George Butterworth; Morris Man and composer died on the Somme August 1916

On this day when the nation remembers its’ fallen heroes the Morris fraternity can remember one of their own who died on 5th August 1916.

Butterworth described himself as “a professional Morris dancer” and folk song collector before he became known as the composer who with Housman’s blessing set his poem “A Shropshire Lad” to music.  Collecting folk songs and Morris dances was the source of his inspiration and he became a friend of Cecil Sharp and a founder of the English Folk Dance Society in 1911.  He was a paid member of the EFDS demonstration Morris dance team three of whom were killed in 1916. 

Butterworth had joined as volunteer with the rank of Private but was soon commissioned and served with the Durham Light Infantry.  Butterworth won the Military Cross for his defence of a trench in Pozières which was subsequently named after him.  He died at the age of 31 from a sniper's bullet on the following night. 

Like many who died at the Somme he has no known grave but his name is included amongst the 73,357 listed as missing on the Thiepval Memorial near Pozières.  He is also remembered at St Mary’s Church, Deerhurst, near Tewksbury, Gloucester where his Grandfather had been Vicar.

 My thanks to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, The Guardian and Wikipedia