Lt Charles Haigh

Charles HaighCharles Roderick Haigh was the elder son of the late A. E. Haigh, M.A., Fellow and Tutor of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Born in 1888, Charles came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1897 and left in 1902. He showed early promise of classical and literary excellence in the summer of 1898, winning his Form prize and in the summer examination, beating all the boys in two forms above him. In 1899 he got his Form prize and a prize for drawing. In 1901 to 1902 he got the school prize for Mathematics, also Mrs Pickard’s prize for History and an extra prize for Classics, and the first ‘Harrow History’ prize. In 1902 he was fifteenth on the roll at Winchester and won an exhibition, his father distributing the Prizes at the Dragon School. At Winchester he was in the Cadet Pair 1905, in the Shooting VIII 1906-7, in the School IV 1907 and was a School Prefect 1905-7. He was at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, from 1907 to 1911 and rowed in his College VIII. He took Third Class Honour Moderations in 1909, his B.A. degree in 1910, and was one of the University nominated candidates for the Army. In 1911 he got his commission in the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. In 1914 he was gazetted Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion of his Regiment. He was in the last charge of the 22nd Brigade at Klein Zillebeke (afterwards called Hill 60) near Ypres on the night of the 5th-6th of November 1914, when the Brigade, only 700 strong, attacked and carried the German trenches, capturing three machine guns and it was in this attack that Roderick was killed.

C.P. writes in ‘The Pelican: “I can truly say that, during forty-five years of College life, I have met with very few who have given me such an impression of absolute truth and straightness, of unswerving loyalty to duty, of unfailing rightness not only of action, but of thought and feeling. His devotion to the memory of his Father and Mother, his solicitude for his sisters and brother, his affection and admiration for his friends, were unbounded. What he had in himself he found in others. His brother officers, his College chums, were always “simply splendid”. And some of us, who are sadly conscious of being only quite ordinary people, might have been surprised if we could have seen how his enthusiasm transformed us, and would have been moved, I hope, to try and become a little less unlike what he fancied us. Nor would it be right to omit, though it is a thing to be men­tioned with reverent reserve, the deep and genuine religion which was the basis of his whole character. When the war broke out, he was recalled with his battalion from South Africa, and ordered to the front. I know that he went, fully realizing the possibility that lay before him, but counting it the highest honour which can befall a soldier, to be allowed to give his life for his country and his King. For him, therefore, we must not grieve. Almost ever since I heard of his death, Shakespeare’s glorious words have been beating in my brain: 

“Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier’s debt.
Had he his hurts before?
Ay, on the front.
Why then, God’s soldier be he!
Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
I would not wish them to a fairer death!”

May his memory and example long continue to inspire those who knew him.”

Charles HaighHe was at every Old Boys’ dinner, and constantly visited us when at home. Roderick, in his will, left £500 to the Head Master of the Dragon School to supplement the exhibition fund or for any other purpose he (the Head Master)  may determine; £200 was expended on making the Rifle Range in the School field by the Cherwell and in funding a cup to be shot for, every year, at 25 and 50 yards range, and a portion of the remainder has been spent in educating the son of a brother officer who was also killed. The following is an extract from one of Roderick’s letters to his sister written in the trenches on the 1st October 1914: “We are all inspired with the justice of our cause, and by the fact that  we are fighting for the cause of honour and liberty throughout the world. The question at stake is whether liberty and justice or military despotism and tyranny are to prevail. I look forward to seeing you all again one day in England. But if I do not return, remember that it is the highest honour to which a man can attain (an honour which is open to officers and men alike), a higher honour than all the honour that can be showered on those who  survive – to die for  one’s country.”

Roderick would be glad to know that his younger brother, Duncan is now on the staff of their old School.

Extracts from a letter written to Miss Haigh by a private of the 2nd Queen’s:

“We had the order to attack some trenches at dawn. I saw our Adjutant cheering the men. We had only advanced a few yards when the enemy saw us and fired rapid fire at us, and then we charged through a terrible hail of bullets, and got the first line of trenches. Then Mr Haigh gave the order to advance, which we did, quick; and we took another trench, and then were told to get ready again and we took the last trench; but when we got into it we found it was a running stream. The Adjutant with myself and 14 others got into this ditch only to find that the Germans were only 10 to 15 yards away, strongly entrenched. We were firing point-blank range at each other and all the time the Adjutant was standing up in the trench, head and shoulders showing. I actually stopped firing to look at him and admire him. He was using his revolver with great effect, and kept saying to encourage us, “That’s another one I hit.” Oh! he was a cool man. The Lance-Corporal went back for reinforcements, but couldn’t return. We kept on firing for half an hour afterwards; then the brave Adjutant was shot through the temple. He died a noble death. I found myself alone, the only one of the fifteen alive, and I made a dash for it, and never got hit, though I had three bullets in my pack close to my neck. I got back safe and reported that the Adjutant had been killed.”

Charles is remembered on the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial.

Lt-Colonel Alan Haig-Brown

Alan Haig-BrownAlan Roderick Haig-Brown was the youngest son of the late Canon Haig-Brown, Master of Charterhouse and late Head Master of Charterhouse School, and of Mrs Haig-Brown. Born  in 1877, he came to the Dragon in 1888 as a boarder in School House. He left in 1890. At the Dragon he showed us that he would become famous as an athlete. In 1889 he tied with Charles Fisher in throwing the cricket ball and won the Long Jump. In 1890 he was in the XV, the XI, the Hockey XI and was best at the Association game. He also won the Senior Gymnasium Cup, was second in the open mile and won the single-stick competition in an encounter with Wilfrid Johnson. He was elected to the eighth Scholarship at Charterhouse in 1890 and (two years later) to a Senior Scholarship. He was the first Old Dragon to go to Cambridge, where he entered Pembroke College. He was in his College Cricket XI, and President of his College Athletics. He got honours in the Classical Tripos in 1900 and on taking his degree became an Assistant-Master at Lancing.

He married Violet Mary in 1907, whom he leaves with a son and two daughters.

He was a keen angler, game shot and rider. He was the author of Sporting Sonnets. Also of My Game Book and The  O.T .C. and the Great War and had contributed over a thousand poems and articles to The Times and other papers.

For nearly nine years he commanded the Lancing College O.T.C., which is believed to be the only corps in the country to have enlisted every member of the school on a voluntary basis before the war. His cadets won the Schools Rapid Firing at Eisley, the Cadets’ Trophy twice and the bronze medals in the Ashburton Shield competition twice. He assisted in the training of twelve battalions of the New Army before becoming second in command of a Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. In 1917 he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and awarded the D.S.O. He was twice wounded and fell in action at Bienvilliers on the 25th March 1918.

Alan Haig-BrownHis first Adjutant says: ‘Never was a C.O. so entirely loved by all who knew him; he made the Battalion what it was – keen and contented. By his personal example he instilled courage and efficiency in those with him.’

The Assistant Chaplain-General says: ‘From what I hear he gave his life in seeing that others got clean away, and died, as he had lived, for the men he commanded.’

His love of animals showed itself at a very early age; he was the originator of ‘pets’ at the Dragon School, and the goat which trotted about with him was the forerunner of many and various kinds of two-, four-, and even no-legged successors: ducks, hens, kittens, snakes, tortoises, rats, mice, parrots, macaws, cardinals, cut-throats, budgerigars, et hoc genus omne, may all claim to owe their appearance among us to Alan. Some of us may remember his introduction of a huge snake into the drawing-room of 28 Norham Road and the ensuing hysterics of a parent. I have a charming photograph of Alan with his goat, surrounded by Tankred Behrens and Jumma and Inglis and Kelly Purnell, all with their arms full of kittens and bunnies. His one school prize at the Dragon School on record (there may well have been others) is for an English Essay on ‘The Treatment of Animals’.

Alan is buried in Achiet-Le-Grand Communal Cemetery, south of Arras, France.

Captain David Westcott Brown

David Westcott BrownDavid, the son of Rev. G.G. Brown, St Mary’s Rectory, Bedford, was born in 1892. He came to the Dragon in 1905 as a boarder in School House and left in 1906. In 1906 he was in the XV and won a boxing competition. He spoke the prologue to Macbeth with his brother Hugh and gained Mrs Pickard’s prize for ‘Divinity’. He was elected to Third Foundation Scholarship at Marlborough in December 1906. He was head of his House, elected to Balliol College, Oxford and took Second Class in Moderations in 1914. He was reading for Greats when the war broke out.

He got his commission in August 1914 as 2nd Lieutenant, 6th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. Lieutenant in October 1914 and Captain in November 1915. He was killed on the 14th July 1916, at Bazentin le Petit on the Somme. The Leicesters took both Bazentin le Grand and Bazentin le Petit, with the woods in front. The 6th Battalion had over 600 casualties, including 8 officers killed and 19 wounded.

David Westcott BrownA moving letter written by David to his parents a couple of months before his death can be read here.
An excerpt reads:

‘I don’t want to die. I want to live and tell how I was in the War, how I was a fighter in it, not merely a server; but, if I do get killed, I want you and everyone to know that I knew of the possibility, that I was ready for it, and facing it, and not shirking and dodging the thought of it.’

A poem, written by David behind the line in France in 1916, entitled ‘Two Voices’ is found below:

The roads are all torn; but the sun’s in the sky,
The houses are waste; but the day is all fair,
There’s death in the air; and the larks are on high,
Though we die; it is spring-time, what do we care?

The gardens are rank; but the grass is still green,
The orchards are shot-torn; there’s bloom on the trees,
There’s war all around; yet is nature serene,
There’s danger; we’ll bear it, fanned by the breeze.

Some are wounded; they rest, and their glory is known,
Some are killed; there’s peace for them under the sod,
Men’s homes are in peril; their souls are their own,
The bullets are near us; not nearer than God.

David is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial in France.

2nd Lt Oswald Blencowe

Oswald BlencoweOswald was born in 1890, the youngest son of the Rev. Charles Blencowe of Banbury. He came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1902 for a brief while before going on to St. Edward’s School, Oxford, where he was Captain of the Cricket XI and Football XV for two years. He was also a Senior School Prefect and was a good musician and singer.

He became a Sergeant in the Royal Fusiliers and in 1916 got his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry. He was killed on the 7th October 1916 at Guedécourt, France, when temporarily attached to the Rifle Brigade.

Colonel A. C. Martin writes: ‘He was my platoon sergeant all last winter on the La Bassée front… I had great admiration for his qualities and imperturbable character. All the officers of ‘D’ Company loved my Sergeant Blencowe. I shall never forget the picture of him after an hour’s heavy bombardment of the piece of line his Platoon was holding. I went along to see what casualties and what damage had been caused and ran up against him looking the picture of robust health, unshaven (we had been in four days), and smoking an old pipe. He was so unexcited that he went on detailing a fatigue party or ration party without a word of comment although shells were still falling within 100 yards. He was always working loyally and most unselfishly for the comfort of the men and to help me.’

A brother officer writes: ‘I am not writing in any official sense., but to express my admiration and appreciation for Blencowe. In the line he was of immense value to us and in the most trying hours, when things were as bad as shells and foul weather could make them, he showed that rare kind of cheerfulness which does not offend by its bumptiousness, nor depress by its artificiality. His spirits and efficiency were amazing. He set a high value on music and poetry. He sang well, and was strongly heard in the dug-out – carols, songs, choruses, old English songs, and Gilbert and Sullivan. One day we had returned from the trenches and gone back into a line of dug-outs. He pulled out the books he always carried with him, Omar Khayyam, and two volumes of the hundred best poems, and three of us lay awake, much longer than we could afford, reading aloud to one another. I know he was killed instantaneously. He was hit by a shell in the head when in front of his men, about ten yards from the enemy’s line.’

A letter sent by Lt Blencowe from the front to his mother can be found here. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial in France.

 

2nd Lt Humphrey Arden R.G.A.

Humphrey ArdenHumphrey Warwick Arden was the only son of Rev. W.H.P. Arden, vicar of Whiteparish, Salisbury, and Mrs Arden and was born in 1892. He came to the Dragon in 1904, was a boarder in School House, and left in 1905. Though only at the Dragon School for two years he greatly distinguished himself both in work and play. He won prizes for a Diary of the Summer Holidays in 1905, for Recitation, and Mr Blockley’s prize for Church History. He sang at the School concerts and won his colours in the XV. He acted the part of King Charles of France in Henry V in 1905, and of Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet in January 1906. He was elected to a scholarship at Radley in December 1905, where he was a Prefect, won the prize for Greek Iambics, stroked the winning Senior IV and rowed for the School at Henley. In 1911 he was elected to an Exhibition at Queen’s College, Cambridge. He rowed twice in the University Trial Eights and stroked his boat to victory in the Wyfold Cup at Henley in 1912. He went temporarily as a master to Eagle House Preparatory School and was about to enter Cuddesdon to prepare for Holy Orders when the war broke out.

He got his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1915 and was killed on the 6th June 1917 during the battle of Messines Ridge, aged 25. He is buried at Bailleul.

Humphrey ArdenLetters from H.W. Arden to the Draconian

His Commanding Officer wrote: ‘I have recommended that he should be mentioned in despatches for attending to a wounded man under fire on 2nd June and for going across at the time he was wounded under heavy fire to restore the telephone communications. He was an admirable brave young man, a valuable officer, and his loss were a disaster were it not that the good that such noble lives do lives after them.’

Another officer wrote: ‘During the last few days your boy was really great. The Battery had been under heavy shell fire and we had a large number of casualties. Humphrey was amongst them and did magnificent work. He was so cool and tender with the men. When I came in I found him out in the open attending to a wounded officer. He was taken to Bailleul, but died of his wounds, which were severe. We have marked his grave with a cross. Of his work I may say he was most capable. I do not think any Observation Officer has done more solid and profitable work out here. Though he never won honours, he has deserved them time and again and I know he was recommended on three different occasions. But he never coveted them. He would say with a charming smile, “Don’t worry about me, I’m all right.”. No officer in the Battery commanded such respect. To the men he was a god, and they honestly worshipped him. Their universal comment was, “We have lost our best friend.”

On the second anniversary of Humphrey’s death, a memorial Calvary was dedicated to his memory by the Bishop of Stafford in Yoxall Churchyard, where his grandfather, Dr Lowe, was rector for many years, and where twelve generations of Ardens lie buried under the high altar. The inscription reads: ‘In thanksgiving to Almighty God for the beautiful life and glorious death of Humphrey Warwick Arden, B.A.’

Humphrey was one of those whose lives gave promise of a brilliant future. A Cambridge Honours man, a great athlete, a musician of no mean promise, one who exercised extraordinary influence on his fellow men, a lover of all the arts and of everything beautiful. A week before his death his fellow officers unanimously decided to recommend him for the Military Cross, which had been offered to the Battery.

Lt Thomas Addis

Thomas Addis

Thomas AddisThomas Henry Liddon Addis (known as Henry), the only son of Rev. W.E. Addis and Mrs Addis of Twickenham, was born in 1897. He came to the Dragon in 1906 and was a boarder in School House. Whilst at the Dragon, Henry was a quiet, reserved boy, with considerable sense of humour. He was not particularly keen on games, but had his own amusements and was an interested observer of all that went on. He was always popular with a good set of boys. He was a good essay writer and fond of history. He won a holiday work prize for Macaulay’s Essay on Clive. ‘His line of thought was always independent and original, and it is impossible to think of him without remembering the twinkle in his eye which brought him into many scrapes and saved him from their usual consequences’. He went on to Westminster in 1911.

In 1915, Henry got a commission as 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He was for some time in Ireland and was wounded in the Dublin riots in May 1916. He went to the front in France in July 1916 and was again wounded. When in Somerville Hospital he brought teams of wounded officers to play against the Dragon School XI.

He was made Lieutenant in 1917 and was due for special leave after winning the Military Cross, but remained at his post. He met his death on the battlefield at Sandbag Alley, Lempire, France, on the 21st March 1918, in his twenty-first year. He was in a dug-out with his Captain when a messenger came with a dispatch. Told where to take it, he came back almost at once with the news that the Germans were upon them. There was a fierce fight. After twenty minutes the Captain fell. Henry ran to his side, but was shot. He died, calling out to his men to keep on fighting.

His Commanding Officer wrote: ‘I had the highest opinion of your son, a good, hardworking, conscientious officer who always did his duty and was loved by his men.’

A Captain in the Defensive Fire wrote: ‘Today I heard from one of Henry’s brother officers of the extraordinarily gallant exploit which immediately preceded his death, and which brought him the Military Cross. We all loved him very tenderly. He had so little to regret in his life, and finished so nobly.’

Henry is at rest at Unicorn Cemetery, Vend’Huile, France.

Lt Robert Gibson

Robert GibsonRobert GibsonRobert was the fifth son of the Rev. T. W. Gibson, Rector of Cranham. He was born in 1895, came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1904 and left in 1908. In 1906 he received the first prize for Classics and French; in 1907 prize for Classics, and was sixteenth on the Winchester Scholarship roll. In 1908 he won the Christmas Holiday Latin Verse prize, the Moberly Essay, the Sidgwick English Litera­ture prize, and was first in every Classical examination, the Sergent French prize, A. E. Lynam’s Greek prize, won a Gold Medal, as Head of the School, and was first on the Winchester Scholarship roll. He got his Football XV colours in 1907. He acted Menteith in Macbeth in 1907, and Gonzalo in The Tempest in 1908.

In 1911, at Winchester, he got into Sixth Book, won a Warden and Fellows’ prize for Greek Iambics, and was College Prefect. In Old Dragon news from Winchester it is stated: ‘Gibson has taken up the art of debating, and has spoken “radical” so frequently (against his convictions) that he has almost come to believe his own statements.’ In 1912 he got College XV and became School Prefect and Vice-President of the Shakespeare Reading Society. He also won a prize for English verse, the King’s Gold Medal for Greek prose, the Winchester Warden and Fellows’ prize for Greek Prose and Latin Verse, a Goddard prize, and finally a Winchester Scholarship at New College, Oxford, in December 1912, matriculating in October 1913. He played cricket for Old Day-boys v. Old Boarders in 1914, and spoke on the ‘Present’ at the Senior Old Boys’ dinner.

In 1914 he joined as a private in the 28th County of London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles), and was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the South Staffordshire Regiment. In 1915 he became Captain, and was attached to the 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment; then he was killed on the 11th July 1916. His name was noted for conspicuous gallantry in the field on the 16th June 1915, and he was mentioned in Lord French’s dispatch on the 1st January 1916.

His Colonel writes of him:

‘I cannot tell you how much he was loved by his brother officers and men. He was a most splendid officer, quite the best subaltern I had.’

He was killed in the attack on Trones Wood, and was buried in Maricourt Cemetery.

The following tribute to him was written by a great friend of his at the Dragon School and afterwards at Winchester:

‘His intellectual gifts were of a very high order. A teacher who knew him at Winchester said that during an experience lasting over twenty years he had never come in contact with a mind so naturally gifted for classical scholarship as Robert Gibson’s. He possessed to the full the fine scholar’s living enthusiasm for everything beautiful, whether in nature or art, and was entirely without the reserve and exclusiveness that sometimes hedges round the student. It was not so much his learning that made so great an impression; it was his exquisite feeling for form and his faultless taste; and with these rare gifts went an abounding joy in living, and a penetrating sympathy for people of every class. This was a splendid combination, which bore fruit in an extraordinary charm of mind and manner. He revelled in each new phase of life as it opened before him. He was devoted to the Dragon School, and was always ready to come up for a game of footer or cricket or to see the play, even if it meant cutting a lecture. Winchester he loved with the almost mystic devotion of Lionel Johnson, everything about it, the surrounding country, the architecture, and the consecrated tradition of the place touched him finely, and his mind was constantly dwelling on it. When he came to Oxford he looked round for some kind of service into which he might throw himself and so discover something about a stratum of society widely separated from that which he knew. This he found in the boys’ club which had lately been started by New College in St. Ebbe’s; and if he was anything like as successful in winning the confidence of his men as he was with these boys, he must have been one of the most popular officers that ever entered the army. From the very first they took to him; his entrance into the club was always the signal for a general stampede towards him, and he would be assailed by some twenty questioners at once. He was the most loyal member the club possessed, and was always ready to attend, however pressed he might be for time. It was his intention, had he lived; to have spent some time at the Oxford and Bermondsey Mission in South London. He came home three times on leave, and each time his conversation reverted to the old Winchester and Oxford topics, and very occasionally he would speak, as if to himself and entirely without self-consciousness, of the great issues of thought and action which had occupied him so deeply during the last three years and from widely separated standpoints. He was devoted to his men, and would talk of the war with a light-hearted cheerfulness that must have made, and as we now know, did make him very welcome to the men in the trenches. The joy and laughter in him were infectious.’

The following is the beautiful tribute of his Head Master at Winchester, Mr. M. J. Rendall, in a letter to Robert’s father:

‘Your one consolation will be that he takes a very white soul to the other world, that he lived a keen, joyous, wholesome, and honourable life, very free from any sort of stain.’

Captain Edmund Gay

Edmund GayEdmund GayEdmund was the only son of the late Edward Gay, of Oxford. He was born in 1883, came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1891 and left in 1897. We remember Edmund as a tall, thin, pale, bright-smiling boy, not very fond of school work, but a tremendous slogger at cricket. His five fours, a three, and a two, made in a few minutes v. Cothill, are historic. He was also a very fine neat field. He acted Malcolm in Macbeth in 1897 and gained the School Divinity prize. He went to Mr. Hawkins’s House, Winchester, in September 1897, and thence to New College. He won the Lightweights at the Novices’ Boxing Competition at the O.U.B. & F.C. 1901.

From Oxford he went to Ceylon in 1903 to plant tea and returned home in 1908, as his health would not stand the climate, subsequently taking up farming in Norfolk. He was present at our Old Boys’ dinner in 1911, and took six wickets and made a large score for Old Day-boys v. Old Boarders. He was married at SS. Michael and All Angels, Summertown, Oxford, to Margaret Esson, the sister of two old boys.

In August 1914 he got a commission in the 5th Norfolk Regiment, and was promoted to Lieutenant and then to Captain in 1915. It was in Gallipoli that he met his end on the 12th August 1915.

Sir Ian Hamilton’s dispatch contains an account of the Anafarta fight for Teke Tepe:

‘In the course of the fight, creditable in all respects to the 163rd Brigade, there happened a very mysterious thing. The 1/5th Norfolks were on the right of the line and found themselves for a moment less strongly opposed than the rest of the Brigade. Against the yielding forces of the enemy Colonel Sir H. Beauchamp, a bold, self-confident officer, eagerly pressed forward, followed by the best part of the Battalion. The fighting grew hotter and the ground became more wooded and broken. At this stage many men were wounded or grew exhausted with thirst. These found their way back to camp during the night. But the Colonel with 10 officers and 25o men kept pushing on, driving the enemy before him. . . Nothing more was ever seen or heard of them. They charged into the forest, and were lost to sight or sound. Not one of them ever came back.’

Captain Edmund Gay was one of this ‘Lost Legion’. For a long time hopes were entertained that he might have survived, but discoveries since the Armistice seem to leave no doubt that the 1/5th Norfolks perished to a man in their gallant enterprise. A later official account states that what were almost certainly the remains of the officers and men of the 5th Norfolks were found scattered over an area of about a square mile, at an average distance of 800 yards in rear of the Turkish front line, and were lying most thick round the ruins of a small farm; 180 bodies were found, 122 of which were identified by shoulder-titles as belonging to the 5th Norfolks. The bodies of three officers of the Norfolks were found, but it was impossible to identify them. Private information supplies the fact that Edmund was last seen getting over a fence or wall into the farm with a sergeant and another man. The man who last saw him was wounded, and lay out all night beside the body of another 1/5th Norfolk soldier, and managed to crawl into our lines next day.

It is a tragic but noble story of a dear Old Dragon who carried his country’s arms right into the heart of the foe.

Edmund is remembered on the Helles Memorial in Turkey.

Lt-Commander Lance Freyberg

Lance FreybergLance FreybergLancelot was the younger son of Major and Mrs Herbert Freyberg, of 8 Grays Inn Square, London, and brother of Commander G. H. Freyberg, O.B.E., R.N. (Old Dragon).

He was born in 1885, came to the Dragon as a boarder in School House in 1893 and left in 1898. He was in the XV 1897, captain 1898. Represented the School v. Heddon Court in the Gymnasium Competition 1897, and won the boxing contest against a stronger, bigger, older opponent—’Freyberg kept his guard well up and was continually first to attack, hit straight and hard’. He represented us in Inter-School Sports at Reading in 100 yards and Hurdles, under 13. He won the boxing again in 1898, v. Heddon Court, and was in the Hockey XI and Cricket XI. He got prizes, for Map of Europe, 1894; for Illustrated Diary, 1896 and 1898; English Essay on A True Hero, 1897; School prizes for English verse, and for Recitation (from ‘The Passing of Arthur’), 1898, and for Geography. He was a famous actor—took the part of Lysander in A Midsummer Nights Dream, 1898, and Ariel in The Tempest, January 1899.

Lance joined the Navy class at Marlborough in January 1899, and got his Cadetship in H.M.S. Britannia in 1901. He came to our Christmas dance in 19o2; Senior Old Boys’ dinner in 1907 from H.M.S. Mercury. He was promoted to Midshipman in 1902, Sub-Lieutenant in 1905, Lieutenant in 1907, Lieutenant-Commander in 1915. He served in the Channel Squadron and Mediterranean Fleet in the battleships Mars, Caesar, Duncan, and Vengeance, after which he saw service in the Submarine Flotilla at Ports­mouth. He then entered the surveying branch, and was employed first in the North Sea and then on the China station; while in the East he passed as Interpreter in Japanese. On returning home he was appointed to H.M.S. Russell, in which he saw considerable service off the coast of Belgium and then in the Gallipoli campaign. On the evacuation he was employed in destroying by torpedoes the ships which could not be moved, and was men­tioned in the Admiral’s report for the way in which the work was carried out. H.M.S. Russell struck a mine on the 27th April 1916 and sank only four miles from the harbour at Malta. Freyberg and another Old Dragon, Major W. Esson, R.M.L.I., were off duty below at the time, and were both killed instantaneously by the explosion.

Lance FreybergA letter from Leslie Fletcher says:

‘Lance Freyberg has given his life in the Russell, and in the excitement of present events it is difficult to recapitulate what we in the Service have lost thereby. He was in many ways so unusual a type of naval officer. Keen on his profession and interested in every side of it, and all it stands for; and yet among messmates, out of touch as so many of us are with the outer world, he found time to grasp and enjoy the more human side of civilization. How many in our service have had plays staged in London? There were indeed very few subjects of interest on which he could not talk, and talk well. I think he must have been one of the most universally loved both in the ward room and on the lower deck of every ship he served in; his sense of humour, his cheeriness and his ability to see two sides to every question endeared him to all.

At Marlborough we were together in the Army class, and both went up for the Navy in 1900, he to pass, I to fail, and thereby to find a useful friend on coming in next term.

Last time we met was when his ship came into a certain northern base some nine months before his death, and he came to dine with Geoffrey and myself, and he and I walked up and down the bridge after dinner for a long time, and he talked of his love for Oxford and for the Skipper, and of all contemporaries there. His loyalty to the friends of his boyhood was surely one of the finest traits of his fine character; and among our many comrades whom we may yet avenge he will not be forgotten by those who knew him. R.I.P.’

Captain Robert French

Robert FrenchRobert FrenchRobert was the elder son of Mr John Mason French, of Boscombe. Born in 1893, he came to the Dragon 1904 as a day boy and left in 1907. He was in the Football XV 1906, won Colonel Childe’s prize for general improvement 1907, and was elected to a Scholarship at Blundell’s School, Tiverton. There he got his Field Colours, became Head of the London Matriculation Division of the School, and was a School Monitor. He matriculated at London University, and became a Law Student and passed the Law Society’s Intermediate Examination in 1914.

Being keenly interested in military matters, he obtained a commission in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in 1911. On the out­break of the war he was attached to the 2nd Battalion of his regiment, which he joined in France during the retreat from Mons, and served with them until September 1915, taking part in the battles of the Marne and the Aisne and other engagements. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in February 1915. He was severely wounded at Hulluch (battle of Loos) on the 25th September 1915, and died, in the Empire Hospital, Westminster, of his wounds on the 19th February 1916.

Robert is buried in the Bournemouth East Cemetery.

2nd Lt Walter Fletcher

Walter George FletcherWalter George FletcherWalter, known as George, was the second son of C. R. L. Fletcher and Mrs. Fletcher of Norham End. He was born in 1888, came to the Dragon 1896 as a day boy and left in 1900. He was a useful forward in our XV, and won prizes for High Jump in the School Sports. He was joint Head of the School with Robin Laffan (the two were great friends at the Dragon School, at Eton, and at Balliol). He won many prizes for classics and recitation, also the prize for an Illustrated Diary of the Summer Holidays, and a prize for painting in 1898. Perhaps he will be best remembered as an actor, playing Trinculo in The Tempest in 1899 and Touchstone in As You Like It in 1900. He also acted most convincingly as Lancelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice in January 1901.

He and Laffan were our first Eton scholars. George was seventeenth on the roll in 1900 and was called up in January 1901. At Eton he was Captain of the School in his last half, won the Latin Verse Prize, rowed in the School VIII in 1906, was 12th man in the College Wall XI, was a member of ‘Pop’, and was President of the College Debating Society. George went to Balliol in January 1907, rowed in the College VIII, and was a member of the Leander Club, also of the Canning Club in 1907. He became a Master at Shrewsbury in 1911 and a Master at Eton in 1913. His elder brother, a lieutenant in the Navy, had sailed in the Colossus on the 27th July 1914; his younger brother Regie was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant R.F.A. on the day of the declaration of war. George joined the Intelligence Corps on the 5th August, went through the retreat from Mons, was in the first battle of the Marne, and at the invitation of its Colonel exchanged into the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers during the battle of the Aisne. With this regiment he fought till his death on the 2oth March 1913 near Bois-Grenier, France, having twice been Mentioned in Dispatches.

Four days before his death he crawled out at night to the German lines, climbed a tree, and cut down from it a French flag which had been captured by the enemy. This flag was sent to his parents after his death. It was hung for a few days in the Dragon School Hall, and is now in the Eton College Ante-chapel.

An extract from a letter by his friend Robin Laffan to the Draconian:

‘The war has taken its cruel toll from a family universally beloved by all who know them. In August last the three sons of Mr. C. R. L. Fletcher flew to arms as a matter of course. Today Leslie, on board H.M.S. Colossus, is the only one still with us. In November came the tale of Regie’s splendid death; and now the blow is renewed with the tidings of George’s similar end. In the Litany we pray to be delivered from sudden death. But sudden death is an evil with those alone who are not prepared for the summons and we who know George Fletcher will be thankful that, if he had to die, death came quickly. He was wounded in the head in his trench and never recovered consciousness. His letters from the trenches abound in the fun which kept himself and his men cheery in the midst of their hardships. Knowing his enemies, he had an intense admiration and even affection for them. Like a true patriot, he delighted in the different culture of foreign nations. He had quite excep­tional gifts as a linguist, and two months at Tilly’s and six months as a schoolmaster in Schleswig gave George a considerable knowledge of Germany and the Germans. He used to relieve the tedium of the trenches with friendly sarcasm shouted at the opposite lines.’

An officer wrote:

‘He was the bravest man I ever saw. We had heard of his latest exploit, when he crawled at night between the flarelights to climb a tree in the German lines where they had hung a captured French flag. Now it waves in our trench. He ought to have been given the Victoria Cross and a Court-martial; but it was worth doing: nothing delighted and inspirited the Tommies more.’

George is buried in the Bois-Grenier Communal Cemetery in France.

2nd Lt Reginald Fletcher

Reginald FletcherReginald FletcherReginald was the third son of C. R. L. Fletcher, and younger brother of George. He was born in 1892, came to the Dragon in 1900, and left 1903, solely for reasons of health, to go to Mr. Pellatt’s at Durnford, Langton Matravers, Dorset, for his last preparatory year. He was with us for three years and a term and we are glad and proud to claim him as a Dragon.

He gained a scholarship at Eton in 1905. He entered Balliol in 1910. He was stroke of a Trial Eight at Oxford in three successive years, 1911, ’12, ’13, and for four years stroke of his College boats, both Eights and Fours. He rowed in the University VIII v. Cambridge in March 1914, and in the Leander Four at Henley in 1913. He was 2nd in command of the Artillery section of the Oxford University Officers Training Corps 1913-14. He was a keen Freemason. He got a Second Class in Hon. Mods. 1912, and had begun to read very keenly for Greats when he suddenly discovered that he must become a Gunner. He was gazetted with the first University Commission to the Eighth Brigade Royal Fleet Auxiliary on the day of the declaration of war, sailed for France on the 20th August, got to the front during the battle of the Aisne, served with the 116th Battery till the 21st October, and was serving with the 118th Battery Royal Fleet Auxiliary when he met his death on the 31st October 1914 at Gheluvelt, about six miles east of Ypres. It is perhaps worth noting that Regie was hit by a shell at the actual place and the actual moment (3pm) of the ‘turn of the tide’ in the First Battle of Ypres, and was buried on the field of battle that evening.

Regie was spared all the extremity of horror endured by so many in later months and years of the war; he saw only the glory and the glamour of it. The wild open-air life appealed to him beyond measure; his letters, full of tenderness as they were for those at home, were paeans of triumph on the splendid work of his Batteries, and he died in the full belief that victory was close at hand. On the march up from Cassel to Ypres he found time to give a ride on his gallant ‘Playboy’ (so he named his horse, after Christie Mehon) to a little Belgian girl and her tabby kitten.

The two brothers, utterly unlike in many ways, were yet one in their passionate affection for each other; each thought the other the greatest man he knew. George was essentially typical of the best breed of English-men, and a true child of the Roman Empire; Regie was never so happy as when he was in lands where the Eagles had never been carried, Iceland, Norway, the far west of Scotland or Ireland. He loved to sleep in the open air, and would sleep quite comfortably under several degrees of frost. As in face and colouring, so in his fierce independence of character, he seemed like some old Norse Rover; and it was this same independence that made one of his schoolmasters compare him to Achilles. In truth the oldest Greece was almost as much a source of inspiration to him as were the Sagas; extraordinarily well-read as he was, for a man of twenty-two, in the best modern literature, his highest delight was in Greek poetry; he knew enormous stretches of Homer and Aeschylus by heart, and would chant them, to the amazement of his crew, in the Balliol barge. And the Master of Balliol said of him that, however fiercely he might have been growling at the said crew in the afternoon, there was not a room in the College in which he would not have been the most welcome of all guests an hour or two afterwards.

His Major writes of him:

‘I have lost a very charming and cheery comrade and a very gallant and capable officer. From a military point of view his death is a great loss to the Battery and from a personal point of view it has been a great shock and grief to his brother officers.’

Reginald is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

2nd Lt Edmund Fisher

Edmund was the third of five sons of the late Herbert Fisher, and brother of the Right Honourable H. A. L. Fisher, of Commander W. W. Fisher, C.B., M.V.O., and of Charles Fisher who went down with H.M.S. Invincible in the battle of Jut­land. He was one of the first Dragon boarders in Mr Clarke’s House. Born in 1872, he came to the Dragon in 1882 and left in 1886. He went to Haileybury, where he was in the Football XV.

Edmund FisherEdmund FisherHe became an architect, and was trained in the office of Mr Basil Champneys. In 1915, being well over military age and ineligible for active service, he went out as an orderly to the Hopital Temporaire, Arc en Barrois, organized by Miss Bromley Martin for French soldiers, and was there through the summer, mainly helping in X-ray work. Later he succeeded in being accepted for active service, and having completed his training for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, crossed to France on the 5th June 1917.

He took part in fighting in the Ypres salient, and again in the battle of Cambrai. He died on Easter Sunday, 1918, through an illness contracted at the Front. He leaves a widow, the daughter of Mr. Douglas Freshfield, and five sons and two daughters. When a boy at the Dragon School, his witty and good-natured humour made him most popular. He was extremely fond of animals, and would creep up to a horse or cow or bull in a field, and could always get hold of the animal and stroke it.

A correspondent writes:

‘Edmund Fisher was an architect, little known to the general public, but appreciated, in the circle of those who follow the development of our English arts and crafts, for a distinctive and unmistakable gift which stamped itself on everything which came from his mint. He had a sure and sober taste and a singular talent for making his houses appear to grow out of the ground as natural parts of the surrounding scenery. For the most part his work lay in the sphere of domestic architecture, but the beautiful hall of Somerville College, Oxford, and the Protestant Church at Rome, are examples of felicity in other directions.’

He also designed our School Museum and carpenter’s shop—the Maurice Church Memorial. Architecture, however, was but one of his artistic interests—he was an admirable judge of painting and porcelain—and but a small part of a life largely and most happily spent in country pursuits. He was a good rider to hounds, and at one time master of a pack of beagles: indeed, no form of country sport was alien to him. In conversation he was pithy and humorous, in judgement always independent, in observation alert. The war has claimed no gentler or more spirited victim.

When Edmund first went out he found his Divisional Ammunition Column near Messines. The Division is known as the Irish Division, and many of the officers had been in France since Mons. He was generally employed to look after camps of mules and horses, and to send and often to accompany ammunition to the batteries. At one time he was made C.O. of a number of pack animals to help in an advance; but when the time came, it was found that wagons were more convenient. From Messines he was moved to Ypres to take part in the August attack, and from there he went to the neighbourhood of the Somme. When on the move he was generally sent on ahead to arrange billets for the convoy, 500 horses, and 500 men. He liked the French peasants and a great deal of the life in France, especially the planning and building of a winter camp for the Division with the remains of French villages left by Germans. He also was asked to design a Christmas card for the Division, and did an Ulsterman and Home-ruler sharing the Convention plum pudding. They had, however, to abandon the comfortable camp to take part in the Cambrai fighting, and after that were sent into new billets south of St. Quentin, where he was taken ill and sent home. He is buried in Brockenhurst Churchyard in Hampshire.

 

Lt Charles Fisher

Charles FisherCharles FisherCharles was a son of Herbert Fisher, who was tutor of King Edward (as Prince of Wales) at Oxford. His eldest brother, H. A. L. Fisher, was Minister of Education. He had four brothers at the Dragon School. He was born in 1877, came in 1888 as a boarder in Mrs Clarke’s House, and left in 1891. He was in the School Football XV and Cricket XI 1889 till 1891. He sang at the School Concert and had ‘one of the best voices’. He was first in the Westminster Challenge in 1889, was in the Westminster Cricket XI 1893 till 1896, captain the two last years. He was in the Football XI during the same time. In 1896 he got a First Westminster Studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, and the Slade Exhibition. He played cricket for the Harlequins and for Sussex. He got his Studentship at Christ Church in 1901, having obtained a First Class in Honour Moderations 1898, and Second in Greats 1900, in which year he also got his Cricket Blue. He was elected Senior Student at Christ Church 1903, and Almoner of Christ’s Hospital 1910; and was appointed Honour Moderator at Oxford 1912. He became a Governor of Westminster School, and edited Tacitus’ Annals and Histories for the Clarendon Press, and with Professor Pelham published a second edition of Furneaux’s Tacitus’ Annals. He was Junior Censor at Christ Church 1910, and he became a member of the Board of Faculty and of Literae Humaniores, Oxford, and Senior Censor. He was present at all our Old Dragon dinners from 1908 till 1913. He captained Old Boarders v. Old Day-boys Cricket (made 40 not out). Charles frequently used to stroll up to the School to encourage and criticize our games, to chaff Lindsay Wallace, to hit the Skipper on the back (he once told me that he and I had been classed together as the two worst-dressed men in Oxford—a great honour to me!). Charles FisherCharles FisherAnd he would laugh his glorious laugh and pull out a dirty pipe, and tell us some undergraduate story or some anecdote of his many travels; and always a shadow seemed to fall as he strolled away and the sun seemed to come out when he came back to us. It is strange to think (and yet perhaps not so very strange) that the great Oxford Don should after such short training be found to be one of the best range- and rate-finders in the whole fleet; and the unstinted praise given to him by the Commander of the Invincible on that great day of the Jutland fight shows that pre-eminence in classical studies by no means prevents a man like Charles Fisher from playing a great practical part in a very different role when called upon to do so.

In 1914 he became Orderly and Interpreter with Motor Ambulance No. 4 in the British Expeditionary Force. In 1915 he became Adjutant, and was mentioned in dispatches. He then was transferred to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve with a lieutenancy and appointed to H.M.S. Invincible. He was killed in action at the battle of Jutland on the 31st May 1916. He is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Commander Dannreuther, the sole survivor, writes:

‘We hit the Derillinger with our first salvo, and continued to hit her entirely owing to the perfect rate Charles gave us. Everything was going splendidly at the time, and it was entirely due to Charles’ cool head and excellent judgment that our firing was so effective. I saw him only a few minutes before the end—a smile on his face and his eyes sparkling. He was by my side and in the highest spirits, when there was a great explosion and shock, and when I recovered con­sciousness I found myself in the water. Ship and crew had disappeared.’

Charles FisherA writer to the Morning Post says:

‘Charles Fisher towered a very prince among his fellows. He was of huge stature and splendid in bearing. The formidable shoulders, the active hands, the swinging gait, the characteristic toss of the foot, above all the noble face and head, and the mobile piercing eye made his an unforgettable figure. He loved games and the men who played them, and cricket and cricketers above the rest. A ‘Blue’ in 1900, he also played occasionally for Sussex, his native county. He was the life of many a team on tour and of innumerable matches, never happier or more likely to win than in an uphill fight, for, besides strength and skill, he brought a peculiar personal power to the game, so that he could stampede a losing side into victory, and he was a great cricketer partly because he was a great man. His special study was Tacitus, on whom he did much valuable work as editor for the Oxford Press. While he used the Germans, and valued their exactitude and detail, his scholarship, always of the English type, sought out instinctively those things which reflect and make for humanity. He was widely read in Modern and Mediaeval literatures, English, French and Italian, and he knew much of France and more of Italy from Long Vacation tramps. (He knew the Apennines from end to end, walking with his great friend Lionel Smith and visiting with his companionship the little-known valleys, villages, and castle-crowned rocks of those lordly mountains.) He loved the great painters, and pursued them through most European countries, and after Oxford, Florence was his choice. He had the imaginative insight to make his way into very diverse natures, and a heart big enough for all of them. Joyous friendships, many, various, and intimate, were his. His likings were strong, his admiration generous, his hate and scorn severe. As Censor of Christ Church he began to come into his kingdom. Seldom has sway been so easily won and kept, or so complete. His authority was based much more on an extraordinary personality than on the powers of his office, though these were great. He was an epitome of the qualities which Englishmen prize most, and a pattern of English training, and with qualities which were distinguished, he was modest, unselfish, and simple. He spent an heroic year as a private in the R.A.M.C., in charge of a fleet of motors at the front. Mentioned in dispatches and enshrined in many memories, he spent a second year as Lieutenant in the Invincible. On May 31 he was in the conning-tower with the brother officer who survived, cool, active, happy, his eyes sparkling, and so fighting died.’

The following is a poem which appeared in The Times of the 14th August:

THE CHIVALRY OF THE SEA
(Dedicated to the memory of Charles Fisher, late Student of Christ Church, Oxford)

Over the warring waters, beneath the wandering skies,
The heart of Britain roameth, the Chivalry of the sea,
Where Spring never bringeth a flower, nor bird singeth in a tree;
Far, afar, 0 beloved, beyond the sight of our eyes,
Over the warring waters, beneath the stormy skies.

Staunch and valiant-hearted, to whom our toil were play,
Ye man, with armour’d patience, the bulwarks night and day,
Or on your iron coursers plough shuddering through the Bay,
Or neath the deluge drive the skirmishing sharks of war:
Venturous boys who leapt on the pinnace and row’d from shore,
A mother’s tear in the eye, a swift farewell to say,
And a great glory at heart that none can take away.

Seldom is your home-coming; for aye your pennon flies
In unrecorded exploits on the tumultuous wave;
Till, in the storm of battle, fast-thundering upon the foe,
Ye add your kindred names to the heroes of long ago,
And mid the blasting wrack, in the glad sudden death of the brave,
Ye are gone to return no more. Idly our tears arise;
Too proud for praise as ye lie in your unvisited grave,
The wide-warring water, under the starry skies.

ROBERT BRIDGES June 1916.

2nd Lt George Falkiner

George FalkinerGeorge FalkinerGeorge was the second son of the late H. B. Falkiner, Dublin. Born in 1897, he came to the Dragon in January 1911 as a boarder in School House and left in 1912. He was in the 1st Football XV, ‘a clever runner; seldom fails to draw his man before passing, kicks well and can tackle.’ He helped to win one of our few victories v. R.N.C., Osborne. 1st Hockey XI, 1912, ‘very good.’ He acted as Caesar in Julius Caesar, 1912, and also, with his friend Frere, got the first prize for gardening. He won the School Drawing Prize the same year. He was elected to a scholarship at Blundell’s School, and got his Football XV colours there in 1914.

He entered Sandhurst in February 1916, with a prize cadetship, and was commissioned in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in October 1916. He was serving at the Front since December 1916, and was commended for gallantry in a raid on the 27th May, when he had a narrow escape. He performed a heroic action in carrying a wounded man for 300 yards over No Man’s Land. For this he received the honour of a parchment—a thing peculiar to the Irish Brigade.

His C.O. writes:

‘He was one of the best young officers I have ever known. He was loved by everybody in the Regiment, and I cannot say how we all miss him. He was killed at Fregenberg, near Ypres, on Aug. 16, 1917, while leading his platoon to support the troops in front. He led his men forward in a very gallant manner, after his Commander had been badly wounded.’

He was only with us at the Dragon School a short time, but his cheery nature and the merry smile that was never missing from his handsome face won the affection of all of us.

He is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

Major William Esson

William EssonWilliam EssonWilliam was the only surviving son of the late Professor W. Esson, F.R.S., Savilian Professor of Geometry, Oxford. He was born in 1873, came to the Dragon as a Day boy in 1881 and left for Rugby in 1888. He then went on to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, in 1891, and received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in September 1893. Lieutenant R.M.L.I. Marine Barracks, Chatham, 1895. He was assistant Instructor of Musketry, Portsmouth Division.

He married Mrs. M. L. Fowler in 1913. In 1914 he was appointed to H.M.S. Russell, made Captain in 191o and Major in 1911. He served as a staff officer from October 1910 to August 1913. The Russell was struck by a mine on the 27th April 1916.

Admiral S. R. Fremantle writes, from Royal Naval Hospital, Malta, on the 11th May:

‘His cabin was almost immediately over where the mine struck us. We were hit, only four miles from the entrance to Malta Harbour. At that time all the officers, except those actually on duty, were in their cabins, and it is for that reason that we lost such a very large proportion of officers. Esson was a most valuable officer, in whom I had the utmost confidence, and of great assistance to me. He was respected and liked by both his seniors and juniors. It is probably due to the good order and discipline which he had instilled into his detach­ment that nine only of them were lost.’

A brass memorial has been placed in the Royal Naval Barracks Church, Chatham, with the names of all officers (including Lance Freyberg) and men lost. William is also remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Flight Sub-Lt Cyril Emmett

Cyril EmmettCyril EmmettCyril Emmett was the only son of Dr. Emmett, of Portsmouth. He was born in 1898, came to the Dragon in 1910 as a boarder in School House and left in 1912.

Cyril was a merry and popular Dragon. He was in the School XI, and only just missed getting his XV colours. In 1912 he won a prize for a capital Illustrated Diary of the Holidays. At Repton (Mr. Woodward’s House) he got house-caps for cricket and football, and played the big drum in the School Band.

In 1917 he joined the Royal Navy Air Service and was trained at Crystal Palace and afterwards at Vendome. Here, after a certain number of flights, he was attached to the Squadron with which he met his end as Flight Sub-Lieutenant. He was only 19 when he was killed whilst flying on the 15th March 1918, and was buried next day in the Town Cemetery, Dunkirk.

The Squadron-Commander writes:

‘He was always so full of life and pluck that it was a joy to be with him, and the example he set will stimulate all who knew him. He joined on Jan. 17th and he proved himself to be a very capable officer and good pilot.’

2nd Lt Leslie Eastwood

Leslie EastwoodLeslie was the son of T. W. Eastwood of Hoylake, Cheshire. He was a boy at King William’s College, Isle of Man, and Worcester College, Oxford. He came to the Dragon School as Master in 1907. He took Form IV, and was always most enthusiastic and keen on coaching the boys in their games. He attended all the Old Dragon dinners, and was stage manager of The Pirates of Penzance, 1914. He played football regularly for the Oxfordshire Nomads and he took his M.A. in 1913. He cruised with the Skipper on Blue Dragon II to the Orkney Islands in April 1910. In Easter 1912, he sailed with the Skipper, Tom Higginson, Hugh White, and Ivor Day in Blue Dragon II, from Trondhjem to Sandnaesjoen; and again in the summer of the same year 1912, from Hammerfest to the North Cape, and back to Skjaero. In 1914 he sailed his last voyage in the Blue Dragon, from Marstrand in Sweden to Christiania, whence he hastened, at the news of the war, to return to England via Bergen and Newcastle, and immediately joined up. He got his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.

One of his colleagues writes: ‘Much of the success of the boys in the upper part of the school was due to the grounding they received in his form, and he has been and will be as much missed by his colleagues as by the boys whose affection he won spontaneously. He leaves a gap which we shall find it very hard to fill, as he knew what was wanted and what to expect from a boy. He was no respecter of persons, and consequently his advice was generally sought by those who knew, and was respected by a still wider circle.’

He was wounded in the Dardanelles, and died in hospital at Alexandria on the 19th September 1915, having suffered from dysentery as well as from his wounds. He is buried at the Alexandria Military and War Memorial Cemetery.

The Skipper writes: ‘Leslie Eastwood had been with us since 1907, and had become a first-rate schoolmaster. His form was noted for its “thoroughness”. Strict without being severe, he won the respect and love of his boys, and they would at any time do anything for him: it was very seldom indeed that he had to “send in” a boy to me, and yet he had his form always under control. At games he was most keen and successful in his coaching, and showed a manly and loyal spirit that was most stimu­lating. He came as a young graduate fresh from College, and very soon cured himself of those mistakes which every young schoolmaster must make. As a comrade to me on the Blue Dragon he was splendid, and it was greatly owing to his determination that we succeeded in reaching the North Cape.’

Sergeant Raymond Drew

Raymond DrewRaymond DrewRaymond, son of the late Frederic Drew, assistant master of Eton College, and of Mrs. Drew, was born in 1883, came to the Dragon as day boy in 1893, and left in 1897. Besides prizes for French and for Diary, he won Mr. Meade Falkner’s prize for Latin Prose in 1897, and was elected the same year to the second Classical Scholarship at Rossall. There he was in Upper VI and a school monitor. He went to Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1900, and rowed three years in the College VIII.

At the start of the war he was in a teak firm, the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation, but came back and joined the Royal Fusiliers, 22nd (Kensington) Battalion in 1914 as a private, but soon became a sergeant. He was killed in action on the Vimy Ridge on the night of the 23rd May 1916.

Lieutenant-Colonel Barker, O.C. Royal Fusiliers, writes:

‘He was a most gallant fellow and liked by everyone. His company captured the German trenches, and I cannot speak highly enough of his coolness and gallantry.’

Captain Oswald Dowson

Oswald DowsonOswald DowsonOswald was the elder son of H. M. Dowson, of Holiday House, Oxford, and of Mrs. Dowson (Rosina Filippi). He was born in 1896, came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1905 and left in 1910. He was a most promising artist, actor, and musician. He was also a splendid swimmer and diver, a clever boxer, and a good Rugby forward. In 1909 he got his XV colours, played cello solos in our concerts, and acted the part of the ‘Musician’ in Twelfth Night. In 1910 he acted ‘West­moreland’ in Henry IV, part I.

He went on to Rugby in January 1911 and represented Rugby as a diver and played cello solos at the Rugby School concerts.

When the war broke out he got a commission in the 4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment; 1915, Lieutenant; 1916, wounded at Richebourg; 1917, Captain; was reported missing on the 3rd May 1917, after the battle of Arras. For a long time hopes were entertained that he might have been a prisoner in Germany, but subsequent inquiries clearly prove that he was killed in the attack to the north of Oppy Wood.

Captain Green, of the 1st Royal Berks, writes on the 28th May 1917:

‘. . As you perhaps know, my Company, to which your son belonged, attacked on April 28th, and he got back safely. Then at dawn on May 3rd the remnants again attacked. The attack was successful in that we gained our objective, but no supplies were sent us, and we had to evacuate the captured trench, lie in shell holes close by till dark, and then get back. John was quite fit after we entered the Boche line, and was so when last seen a few minutes before our withdrawal. I have carefully questioned all the survivors, but from this time onwards nothing has been seen or heard of him. He was a great favourite with all of us, officers and men alike. My own loss as his Company Commander is very grave, as apart from his splendid soldierly qualities, he was such an excellent and refreshing companion.’

Oswald DowsonJohn was one of our most faithful and loving and beloved Old Boys. When home on leave he was always about, ready to take a form or a game, or to play to us. It cheered us up to see his fine face and gloriously radiant smile, and indeed few boys have been so much loved by his comrades and masters and all who had dealings with him.

His Housemaster at Rugby writes:

“Ingenui vultus Auer, ingenuique pudoris.” Sometimes the oldest and stalest quotation revives with a new vigour and meaning in the mind, and no one who knew John Dowson could fail to find a new and unexpected freshness in that hackneyed line. For the quality that most stood out in him was delightful ingenuousness, which sprang from a complete absence of vanity and self-consciousness and a readiness to respond to all that was friendly or beautiful or amazing in the world. His intellectual abilities were curiously uneven. He was back­ward at most of the work which is done at schools and he became the ‘doyen’ of the Lower Middles. It was always a toss up in his Latin exercises whether Caesar would mount his horse, or the horse mount Caesar, but when Shake­speare’s Caesar went out to his death on the Ides of March no one could be more keenly alive than John to the situation; for he was a born actor, and was never so much himself as when he was imitating somebody else. He was in short no reasoner, but an artist with a real love of beauty: and he showed it in his writing, for he could write with freshness and humour, as the pages of the Draconian can testify; in his music too, for he was a most promising cellist, and he sang as a boy with admirable taste. How far he would have gone as musician or sculptor no one can say: undoubtedly there was in him a touch of genius struggling all the time for expression, and with more and more success. As it is, he takes his place among the foremost of that glorious company of young and eager souls whose images are ever before us, with his clear steady eyes and a half smile on his lips, looking as though some fairy were whispering in his ear queer comments on our mortal world.’

H. C. B.

Lt Christopher Counsell

Christopher CounsellChristopher CounsellChristopher was the son of Dr Counsell, of Oxford and was born in 1889. He came to the Dragon in 1899 as a day boy and left in 1904. He represented day boys in the Gymnasium Competition, and won several swimming races, also a V Form prize in 19o2, and a prize for Diary 1904. He was elected to a Scholarship at Lancing College in 1904. He got into the Upper VI at Lancing and played for his house, and won a School Greek Prose prize in 1908. He went to Trinity College, Oxford, and got a First Class in the Honour Law Schools. In 1914 he entered a Public School Battalion as a private, Duke of Cambridge’s Own Middlesex Regiment. In 1915 he became 2nd Lieutenant in the Hants Regiment, and got his Lieutenancy in 1916. He was killed in action near to Beaumont Hamel on the 6th July 1916. He was engaged in placing some advanced outposts, but a machine gun opened fire and Chris was so severely wounded that he died on the way to the dressing-station. He was buried at Gezaincourt, a lovely little village not far from Doullens. It happened in our push for the Somme.

A wounded sergeant in Chris’s company was brought to the Oxford Hospital at the New Schools. He said that Lieutenant Counsell was always ready and eager to go out at night on any wild adventure towards the Hun lines, and he was evidently greatly impressed with his Lieutenant’s daring.

Lt Martin Collier

Martin CollierMartin CollierMartin was the second son of Dr Collier, Oxford, and was born in 1892. He came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1900 and left in 1904. He was in the Football XV in 19o2 and 1903 and in the Cricket XI in 1904. He boxed v. W. Sheepshanks in the Gymnasium Competition in 1903, also v. D. O’Sullivan in 1904. He won prizes for Mathematics, Diary, and the Modern Form Prize. He acted ‘Metellus Cimber’ in Julius Caesar in 1903, and ‘Laertes’ in Hamlet in 1904. In April 1904 he cruised on the south coast with the Skipper in the Enchantress, and was the first Dragon to enter the Navy through Osborne. At Osborne he was in the XV, won the middle-weight boxing, and was a cadet captain At Dartmouth he won the Head Master’s English Literature prize, also German, Historical, and English prizes. In 1910 he won the Navy and Marines’ middle-weight boxing, and the Officers’ heavy-weight boxing in 1914. He played for the Navy v. Army, 1910 till 1914, for the United Services and for the South in 1913 and 1914.

In 1909 he passed out tenth, and joined H.M.S. Cornwall, and afterwards H.M.S. Implacable as a Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Navy. He was present at the Senior Old Boys’ dinner in 1914, and played cricket for Old Day-boys v. Old Boarders. When the war broke out he was on H.M.S. Dolphin, and was promoted Lieutenant, R.N., to Submarine B 1. In 1916 he was in command of H.M.S. M.C. 13, and in 1917 in command of H.M. Submarine H 10. In January 1918 he received orders to take his submarine on dangerous secret service, and left a noble letter to be delivered in case he did not return. He never returned, and from data received afterwards it is known that he perished with his ship on the 19th January 1918.

His was a wonderful influence, and he leaves a very treasured memory behind him. Here is an extract from a letter from the Naval Chaplain at Yarmouth:

‘He was one of the very finest characters it has ever been my privilege to meet. He was a real, clean, upright Christian gentleman. He was a great help to me here, and the example he set of simple manly religion greatly impressed the officers and men, not only of his own crew but of the whole Depot. He always read the Lessons at our Parade Services when he was in harbour, and was a very regular communicant. As has just been said to me, “It is always the best we lose.” He was most sympathetic and under­standing, and we all loved him: his crew, whom I knew well, were devoted to him. I saw his coxswain’s wife yesterday, and she told me that she had tried to persuade her husband to report sick and miss this last trip, as he had a bad cold. But the coxswain said he couldn’t think of letting Mr. Collier go without him. This spirit animated the whole crew, and proves (as we who knew him always recognized) that he was a born leader of men. But he was more than that—he was a very perfect and courageous gentleman. He has fought a good fight, he has finished his course, he has kept the faith, and I know that, if of any one, then certainly of Martin Collier it can with the utmost confidence be asserted that henceforth there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness.’

Spencer Leeson writes:

Martin Collier‘Memories of Martin must be vivid and clear-cut in the minds of all his friends. Many will remember even how he used to arrive at school in the morning—hands in pockets, a battered old cap a little to the back of his head, passing jauntily through the gate leading on to the asphalt, and on frosty mornings rushing to the top of the slide to take his place in the queue. On the Rugger ground, of course, he was in his glory. The ordinary school matches never roused in him the stern ardour with which he entered upon a Day-boy and Boarder match. Although, as far as I can remember, he was never actually captain of the Day-boys, he was certainly their fiercest partisan, and it was at him in particular that the Boarders would aim their most effective abuse in the course of morning school. He always played a great game on these days, as I have particular reason to know, for he generally marked me out of touch. He would speak of these games afterwards with great enthusiasm when he was well on the way to his International cap, and of all the matches he played I do not believe he enjoyed any more than those at the School and afterwards for the Old Dragon side. One game particularly will be remembered—surely the greatest the Old Dragon’s ever played, when G. C. collected an Old Dragon side which Lindsay Wallace took down in December 1913 to meet the Osborne officers and staff. Martin led the pack in tremendous style, and our victory was largely due to his and Lindsay’s play. Whenever I met him afterwards, Martin would speak rapturously of that game, and declare that when the Old Dragon scrum got well together no side on earth could beat them. He will live as one of the traditions of Dragon School Rugger. He was a good runner and a splendid boxer.

But it would be a great mistake to think of Martin only as an athlete and a brilliant naval officer. He had a scholar’s love for history and literature, and very considerable skill as an essay writer. He carried his taste for literature with him into the service, and would relate afterwards how hard he found it to get time for reading. In one of the last letters I had from him, he told me how he was enjoying a volume of Plutarch, which he could read, he said, in his submarine, during his off-time, “not a hundred miles from the coast of Germany”. No Old Dragon has ever surpassed Martin, and few can have equalled him, in devotion to the Dragon School. It was always the first thing he spoke of when we met, and when he reached Oxford, he was off up there at once, before visiting any one else. The Skipper and the Staff, whom he counted among his closest friends; the general welfare of the School; the boys’ Rugger, which he would criticize with paternal gravity; the School services, at one of which he preached, taking for his subject the meaning of our motto, arduus ad solem; and in the last months of his life, the memorial to be erected by the School in honour of the dead—all these were very near to his heart, and often on his lips. His belief in the unique traditions of the School and its power over men’s characters was strong, and he would laughingly say to his friends that they would all of them have been rotters if it had not been for the Dragon School.His memory will be enshrined among us, as long as any are alive who knew him.’

Martin is remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

2nd Lt Arundel Clarke

Arundell ClarkeArundell ClarkeArundel Geoffrey Clarke was the younger son of Rev. A. E. Clarke, the first Headmaster of the Dragon School. He was born in 1883, came to the Dragon as a boarder in Mrs Clarke’s House in 189o and left in 1896. Geoffrey was a splendid all-round boy. He was in the Cricket XI and Football XV for two years. He had a beautiful voice and gained great reputation in the School concerts for singing and recitation. He won the School French Prize for three years, the School Prize for Classics, Latin Verse, and Mathematics, and Pro­fessor Wallace’s prize for Latin in his last year with us (1896). He finished as Head of the School and winner of the Gold Medal. In the same year he was elected to the third Scholarship at Winchester, where he was Prefect of Hall in 1901 and 19o2, and got into College XI under 16. He won a Scholarship at New College and got a Second Class in Honour Moderations, and a Third Class in Litt. Hum. After taking his degree he became Master at the Royal Naval College, Osborne. He took great interest in national education, which he studied during visits to Germany, especially as regards the teaching of ‘Civics’, upon which he published a Manual for Teachers early in 1914. He helped to organize Bethnal Green Boys’ Clubs, and always attended the Old Dragon dinners.

The last time I saw him was at Tonbridge in 1915. He spotted me in the Ford, and we had a pleasant lunch together and a long talk about old times and about the war.

In 1914 he attempted to enlist, but was rejected on medical grounds. He undertook a course of physical training, first for Home Service and shortly after for General Service in the Royal Fusiliers (Public Schools Brigade). He obtained promotion to non-commission rank, and later a commission in the Special Reserve 5th Rifle Brigade, and went to France in the Intelligence Corps, September 1915. He spent all his spare time working up his military subjects. In March 1916 he went back to Regimental duty, 1st Rifle Brigade, at his own request, to get a more thorough know­ledge of the work and requirements of the fighting troops. He was made Battalion Bombing Officer and was recommended and accepted for employ­ment on the General Staff.

He fell on the 1st July 1916, in the first Somme attack, north of Beaumont Hamel, where the attack was repulsed with heavy loss; he was one of the few to reach the German second line of wire, though twice wounded on the way.

A brother officer writes:

‘He led his bombers well on to his objective under a heavy fire before he fell, wounded, into a shell hole. One of our bombers dressed his wounds, and Geoffrey continued to throw bombs into the enemy trench till he was killed by a Boche bomb. We had to leave him there when we were ordered to retire.’

His Commanding Officer writes:

‘I had the privilege of knowing your brother very well indeed, and a more competent and energetic officer I never hope to meet. There was no officer who was more thoroughly liked and whose character commanded such general respect among his fellow officers and I am sure that none was loved by his men in quite the same way. I know that he fell, happy in the thought of his work well done, and himself prepared for anything.’

And another writes:

‘We thought the world of him out here.’

He is buried at A.I.F. Burial Ground, Flers.

Captain Charles Childe

Charles ChildeCharles ChildeCharles, son of Lieutenant-Colonel L. F. Childe and Mrs. Childe, Chadlington Road, Oxford, was born in 1895, came to the Dragon 1903 as a boarder in School House and left in 1909. Charles was one of the best boys we have ever had at drawing and painting. Every year he won prizes for Illustrated Diary of the summer holidays. He won Mr. Lynam’s prize for drawing in 1906, and the School drawing prize in 1908, also Dr. Lynam’s prize for the best landscape’ photograph. He was a good jumper, winning the Hurdles and High Jump, also the Obstacle Race in 1909. He was in the XV, as a forward, and was second in the Gymnasium Competition in 1909. He recited ‘Waterloo’ at the Concert in 1905, and Vitai Lampada in 1909, and acted as Fabian in Twelfth Night. He got a second Entrance Scholarship at Clifton in 1909. He got his House Cap and two medals for swimming and sports and was second in the Open High Jump.

He was reading medicine at Pembroke College, Cambridge, when the war broke out. He got his commission as 2nd Lieu­tenant in the 8th Gloucestershire Regiment.  He was killed at Merville on the 21st March 1916 when he was Captain in command of a Lewis Gun Detachment. He is buried at Merville Communal Cemetery.

 

Rifleman Philip Chapman

Philip ChapmanPhilip ChapmanPhilip was the eldest son of Dr Chapman, of Beachwood, Hereford, and was born in 1893. He came to the Dragon in 1903, first as a day boy and then as a boarder in School House. He left in 1907. He was a quiet, serious, and affectionate boy who was devoted to music and, in spare moments, was always to be found at the piano. He was good at drawing, and gained prizes for illustrated diaries of the summer holidays. He got his XV colours for rugby  in 1906 and won prizes in our 1907 sports day for bicycle and half-mile races. He went on to Clifton and was studying music with the idea of being a College organist when the war broke out. Mr. Peppin considered him a most promising pupil.

He tried to join the ‘Artists’, but was rejected on account of his short sight, but he got glasses and became an efficient marksman. He joined the 8th Battalion Hampshire Regiment and got into the ‘A’ Company in the firing line. He was severely wounded by a shell in the attack at Gallipoli on the 21st—24th August 1915 and as a result his right arm was amputated and he had a terrible wound in the back. He was taken to Malta on the 29th August and died on the 5th September 1915 at just 21 years old. He endured his suffering with the greatest patience and fortitude.

He was buried in La Pieta Cemetery.

2nd Lt William Campbell

William CampbellWilliam Percy Campbell was the second son of J. E. Campbell, F.R.S., Fellow and Tutor of Hertford College, Oxford. He was born in 1894, came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1903 and left in 1908. He was a boy of remarkable ability and character, a born leader. He was in the School XV in 1907, Hockey and Cricket XI’s, and Gymnasium team in 1908. He played the parts of ‘Lady Montague’ in Romeo and ‘Juliet in 1906, ‘First Murderer’ in Macbeth in 1907 and ‘Antonio’ in The Tempest in 1908. He was perhaps the most advanced mathematician we ever had in the School, and won the first Mathematical Entrance Scholarship at Clifton in 1908. At Clifton he was Head of his House (Rintoul’s), a School Prefect, and a member of the School XV. He was elected to the Senior Mathematical Scholarship at Hertford College, Oxford, 1912, and attended our Junior Old Boys’ dinner that year. He matriculated in October 1913 and was reading medicine. Though by all his instincts he was one who hated war, he volunteered for the Special Reserve as soon as the war broke out. Gazetted to the Wiltshire Regiment, he went to the front at the beginning of October, and was the second of my Old Boys to fall, near Ypres, on the 24th October 1914, at the age of 20.

William CampbellA friend and brother officer writes :

“It was quite in accord with Campbell’s character that his end should have come through deliberate self-sacrifice. When he heard that a brother officer was wounded on the road he asked me to go back with him. I tried to persuade him not to go, as it was certain death or capture, but he took no notice of me, and so we went back, but before we got within fifty yards of the wounded officer, Campbell was hit. It was absolutely necessary to leave him, and for some time hopes were entertained that he might have been a wounded prisoner in the hands of the enemy, but eventually that hope had to be given up.”

Percy was a rare compound of marked, almost defiant, intellectual and moral independence, of great personal charm, and of keen interest in his fellow men, coupled with complete indifference to popularity. Many letters testify to the extraordinary influence he exercised as Head of his House at Clifton. One who had been with him there spoke of him with the most affectionate admiration, of the way he had of drawing men to him from the very first, of his giving his rations to the men, of his going along the trenches at night singing and always cheerful, and of his binding up small wounds. A death like his would have been a fitting end to any life; but with him it was merely the sequel. I have often told you what I knew of him at Clifton. Nothing that any one could say would make the slightest difference to the appreciation of him by those who knew him at all. His work is there; and the people at Clifton and Oxford who have really come into contact with him will always, whether they recognize it or not, be better and stronger men. I told you of this in my own case long before he died, and now I find that often and often I am referring to his example for guidance and help in my own life.’

He is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

2nd Lt Alan Cam

Alan Noel CamAlan, always known as Tom Cam, was the youngest son of the Rev. W. H. Cam and was born in 1894. He came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1904 and left in 1906. He obtained an entrance scholarship at Dover College, and at both schools had a perfect record for steady work and honourable conduct. At the outbreak of war he was studying Electrical Engineering at the Central Technical College, where he had just completed his second year’s course. He was doing practical work with Dick, Kerr & Co., Preston, in August 1914, and wrote to his father: ‘I have been thinking things over, and it seems to me that I both ought and should like to be doing something. I should prefer, if you approve, to apply for a temporary commission.’ This he did not obtain; so he enlisted in the Engineering Company, organized by Mr. Winston Churchill, to be attached to the Royal Naval Division. In 1915 he went to the Dar­danelles and served at Cape Helles from May to November when he was invalided home. In December 1916 he was given a commission in the Royal Engineers and went to France on the 1st January 1917.

He was bugler to the Company and had to carry communications from the Headquarters near the cove to the advance lines where the Engineers were working every morning, returning at night. His horse was twice wounded, and he had to do the night journey on a bicycle without light over very rough ground under practically incessant fire. After several months in Haslar Naval Hospital, he joined the Depot Camp at Blandford, leaving in September 1916 to train for a commission in the Royal Engineers. He went out to France in January 1917 as Lieutenant in the 150th Field Company Royal Engineers, attached to the 36th (Ulster) Division. He went through the battle of Messines, being wounded for the first time just before the attack, but refused to report, lest he should miss it. In June he came home on leave for the last time. All of August he was fighting until he received his fatal wound on the 16th, having been wounded a second time two days previously.

Major Fordham, commander of his Company, wrote:

He was killed by machine gun fire whilst leading his section to the site of the work they were to do. The fire was very heavy indeed there, and by getting up to lead and encourage the men he met his death.’

It was on the Ypres-Menin road on the 16th August 1917. His Corporal and a Sapper went back soon afterwards under fire and recovered his revolver and wrist watch, which they sent home to his parents.

The Corporal wrote to his father:

Your son died facing the enemy, a British officer, at the head of his men. I told some of the boys of the section that I had heard from you and they asked me to tell you how much he was beloved by them and how they feel his loss.

Colonel Boyle, who commanded the Company for the first six months Tom was in France, wrote of him:

He was such a good boy, so keen on his job, so full of life and fun and always wanted to do the daring jobs, and did everything as though he thoroughly enjoyed himself. His men were so fond of him, and so was every one. It is always the boys like this that are caught. He was wounded near me one day, June 6th, and would not give his name or do anything for fear he would not be allowed to go into our big battle (Messines) the following day. He was a really stout-hearted, good lad, and a lovable one, and a loss to our Company and army. I left the Company early in July, and within six weeks three out of the four subalterns were killed and the fourth wounded. I was much interested to meet your other son (also an Old Dragon), and hope to take him some day to see some of the work your boy did in April and May by the sea.

He is remembered at the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

Cmdr John Bywater-Ward

John Bywater-WardJohn was the son of the late Dr. J. Bywater-Ward and was born in 1882. He came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1889 and left in 1895. He went for a short time to Stubbington before passing into the Britannia. He became Midshipman in 1898 and Lieutenant 1902, when he was appointed to the staff of H.M.S. Excellent. Later he was appointed to H.M.S. Canopus for gunnery duties, and became Senior Staff Lieutenant at the Gunnery School, Portsmouth. He married Winifred Lawford in 1907.

In 1914 he was Lieutenant-Commander of H.M.S. Ajax, becoming Commander in 1915. In 1917 he was on the Staff as Gunnery Commander at Whale Island, Portsmouth, where he made four inventions which were accepted by the Admiralty.

While serving in the North Sea he contracted consumption, from which he died on 13th March 1919.

 

Captain Henry Burton (Paddy)

Paddy BurtonPaddy BurtonHenry Patrick Claude Burton (Paddy) was the eldest son of Claude Burton and was born in 1893. He came to the Dragon in 1905 as a boarder in School House and left in 1907. Paddy was one of those boys who make life ceaselessly interesting to a schoolmaster. It may be said that he was a strange compound of liberal and conservative, but what charac­terized him most was his independence of judgement and his pluck. He got his football colours in 1907, acted as Friar John in Romeo and Juliet in 1906 and as First Murderer in Macbeth in 1907. He sang Robin Adair in the School Concert in March 1907 and was regarded as a new discovery (he had a good mellow voice and excellent articulation). He won the Sergent prize for French and the Sidgwick prize for English in 1907. He won a first Scholarship at Repton in 1907.

At Repton in 1907 Paddy was easily top of the Lower Fifth and won the ‘unbroken voices’ singing ‘Who is Sylvia? ‘. In 1911 he made School Pre­fect and Head of School. He won an Exhibition at Wadham College, Oxford, and a leaving Exhibition from Repton. He got his oar for five bumps in Tor-pids and rowed in his College VIII in 1913, and was Captain of his College in 1914.

He attended our Junior Old Dragon Dinner in 1912 and proposed the health of absent friends in a witty and amusing speech. He was at the end of his second year at Oxford when the war broke out, and was gazetted 2nd Lieu­tenant in the 4th (Special Reserve) Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment on the 14th August 1914. In May 1915 he was attached to the 1st (regular) Battalion of the same regiment and went to the front, where he fought till his death.

His Lieutenancy came in 1915 and the rank of Temporary Captain shortly before his death. He was to have been married during his next leave, but was killed in the capture of Longueval and Delville Wood, 27th July 1916. He was 23 years old. He is remembered at the Thiepval Memorial in France.

His Company Sergeant-Major says: “Throughout the opera­tions he showed wonderful courage and led us most gallantly in the attack. His last words were to me, requesting me to carry on with the task he had so nobly set out to do. He was loved by all the men under his command, who were very sorry to lose so brave a leader.”

Lt Raymond Burch

Raymond BurchRaymond BurchRaymond Sanderson Burch, the son of George James Burch, M.A., D.Sc. Oxon., F.R.S., was born in 1892. He came to the Dragon in 1899 as a day boy and left in 1906. He won holiday work prizes in 1902, 1904, 1905, and a School prize for Classics in 1906. Raymond was a rather delicate, quiet, self-dependent boy. Though his bent was always scientific, he was not without literary and artistic taste and capacity. He was elected to the first Scholarship at Felsted in 1906,  then, in 1911, to a Science Scholarship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and to a College Scholarship in 1913. In 1914 he was appointed to an Industrial Bursary, and showed promise of an extremely useful scientific career. He was married in 1916.

He joined the R.A.F. and was at first employed in the factory at Farnborough, but soon got his Lieutenancy.

His Colonel writes : “He was an excellent pilot, and perfectly forgetful of self in the execution of his duty. The Squadron has indeed lost one of her best sons, and his death leaves a gap which will be hard to fill. But more than this, he was, too, a very gallant gentleman, modest and unassuming, a loyal friend and a charming companion.”

He went off on the morning of the 28th June 1918, to assist the infantry in the attack they were making, but his machine was hit by a shell and crashed to the ground a total wreck. Both pilot and observer were killed. He was buried in the cemetery at Borre, a village near Hazebrouck.

Captain Geoffrey Buck

Geoffrey BuckGeoffrey was the eldest son of Dr. and Mrs. Buck of Harrow on the Hill. He was born in 1897, came to the Dragon in 1905 as a boarder and left in 1910. Geoffrey was an excellent all-round athlete. He was first in swimming (boys of his age) each year that he was at the Dragon. He got into the Soccer XI and Football XV in 1908—three years before he left, he was Captain of Cricket in 1910, he won the Carr White Cup for swimming and diving, and the Denis O’Sullivan Cup for Gymnastics, among many others. He was Captain of the School in 1910, and won the Sergent Athletic Cup, being first in almost all open events. He won prizes for Mathematics, for essays on ‘Lord Clive’ and ‘House of Lords’. He was a good pianist and fond of music.

He went to Culver’s Close (Mr. Bell’s House, Winchester), January 1911. He was described as ‘one of the best skaters in the school’. He won the bronze and silver N.S.A. medals when under 16, played for Commoners v. College at the Winchester game, and was in the 2nd School Soccer XI. In 1914 he made 150 runs in the two innings for Winchester v. Eton. He was also a School Prefect.

It has been returned to me that his every movement was graceful, and the smile which lighted up his handsome face whenever he came back to his old school was a reflection of the spirit within. He excelled in all games, boxing, football, cricket, diving, gymnastics, but he never allowed any game to become predominant in his life nor to interfere with his work. It was all done for the love of it. His two innings against Eton in the last match before the war at Winchester are historical.

Geoffrey BuckThe war came. It’s the only thing to do, ‘to go out and fight ‘, and out he went, probably the youngest officer in the army. He was gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant to the Royal Fusiliers in November 1914. To Malta first, and then in March 1915 into the trenches. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in the field. Later, in 1916, he joined the Royal Flying Corps and flying became an absolute passion. In 1917 he was pro­moted to Flight Commander in a Royal Air Force Squadron and in 1918 he commanded a flight in the Independent Air Force, and had five great Handley-Pages to see to by day, each with its own men and officers. At night he had four hours or so of flying over Germany to some big town and back—often in fearful storms. His worst journey was on the 25th August, when the flight started in clear weather, but met an awful storm of hail and thunder. All the machines turned back except his. He went through it somehow, dropped his bombs from only 500 feet up, and came back safely through the storm, though every one had given him up for lost. Both he and his observer were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (D.F.C.) for it.

Then on the night of the 2nd September the same thing happened; but when home again, right over the aerodrome, he crashed his plane into the high petrol tank building in the black darkness, and that was the end. He said once that very few people knew how hard it was to keep every nerve strained and the brain working its utmost for five hours on end. When he won the D.F.C. in 1917 the report said: ‘He has taken part in many offensive patrols and has led seventeen, frequently attacking hostile troops on the ground. He has also successfully attacked and destroyed hostile aircraft on several occasions, setting a fine example of dash and determination.’

An account of Geoffrey by his ‘House Master’ at Winchester can be read here.

Letters from Geoffrey can be read here and here.

He once told the Skipper that he was never so happy as when he was flying alone two miles high in his solo machine. There was no fear of death for him. ‘Life has been so topping’, he wrote from France in 1918, ‘that I don’t mind how short it is.’ And again, ‘One would be ashamed to be afraid to die when life has been such a good thing.’

He was a great reader, mostly of philosophy, psychology, history, and good novels (both modern and standard), and had keen artistic perception. In fact there was no good thing that he came across in his short life which he did not appreciate and enjoy. But more than all these things, the out­standing feature of his character was his intense love of home, and the loving care and interest he had for all the home folk. It was only by the great number of letters received from all sorts and con­ditions of people, at the news of his death, that his family fully realized how far his cheerful and loving kindness had spread.

Geoffrey is buried at Charmes Military Cemetery, Essegney, France. He was just 21 years old.

Lt Brian Bickmore R.N.

Brian BickmoreBrian BickmoreBrian Somerset Bickmore was born in 1892, the third of four brothers who came to the Dragon. He was the son of the late C.E. Bickmore, Mathematical Lecturer at New College, Oxford. He came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1900 and left in 1905. He was a keen-minded boy with a merry twinkle in his eye and a very firm mouth, loyal and affectionate. He was always full of life and greatly interested in his work. He got prizes in the School Sports for swimming and jumping, represented the Day boys vs. Borders in the Gymnasium Competition and won his boxing contest in 1904. He won the prize in the Modern Form in 1905. He passed into Osborne in 1905 and went to Dartmouth in 1907.

He became a Midshipman in the Royal Navy in 1909. When the war started he was Sub-Lieutenant in H.M.S. Monarch, 2nd Battle Squadron, Grand Fleet, and served the first year of the war in the North Sea. In 1915, he was appointed to H.M.S. Comet and served three years in the East Mediterranean Fleet. He was expected home on leave when another ship ran into the Comet on the 4th August 1918. His cabin was completely destroyed and nothing was seen of him afterwards.

His Captain wrote: ‘He was such an excellent fellow and a very fine officer. The ship service can ill afford to lose such a man. He would shortly have had a command of his own.’

The Comet was sunk by a torpedo three days after the collision, whilst trying to reach harbour. He was mentioned in dispatches for distinguished services during the war, in the London Gazette of 20th February 1919. His name is engraved on the Naval Memorial in Plymouth.

Lt St. John Backhouse R.F.C.

St John BackhouseSt John BackhouseSt. John (Jack) Backhouse was born in 1888 and spent a year in School House at the Dragon School in 1900. He was the third son of the late R. Salmon Backhouse Esq., of Leeds, and of Mrs Salmon Backhouse of London. He was a merry, sturdy youngster, keen on games. He went on to the Seafield Engineering College for a year and then to King’s College School, Wimbledon. In 1905 he was apprenticed to an Inventors’ Engineer in London. In 1909 he went out to Rosario and was on the Falleres-Central Argentine Railway. In 1912 he got a good appointment in Liebig’s Fabricia Colon Entre Rios as draughtsman.

He was the first of the British to sign the book at the British Legation in Buenos Aires to serve in the war. He came home at his own expense and recruited in the first Sportsman Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. He served as a private till June 1916, when he obtained his commission in the East Lancashire Regiment. He then joined the Army Cyclist Corps and went to Salonica. In 1917 he joined the R.F.C. at Cairo and got his ‘wings’.

After returning to Salonica he was killed with his observer in a two-seater on the 3rd April 1918. A leaflet dropped by a German aeroplane stated: ‘On the 3rd April at 3pm one of your two-seaters was brought down 3km west of Osman, near Livunovo, after a brave fight in the air. The Pilot, Lt Backhouse, was killed by a bullet through the head, the Observer, Lt Still, was killed by the fall. The burial was carried out with full military honours. Signed 1st June. The German Airmen.

Captain Walmisley wrote: ‘Lt Backhouse was doing an Army Reconnaissance about 60 miles beyond the lines and beyond the Rupel Pass, and was attacked by three hostile Scouts. One of these dived on the tail of Lt Backhouse’s machine and shot him through the neck. The machine fell from 8-10 000 feet. Your son had endeared himself to all who knew him in the squadron, and in him we lost one of the best and bravest pilots out here.’

Jack is buried in the Sofia War Cemetery.

Captain Frank Benham R.F.A.

Frank BenhamFrank BenhamFrank Benham was born in 1886, son of the late F.R. Benham, of Stafford, and Mrs Benham. He was a boarder in School House and at the Dragon from 1898 to 1900. He was a most amiable and popular boy.
He sang in the school concerts each year and played the Duke in As You Like It in 1900. He distinguished himself in sports, playing in the Football XV in 1898, 1899 and 1900, Hockey XI  and Cricket XI in 1900, but especially as a hurdler and also in the Inter-School Sports at Reading in 1900. He also took the 5th Form prize in 1899. He went on to Marlborough and was placed in the Senior Army Class in 1903.

He passed into Woolwich and became a Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.) in 1906, and joined the Southern Nigerian Regiment. In 1914 he was appointed to the 23rd Brigade R.F.A. in the First Expeditionary Force, made Captain, and went through the Mons retreat and the battle of Le Cateau. He was in command of his battery at Mametz Wood on the 5th August 1916 when he was severely wounded by the explosion of a German shell in his dug-out. He died, as a result of these wounds, on the 22nd August 1916 in Queen Alexandra’s Hospital, Millbank, London, aged 30. His mother received the Mons medal which was granted him.

Frank is buried at Castle Church (St Mary) Churchyard in Staffordshire.