Explore both volumes of the Bond of Sacrifice and discover your British Army ancestor. The Bond of Sacrifice is a biographical record of officers, who died during the First World War from the beginning of the war in 1914 until 1916. The vast majority of the names recorded are those who died before 1916. View excellent quality portrait photos, read full biographies of the officers including details about their family, names of spouses and children, education and a detailed history of the individual’s military career.
Each record includes an image of the page on which your ancestor’s name is found and an individual transcript. The amount of detail in each entry does vary, but most will include the following information:
Details about military career
Additional comments from commanding officer
Use the arrows to the left or right of the images to browse more biographies of Officers.
The officer biographies from both volumes of the Bond of Sacrifice have been digitised and indexed on Findmypast. Field Marshall John French, 1st Earl of Ypres penned the introduction to the first volume. He wrote, ‘Its pages teem with deeds of gallantry and devoted self-sacrifice in the cause of King and Country.’ The military editor was Colonel L A Clutterbuck in association with Colonel W T Dooner and naval editor Commander the Honourable C A Denison.
Volume 1 covers the first four months of the war and closes in December 1914. Volume 2 covers the first six months of 1915, and also includes biographies of seven officers, who were killed in 1916.
The original intention was to create more volumes, each covering six months of the war and including the names of all the officers, who died from causes directly related to active service. However, due in no small part to the huge number of officer casualties, and to the publishers running out of money, the series was never completed.
The names are listed in alphabetical order. Most biographies include a photo portrait of each officer and a short biography. The biographies usually consist of parents’ names, educational background, achievements and, when present, spouse’s name and children’s names. The entries also detail the officer’s military career and often include a description about how the officer lost his life during service. Many of the entries have comments from commanding officers about the bravery and gallantry of the officer under their command. Here are a few examples of comments:
2nd Lieutenant Herbert Arthur William Beausire, 1st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London regiment).
2nd Lieutenant Beausire’s Captain wrote:
The regiment and the Army have lost a most competent officer, and I shall miss him, not only as an officer, but as a friend. He was always cool and collected, and ever ready for a job. He was a born soldier, and one the Army can ill afford to lose. His charming manners and personality will long be remembered in the regiment, where he was loved by his brother officers, N. C. O.s, and men. He has died doing his duty, and has done it well.
Major Francis Innes Day, 2nd Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers
Major Day’s biography included an extract from a letter written to Major Day’s widow:
He was rallying his men for a second attack when he was shot in the face and legs. A Private Wills, who was just behind him, turned him over, and called some men to carry him away, but he said, “Go on, lads! Don’t waste your time on me! Here, Wills! take this revolver and give it to my wife, and tell her I died happy.
Lieutenant Frederic Hornby Lever Rushton, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment
Lieutenant Rushton’s Commanding Officer wrote to Rushton’s brother:
You have every reason to be very, very proud of your brother. I was wounded in the leg, and could not get along…so he and others carried me out of action under an extremely heavy fire.
Below is a reproduction of the foreword found in the Bond of Sacrifice, Volume 1, printed in 1915.
Foreword by Field Marshall The Viscount French of Ypres, G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G., Colonel 19th Hussars, Colonel Irish Guards, Colonel-in-Chief Royal Irish Regiment
I have been asked to write a foreword to this deeply interesting volume.
Its pages teem with deeds of gallantry and devoted self-sacrifice in the cause of King and Country. The brief and concise narrative which recalls the glorious ending of each separate life must appeal with simple and pathetic grandeur to every British heart.
If we search for the many causes which have made for the British Army so magnificent a record, we will find amongst the most marked and prominent is the close and cordial relationship which has existed at all times between Officers and men.
British soldiers have learnt from an experience which now covers centuries that in their Officers they possess leaders of indomitable courage, determination and self-reliance. A mutual confidence is established which has ensured many a glorious victory and often converted imminent defeat and disaster into a brilliant success. The Officers who have fallen in this Great War have splendidly maintained these traditions. This is made abundantly evident to anyone who makes a study of the Rolls of Honour which have filled the columns of the daily papers.
Enormous beyond all precedent as these death rolls have been it is a fact that the proportion of Officers to men is in excess of what is has been in any former war. Deep as must ever be the debt of gratitude which the Nation owes to its soldiers in the ranks, at least the same is owing to the devoted and intrepid leaders who have so freely sacrificed their lives on these blood-stained fields.
These volumes are indeed well calculated to inspire the youth of this Country to maintain and improve the attributes which have enabled our fallen leaders to effect such splendid results for their Country and which, thank God, are bred in them, and, so to speak, form part of their flesh and blood.
July 25, 1916
Images reproduced by courtesy of the Trustees of the Honourable Artillery Company, London, England.