July 22nd 1922

Prizegiving marks the end of another school year, the fourth since the end of the war. It was evidently much enjoyed by parents too, one of whom commented, “The prizes seemed as numerous and satisfying as ever. The constant applause indicated that they had reached the right persons. I am always impressed by the Draconian joy in the success of others, and by the vicarious delight of those who have won no prizes.”

One cup that is very special and prized above all others is the Officers’ Cup, presented in 1917 by a group of officers recovering from their wounds in Somerville College. They stipulated that it should be awarded, by the vote of the whole school, to the boy who had “the most gentlemanly bearing and best influence on other boys.” This year’s winner is Percival Mallalieu:

Along with two other young Dragons (John Anderson and Gabriel Carritt) Per received a mention in Hum’s speech to the parents:

“We have had fine fellows, fine scholars and fine athletes before: but never have we had, at the same time in the School, three boys who each combined in himself the fine fellow, fine scholar and athlete as they are combined in these three. It has been a wonderful privilege to masters and boys to have these three to lead the School.”

Three of Per’s cousins were casualties in the War: David Brown, Percy Campbell and Wallace Hardman. They would have been proud of his success.

Per leaves us this term – with a scholarship – for Cheltenham College. We will watch his future progress with much interest!

July 16th 1922

Leslie de Selincourt

News has reached us of Leslie’s death in Switzerland, aged 30, on July 14th.

During the war he served with the Hampshire Regiment, but in 1916 was attached to the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He was part of the army sent to relieve Kut which ended in failure. Leslie was wounded and was taken to recover in India, where he recovered but also caught malaria.

He stayed in the army through to October 1920, at which point he transferred as a Captain to the Territorial Reserves. Thereafter we rather lost touch with him. Given he died at Hotel Les Chamois in Leysin, a sanatorium, it seems likely he died of tuberculosis.

Leslie did not marry, but leaves a considerable family behind including his brother, Aubrey de Selincourt, who was shot down, we now know by German ace Werner Voss (his 31st victory), and spent the final year of the war in captivity. He is now teaching at Bembridge School on the Isle of Wight.

Before the war, their sister Dorothy married Mr A.A. Milne, an assistant editor of the ‘Punch’ magazine who had a novel (‘The Red House Mystery’) published earlier this year. They have a two-year old son, Christopher Robin Milne.

March 31st 1922

HECTOR LEGGETT

Born September 9th 1912. Died March 19th 1922.

“Hector was the only son of Eric, the Skipper’s Cabin Boy and one of the most loved of all ODs; who, with two of his brothers, lost his life in the war.

Hector came to Mr Stradling’s Junior House last September; a bright little fellow, showing much promise both in work and games. He had a moderately severe attack of influenza towards the end of the epidemic and was just about to return to school after recovery, when there appeared signs of kidney trouble, which very rapidly developed into acute nephritis. Hector was taken to the School House and later to the Acland Home, where he died on Sunday 19th March.

Skipper and Hum went to the funeral at Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

And so we are not to have the joy of watching and perhaps helping the son of our dear Old Boy, at his father’s old school.

There is to be a Hector Leggett bed at the Wingfield Children’s Hospital at Headington and it is hoped that the Dragons will help from time to time towards its upkeep. There could be no more deserving call for help of healthy boys and girls than the provision of happiness and skilled treatment for their crippled brothers and sisters.

We hear that Mrs Leggett is coming herself to work in the hospital.”

AE Lynam (‘Hum’). 

Yesterday’s edition of the ISLE OF WIGHT TIMES included this on its front page:

FUNERAL OF HECTOR LEGGETT

Much grief and sympathy have been expressed at the death in the 
flower of his youth of Eric Hector, the only dearly loved child 
of the late Major E.H.G.LEGGETT, of Stonepits Ryde, at the age 
of 9½ years. He passed away at Oxford where he was at school, 
from nephritis following influenza and the remains were brought 
to Ryde for interment, the funeral taking place Thursday 
afternoon when Mr. Chas LANGDON was entrusted with the 
arrangements. A service was held at All Saint’s, which was 
conducted by the Vicar (the Rev. H. LE FLEMMING) who preceded 
the cortege to the cemetery.

The mourners included Col. HOWE (grandfather) and other 
relatives and there were some nice floral tokens from the 
following: Uncle Cecil; Capt. & Mrs. LEGGETT with deepest 
sympathy; from his cousin Lillian WEST; In deepest sympathy 
from Sir Hugh & Lady DALY; Aunt Ethel...

Lieut.-Col. & Mrs. BUCKMAN; “Servants at Stonepits”; 
Mr. and Mrs. Fred BOGER, Mrs. H.D. GRANT; Mr. & Mrs. Chas MORT; 
Betty, Peter and John; C. ANNESLEY, Mr. & Mrs. Henry SANDFORD, 
Lily, Gar, Gay, Mr. J.H.D.M. CAMPBELL (St Johns Park); in 
fullest sympathy from Mr. & Mrs. W. STRADLING who will always 
remember the happy days Hector spent at their house at Oxford;  
Mr. and Mrs. LYNAM (Oxford); "With Skipper’s love”.

December 31st 1921

Captain JG Smyth VC MC

The past term’s edition of ‘The Draconian’ (due to be published shortly) includes this colour picture of a painting of Jack Smyth, the work of Old Dragon George Drinkwater, and done specially for our magazine.

George was at the OPS from 1889-94 and went on to Rugby School and then Wadham College, Oxford. When his friend from OPS days, Eric Macfadyen, enlisted as a trooper at the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars’ headquarters in New Inn Hall Street, he went off and did likewise. They were joined by four other Wadham men and a further two from other colleges and together formed half a troop in the 2nd Service Squadron (the 1st, formed the previous vacation, included OD Maurice Church, who was destined to become a war casualty).

After the Boer War George returned to his studies and the river: he was a noted rower, being in the Oxford eight in the University Boat Races of 1902 and 1903. Since 1906 he has been the rowing correspondent for the ‘Daily Telegraph’.

In the Great War, George gained a commission in the Royal Artillery and went with his battery to France. He was promoted to Staff Captain in 1916 and was then sent to Egypt and Palestine, where his services were recognised by his retention as Brigade Major for a year after the Armistice. He was twice mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the Military Cross in 1918.

In civilian life he has followed the architectural profession of his father, Harry Drinkwater, and has also met with success as a portrait painter, having a picture hung in the Royal Academy in 1913.

We were delighted to see George back for last year’s reunion dinner and he is seen here alongside his old schoolboy chum, Frank Sidgwick:

Frank Sidgwick and George Drinkwater

 

October 14th 1921

35 years ago today the founding headmaster Arthur Edward Clarke succumbed to pneumonia, aged only 33. Much has happened in the years since then, but the school owes a lot to the work he did in the first ten years of its life. Today is a good moment to share this appreciation of his life, which was published in the Oxford Magazine on October 20th, 1886.

The Rev. Arthur Clarke

“Resident Oxford has seldom been so sadly shocked as it was on Friday [15th] to hear of the sudden and untimely death of the Rev. AE Clarke, Headmaster of the well-known school in the Crick Road. It is not at all too much to say that his death is a public loss to Oxford, and even to the educational world, to which his school was beginning to be a real model and example.

Mr Clarke was one of the innumerable pupils of Mr Walker, at Manchester Grammar School, who obtained open scholarships. He won a Demyship at Magdalen, and came up to Oxford in 1872. He took a Second Class in Classical Moderations in 1873, and a Second Class in Literae Humaniores in 1876.

As an Undergraduate he was fairly well known, and liked and esteemed by all who knew him; Mr Walker in particular, his Headmaster, had always a particularly high opinion of him; and when the Oxford parents, headed by the Dean of Christ Church, were anxious to find some one to conduct a school for their sons, strongly recommended Mr Clarke as the very man for the task.

That recommendation has now been more than justified in the record of what has been popularly known as the ‘Dragons’ School. Mr Clarke’s tact, judgement, and, above all, untiring diligence and modest quiet devotion to his work, began almost from the first to bear fruit in the success of his pupils, and still more in the tone and character he impressed on them.

The outward success of this school culminated this summer when five of his boys were elected at once upon the Foundation Roll of Winchester College. But Mr Clarke, though he could thus beat the crammers, if indeed that name ought to be used at all, on their own ground,  was certainly no mere crammer, but a man of wide sympathy and high principle, who endeavoured to make his school good first, and successful afterwards. And so it was the fact that there was, when he died the other day, probably no better preparatory school in Oxford.

In 1883 Mr Clarke became ordained, and to the day of his death added to his school duties the work of a curate at St. Peter’s-in-the-East, and he had recently, we believe, assisted in the mission held there.

‘Il n’y a pas d’homme nécessaire’, says the cynical French proverb. Mr Clarke, so modest, so unassuming was he, would have been the very last to think he could be the man to belie this maxim. Yet so it is, and the highest tribute to his work is the fact that seldom has there been such a sense of practical personal loss in Oxford, and that in ever so many homes his boys are lamenting,  with a true grief, the loss of a real and loved friend, while their parents ask with a further-sighted anxiety and despair, whether any one can be found to do such justice to their children, to make so much of the all-important years of their early life.”

1881. The Headmaster, Mr AE Clarke, and the boys of the OPS

In this, the earliest surviving school photograph, are three boys who have appeared on these pages in recent times:

Arthur Percival –   an early casualty of The Great War in November 1914.

Reginald Tyrwhitt – who is now Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt KCB DSO and famously took the surrender of the German submarine fleet at the end of the War.

Edmund Deane – who came over with the Canadian Army only to be killed on the Western Front in June 1916.

September 27th 1921

The ‘Quest’ leaving Plymouth Sound

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s latest expedition to Antarctica on the ‘Quest’ has received much publicity, including an article in ‘The Times’ yesterday. When the ‘Quest’ finally left Plymouth on Saturday 24th September, it was a Dragon family who were amongst the last to see Sir Ernest as he departed our shores.

Commander GH Freyberg – whose accounts of the Battle of Jutland and the surrender of the German High Seas fleet in 1918 so enriched the pages of ‘The Draconian’ – is now the King’s Harbour Master at Plymouth and we are grateful to Geoffrey for this account of the arrival of ‘Quest’ at the harbour on Friday and subsequent events.

“Shortly after Captain Worsley had berthed his ship, Sir Ernest Shackleton came aboard, having made the journey from London by train the same morning.

Stores, sledges, instruments and fresh provisions were brought aboard until the tiny upper deck was stocked with packing cases containing anything from vegetable marrows and Scotch whiskey to cedar-built sleighs and theodolites.”

The following morning the wharf was crowded with spectators, newspaper reporters and photographers, ready to give Sir Ernest a good send-off on his expedition. Once all visitors had left the boat, the KHM’s steamboat (with Geoffrey aboard) and a motor launch towed the ‘Quest’ off the wharf.

Hugh Channer (1915)

“Most of the officers of the Royal Marine Barracks at Stonehouse, headed by the Colonel-Commandant, Lieut.-Col HW Channer RMLI, were gathered on Longroom hill, together with their wives, to give the little ‘Quest’ a parting cheer. Colonel Channer, who is an Old Dragon, served with distinction at Gallipoli, where he lost his left leg when charging the Turkish trenches. This gallant officer, now a well-known figure in Plymouth, had previously served for ten years with the Egyptian Army, and he holds many Egyptian decorations besides the French Croix de Guerre.”

There followed a period of time when the ‘Quest’ was moored at a buoy whilst adjustments to the compasses on board were made.

“Whilst this business was in progress a small boy, a future Dragon, was observed to clamber quickly over the ‘Quest’s’ nettings in search of his father from the KHM’s steamboat alongside. Sir Ernest spotted him and said to him, ‘I knew you were the son of a sailor by the way you came over the side. Well, you will have to lunch aboard with me now.’ But Master Richard Freyberg had other views on the subject (he is only eight) and could not be persuaded to go below, having visions of being transported to the land of the polite penguin while the meal was in progress! So Mr Douglas, the geologist of the expedition, dived below and shortly reappeared with a plateful of tinned peaches, which Richard required but little pressing to demolish!”

During this interlude, Sir Ernest had invited Geoffrey and his wife aboard to inspect his ship.

“Our party was shown everything from the cook’s galley and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s cabin to the Sperry Gyro compass and the baby Avro aeroplane… It is hoped to accomplish much useful surveying from the air. A major in the RAF is with the expedition, besides which Shackleton himself is an expert pilot of the air.

Shackleton’s cabin is a small hutch, about 6 feet square, on the port side of the deck house forward of the bridge. There is just enough room for a bunk, a folding washstand, a tiny writing table and a solitary chair. The silk Union Jack presented by HM Queen Mary was spread out on the bunk for our inspection.”

Whilst this was going on, some 200 gallons of lubricating oil were loaded and the ‘Quest’ was finally ready for departure.

“By 5 pm. the last of the oil drums was on board and stowed below. The ship’s bell rang to clear the visitors into the numerous boats alongside and we bade farewell to our kind host… We climbed over the ‘Quest’s’ nettings for the last time, taking with us Mr J Rowett the financier, and several of his friends.

The last we saw of Shackleton was when, just as the ‘Quest’ and our steamboat parted company, the explorer himself, leaning over the side of the bridge, called, cap in hand, for ‘three cheers for the British Navy.'”

Capt. Worsley – Cdr Traill Smith – Geoffrey Freyberg – Sir Ernest Shackleton – Lieut. Wild, with Richard Freyberg

Not many people get the opportunity to meet and spend some time with someone of the stature of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who made a great impression on Geoffrey:

“That Shackleton is a great leader there is no shadow of doubt. Or else why did men like Wild and Worsley leave their farms in Africa or their homes in New Zealand, at a moment’s notice, at the call of this man?

Shackleton’s personality is, I should say, as magnetic as that of Captain Scott or the great David Beatty. His deep commanding voice, with just the suspicion of an American accent, and his deliberate manner of speaking, compel the attention of those who listen. Nature, so sparing of her gifts, has endowed this man with all the attributes of leadership. A superb physique, a pair of deep thoughtful eyes, with a most determined mouth and chin complete this picture of the greatest of living explorers – ‘The Boss’ as he is known on board to ‘The Boys.'”

We will follow the progress of Sir Ernest’s expedition over the coming months with great interest.

September 3rd 1921

Charles Pittar

In yesterday’s edition of ‘The Oxford Times’, it was reported that the inquest into the death of Charles Pittar (on the night of August 28th) has taken place at the family home on Banbury Road where he died, under the jurisdiction of the University coroner, Dr WT Brooks.

It was noted that at Eton Charles had proved himself to be not only an able academic (winning a Classical Scholarship to Queen’s College Oxford), but also a distinguished athlete.

Indeed we know this to be the case, as in his last summer at Eton in 1916 he was ‘Victor Ludorum,’ winning the Eton Mile Road Race and Quarter-Mile, 100 yards, Putting the Weight, as well as being second in the Half-Mile and Throwing the Hammer.

Charles Pittar winning the Eton Mile Road Race in a time of 4 mins. 36 secs.

However, the coroner and jury noted, such were the after effects of shell-shock and gassing during his war service, Charles had found that he was unable to resume athletic pursuits when he returned to Oxford.

His father gave evidence that it was he who first discovered his son’s death, having found a note from Charles asking people to be careful of an explosion, as there was gas in his room. On going to the room Mr Pittar found it was indeed full of gas and, from the examination he made, realised his son was dead.

It was further reported that Mrs Pittar had been the last to see Charles alive:

“About 10.30 on Sunday night she went to his room to say ‘good night’ and at that time he was working. He seemed quite natural and when witness asked him if he was busy, he replied, ‘Yes, I am very busy.’ Witness said ‘Good night’ and left.”

In further evidence his mother added that “The fits of depression came on when her son came back from the war. He had nervous headaches, but had gradually become better. It was only occasionally that he did not sleep very well. There was nothing in his demeanour to show that he would do such a thing. It must have been a sudden impulse. She was quite sure he had no idea he was going to do such a thing. He had no personal worries or cares, but he appeared to be very much affected by losing friends one after another as a result of the war.” 

Dr Brooks observed that before the war Charles had been happy and well, but that during the war many young men who escaped death or wounds suffered from shell-shock: their nerves became shaken and their minds somewhat abnormal. He read out part of a farewell letter Charles had written to his parents stating,

“I cannot ask you to forgive me for what I am going to do, and I don’t think you will ever realise my general state of mind. There seems to be a sort of cloud which oppresses me. Today I have been throughout in a most extraordinary state – a mixture between deep depression and wild excitement, and always this cloud.”

A verdict of gas poisoning, self-administered, during a fit of temporary insanity was returned.

 

 

 

 

 

August 30th 1921

Charles Pittar (Lieut. Coldstream Guards)

The tranquillity of the holidays has been broken with the news of the totally unexpected death of Charles Pittar on Sunday night (28th August). Until the end of last term he had been assisting us on the staff with the teaching of classics to the top form.

It was a shock to read of the sad circumstances of his death in today’s edition of ‘The Times’ in an article under the heading “Father’s Distressing Discovery”:

“Going to an annexe at his house in Banbury Road, Oxford, shortly before 8 yesterday morning, Mr CWE Pittar, an Indian Civil servant, found his son, Charles Austin Pittar, dead, a gas tap being turned full on.

The son, who was about 23 and a member of Queen’s College, went to the annexe, which he used as a study, after dinner on Sunday night, and was not seen again until he was found dead by his father. A fine scholar, he was to have gone to India shortly, having passed his Civil Service examination. At Eton, before the war, he did exceptionally well as an athlete, and he won the MC with the Coldstream Guards in the war…”

Charles was still at school when war broke out in 1914, but he joined up when old enough and spent the final two years on active service on the Western Front. In November 1918 he was rewarded for his bravery with the Military Cross:

“For conspicuous gallantry and initiative while on a daylight patrol. He left his lines in broad daylight, accompanied only by his orderly, and scouted right up through the enemy outpost line, a distance of some 700 yards. He showed great daring and enterprise, and the information he brought back was of the utmost importance.”

Charles was a most affectionate and loyal Old Dragon, and was present whenever possible at our Old Boys’ Dinners and other gatherings. We looked forward to a distinguished career for him.

However, albeit nearly three years after the end of that savage conflict, the war has claimed yet another life.

July 14th 1921

Yesterday saw the unveiling of Oxford’s War Memorial and its dedication by the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Burge, in remembrance of all the citizens of Oxford who gave their lives in the Great War.

It will be remembered that it was Dr Burge who performed the dedication of our own war memorial last year.

This new cross is situated at the north end of St Giles and very close to Balliol Hall (in the large building behind and to the right of the cross). It was here that the OPS, now Dragon School, started in two rooms with 14 boys under Mr AE Clarke in 1877.

Also yesterday, it is reported in ‘The Times’ that the Poet Laureate, Robert Bridges, was at Newbury Grammar School for the unveiling of their War Memorial.  His plea for the forgiveness of injustices should be noted. In his speech he said that there could not be proper peace and reconciliation in Europe until enemies expressed forgiveness.

April 14th 1921

The April 1921 edition of ‘The Draconian’, shortly to be published, will contain this article I have written so that our parents may know a little more about the organisation to which we are affiliated, and to inform the boys that their headmaster has sadly lost his battle to abolish the Common Entrance Examination to the Public Schools!

The Association of Preparatory Schools.

I have had the honour of being elected as Chairman of the Council of the Association of Preparatory Schools for 1921. The Association has increased very much in size and influence since it was first founded in 1893, when I was one of the original members and first editor of the ‘Preparatory Schools’ Review’…

‘We who have torches will hand them on to others’ (Plato)

It is also a privilege I greatly enjoy to be a member both of the Joint Committee of Public and Preparatory Schools and on the Board of Management of the Common Entrance Exam. With the latter institution I am not at all satisfied. Its influence on our Schools seems to me to be disastrous. The papers are stereotyped in form. Thousands of back copies are purchased and used as a standard and as a means of ‘cramming’ boys for the examination. Instead of a boy being judged by his real merit, character and attainments, he is judged by his mark-getting powers in a very specialised examination, and this seems to me to be destructive of anything like originality or individuality in teaching and training. I should greatly prefer for admittance to the Public Schools a series of well-chosen questions to be answered by the Preparatory Headmaster of the candidate, something like the paper questions put to the Headmaster of Naval Candidates*, but with rather a wider scope. This might be followed by one day’s literary examination, and then if there were any doubt about a boy’s fitness, an interview might be held…

I put these considerations to the Conference of Preparatory Schools in December, but alas! the vast majority of those present voted that the examination as at present conducted is altogether satisfactory!

* * * * * *

The history of this august organisation dates back to 1892, when fifty headmasters of Preparatory Schools first met to discuss that most important of concerns: the size and weight of the cricket ball to be used by their boys at their schools (!)

 

[* One such question posed is, ‘Does (the candidate) tend to lead other boys? If so, is his influence on them good?’ ]