As we move into a New Year, I look back with a mixture of pride and extreme sadness at the achievements and sacrifice made by so many in 1917.
Since July, 13 Old Boys have been wounded, one has received the DSO, three the Military Cross, one a special promotion, one a Croix de Guerre, one an Egyptian distinction, one a Belgian, one an Italian and one a Royal Red Cross award. There have been 13 ‘Mentions in Despatches’ (Bat Price for the 5th, Tyrrell Brooks the 4th and Jocelyn Pickard the 3rd time).
The Roll of Old Boys that have fallen includes some of my best, and best-loved, friends. Their lives cannot and must not have been given in vain: and the thought that has come down the ages, that the souls of the brave and righteous still live on, cannot lie.
None do we mourn more greatly than Hugh Sidgwick. His family has passed to me this tribute from his old employer, Sir Amherst Selby-Bigge, Permanent Secretary to the Board of Education, reflecting on Hugh’s abilities:
“He was not only a perfect Private Secretary, but a very dear friend who could be trusted with anything. His loyalty, sincerity and candour were perfect and I never found in him the slightest touch of vanity or self-seeking…
His mind was singularly cool and well balanced and his exposition of intricate problems admirably clear and logical. His knowledge of Mathematics and power of handling figures were invaluable…
He had the gift of writing straight ahead in good proportion and with clear expression and articulation of argument, almost as quickly as another man could dictate…
When he was in doubt about coherence and lucidity of an important paper for publication he used to test it by turning it into Greek, and I have in my possession an admirable Greek version of a letter addressed by the President of the Board (HAL Fisher) to teachers, concerning their duties in regard to military service…”
Hugh was one of 18 Old Dragons to perish in 1917, 9 of whom were involved with the third and grimmest of struggles at Ypres. The fates of Edmund Gay, John Dowson and Hunter Herbertson remain unknown.
Capt. E Gay Capt. OJ Dowson Lieut. H Herbertson
Is it too much to expect, or even suggest, that 1918 might see the end of this terrible conflict?