Magnus Murray Manson

Rank Rifleman
Service No 1999
Date of Death 10/04/1915
Age 23
Regiment/Service London Regiment 21st (First Surrey Rifles) Battalion, "A" Company
Cemetery Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, France. The village is located some 3.5 kms north of Arras on the road to Bethune.


Magnus was born on 30th September 1891 in Herne Hill, London. His parents were James Alexander (1856-1921) and Margaret Emily Manson, nee Deering, (1854-1916), who were married on 17th October 1875. Magnus had five older siblings: James Bolivar (1879–1945), Charles Deering (b.1881), Robert Graham (1883–1950), Margaret Esther (1887–1935) and Rhoda Mary (1888-1942).  

Magnus’ father was an editor, author and journalist. He was the first literary editor of the Daily Chronicle, an editor for Cassell & Company Ltd and of the Makers of British Art series for Walter Scott Publishing Company. He wrote articles for the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

Magnus’ oldest brother, James, was an artist and worked at the Tate gallery for 25 years, being its Director from 1930 to 1938. Another brother, Robert, was a musician and composer, who went on to play in the string sections of the Scottish Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra before emigrating to North America. There he played in the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He returned to England to serve for four years in the British Expeditionary Force during the Great War, thereafter returning to Canada to continue his work with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he was a member of the Spivak String Quartet. He died in Canada in 1950.

At the time of the 1901 Census, the family was living at 7 Ardbeg Road, Herne Hill, London. Magnus was educated at Alleyne’s School, Dulwich. At the time of the 1911 Census, Magnus was living with his parents at 13 Harborough Road, Streatham, south London. His occupation is listed as ‘Clerk for the London County Council’. Other sources reveal that that he worked in the Council’s education department and then in the London office of the Guaranty Trust New York.  

Magnus served in the 1st Surrey Rifles, a Territorial Unit, whose headquarters were in Camberwell, sputh London. When war broke out, the Unit had just arrived for their annual summer camp on Salisbury Plain. They were at once recalled to their home base and mobilised for war service. They concentrated in the St Albans area for training. They proceeded to France on 16th March 1915 and concentrated near Bethune.

Less than a month later, Magnus was killed in action at Richebourg L'Avoué, north-east of Bethune. He was buried the same day in the little churchyard there behind the firing line. Later his body was re-buried in the cemetery at Souchez some 25 kms to the south.

At the time of his death, Magnus’ parents were living at 4 Cornwall Avenue, Finchley.