December 15th 1919

The revival of the Varsity Rugger Match, on 9th December 1919, saw the publication of ‘The Life of Ronald Poulton.’ The book is the loving and devoted work of his father.

To all people he was known as a great football player, perhaps the finest, certainly the most electrifying, three-quarter of any age…

But, as the pages of his life make clear to those who did not know, football occupied a very small part of his time and thoughts.  He regarded it as a great and glorious pastime, and nothing more. He could never regard it as an occupation worthy of a man’s whole devotion. Even on the night before an international match he would be more interested in wandering about the worst slums of Notting Dale than of thinking of what lay before him on the morrow…

It was too much to hope that the war would spare him. He went to France counting the cost, knowing that he had little chance of returning. He loved life, and hated the whole ghastly business of war, but he felt that it was his duty to go, that England might be somehow a better place for those who came after. And then – a stray bullet – and all was over.

Ronald Poulton went out to fight, to make England a better place. Will it be? It will be either better or much worse; if worse, then all the sacrifice will have been in vain…

What he would have done had he lived it is impossible to say… Though his views were still unsettled, they were taking shape. He was gravely dissatisfied with the relations of Capital and Labour; he was aghast at the social conditions of our big cities, horrified by the misery, crime, disease, waste. What an ugly contrast it all made with the New Jerusalem, with its happiness and spacious buildings and shining streets!

He would not have rested without trying with all his strength to do something, and others would have followed him…

It is because he had this rare and splendid gift for loving and for inspiring love, this magnetic influence and power of attraction, that his death has been no ordinary calamity.

But at least we can thank God that he lived and that he was what he was, bringing joy and sunshine and happiness to all who knew him. And if we keep his memory before us, as this book will help us to do, we shall be able to do our work with a stouter heart and a deeper vision, and to face the future with a brighter hope.

December 4th 1919

We have received news of the death of Maharaj Kumar Shivaji Rao (Shivajirao Gaekwad) who attended the school before the War.

Shivaji Rao, as we then knew him, was the son of Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda in India since 1863.

The Maharaja of Baroda and his family

The Maharaja came to England in 1900, bringing with him a party of 27 (seven family members and a staff of 20, including a secretary, two tutors, companions, maids, valets and a cook).

Shivaji first appeared at the OPS in the Summer Term of 1900, as was recorded in the ‘Draconian’:

“Also we have had this term two of the sons of perhaps our best friend and ally amongst the native princes of India, the Maharaja of Baroda, who is at present an honoured guest in England. His boys, Jey Singh Rao and Shivaji Rao have made themselves quite at home with our English boys and are deservedly quite popular – and should become good cricketers.”

Shivaji returned to the OPS for the Summer Term of 1902, when we saw more of his cricketing ability. He was awarded a cricket bat for an innings of 94 against Cot Hill School. Mr Vassall’s comment on him at the end of term was most complimentary: “A good bat; clever catch at the wicket; played one magnificent innings and never failed in an emergency.”

Indeed he became a cricketer of note, playing first-class games – the first of which was for the Hindus against the Parsees at Bombay Gymkana in 1909; in 1910 he played for the Gentlemen of England v Oxford University.

Shivaji returned to Oxford to study at Christ Church, making four appearances for the Oxford University XI.

Wisden’s Cricketers’ Annual 1913 recorded that “Early in the season the Gaekwad of Baroda batted in such good style that he seemed almost certain of a ‘blue,’ but a serious accident – sustained away from the field – cut short his cricket.” It transpired that, after the University match against the Australians, he had become involved in a ‘rag’ in which he suffered a serious head injury. It was said that the ‘rag’ invaded the privacy of the dons and whilst the others managed to escape, he was left to face the consequences. He was ‘sent down’ and thereafter returned to Baroda.

 

The Maharajah, currently on another trip to this country, received the news of his son’s death by way of a cable on November 25th. It is understood that Shivaji died on pneumonia in Baroda on November 20th, aged 29. He leaves a wife and three children.

 

 

 

 

November 25th 1919

I n   G e r m a n y   ( 1 9 1 4 – 1 8 )

123456789 – 1011 Part 12

Cyril King took a two year break from journal writing between October 1915 and 1917, by which time Ruhleben had grown most impressively:

28/10/17. “Two more years have rolled [by] since I wrote last. There have been no great changes in our life and we have almost forgotten the world outside. The only new institution is the Horticultural Society and it is perhaps the greatest of all and certainly works most smoothly. It has succeeded in acquiring a lease for the other half of the inside of the racecourse, and after tremendous struggles with the soil in which most of the camp joined, has turned it into a model market garden! In the summer we were able to buy lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes and a few melons at almost nominal prices, while all over the camp there were bowers, borders and beds filled with every kind of garden flower. It makes all the difference in the world.

The school has greatly increased in size, filling a whole stone barrack and several sheds around it. It has from 1000 to 1500 pupils and about 100 teachers, several small class-rooms, a big reading-room, an office, two big lecture rooms, an arts and crafts department where people bind marvellous books, while others work in leather or hammer silver; a big science research laboratory where, as we hear, new ‘elements’ are discovered every day; a ‘wool and worsted’ shed, where they dye clothes in many colours and where someone has invented and constructed an apparently epoch-making weaving loom; an engineering shed; and a real live motor car, which is daily taken to pieces and put together again.

The theatre has seen over a hundred plays in five languages, including five by Shakespeare, two by Ibsen, one by Chekhov, two by Rostand, several by Maeterlinck, Synge, Lady Gregory, Yeats, Shaw and Galsworthy, five Gilbert and Sullivan Operas, two pantomimes, a German musical comedy, variety shows and numerable French and English farces, melodramas and other plays – nearly all completely successful and I think really awfully well done. The fortnightly chamber orchestral and choral concerts, and the weekly debates and lectures, have been continued unbrokenly, and in the summer we have had open air concerts on the promenade des Anglais.”

November 19th 1919

I n   G e r m a n y   ( 1 9 1 4 – 1 8 )

123456789 10 – Part 11

This is the final section from Cyril King‘s journal of October 28th 1915, in which he continues his description of life in the Ruhleben camp for civilian prisoners of war:

“Societies, circles and committees have sprung up, and though there are constant quarrels and heated resignations, a very great amount of work has already been done. The stage in the grandstand has been enlarged and most extraordinarily fitted with footlights, scenery, battens, costumes, make-up, furniture and so on, and we have weekly debates, fortnightly concerts of every kind of music, fortnightly lectures and five performances of a different play almost every week, ‘variety shows’, revues, French, German, Irish and English ‘classics’, melodramas and farces – paying their way by tickets costing from one mark to twenty pfennigs each. French, German and Italian circles have been formed for debates, lectures and discussions in those languages, and the school has already about 800 pupils and almost as many teachers!

We have been able to rent the inside of the oval-shaped racecourse, and football was played on it… and cricket, on coconut matting, during the summer. There is enough space for one full-sized ground and two small ones – one of which is now used for hockey and rugger and the other two for soccer. In August and September we played tennis on a part of the racecourse itself, where by dint of constant laborious rolling and watering, eight courts have been made and kept in very good condition on the sand…

It is wonderful to be so free of money cares, and many of the conventions which seem necessarily to accompany them – the greatest plutocrats living on 20 marks a week and there being almost no distinction in dress; and it is wonderful too to know so many people so thoroughly and to be able to make all kinds of interesting acquaintances whom one would never see outside; but one longs for privacy and to be forced to work hard, instead of being always observed by someone and having more leisure than one knows how to spend.”

November 13th 1919

DINNER FOR OXFORD OLD DRAGONS

November 8th 1919

A delightful evening was spent at the School House, when Oxford ODs came to dinner. We were even invaded by two naval stalwarts from Cambridge, and by one representative of the Army of Occupation.

Amongst those present were: CA Pittar, O Sturt, ALF Smith, JBS Haldane, SBL Jacks, CP Duff, WT Collier, NS Norway, ML Jacks, PJ Campbell, V Alford.

* * * * * *

After abeyance during the War, the mid-term holiday has been revived; and Admiral Tyrwhitt’s whole holiday, in celebration of the surrender of the German Fleet, was added to it.

Hum Lynam has provided the following account:

“Boarders who went home, or to stay with friends or other boys, left on Friday 7th November and returned on the evening of Monday Nov. 10th, in time for fireworks.

This revival seemed generally popular with boys and parents, though there were one or two protests. The increased cost of travelling, and some increase in the possibilities of incurring infection, as well as the considerable trouble of getting so many boys away and back again, incline us to the view that a trip to the country would be the better way for most, while some would have parents down to see them.

Those who did not go away had a trip by charabanc on the Saturday, and after a walk by the river at Henley, we ate our lunch in the headquarters of the Ancient Order of Oddfellows, amid strange appurtenances, which were put to stranger use. Then up the steep side of the Chilterns to Peppard Common, where we were royally entertained by Mr & Dr Carling at the Sanatorium. We just caught the last of the glories of autumn colouring, which seemed to surpass themselves this year, and are surely nowhere more striking than among those Berkshire beeches.

We got back to Oxford in time for ‘progressive games’ organised by Miss Field.

A bicycle and caravan expedition on the Sunday was marred by rain.”

 

November 2nd 1919

I n   G e r m a n y   ( 1 9 1 4 – 1 8 )

123456789 Part 10

This is a continuation of Cyril King‘s entry for October 28th 1915, marking the first anniversary of his stay at Ruhleben.

“Thirteen new wooden barracks have been built – six behind the grandstands, four just beyond one end and the rest in various spare places. The American YMCA has put up a big wooden hall, which is used as a church, a reading room, reference library and lecture room;  and camp carpenters have built several sheds – mostly about 20 ft. x 6 – behind some of the stone barracks. These are used as rehearsal rooms, artists’ studios, canteens, tailoring, watch-mending and boot-making shops, hair dressing saloons, clubs and ‘boiler-houses.’ The latter supply hot water for 5 phennigs at almost any time of the day, and there is enough coal even to do some cooking, such as boiling porridge or frying potatoes…

One of the new wooden barracks is used as a parcel office, staffed chiefly by public school people, who appear to lead very idle lives but really do a lot of work and sometimes issue as many as 2000 parcels a day; while another has been made into a kind of convalescent home (the actual hospital being outside the camp) and contains two very comfortable ‘wards’ and a surgery, kitchen, waiting and medicine room. Anyone who is ‘run down’ or recovering from an illness, and many of the older people, are allowed to sleep there, with better food and more rest.”

The two German doctors are quite nice and very efficient and the Englishman in charge of the barrack is a perfect heroic marvel. About 300 of us have had German measles in May, but there were no very serious cases and the camp is on the whole very free from illness – everyone leading such an open air life that nerves and general weakness from insufficient food are the only serious maladies.”

October 26th 1919

We are delighted that Rev AB Karney, whose children, Anthony and Audrey, started with us in the Junior Department this term, has agreed to take on the Catechism class. He will take two forms together for five consecutive lessons. He will thus be brought in touch with all the senior boys in the school.

This Catechism class has had distinguished teachers, including the present Archbishop of York.

Rev. Karney

Rev Kearney has an impressive war record. At the start of the war he was a Royal Naval chaplain and was on board HMS Yarmouth at the Battle of Jutland.

Later in the war he served with the Northumberland Fusiliers, but was caught up in the Spring Offensive by the Germans in early 1918. He was captured and spent time in the Karlsruhe camp before being freed at the end of the war.