Trust researchers at Forces War Records have advised that Maurice is wearing the uniform and rank insignia, Wing Commander, of the Royal Air Force.
Perrin, Maurice Nasmith 1906, Archives of Pembroke College, Cambridge
Maurice Nasmith Perrin, Bushey First World War Commemorative Project, www.busheyworldwarone.org.uk
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – Royal Army Medical Corps in the First World War, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
Brosnan, Matt A Short Guide to Medical Services During the First World War, www.iwm.org.uk
Cripps, David (compiler) Family Record of Maurice Nasmith Perrin and Susan Frances Preston
Military Aircraft crashes in the SW Midlands, 1919-1929, www.aviationarchaeology.org.uk
Service Record for M N Perrin, The National Archives, Catalogue Ref: AIR/76/399
Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1937, www.ancestry.co.uk