January 13th 1919

Another of our brethren has returned to the fold. 2nd Lieut. Adrian Raleigh (Leics), who was captured in the German Spring Offensive earlier this year has been repatriated, or rather, has repatriated himself!

Adrian tells us that after the armistice the prison guards at Mainz either went on strike or evaporated, allowing him and his fellow prisoners to wander the streets:

We spent several enjoyable days among the inhabitants, who appeared to be quite friendly and who were never tired of expressing their satisfaction at the downfall of the Kaiser.

Eventually, becoming tired of waiting for ‘immediate repatriation,’ 200 of us chartered a river steamer, at 20 marks per head, and started down the Rhine. The voyage lasted six days. We stopped at almost every town and village to load and unload cargo.

Our first landing place was Bingen, which we reached at 10 o’clock at night; here we went into the only café in the place and nearly lifted the roof with rag-times.

We stayed two nights at Cologne, which was strewn with flags and placards bearing the inscription ‘Welcome to our brave troops, beaten by no foe’…

Finally, we crossed the Dutch frontier and landed at Nymegen, where the Dutch greeted us with ‘England Uber Alles.’ Here we were met by the British RTO and entrained for Rotterdam, and so home after a rather varied tour of Germany.”

 

 

January 9th 1919

Whilst boarders at the OPS come from all over the country, the dayboys of course live close by the school. An exception to this was Seyyid Ali, whose death (on December 20th) has been announced and whose family background was totally unlike that of any other of our old boys.

Seyyid Ali bin Hamud Al-Busaid (to give him his full name) was the son of the 7th Sultan of Zanzibar. In 1898-99 he came to Oxford to be tutored by Mr Farnell, Vice-Rector of Exeter College. During this time, as Seyyid Ali, he attended the OPS with the particular purpose that he should learn something of our Games. His contemporaries will remember his dashing runs as wing three-quarter for the School XV.

On leaving Oxford, he spent three years at Harrow School.

The Sultan of Zanzibar (c.1907)

He became the 8th Sultan in 1902, but there was a regency until he came of age in 1905. His reign was a short one; ill health forced him to abdicate in 1911 and it is with sadness that we now hear of his death.

* * * * * *

Zanzibar became a British Protectorate in 1890 (by the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty that gave the Germans Heligoland, which allowed them control of the Kiel Canal).

Zanzibar’s history thereafter has been strange to say the least. In 1896 the 5th Sultan died and a cousin of his seized the throne. Three days later, in a “war” that lasted some 38-45 minutes (surely the shortest war in history!) he was overthrown by the British and Seyyid Ali’s father was installed as the 7th Sultan.

The 7th Sultan was responsible for the abolition of slavery in Zanzibar, for which he was knighted by Queen Victoria, and this was the background to Seyyid Ali coming to England for his education.

January 4th 1919

Capt. William Leefe Robinson VC

His funeral, which was held yesterday, was the occasion of an impressive display of respect and made the front page of the ‘Daily Sketch‘ and was also featured in the ‘Times’:

“Shortly before the procession left Lavender Cottage, the residence of Major Clifton – in which Capt. Robinson was staying as a guest when he died – a large wreath of laurel leaves, a tribute from the General Officer Commanding and the other officers of the 6th Brigade of the RAF, was dropped in front of the dwelling from an aeroplane. A flight of aeroplanes circled above the house and over the heads of the crowd who lined the roadway along which the coffin, covered by the Union Jack, was borne upon a RAF aeroplane trolley drawn by a RAF motor-van to the place of interment, a distance of nearly a mile…

The procession was headed by the Band of the RAF playing a funeral march, and detachments of the Force followed and formed a guard of honour within the churchyard…

Two of Capt. Robinson’s favourite hymns, ‘Fight the Good Fight’ and ‘For All the Saints who from their Labours Rest’ were sung and the Psalm, ‘God is our Refuge’ was chanted by the choir…”

This is the second war-related death in the Robinson family, William’s brother, 2nd Lieut. Harold Leefe Robinson (Indian Army), having been killed near Kut in 1916.

* * * * * *

19 Old Dragons laid down their lives for their country in 1918. The full Roll of Honour now stands at 77 (with Edmund Gay and John Dowson still unaccounted for). We continue to raise money for a War Memorial in their honour.

January 1st 1919

Capt. William Leefe Robinson VC (RAF)

Having heard only a couple of weeks ago that he had returned in good health, it is a shock to read of the death of William Leefe Robinson, which occurred yesterday.

It is clear now that the information was wrong – he was in a weakened state as a result of the treatment he received at the hands of the Germans whilst in captivity (which included time in solitary confinement following his attempts to escape).

The cause of his death, however, was influenza, which we learn he had been battling for over a week at the home of friends in Stanmore near Harrow.

* * * * * *

Also in today’s newspaper is news of the safe return from captivity of Capt. Aubrey de Selincourt (RAF) and Lieut. Peter Warren (RAF).