November 20th 1920

Yesterday we said our final goodbyes to Kenneth Stradling, following his death on November 16th.

Most beautiful flowers were sent by relations and by friends from Osborne and Dartmouth, many wreaths by combinations of boarders, a splendid wreath from ‘the dayboys’, as well as others from masters and friends and individual boys.

At two o’clock, the boys lined both sides of the drive, while the motor-hearse, followed by two cars with the family and the staff (who acted as bearers), passed out on their way to Wolvercote Cemetery. Here a special service – a very beautiful one, sanctioned by the Bishop for use in the case of children – was read by Rev Henry Spurling.

Mr & Mrs Stradling have kindly allowed us to print the this reproduction of their card in memory of their son.

The card also had these most fitting verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (a poem which we also used in our school service on the day following Kenneth’s death).

Yet, O stricken heart, remember, O remember
How of human days he lived the better part.
April came to bloom, and never dim December
Breathed its killing chills upon the head or heart.

Doomed to know not Winter, only Spring, a being
Trod the flowery April blithely for a while,
Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing,
Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased to smile.

Came and stayed and went, and now when all is finished,
You alone have crossed the melancholy stream,
Yours the pang, but his, O his, the undiminished
Undecaying gladness, undeparted dream.

All that life contains of torture, toil, and treason,
Shame, dishonour, death, to him were but a name.
Here, a boy, he dwelt through all the singing season,
And, ere the day of sorrow, departed as he came.

When Kenneth came to the School at the beginning of term, it became clear at once that he was a boy of outstanding qualities. He had not played rugger before, but he took to it at once, and came to the front in every game. He was generally top of his form, and would have had a double move at the beginning of next term. Above all, his delightfully cheery disposition and his tonic smile had won him a place in the hearts of all in so short a time.

 

[The above poem, ‘In Memoriam F.A.S,’ was written in Davos, Switzerland, in 1881. Stevenson wrote it following the death of the 18-year-old son of a friend, who had died from pulmonary disease.]

November 17th 1920

Kenneth Stradling

The years of the Great War brought many of us untold grief; the influenza epidemic too caused us great concern, but thankfully our boys escaped the worst of it. Only now has the hand of fate descended on us. It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of one of our new boys, Kenneth Stradling. He joined us, aged ten, barely eight weeks ago when his father joined the staff to teach Science and run a junior boarding house.

On Sunday [7th] he was on the football field having an informal kickabout with one or two others. After tea at home he felt unwell, and came back to School and went to bed. There were no serious symptoms till Tuesday, when meningitis was suspected, and soon afterwards this was definitely diagnosed.

From Friday November 12th, Kenneth was unconscious, until 3.30 p.m. yesterday, when he passed peacefully into that new life, where we cannot doubt that his sweet temperament, and his glorious boyish smile, are in some way filling a part not less important than that which he would have played here.

We must record a word of thanks to his parents for their considerate attitude, through a time of great anxiety, and to Sister Willis for her indefatigable efforts and her skill, by which that young life was undoubtedly prolonged, though, unhappily for us, the hoped-for rally never came.

November 13th 1920

We are very grateful for parents past and present who come to take part in our Sunday services. On last Sunday (November 7th), the day before the Dedication of our Memorial Cross, we were particularly fortunate to have someone as eminent as the Ven. Archdeacon of Oakham, Rev. WG Whittingham. His son, Lieut. Thomas Whittingham, having been killed leading an attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt in October 1915, is one of those whose name is inscribed on the plinth of our Cross.

Having spoken on the tone and spirit of our school, as he sees it, Rev Whittingham went on to his main theme, that of service:

Rev. WG Whittingham

“What are the ideals and the efforts which are specially needed now, and which mark, I think, this school? The first is that which we are constantly having put before us in these days, the ideal of service. That is the great call of the present time, that we should learn not to live for ourselves, but to serve one another.

You may have heard the story of the stage coach that ran, I believe, in Scotland. It carried three classes of passengers, who paid first, second, or third class fares. There was no distinction, however, in seating; people sat where they liked; but when they came to a hill the guard appeared at the door and said, ‘First class passengers, sit where you are; second class passengers, get out and walk; third class passengers, get out and shove.’ 

There is a great deal in that story. We have had far too many first class passengers who only wanted to be carried, and carried in comfort. There have been and still are a good many second class passengers who are ready to exert themselves to their own advantage, but who don’t think beyond themselves. There is really no use for first and second class passengers today. We must all try not to please ourselves, or to get on ourselves, but to put our heart and our hand to the common service, and to help the whole thing along. That is the great ideal that we need, the ideal of service.”

Rev. Whittingham concluded that we should strive to be the best we can be, in order that we may do the best service we can do, as it would bring us personally the fullest blessing and satisfaction.

November 10th 1920

Dr Hubert Burge

The Rt. Rev. The Lord Bishop of Oxford,

(Headmaster of Winchester College, 1901-11)

Any description of The Service of Dedication would be incomplete without recording the contribution made by the Bishop of Oxford more fully.

After the reading out of all the names of those being commemorated and the recitation of Dr Alington’s poem, ‘The Trust’, the Bishop performed the dedication with these words:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. We dedicate this Cross to the Glory of God, in proud and grateful memory of the Old Boys and the Masters of this School, who gave their lives in the Great War. May their example inspire us to courage in the greater war against all evil: may their memory ever burn brightly in those who remember their deeds, and, strengthened by their fellowship, look forward to reunion with them in the inheritance of the saints in light.”

After further readings and prayers, the Bishop gave the following address:

“The ceremony in which we are taking part means a great deal to everyone present, and may I say it means also much to me personally – perhaps as much as it does to anyone. My heart is full of memories of many of those to whom we are paying tribute this afternoon, of those who came to Winchester full of the promise of all their brilliant gifts. I can see them standing on Lavender Meads as they wait to pass before me at roll-call; I can see them again as they kneel in chapel. All their gifts, all their promise – light-hearted and happy they were, on the threshold of the Golden Age of early manhood – they put on one side in the choice they made at their country’s call. The truest comradeship, undaunted, unflinching courage, and loyal service and self-sacrifice for their country and her cause in the hour of her deep need marked that choice…

They gave without reserve to the cause that claimed them. There was nowhere else they could possibly think of being; there was nothing else in the world they could conceive of themselves as desiring or doing. And a noble tribute they paid…

There is a joy incalculable in facing and doing duty, in self-sacrifice and service: it is in truth the crowning joy of human life. And the secret of that joy is the completeness of the self-surrender, when there are no reserves, no keeping back from what we give to our duty: something to ensure our own comfort and ease: something that will make the effort less difficult: some thought of self. 

That joy, I know, crowned the lives of these our brothers: one of them, Roderick Haigh, was writing to me in a short spell after the days of terrific fighting in the first autumn of the war: these were the last words he ever penned: ‘We have been having a most tremendous time of it these last ten days, but I never enjoyed myself more: you won’t understand me: I never knew what it was to be taken so out of oneself.’

Those whose names are inscribed on the cross differed in their lives and in their temperaments; some had surely been cut out for great things, and some for the quieter life of the student. Yet at the time of great emergency all took their stand for the right. 

May you also be given the same power to take up the challenge when it comes, to accept the high, and, maybe, the seemingly impossible line…”

 

Of the nine Wykehamist Old Dragons on our Memorial, seven were at Winchester in Dr Burge’s time as headmaster:

Robert Pringle – the first to fall.

Roderick Haigh – killed in the 1st Battle of Ypres

Geoff Clarke – the son of our first headmaster

Robert Gibson – a Somme casualty

William Sheepshanks – the son of the late Bishop of Norwich

Revere Osler – the only son of Oxford’s Regius Professor of Medicine

Geoffrey Buck – a winner of the DFC

 

November 9th 1920

THE DEDICATION OF THE MEMORIAL

TO THOSE WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR

November 8th 1920

Yesterday we were delighted to welcome the Rt. Rev. The Lord Bishop of Oxford to oversee the service of Dedication of our Memorial Cross, who set the tone for the occasion with these well chosen words:

“We are met together today as one family, to dedicate a Cross to the Glory of God, and in thankful memory of those who went out from among us during the late war, and have laid down their lives for their country and for mankind. We shall make mention of their names, commit their souls to the mercy of Almighty God, and give Him thanks for their good example…”

Following the reading out of the names of all those who gave their lives, one of the boys, Percival Mallalieu,  read ‘The Trust’ by Dr Alington. The dedication, prayers, a hymn and readings were followed by the Bishop’s address (which we will publish tomorrow).

We are grateful to an Old Dragon (who prefers to remain anonymous) for this account of the day’s events:

“Many parents and relations of the fallen ODs and a fair number of ODs were able to attend the Dedication of the School War Memorial on Monday 8th November. At 8.30 a.m. there was a special Communion Service at which the celebrant was the Rev. LJ Percival (OD) assisted by the Rev. HW Spurling (OD). In addition to these, the following clergy were with the Bishop of Oxford at the Dedication Service in the afternoon: Rev. HH Arkell (OD), Rev. TT Blockley (OD), Rev WM Merry and the Rev. A Karney.

It was fortunate indeed that Dr Burge was able to dedicate the Cross. As Headmaster of Winchester he had, as he reminded us, known, and been the friend, of many of those whose names it bore, and the simple sincerity of his address helped everyone to feel that the occasion was just the intimate, family gathering which the fallen would themselves have wished it to be. The Bishop addressed himself, as was fitting, to the boys, but perfectly expressed the thoughts of everyone. We cannot be too grateful to him for what he said…

All are agreed that the Cross perfectly expresses the intention of those who raised it. It must make the Skipper’s father happy to think that, at 92, he has been able, by this splendid monument, to crown his long work for a School to which he belongs as much as any of us. And now his work stands in the place of all places where it should, that boys may learn, and, having learnt, remember, the meaning of ‘Pietas’.

It is needless to say more. This Cross expresses thoughts which are the better for being unspoken. But it is a very happy thing to know that future generations of Dragons will possess it as part of themselves. We can trust them to keep it worthily, and to remember the Bishop’s words about the Old Dragons who fell for their country watching them from their graves.”