First World War Roll of Honour

Alexander James Keith was born in Ireland in 1893, the youngest son of George and Christina Keith. By 1901, the family had moved to St Peter Port in Guernsey, where his father worked for H.M. Customs. Alexander matriculated at Downing in 1912, studying history, and was a keen sportsman, securing College colours for Hockey, Association Football and Lawn Tennis.  He is pictured below (back row, far right) in the Downing College Trial Eights, 1912.

After a preliminary training in the University’s O. T. C. following the outbreak of war, he received a commission in the Middlesex Regiment in November 1914. From July 1915, 2nd Lieut. Keith was serving as a machine-gun officer with his battalion at the front. He was killed on 14 July 1916 when he was hit by a shell during the advance on Trônes Wood (part of the Battle of the Somme). He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the memorial to the missing of the Somme.

In 1965 the University was informed by the executors of Alexander’s sister Charlotte that she had left the residue of her estate in trust for ‘the foundation of a scholarship or studentship in Agricultural Research in memory of her brother, Alexander James Keith’. The Alexander James Keith Studentships are still available to students of agriculture across the University from the UK and EU.


Downing College Trial Eights, 1912 (with permission of Lafayette Photography Ltd)