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Bernard Pitt

Bernard Pitt

Date of Birth

19 June 1882


Borough Road College


Teacher at King’s School, Kew

Service number


WW1 rank

Second Lieutenant

Border Regiment, 10th Battalion

Theatre of war


Date of death

30 April 1916

Location of death

Arras, France


Arras Memorial, France (Grave/Memorial reference: Bay 6)


Second Lieutenant Bernard Pitt attended Borough Road College for two years. His college record is described as ‘not very satisfactory…there are handwritten criticisms of his attitude to his studies”, despite this he graduated with a Class 1 Teachers Certificate. Despite this he excelled in chemistry, physiology, and agriculture, and graduated the college with a BA Hons in Languages and later an MA Literature in 1911, both from the University of London. He started teaching as a master as the Kew Schools, later becoming a master at Sir. J. Williamson’s Mathematical School in Rochester, before finally holding a post at Coopers’ Company School, Bow. From 1912 he also conducted an English Literature class at the Working Men’s College at St. Pancras, where there is a room named after him. He joined a volunteer corps before gaining commission into the B order Regiment in April 1915. In February 1916 he was given command of a battery. He was 34 when he was killed on 30th April 1916 by a mine whilst observing and correcting mortar fire at Arras, leaving behind his wife Florence and four children. In a letter to his wife about his death from his Brigadier-General he is described as being the “embodiment of dash and pluck” and that “whenever the Germans appeared to be getting particularly annoyed, the men would say “oh, it’s that little trench mortar officer at them with his guns”. The Brigadier-General goes on to say Pitt was about to be made Starr Officer before his death. He is remembered for the prolific letter writer and poet he became during the war. His letters and poems were collated after the war, and whilst Pitt may not have the fame of other war poets his poetry (often reflecting on life back in London) offers another perspective of trench life.

“When I shall fight and hurl myself at the foe

With a heart seething with anger, leaping with pride,

I will launch one well-aimed shot, I will drive one blow

For a dear little nook that I know of, down by

Thames’ side”

-Bernard Pitt


Entry on p.85 [Roll of Honour page], Mentioned on Framed Borough Road College Roll of Honour, Borough Road College 1900 applications, Mentioned in Coopers' School Magazine, Found in 'For Remembrance' by John Adcock, Letter about him, Photo from secondary sources, Secondary source information provided by Douglas Craik (taken from Commonwealth War Graves Commission), 1903 Annual Report, Soldier Poets Who Have Fallen in the War – John Adcock (Book), The O.B.’s War Hum and Roll of Service (1918, 4th Edition)