April 5th 1919

My brother Hum, in his role as Housemaster of School House, has prepared some remarks reflecting on the past term, for the next issue of the ‘Draconian’:

“The epidemics were not as formidable this term. The ‘flu’ was of a much milder type than the onslaught which we dodged last term, and it considerately spread its visitation over several weeks. We were lucky in getting excellent additional nurses, and in escaping complications in all cases.

It is almost ridiculous to treat German Measles seriously. In most cases there was no rise in temperature and the rash sometimes only popped out for a few hours. Our difficulty lay in dealing with boys normally ill, and infectious, but actually very full of life and mischief.

* * * * * *

On the last Sunday of term we anticipated what we hope may be a frequent delight next term, by a very enjoyable bike-ride and picnic to Begbroke, where the woods were explored and a rare plant was discovered by Mr. Haynes.

* * * * * * 

School services have been held each Sunday, sometimes at School and sometimes, during the ‘flu’, at the House. We hope and believe that our short services, with prayers, hymns and readings carefully selected, and rendered strikingly well by the boys themselves, followed by an address from a varied selection of preachers, each knowing the needs of boys, may engender an attitude towards worship different from that which has too frequently held among school boys. We hold that the religious life of a school – even a Preparatory School – should be the care of the boys and staff, lay as well as clerical.

It should claim interest least as much as cricket or football, and it should not be regarded as priggish to show such interest… We shall at all times be glad to welcome any Old Boy or friend who is willing to come and talk for 10-15 minutes to the boys at one of these services.

* * * * * * 

Mr W Bye BSc, at present Capt. Bye MC DSO, returns to us next term from military service. He will have a ‘small’ house (12 Bardwell Road) where he will be in charge of about a dozen boarders. There has been considerable demand for a ‘small’ house for boys just beginning their school career, and new boys will usually start with a term or two in this house.”

 

To this I may add that Noel Sergent, who entered the French Army as a poilu and won his commission in the Heavy Artillery, is joining the staff next term. He went right through the Gallipoli campaign, was torpedoed in the Mediterranean (a very narrow escape, only due to his wonderful powers of swimming) and fought through the last part of the war in Flanders.

His perfect French and good mathematics, besides his strong personality, should make him a valuable addition, and I hope a permanent one, to our staff.

We are most grateful to Old Dragons  Maurice Jacks, Pat Duff, Jack Richards and Oliver Sturt, who have been most useful in giving us temporary help over this past term and we are greatly indebted to them.

 

March 28th 1919

February 4th 1919 – Admiral Tyrwhitt joins us in a school photograph.

As we come to the end of term, we can look back on the pleasure of meeting up again in peacetime with many of our Old Boys. We were particularly honoured by the visit of Rear-Admiral Reginald Tyrwhitt (who took the surrender of the German submarines).

It has been an especial pleasure to receive visits from those Old Dragons who contributed letters and articles to the Draconian during the war years. What a rich tapestry they have woven for us:

Roger Mott (writing of his archeological find),  Robin Laffan (on the difficulty of being understood by the Serbs), Walter Moberly (who wrote so movingly on the death of Hugh Sidgwick), Leslie Grundy (one of the first British soldiers to enter Lille last year), Maurice Jacks (who used Shakespeare to defeat the censor), Treffry Thompson (dealing with shirkers on a medical board at Cowley), Jack Gamlen (critic at our Shakespeare plays), Donald Hardman (recent winner of the DFC), Pat Campbell (on his experiences at Ypres), Donald Innes (who gave us the Despatch Riders’ Prayer), Pat Duff (who wrote about the evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula), Tyrrell Brooks (who was so supportive of ‘Thomas Atkins’), and Geoffrey Rose (who recorded the battle in which Walter Moberly won his DSO).

How glad we were to see them all back at their old school after such years!

Many have told me that their deepest impression is the revelation of the supreme worth of a British Tommy. This seems to have formed a bond between classes which must in the end wipe out many class distinctions.

March 18th 1919

Commander John Bywater-Ward (RN)

Yesterday’s edition of the Times brought news of the death of Jack Bywater-Ward, at his home at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight, on March 14th.

During the War he served in the North Sea, where he contracted consumption. Continued ill health forced him into retirement last July.

Jack trained for the navy on HMS Britannia, becoming a Midshipman in 1898, aged 16. He subsequently served on HMS Canopus (1907-9) and was on the staff of HMS Excellent (Portsmouth Gunnery School) as Senior Staff Lieut.  From 1912-17 he served on HMS Ajax, and was awarded the Russian Order of St. Anne, 3rd class, “with swords” for distinguished service during the Battle of Jutland.

HMS Ajax’s forward guns.

In 1917 he was back at HMS Excellent as a Commander, instructing on the Long Gunnery Course Gunnery on Whale Island, Portsmouth, where he was also credited with four inventions that were accepted by the Admiralty.

Jack’s father died in 1898, but he is survived by his mother (who lives here in Oxford), his wife and eight-year-old daughter.

He will be buried on the Isle, at St Helen’s Churchyard, St Helens.

March 12th 1919

Sub-Lieut. Percy Trevelyan (RN)

It is now four months since the Armistice was signed and we assumed that those who had served their country so faithfully were to be spared. However, the influenza and associated illnesses are proving just as deadly.

Percy Trevelyan, who had been assigned to HMS Sable in December, died of bronchial pneumonia at his home on Marston Ferry Road in Oxford on March 10th, aged just 19.

He only spent a year at the OPS (1909-10), being ordered by his doctor to go to a school with a different climate, but we all grew very fond of him and his bright, happy disposition during the short time he was with us.

He entered the Navy by way of the Royal Naval Colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth.

At Jutland, Percy (then a 16 year old midshipman) was in the thick of the fighting, being on the battleship HMS Malaya, which sustained more casualties than any other battleship that day.

He then served in the Dover Patrol for about nine months on the patrol boat HMS P 50, when it was commanded by another Old Dragon, Lieut. Desmond Stride (RN).

Percy lost his mother in 1903 and his older brother Wilfred, who served with the Rifle Brigade, died at Ypres in May 1915 after barely a month at the Front.

His body is to be interred in the family plot alongside his mother at Wolvercote Cemetery.

 

March 2nd 1919

2nd Lieut. Charles Bowyer Highmore (MGC)

Our losses to the effects of war continue to mount. Acute pneumonia, following an attack of influenza, has claimed the life of Bokins Highmore. 

He had been so severely wounded in the stomach by a machine-gun at Monchy on June 28th 1917 that he was invalided from the service last year. He had only just bought a practice at Dorchester, where he died on February 26th.

At the OPS, Bokins was a most merry, lovable boy, full of the best sort of boyish mischief, with the kindest heart for his fellows and for all sorts of animals. He went on to Charterhouse in 1900 and thereafter he became a solicitor.

Bokins joined up in January 1916 as a Private in the Artists’ Rifles, before being commissioned into the MGC and going over to France in April 1917.

 

 

February 24th 1919

Over the past five years we have become used to hearing of the deaths of our old boys. Never, until now, have we lost a schoolboy. The news of the death of David Webb, who only left us last summer for Charterhouse, has cast a gloom over the school.

David was taken ill on February 11th with what seemed to be influenza and was taken to the School Sanatorium, where he was under the care of the School Medical Officer, Dr. CW Haig Brown (brother of an Old Dragon, the late Lieut.-Col. Alan Haig Brown). Within a few days it was clear that it was meningitis. The school employed Capt. Glover of the Lister Institute, but he was unable to save him.  David died in the School Sanatorium on February 22nd, aged 14 years.

David Webb

Eldest son of Mr & Mrs Arthur Webb of Elmcote, Kidbrook-grove, Blackheath.

David had already won golden opinions at Charterhouse, and his House-master there wrote that he would have probably been head boy in due course. He had a strong as well as a most lovable character, and we looked forward to a distinguished and useful career for him – but it was not to be.

‘The Song of the Mermaid,’ by him in the August ‘Draconian,’ showed that he had admirable facility in writing English poetry, and his winning a scholarship at Charterhouse without anything like special preparation showed his intellectual promise.

These few lines from his ‘Song of the Mermaid’ are particularly poignant.

A mermaid rose on a glistening wave,
And this was the song she sang:-
"Oh happily, happily, forth to her grave" - 
(And her voice most merrily rang) - 
"Shall the maiden ride, on the ebbing tide" :
(And the tears to her eyelids sprang).

He also wrote a capital account of the visit to the OPS of Archbishop Cosmo Lang last summer.

The funeral will be at Godalming New Cemetery at 2.30pm on February 26th. (Train leaves Waterloo at 12.05) and the boys are collecting money for a wreath to be sent from all of us at the OPS.

 

 

February 11th 1919

 

Yesterday’s edition of the Times listed numerous flying honours being conferred by the King. From this we have learnt that the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) has been awarded to Lieut. Donald Hardman (RAF).

Donald joined 19th Squadron at Baillieu, flying a Sopwith Dolphin, just in time for the German Spring Offensive of last year. In the final eight months of the war, Donald shot down nine enemy aircraft, which makes him the second OPS flying ‘ace’ – the other being Capt. Jim MacLean (RAF).

Two of Donald’s total were achieved on the flight for which he was cited for the DFC:

“A bold and courageous officer who has shown most praiseworthy devotion to duty, both in the March retreat and during the more recent operations. On 30th October, while escorting a bombing raid, he, with his flight, encountered some 40 enemy machines. In the combat that ensued he shot down two, and it was mainly due to his cool judgment and skill in leading that the flight inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy, destroying five machines and driving down another out of control. In all, this officer has seven hostile aircraft to his credit – destroyed or driven down out of control.”

Donald left the OPS in 1913 to attend Malvern College, at which he spent only three years before leaving to join the Artists’ Rifles in 1916. He transferred to the RFC in early 1917, but his young age prevented him being posted to France until the following year.

At the time of the Armistice, Donald was taken ill with flying sickness and was admitted into hospital in Boulogne before being transferred to a London hospital to complete his recovery.

We hope to see him back at the School before too long, fit and well.