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.