Lost Cousins: Private Ottiwell Hastings Stanhope BUTLER (1883-1917)


img_2851-copyPrivate Ottiwell Hastings Stanhope BUTLER, 762930, London Regiment, 28th (County of London) Battalion (Artists Rifles), killed in action at Passchendaele on 30 Oct 1917 and commemorated at Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

Ottiwell BUTLER grew up in a theatrical family and was on the stage from an early age as ‘Master Ottiwell’. As an adult, his career moved behind the scenes, and he became Assistant Manager at the Nottingham Hippodrome under the name Stanhope Butler.

An article in ‘The Era’ newspaper, on 18 Oct 1916, records Stanhope Butler leaving for war:

Mr Stanhope Butler, who for upwards of five years has been the highly esteemed Assistant Manager of the Nottingham Hippodrome, leaves on Saturday to join up with the 28th London Batt. of the Artists’ Rifles. Mr Butler carries with him the heartiest good wishes of his numerous friends, who have further shown their appreciation of his many qualities by presenting him with a handsome luminous watch and a purse of Treasury notes.

In October 1917, the Artists’ Rifles were ordered to the Ypres front, and by 28 Oct were part of the battle for the Passchendaele Ridge. On 30 Oct, they were attempting to cross the Paddebeeke, but the very swampy conditions severely hampered their progress and left them vulnerable to attack. Of the 500 men fighting that day, there were 350 casualties.

Stanhope Butler left behind a wife and infant daughter.


Ottiwell Hastings Stanhope BUTLER was born on 18 Feb 1883 in Birkenhead, to parents William Stanhope BUTLER (c.1840-1921) and Adairine Mary TISDALL(1840-1914). Both parents were Dublin-born actors, and William also wrote plays and managed theatres. Ottiwell was one of five children, two of whom died in infancy. His brother Robert was also killed in action in 1917.

In 1914, he married Martha Ann BEAN in Nottingham and in March 1917 their only daughter Marianne was born.


Other sources used include: ‘Artists Rifles. Regimental Roll of Honour and War Record 1914-1919‘ by S Stagoll Higham, 2012 digital reprint; newspapers from the British Newspaper Archive; and FreeBMD


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