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Harold Llewellyn Twite

(1879-1915)-  Officer’s stopped watch

Twite, a St Agnes-born mining engineer, was posted to France in September 1915 and led a team of Cornish miners tunnelling under the German trenches to detonate explosives. On 1 December 1915, Twite and four of his fellow Cornishmen were blown up by a German mine. His watch stopped at that moment.

Credit: St Agnes Museum

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Harold Llewellyn Twite was born in St Agnes in 1879. He studied at the School of Mines in London and married his wife, Lucy, in 1907.

When the First World War broke out Twite, by then a mining engineer, returned from overseas to join up and was seconded to the 183rd (Tunnelling) Company of the Royal Engineers to make the most of his trench warfare expertise.  He was posted to France in September 1915 and led a team of Cornish miners sinking shafts and tunnelling in a race to detonate explosions under German trenches before they could retaliate.

On 1 December 1915, at 8pm, they had just retreated after setting off their explosives when the enemy detonated a huge mine, instantly killing Twite and four of his fellow Cornishmen.

Among Lieutenant Twite's possessions was his mud-encrusted watch, stopped at precisely 8pm, and sent home to his widow, Lucy, in his kitbag.  Lucy never felt able to open the bag to see its contents for herself. 

Key words: casualty, trenches

Credit: St Agnes Museum