October 12th 1914

Roderick Haigh’s sister has kindly shared with us a letter she has received from him. Roderick’s father is a Fellow and Tutor of Corpus Christi College Oxford and Roderick won an Exhibition to Winchester from the OPS before going up to his father’s college. He took up a commission in the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment in 1911 and is now serving with the BEF.

Roderick Haigh  “I am extremely fit, and thoroughly enjoying myself. We are all inspired with the justice of our cause, and by the fact that we are fighting for the cause of honour and liberty throughout the world. The question at stake is whether liberty and justice or military despotism and tyranny are to prevail. It is a great privilege to fight in such a struggle.

I look forward to seeing you all again one day in England. But if I do not return, remember that it is the highest honour to which a man can attain – an honour which is open to officers and men alike, a higher honour than all the honour that can be showered on those who survive – to die for one’s country.”

 *  *  *  *  *  *

Under Mr. Wallace’s superintendence a really good rifle range has been made with 12 feet high butts, and firing sheds at 25 and 50 yards. It is parallel with the Cherwell at the east end of the field. Colonel Henry has most kindly taken batches of boys to the Oxford Rifle Range whilst ours was being made and had taught them the beginnings of shooting. Some of them are very promising and we hope to have regular competitions next term. We have six BSA miniature rifles with .22 ‘long’ cartridges and the Staff and visiting Old Boys have lively competitions.

The field is being used considerably by Oxford recruits as a drilling ground. The recruits have been drilled by Sholto Marcon, Billy Smyth, Alasdair Macdonell and other Old Boys. I shall be very glad to let the range be used for practice under responsible officers during the holidays.

Cyril Pouncey, in my top form, has written a capital poem, which we shall put in the next edition of ‘The Draconian’.

Oh! Kaiser William, I today
Do condescend to write to you
And ask you, if indeed I may,
If what men say is really true?

Some people say you are the cause
Of all this grief and useless strife,
Of breaking treaties, starting wars,
And cutting short the Belgian life.

They say you slaughter many a child,
And pound with shells each ancient town;
And use as shields the women mild,
And turn cathedrals upside down.

They say your soldiers, at your will,
Do rob and plunder just for you;
And often poor civilians kill.
Oh! Kaiser, is this really true?

 

 

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