August 19th 1919

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

Part 1 Part 2:

Cyril King and his family arrived in Baden-Baden on August 7th 1914 and were sent to the Hotel Drei Könige. Here, although they were allowed “complete freedom in the daytime within the precincts of the town,” they had to be indoors by 8pm every evening.

“24/8/14. I was walking with Coote this afternoon among the wooded hills on the outskirts of the town, when suddenly we heard the bells ringing and saw flags being posted everywhere.  We are tired of those beastly bells – they have been rung every other day since we came here and always for a greater victory. We are tired too of the innumerable German national anthems and the shouting and cheering. But this afternoon they are louder than ever. As usual ‘Extrablätter’ are being sold everywhere… and we see they have had their first victory over das Perfide Albion.

Soon the whole town will collect in the square below my window, and it will be midnight before they disperse. Every half-hour or so more extrablätter will be published as the number of prisoners rises, one national anthem after another will be sung over and over again, and every member of the royal family and almost every general in the German Army will be loudly cheered.”

They soon gathered that there was a good deal of bad feeling towards the English.

“They are most bitter against the English, particularly Sir Edward Grey, whom they accuse of not stopping the war when he could have done so quite easily, but are very contemptuous about our army of ‘mercenaries’ and laugh at the idea of trying to equip 500,000 soldiers out of nothing. The papers are full of Belgian and Russian atrocities and they say the use of dumdums is an outrage against civilisation…”

At this time the King family were clearly still hopeful of repatriation:

“We are assured that we shall be sent back as soon as the mobilisation of their troops is complete.”

 

August 12th 1919

Capt. Edmund Gay (Norfolks)

Edmund went missing in action during the Gallipoli campaign some four years ago and whilst there was the faintest hope that he might have survived in captivity, his name has appeared on our Roll of Honour as Missing.

Today however, the ‘Times’ has him listed as “Killed in Action,” stating that “it is now presumed that he was killed on or since August 12th 1915.”

We will therefore now add his name to those of our dear Old Boys who gave their lives in the War. This brings the number on our Roll of Honour to 83.

John Dowson is still unaccounted for.

 

 

August 8th 1919

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

The last we heard of Cyril King was in September 1914, when he failed to return to Winchester College for the new term. When war broke out, at the end of July 1914, he was on holiday in Germany with his family and was not allowed to return to this country. He remained in captivity there until the end of the war.

We are delighted to hear that he has now returned safe and sound and, despite missing his final year at Winchester, has been accepted at King’s College, Cambridge, to read Economics.

His journal of his time in captivity, which he has kindly provided for inclusion in the next edition of the ‘Draconian’ is of great interest and as it is extensive, will be published here in parts over the coming weeks.

Part 1.

“Schluchsee, Black Forest, Germany. 30/7/14.   Started from Winchester on the morning of the 25th and arrived here this afternoon. Undaunted by rumours of war! We are sure to be sent back to England if there is any trouble. Half-an-hour wait at Strasburg, but saw nothing unusual. Freiburg though was crowded and full of excitement. A troop train left the station while we were there amid tremendous enthusiasm – everyone was talking of war and the rumoured capture and execution of six French spies in the town this morning…

3/8/14. It is glorious here. We (my mother, four sisters and Coote from New College, who is to tutor me) are living in a cottage, six miles from the nearest station, among mountains, by the side of a very dark blue lake. All the hotel guests have already left.

‘Rumour’ is very busy and there are many tearful partings. Did a Greek prose this morning, but hardly a very good one. This afternoon we took out a boat and bathed in the lake…

Baden Baden 7/8/14. Yesterday morning early, three plain clothes detectives arrived at Schluchsee and told us to be ready to leave in half-an-hour. They put us and our luggage into two motors and we drove off. Every mile or so we were stopped by a rough barrier across the road and the detectives had to show papers, but we reached Freiburg Railway Station at midday. The town was so crowded that we could hardly move, and I felt very nervous when we had to make our way across the road to an hotel for lunch, but nothing exciting happened.

At half-past one we were taken back to the station yard, where we lined up with our luggage in a long queue for passes and tickets to here. The queue was composed chiefly of Russian invalids from a neighbouring health resort – a few men, but mostly women and children – and thick crowds stood gaping and talking on each side of it. By 3 o’clock we were in the train, but we didn’t reach our destination till midnight, as we stopped at every station to pick up more foreigners…”

July 26th 1919

The Times of yesterday brought the news of another bereavement in the Poulton family.

Janet (Mrs CP Symonds), the youngest daughter of Professor and Mrs Poulton was killed in a fall from a bicycle in Redhill on July 23rd.

This is the third tragedy the family has suffered in recent years. The eldest daughter, Emily, died in August 1917, and Ronald Poulton was killed on the Western Front in 1915.

The Professor is working on a book in commemoration of Ronnie’s life, which we hope to see later in the year.

Ronnie picnicking with Janet on a skiing holiday in Murren (1912)

July 19th 1919

A visiting headmaster, who attended our end-of-term Prize-Giving commented that there was “something delightfully friendly and unbigwiggish about it, and I loved the variety in your prizes and the variety of things they were given for…”

He rightly observed that I enjoyed the occasion, and given this encouragement, I am including here extracts from my speech:

“Hum has been for the past two years in entire charge of the Boarders, and I make some recognition of his efficiency and help by associating with me in the Headmastership. We are now joint Headmasters – with different spheres of responsibility. From our experience so far, I have not the slightest doubt that this arrangement will be most satisfactory in every way. With our other old hands, Mr [GC] Vassall, Mr Wallace and Mr Haynes to run the outdoor life, and with Mr Bye, who has come back with honour of war and runs the Junior House, and with GC still as our enterprising and most efficient Editor of the ‘Draconian,’ all should be well with the School.

I may also say here that my daughter [Kit Lynam/Marshall] has come back from her war work in France and Italy after nearly 4 years and that she is to marry Captain Cyril Barclay (Durham Light Infantry) and that they are to come to Oxford, and that we hope he will eventually join the Staff.

Thirty boys and girls are leaving this term, but we have already more than enough new boys down to take their places next term. It is always a sorrowful task to say goodbye to those who are passing on from us, especially to those who have been with us for a long time…

I wish all you boys and girls who are leaving every happiness and success in the future. I thank you for all the good you have done in the School by example and leadership and the credit you have won for us. It may be by winning scholarships or winning School matches or in other ways…

I have nothing special to say to the Parents, but I must thank them for this: that so very few wished to send their boys back on the 18th instead of the 24th September, whilst the vast majority welcomed the extra days in honour of the Great Peace.

These Scholarships have been gained this School year (in order in which they were gained):

D Wiggins, Exhibition, King's School, Canterbury.
E Frere, Scholarship, St. Leonard's School, St. Andrews.
M Carritt, Scholarship, Sedburgh.
C Clark, 1st Scholarship, Winchester.
J Brunyate, 2nd Scholarship, Winchester.
D Hunt, Scholarship, Malvern.
P Vernon, Scholarship, Oundle.
P Mair, Scholarship, Oundle.
B Sheard, Scholarship, The Leys.
H Milford, Scholarship, Sherborne.
E Webb, Scholarship, Charterhouse.
L Salkeld, Scholarship, Rugby.

E Webb is not taking up his scholarship, having passed the interview and qualifying examination for the Navy. Stella Joy was top for Roedean. They must have an uncommonly high standard or else be short of cash, as I am sure Stella was worth a Scholarship.

This, though not quite as long a list as last year’s, is a record for any school in containing 1st and 2nd at Winchester.”

In the top form of 18, half were awarded scholarships.

July 16th 1919

Parents should be advised of a letter we have recently received. I would be happy to hear your views on the matter.

Association of Preparatory Schools
14 Wellington Square,
Oxford

July 1919

Dear Sir,

I have just received a communication from the Board of Education 
informing me that His Majesty the King has expressed to the 
president of the Board his desire, that in commemoration of the 
Peace some extension of the Summer Holidays in all schools may be 
granted by the school authorities.

Yours truly,

Hugh C King (Secretary)

This would mean that next term would start on September 24th, rather than on the 17th as previously notified.

Perhaps less welcome to parents is the news that the following resolution was passed by the Council of the same association at their last meeting regarding school fees:

“That the Council are of the opinion that it is necessary that in the present circumstances there should be a general increase of fees in Preparatory Schools, to meet the increased cost of food, labour, and salaries.”

This was, I regret to say, inevitable.

July 8th 1919

P E AC E   S U N D A Y

July 6th 1919

My brother Hum, as always, has taken particular interest in the religious side of life and made sure that we joined in the national celebration of Peace.

“Yesterday we attended Morning Service at the Cathedral, where we were courteously given seats in the Nave. The beautiful rendering of the Service by the Choir was a great musical treat, but we cannot believe that such form of worship is as suitable for boys as our own Sunday Service.”

In the afternoon a few of the boys found their way to the United Service in ‘Tom Quad‘ – along with a crowd estimated to be 10,000 strong! The band of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, along with the combined choirs of Christ Church, New College and Magdalene College Schools were an undoubted highlight.

 

There have been regular Sunday Services at the School this term, of which two were of particular note:

V C   D A Y

May 18th 1919

Jack Smyth’s Victoria Cross

We had hoped to give Rev. Col. Price’s VC Day sermon. But he writes that he ‘just said what he was feeling’ – and has been unable to ‘put it decently together.’ That is probably why it was so effective. He commented on the extreme youth of many of the VC winners, the high pitch to which the standard of bravery and sacrifice necessary for its winning has been raised during the war, yet ‘No VC’s act was more tremendously fine and great than that of Lieut. Smyth.’

Jack was once a very delicate boy, but his fine spirit and pluck pulled him through at that time, and the same grit and power has now won for him eternal fame.

We had a grand VC day picnic thereafter. Boats from Beesley’s took some 120 boys and staff up to Wytham Woods, while the caravan took the provisions and cookie and her staff to Swinford Bridge and a quarter-of-a-mile over the fields to the lock. The blue hyacinths were gorgeous. It was a day to remember.

June 8th 1919

We were delighted to have as preacher Rev Neville Talbot, whose brother Edward Talbot was an Old Dragon. Both served as chaplains throughout the war. Their father, the first Warden of Keble College, was a founder of the first girls’ colleges in Oxford (Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville).

Neville’s other brother, Gilbert Talbot, was killed at Ypres in December 1915 and the famous Talbot House at Poperinghe was founded in Gilbert’s memory by Neville and the Rev. ‘Tubby’ Clayton. It provided a resting place for soldiers to meet and relax in breaks from front line duties. Inside this house all were to be considered equal, regardless of rank, as the notice by the door required:

‘All rank abandon, ye who enter here.’