Lieutenant Henry Errol Beauchamp Platt was born on 16 May 1891 in London, Ontario, the only son of Arthur Thomas and Helen (Valentine) Platt. He had two sisters, Madeline and Catherine (Kae). Their father worked for London Mutual Fire Insurance Co.
Platt received his early education in London at Talbot Street Public School and Queen Victoria Public School, and attended Parkdale Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Ontario. He obtained his BA from the University of Toronto in 1913 and his MA in 1914. Platt played rugby and was an oarsman with the Argonaut Rowing Club. Admitted as a law student in 1913, Platt was articling under Robert Wherry of the firm Wherry & MacBeth in Toronto.
On the outbreak of the War, Platt took his commission in The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, and took an active part in organizing the University Company that trained with the QOR during the Autumn of 1914. Platt enlisted in the CEF in May of 1915 as an officer with the 35th Battalion and, in June of 1915, he went overseas with his close friend Lieutenant George Mackenzie, also a Law Society of Upper Canada student. In England, both Platt and Mackenzie were taken on strength with the 23rd Reserve Battalion in June of 1915 and, together, then joined the 3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion in October of 1915 in France. The 3rd Battalion was part of the First Contingent and went over to France in February of 1915. The Battalion fought with 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. Law Society of Upper Canada students Lieutenant Thomas Herbert Sneath, and Private Henry Kelleher also served in the 3rd Battalion.
At the time of his death Platt was Battalion Intelligence Officer and in command of the regimental scouts and snipers. An enemy attack was expected to be launched sometime in early in May of 1916. On the night of his death Platt, with two other men, was on a reconnaissance patrol near Hill 60 tracing an enemy mine, when he was shot in the head by a sniper. Every man in his Company volunteered to go out and bring him in. Ultimately, two of his men – Acting Company Sergeant Major Marvey and Sergeant Nottingham – carried him back unconscious to the Lines, but he died a few hours later at No. 5 Field Ambulance. He was about to turn 25.
Platt is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (V.A.33.) in Poperinghe, Belgium. He is buried close to his friend Lt MacKenzie, who fell only a few weeks after him. In a letter to Platt’s fiancée on 8 May 1916, MacKenzie wrote of Platt’s burial:
The afternoon sun shone brightly and a crisp breeze rustled through the new leaves – the day was full of spring and the grain of poetry in every man’s nature was stirred by thoughts too deep for tears….
Prior to enlisting with the CEF, Platt served for six years in the Militia with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.
Shea, E. Patrick; Gowling, Lafleur, Henderson (Firm); and Highlanders Foundation, “The Great War Law Student Memorial Project” (2014). Digital Texts. 2.
See also the “Platt on the Canadian Letters and Images Project“.