Members at our 2007 BBQ

Cardiff
Naturalists' Society


Cymdeithas Naturiaethwr
Gaerdydd

 

 

Archibald Henry Lee O.B.E., M.C., M.A. (1890-1970) 59th President


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Sadly I have not been able to locate an obituary for him in our archives, but there is a lot of information about A. H. Lee available, and I have located some pictures of him in our archive

A H Lee and Juniors section 10-Sep-1921 from society archives

A. H. Lee and Juniors section 10-Sep-1921 from society archives

From the Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion they record his appointment

Archibald H. Lee (1890-1970) was a native of Cardiff and who, as an assistant to the Town Clerk, J. L. Wheatley, had been involved with museum matters since the days of the 'Battle of the Sites' in 1905.

A.H. Lee's appointment to the Museum council, Evening Express 15th October 1909

A.H. Lee's appointment to the Museum council, Evening Express 15th October 1909

He joined the society that year, going on to hold the posts of Honourable Secretary (1921-1926) , Council Member and President (1931-1932)

In volume XLVIII of the transactions we record the members of the society on active service in WWI as of the 1st of January 1916. This lists A. H. Lee as follows : -

ARCHIBALD HENRY LEE, Captain, 2/5th Welsh Regiment (T.).

The National Museum of Wales give some more details of this and his post WWI life in this blog entry Archibald H. Lee - National Museum Wales' first Secretary 1909-1953

In the book The 53rd (Welsh) Division (TF) 1914-1918 by Major CH Dudley Ward, DSO, MC (late Welsh Guards) there is a much larger description and quotation regarding Lee's outstanding leadership in the battle for Ali Muntar in the first battle of Gaza (Palestine - at that time in the Ottoman Empire)

Captain Walker, of the 7th Royal Welch Fusiliers, with Lieuts. Latham and Fletcher, and about 40 men, together with two officers, Captain A. H. Lee and Lieut. R. H. Taylor, of the 5th Welch, and an equal number of their men, organised on their own initiative a dash at the enemy's line. They rose suddenly from the ground and sprinted forward in a most gallant and inspiring fashion. The rush was so determined that they must succeed or be annihilated, and they pierced the Turkish line east of the Mosque. Some fierce hand to hand fighting took place amongst the cacti, but the Welsh men overcame all resistance, cleared the line, and secured a number of German, Austrian and Turkish prisoners.

There was then a charge through an an area of Prickly Pair cactus hedging (common in that area)

Captain Lee, who described his command as a mixed grill from all units in the Brigade, his own, the 5th Welch, predominating, gave a fuller account of the charge through the cactus hedges. "Our great concern was a certain cactus hedge, from which machine guns might wipe us all out as soon as we got level with it. A small party was sent off to investigate, and all being reported well we got on a few yards further, leaving Some behind (hit) at every rush forward."

"Worn out and heavily laden (besides their packs the men carried extra rations, a second water bottle, and extra bandoliers of ammunition) the prospect of having to rush the entrenched and steep slopes was not a pleasant one, but with bayonets fixed and revolvers cocked, off we went with a cheer. The Turks vacated their trenches and ran. The top of the hill was reached and we rounded up many Turks. Those who ran were fired at and some bowled over."

"On looking round we found ourselves behind Turks who were still firing on other oncoming troops, and we got some fine firing at their backs, until they withdrew. Our party had reached the top, I suppose unobserved, at any rate for a while, for we were troubled by British shells and rifle fire from converging troops. These troubles soon ceased, and Colonel Lawrence of the Cheshires came along and took command of the situation." . . .

"Water shortage was serious, and parties were sent off to collect water bottles from the dead, and ammunition from the wounded and dead."

Sadly these concerns about water were something that worried senior generals and with a lack of up to date information history records that they gave an order to withdraw and it has been suggested this move snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Lee was however awarded the Military Cross for his actions. An interesting item that I have found researching for this page is the following. These wire sand shoes were worn by Captain A H Lee of the 1/5th Battalion, The Welsh Regiment (Lee won the MC during the First Battle for Gaza, 26 March 1917).

Wire sand shoes were worn by Captain A H Lee

Wire sand shoes were worn by Captain A H Lee image IWM (UNI 12519) used under license

Post the war lee resumed his active membership of the society and attended many of the field trips including the junior section trips shown above and two more from a trip to the Wenallt below: -

 A. H. Lee (left) on the Wenallt 18-May-1921 from Society Archives

A. H. Lee (left) with H. E. Salmon (Right) and others on the Wenallt 18-May-1921 from Society Archives

A. H. Lee (3<sup>rd</sup> left) with H. E. Salmon (Right) and others on the Wenallt 18-May-1921 from Society Archives

A. H. Lee (3rd left) with H. E. Salmon (Right) and others on the Wenallt 18-May-1921 from Society Archives

He was a regular contributor to the society meetings and provided papers for the transactions. His paper "Museums In Cardiff. Notes On The Voluntary And Municipal Museums; A Short History Of The National Museum Of Wales; And Observations On The Close Association Of The Cardiff Naturalists' Society With Museum Affairs" is a detailed and informative work that warrants reading by anyone looking at the history of Cardiff Available online

Some highlights during these years were helping to organize and celebrate the Society's Diamond Jubilee and being awarded the Honorary Degree of M.A. by the University of Wales [1937]. he was made an Honorary Member in 1954. The last is recorded in Volume LXXXIII of the transactions in 1954

At its last annual meeting the Society recorded its warmest appreciation of the valuable services rendered it by Mr. A. H. Lee, O.B.E., M.C., M.A., and elected him an Honorary Member.



Back to the 150th Anniversary index

Before this... Walter Medley Tattersall, D.Sc., (1883-1943) 58th President

Next up... W. P. James, B.A. (1855-1935) 60th President

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