June 21st 1919

‘The Battle of Blenheim’ by Robert Southey has been studied this term and some of the best work resulting from it will be in this term’s ‘Draconian’ magazine.

I hope that in the future my English VIth form will appreciate the English poetry I have given them to learn, its rarity and interest and beauty, and also my efforts to get them to become poets too!

Young James Alford (aged 13) is the author of this poem. It recalls the day the Armistice was declared last November, when James was at home, following our decision to send all our boarders to their families at a time of considerable concern over the influenza epidemic.

Sadly, James leaves us at the end of this term to go to Rugby School.

THE ARMISTICE
(Begging Mr. Southey's pardon).

It was a winter morning,
My French that day was done;
I sauntered down into the town
For exercise and fun.
The board-school children could be seen
A-sporting on the Richmond Green.

Just then a hideous syren
Sent up a frightful sound
The guns at Kew and hooters too
And church-bells all around,
And flags and shouts announced the fact 
The Huns had been severely whacked.

The shops in flags were shrouded
Banners were waved about,
Munition-workers crowded
To drink the publics out,
And all day long the vast mobs swell
From Kensal Rise to Camden Hill.

And when the dark had fallen
And the bright day had gone,
I went to bed with weary head
And slept until the dawn;
And thus if rightly I remember
I spent the 11th of November.

June 11th 1919

We were very pleased that Potter Baldwin, who wrote to us back in October, was able to visit us last month. We have now received this delightful letter from him:

6/6/19. Prisoner of War Escort Co. 271, APO 772, American Expeditionary Force.

I arrived back in camp the night of June 1st after having had of course easily the pleasantest 14 days since I left the States and one of the best two weeks of my life.

You can’t realize how wonderfully fine I felt to be in Oxford again and see the old School and my former teachers to whom I owe a tremendous lot. The preliminary training a boy receives is of course the foundation of his career and therefore the better it is, the easier his future is to be.

After I returned to the States I out-distanced the American boys in many of the subjects I was taught at the Dragon School, and was ready to enter College at 17, although I put if off for a year.

I was lucky to be in Oxford just at the time I was there. It could not have been more beautiful, everything in full bloom, the colours and odour of the flowers in St. John’s were gorgeous, and I am sure could not have been equalled anywhere…”

June 8th 1919

On the second anniversary of the death of Humphrey Arden (June 6th 1917) a Calvary has been dedicated in his memory in Yoxall Churchyard in Staffordshire. The Bishop of Stratford carried out the dedication in the presence of many relatives and friends, amongst whom were Hum and me.

The Calvary was erected by Messrs Bridgeman of Lichfield (who are to erect the OPS Memorial Cross). It stands 23 feet high and dominates the village street.

The inscription reads: “In thanksgiving to Almighty God for the beautiful life and glorious death of Humphrey Warwick Arden, BA Cantab. Killed at Messines, June 6th, 1917, aged 25. Laid to rest at Bailleul, France. Sed miles, sed pro patria. RIP.”

The following tribute to Humphrey is from the ‘Church Times’:

“He was one of those whose lives gave promise of a brilliant future. A Cambridge Honours man, a great athlete, a musician of no mean promise, one who exercised extraordinary influence on his fellow men, a lover of all the arts and of everything beautiful, great things were expected of him had he been spared.

A week before his death his fellow officers unanimously decided to recommend him for the MC which had been offered to the battery.

The Calvary was erected by his parents in Yoxall, where his grandfather, Dr Lowe, was rector for many years, and where twelve  generations of Ardens lie buried under the high altar.”

May 24th 1919

Capt. Charles Jerrard (Dorsets)

Another Old Boy has suffered an accidental death – this time by way of a motor bicycle accident. Charles Jerrard was travelling from Cologne to Bonn on May 15th when the crash occurred. The causes of it are as yet unknown.

Charles had a distinguished war, being ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ twice and winning the MC last November at Ors, when he dashed across the Sambre Canal, and with 18 men pushed forward, capturing 70 of the enemy, besides putting a number of machine guns out of action, and finally capturing a battery of 4.2 Howitzers.

He was twice wounded, and was admitted into Somerville Hospital in April 1918 to recover from mustard gas.

Earlier this year Charles was attached to the headquarters of the Lancashire Division as Sports Officer at Bonn.

 

I recall that on one of his ‘leaves’ a very fine smart young officer, whom I did not recognise at first, rode round to the School on his motor bicycle. He dashed up to me and with a hearty handshake said, ‘You don’t remember me, but I remember you very well and the whackings when I was sent in! And I expect I deserved them, sometimes at any rate.’

 

 

May 16th 1919

Capt. Henry Stanley Way (Royal Fusiliers & Tank Corps)

We are very sorry to hear that on May 6th Stanley Way, who was on duty in France with the Tank Corps, during the loading of tanks on to a train for removal to Germany, was accidentally killed. He has been buried with full military honours at St. Pol.

Stanley went through the whole war untouched. His letters home were full of his adventures behind the lines, and notes on bird-life, of which he was very fond – a great observer and student, and if spared he would have been famous as an ornithologist.

His quiet unassuming manner, combined with more than ordinary pluck and determination, marked him out amongst brilliant contemporaries. He would have tackled the reconstruction problem had he been spared, in just the same spirit as he faced the war. Those who knew him are the better for the privilege of knowing him.

He visited us on his last leave in March and he was full of joy at the thought of going to Southern Russia.

* * * * * *

It is to be regretted that it is still not possible for families to visit British graves in France or Belgium. However, an article in the papers today states that work needs to be done to exhume those in isolated graves in favour of central cemeteries. There is also at present a great lack of transport and accommodation. So for the time being, the War Office is not granting permission to families to travel to these areas.

Those who have read Geoffrey Freyberg‘s account of his visit to the battlefields around Reims, might also wonder how safe they are, even now.

May 11th 1919

Six Captains of the Fleet Row Admiral Tyrwhitt Ashore in his Galley at Harwich

“A signal honour was paid to Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt KCB DSO when he hauled down his flag as Admiral of the Harwich Fleet, for six captains rowed him ashore in his galley, while all hands lined the deck of the flagship and cheered again and again as the galley put off down a lane formed by gaily-decorated small craft. Admiral Tyrwhitt has been in command of the Harwich patrol since the early days of the war, and greatly distinguished himself at the battle of Heligoland Bight.”

The above picture and caption formed the front page of yesterday’s edition of ‘The Sphere.’ This follows an article in ‘The Times’ on Friday 2nd May, entitled “Admiral Tyrwhitt’s Farewell to Harwich.”

When Sir Reginald disembarked on the pier, buglers sounded a fanfare and the band of the Royal Marines played “Rule Britannia.”

The following farewell message from Sir Reginald was signalled to the Fleet:

“On hauling down my flag as Rear-Admiral in command of the Harwich Force, I wish to express to captains, officers, and ships’ companies my deep appreciation of their services rendered during the war. I am deeply sensible of the arduous work they have performed, and am grateful for their loyalty and assistance on every occasion.”

Sir Reginald is now due six weeks well-deserved leave before setting off for his new appointment as the Senior Naval Officer at Gibraltar.

May 6th 1919

Commander Geoffrey Freyberg (RN), who reported on the surrender of the German U-boats in November, has returned from a week of celebrations in Paris and Cherbourg at the invitation of a grateful French nation. He and his ship, HMS Valiant, have now returned to Scapa Flow, from where he has written to us.

The French government had wished to honour the work of the Royal Navy in the War and on April 23rd (St George’s Day) held a review of our naval troops in the Court of Honour of the Hotel des Invalides, conducted by the Governor of Paris. It was attended by both Rear-Admiral Reginald Tyrwhitt and Admiral Sir David Beatty, their staffs and various ships’ companies.

On April 26th Geoffrey and his fellow officers were taken to see Reims and something of the war-torn countryside:

“From Château Thierry and Épernay we passed through the devastated area. Every town and every village was in ruins. Famous Châteaux with their roofs battered in, with broken beds gaping out of holes in the walls, and Churches with perhaps only half the Chancel or the Choir still standing, made one realize for perhaps the first time the feelings of intense hatred of the French towards the Boche, and one now understands why it is the Frenchmen are still burning to revenge themselves…

Reims had 100,000 inhabitants before the war, but only 10% now remain. Sixteen houses only are undamaged in the City. Little or no repair has been undertaken in the devastated area owing to lack of building material.”

Reims Cathedral is in a particularly bad condition.

“Outside its western front we were met by Cardinal Luçon (aged 83) and conducted round the ruins of what was once the most glorious Church in France. The building is no longer open to the public as it is in a state of dangerous collapse, the roof lies on the floor, the High Altar has vanished and the Northern Tower looks very shaky.”

Reims Cathedral nave.

“We now motored out in the rain to Fort la Pompelle, the N.E. corner of the Reims defences and the scene of desperate fighting. All the trenches are filled in, but shells, grenades, human bones and an occasional dead horse with miles of wire lie everywhere. Two grenades went off without hurting anyone, and of course most fellows carried back trophies in the shape of broken rifles or fragments of shell.

La Pompelle Fort

A French Colonel of Infantry at one place said, ‘Gentlemen, this is holy ground, as you stand on the bodies of all my officers and most of my men. I ask you to salute them.'”

When they had all returned to Paris that evening, at the end of a very full day, they looked for some lighter entertainment:

“Although feeling rather tired, we again sallied forth to visit the magnificent Allied Officers’ Club next to the British Embassy. Finding this rather dull we moved on to Maxims, which has just been reopened after the recent brawl there, which resulted in four American and French officers being killed or wounded because an American kissed a French lady…”