Lieutenant Arnold W Gomme

Biography of Lieutenant Arnold W Gomme

Arnold Gomme was born in London on 16th November 1886. His father, Sir Laurence Gomme, was a very distinguished public servant and folklorist, a prolific writer whose bibliography included fifteen books and some forty articles in learned journals. His mother, Alice Merck, was also a notable folklorist in her own right, with an interest in the lore of children’s games and cookery. She was also an active suffragette. Arnold was the fifth of seven sons in a household which had high educational expectations.

He did not disappoint. After Merchant Taylors’ School he went up to Trinity College Cambridge, where he took a First in part 1 of the Classical Tripos in 1907 and a First in Part 2 with distinction in Archaeology. Unsurprisingly, Arnold chose an academic career. He began as an Assistant Lecturer in Classics at the University of Liverpool (1910-1911). In 1911 he accepted a lectureship in Greek and Roman History at the University of Glasgow, where he had a brilliant career and remained for the rest of his working life, interrupted only by two periods of war service. He became a Reader in Classics in 1945 and Professor of Greek in 1946, a position he held until retirement in 1957.

At the outset of the First World War he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant to the Interpreters’ Corps (October 1914). He served with the 8th Division of the British Expeditionary Force in France from November 1914 to November 1915. He was transferred to the Army Service Corps in France in June 1915, and then on to Intelligence at Thessalonika with the British Salonika Force from November 1915 to October 1916. Arnold was promoted Lieutenant in April 1916. He was subsequently invalided but returned to work for the Admiralty (March 1917-January 1918). Finally he was transferred to the General List for work at Athens and Constantinople until February 1919.

Arthur Gomme returned safely from the war. Sadly two of his brothers were killed. In 1917 he had married Phyllis Emmerson and they had a son. Arthur settled back to academia and a long list of publications and honours followed. His Commentary on Thucydides was considered one of the great works of scholarship of his generation. He was Sather Professor at the University of California from 1951-1952 and Visiting Fellow at the British School at Athens in 1955. In addition to being a Fellow of the British Academy he was President of the Hellenic Society and of the Scottish Classical Association. He accepted an Honorary doctorate from the University of Thessalonika in 1950 and in June 1958 the University of Glasgow honoured him with an LLD.

Professor Gomme retired to Buckinghamshire after a long and distinguished career. He was of the generation that was called to serve in not one war but two. In the First World War he had served in Intelligence. During the Second World War he left the ‘ivory tower’ to become a Temporary Principal Officer at the Treasury (1941-1945). His career at the University spanned forty-seven years. He died at Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire on 18th January 1959.


Lieutenant Arnold W Gomme
Rank: Lieutenant
Regiment: Royal Army Service Corps
Degree: BA
Awards: N/A
Comments: N/A
Note/Press Clipping: Ch 4/4/2/3/612
Photo ID: N/A


University of Glasgow Archive Services, (GUAS Ref: ACC 44/13) (Oration by Professor Norman Davis, 18th June 1958)

Biography: Additional biographical information contributed by David Gill

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