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2nd Lieutenant, 1st Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

Died of wounds on Saturday 17th April 1915, age 27

Buried in Bedford House Cemetery, Belgium.

Former student of Engineering; Junior Instructor in Drawing and Demonstrator in Engineering.

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Helenus, born on 21st October 1888 in London, was the only son of Sheridan Delepine who was Professor of Public Health and Director of the Public Health Laboratory at the University of Manchester.

Helenus was educated at Woodlands School, Fallowfield, and attended Manchester Grammar School 1902-03, coming 12th out of 28 in his form. He spent a year in Geneva studying languages before entering the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester in 1907. He obtained his B.Sc. in 1910 and then went to Canada where he was a Demonstrator at McGill University. Whilst there, under the direction of Professor Mackay, he conducted an elaborate investigation into the stress distribution of built-up columns. In April 1911 he began work as an Assistant Engineer at Waddell and Harrington, Kansas City, going on to become Principal Assistant in the estimating department. Returning to the University of Manchester in 1913 he took up a post as a Junior Instructor in Drawing and Demonstrator in the Engineering Department. During this time he assisted Professor Petavel with experiments concerning the humidity and ventilation of spinning sheds for the Home Office. Some of the results of this work were included in two papers Helenus submitted in support of his M.Sc. which he obtained in 1914. In the summer of 1914 he became an Assistant Engineer in the Airship Department of Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness.

From 1908 to 1910 and again from 1913 Helenus was a member of the University Officer Training Corps and was given a commission as a Second Lieutenant. When war broke out he was at camp with the Corps and immediately volunteered for active service. After training for a time in Falmouth he proceeded to the western front in January 1915 to join the 1st Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. On 16th April 1915 he was wounded and died the following day nest St. Eloi. His batman reported “We had been in the trenches just one day, and about quarter to midnight on the 16th he was sitting in the trench filling his pipe and talking, and he suddenly stood up, saying ‘I’m hit’. So we found out where he was hit and bandaged him up. They got him down to hospital with as little delay as possible and when the doctor saw him he said he didn’t think he would live long, so I stopped in a little room next to him all the day. He seemed to brighten up about midday, but he went off again, and died at 4.45 p.m. on the 17th … He was a good officer to his men… I have lost a good master: he was a thorough gentleman.” His commanding officer described him as “excellent, cheerful and full of life”.

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Click to see a larger copy on the University of Manchester’s LUNA image archive.

In 1913 Helenus drew the University at nighttime which the University Magazine printed upon his death and commented: “As an example of clever pen and ink work alone it is a thing to possess; but the evidence in it also of a sympathetic mastery of colour and the delicate feeling shown for the subject itself, will give it added value to members of the University. We do not remember ever to have seen a drawing which caught the character and meaning of the University quite so successfully. On many a study wall it will hang and will there keep green those memories of student days which are so precious in later life. What better or more fitting memorial could a man have, indeed, than this, that his work shall live after him and reflect the glory of his own death; and that it shall serve in the lives of those for whom he died as one of those rare and precious lights which illuminate for us the bright pages of the past?” The picture was also used in the handbook for a science conference held in Manchester in September 1915.

The University Archive holds 7 prints of other sketches by Helenus:

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Refelecting on Helenus’ death the University recalled that: “In his profession he had already done good work both in academic and practical spheres. He was a hard and conscientious worker, keenly appreciative of new ideas in design and organization, and would without a doubt have attained to a considerable position in engineering. “

He left effects worth £428. 2s. 6d. to his father who was involved in war work including a Red Cross Hospital in Worsley and trying to relieve Trench Foot.