ERIC MILROY Born : Edinburgh 4 December 1887...

7 décembre 2016


Born : Edinburgh 4 December 1887
Educated : George Watson’s College and University of Edinburgh
Sporting honours : Scrum-half for George Watsons, Watsonians, Edinburgh University and Scotland. Played in all Scotland’s international matches 1910-14. Captain of Scotland 1914. One of two scrum-halves in British XV (later called British Lions) touring South Africa.
Career : Chartered accountant. Lieutenant in the Black Watch. Machine-gun officer.
Died : Delville Wood 18 July 1916.

Summary ofpages 10 & 11 of The Rugby Roll of Honour by E.H.D.Sewell, 1919
(Online :
He was a pioneer in Scottish rugby. When the Watsonians toured to Wales -for many years they regularly played Cardiff, Swansea and Newport over the New Year holiday – he was impressed by the novel way in which the backs were used as an attacking force rather than as mere auxiliaries to the forwards. So Watsonians attempted to use the same tactics (and became Scottish champions in 1909,1910,1912 and 1914).

Eric Milroy’s nickname at school was “Puss”. He is described by Sewell as “the most modest and generous of souls”. “The boyish smile , with which he would emerge from the feet of opposing forwards, was an open sesame to a wide circle of friendship, and never could it be said of him that success had in the least turned his head. He was ever sunny, modest and gentle.”

One of the best schools in Edinburgh is called George Watson’s College. Eric Milroy was a pupil there from the age of seven and, I think, seventeen. The adult Watsonian Rugby Club was formed by its former pupils, and until about twenty years ago, only those who had been at Watson’s ( among them the Hastings brothers, Gavin and Scott) were eligible to become members. These days it is an open club.
Before the First World War there was no official club championship , but Watsonians , with Eric Milroy at scrum-half, were the best team in Scotland in 1909.1910,1912 and 1914 .

His brother used to tell the family joke that when Eric set off to play in a match for Watsonians or Scotland, his mother, who was always worried that he would be injured, would always say to him, “Now keep well back, Eric.” It was not the ideal advice for a scrum-half. Eric recalled those words in his last letter , written in pencil on squared militart paper just before the Battle of Delville Wood began. It reads :
My dearest Mother, 13th July 1916.
I have only managed to raise one envelope today as we are all on our last legs for them. So I am sending this with one enclosed to Helen (his fiancée Helen Urquart).
We are in for some slight trouble tomorrow. So I am just warning you that there is to be no “keeping well back” then .
Transport time which corresponds to your post-time. So cheery O ! Yours, Eric PS You are rather a ripper, mother mine. Eric As she was notified , not that he was killed, but that he was “Missing, presumed killed, his mother clung to the hope that somehow he might have escaped death. For years afterwards she left a light on in the front room with the curtains drawn a little apart so that he would find his way if he came back.
The latter and some of his International Caps are in the possession of the family.


See Appendix A

Compiled by his great-nephew, SIR ERIC ANDERSON,KT : November 2016