April 7th 1921

With term ending after Easter this year, we are only now assembling material for this term’s edition of ‘The Draconian.’  Here is a flavour – starting with matters medical.

Two of the Public Schools closed early because of the ‘flu’ and at least one other has had a serious bout of it. Joc Lynam [Hum’s son] fell a victim early in the term and, after apparent recovery, suddenly developed pneumonia and pleurisy. He gave us rather an anxious time… He is now going satisfactorily and will, we hope, be back at Rugby for the greater part of next term.

We have had extraordinarily little illness for an Easter Term. A few cases of mild jaundice, but no epidemic of any sort. Nearly all the boarders were inoculated against influenza, which fact may have contributed to our clean bill of health.

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Mary Campbell, currently at the Oxford Girls’ High School (and as head girl presented a bouquet to the Queen earlier this term) has been elected to a Mathematical Exhibition at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

Donald Innes has been appointed Professor of Geology at St Andrew’s University.

Sir William Max Muller CB MVO has been appointed Minister at Warsaw, capital of the newly constituted Polish Republic. He was one the very first 14 boys when the OPS opened in 1877 and has had a notable career as a diplomat. As our Consul-General in Budapest in 1914, he was in close contact with the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, in the weeks leading up to the declaration of war.

Bernard Grindle (who joined the Civil Service in 1903) has had the Cross of Officer of the Legion of Honour conferred on him by the President of the French Republic for valuable services rendered during the war.

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We are grateful to those who kindly came to talk at our Sunday services this term:

Jan 23rd: Mr EC Carter of the American YMCA preached on the ‘Black and White Problem’ – ‘We are all one colour inside!’

Jan 30th: Rev ES Woods of Cambridge on ‘A Personal Knowledge of God’ – ‘Live by the standard of Christ.’

Feb 6th: Maurice Jacks OD on ‘Citizenship’ – i.e. ‘Peace Patriotism’; ‘The Kingdom of God is the kingdom of men who serve one another.’

Feb 13th: Mr Vassall on ‘Oxford House.

Feb 20th: Alexander Paterson MC of the Oxford & Bermondsey Clubs.

Feb 27th: Rev Harold Gibson MC on ‘The Christian gentleman must be an honest working man’; ‘Our Father’s business, i.e. the making of this world into the perfect, bright and happy place that He intended it to be.’

Mar 13th: Rev DB Kittermaster of Harrow on ‘To love and to help one another.’

Mar 20th: Jack Gamlen on ‘Talents.’

Mar 27th: This Easter Sunday service was held, by kind permission of he President and Fellows, in Magdalen College Chapel. A large number of parents and friends were present, and a bright and happy service was conducted by Rev. Harold Gibson, who also gave an address.

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Lastly, as ever, the Editor of ‘The Draconian‘ has received a number of letters, including this one from Jack Gamlen:

Dear Editor,

There are now so many ODs in the world that the innovation of an OD tie is, I think, both desirable and necessary. The suggestion is not original, and I am not the most proper person to renew it, but I think that it should be put to ODs before the world is any older. There is time for two or three designs to be prepared before the next OD dinner, when they could be exhibited and voted on. Will you see what can be done?

Yours sincerely,

JCB Gamlen

Mr Vassall invites Old Dragons to submit their opinions and designs.

April 2nd 1921

Battle of Megiddo, 19-25 September 1918

This is an account of the Battle of Megiddo, which led to the taking of Damascus, heralding the armistice in Palestine on October 31st 1918. It is written by Major John Hutchison DSO, only recently returned from active service, and will be included in the forthcoming edition of ‘The Draconian’.

“It was my good fortune to be in temporary command of my regiment, the (King George’s Own) Central India Horse when it passed though Lejun (Megiddo of the Bible) and entered the historic plain of Esdraelon at dawn on September 20th 1918… when my thoughts were diverted by the sight of some fifty dead and dying Turks through which we rode.

Our advanced guard, consisting of the 2nd Lancers (Indian Army) had charged a Turkish regiment hurrying up to block the Musmur Pass at Lejun, and this was the result, in addition to some hundreds of prisoners. I had never before seen a man killed by a lance and it was a sickening sight – for most of the Turks had been terror-struck by the yelling horsemen and the flashing lance points before they were ‘done in,’ and showed it on their faces…

4th Cavalry Division advance: El Lajjun (Lejun) to Beisan

During the afternoon of the 20th September we reached Beisan (Bethshan of the Bible), thus completing roughly eighty miles in something over thirty hours. Beisan is in the Jordan Valley and to get there we rode through the valley of Jezreel…

During 21st and 22nd September thousands of Turks, driven along by our infantry and planes, fell into our hands. Some made desperate attempts to cross the Jordan, but the bridgeheads were held by cavalry. Mostly they surrendered quietly when they found they had no chance of re-forming to face their pursuers…

A Turkish officer of the 1st Turkish Cavalry actually brought three Turkish ladies (the wives of officers) with the regiment. They were mounted on ponies (astride) and wore high-heeled shoes and silk stockings – their faces were veiled and one of them had her child of four or so perched in front of her. The poor creatures had been bundled on to the ponies at Nablus and had ridden till they were exhausted, rather than be left behind among the hostile Arabs, who were beginning to hang on to the retreating Turks like vultures…

Our next move was to the railway bridge over the Jordan at Jisr Mejamieh, seven miles south of the Lake of Galilee…

The 10th Cavalry Brigade, of which we were part, then crossed over to the east bank in order to pursue the 4th Turkish Army, which having been on the east side of the Jordan was saved from the disaster which overtook the Turkish armies on the West Bank and was still a fighting force. We bumped into their rearguard, 5000 strong, which stood to fight at Irbid – we had marched  thirty-six miles and had only an hour of daylight left.

One squadron of 2nd Lancers got a severe mauling, some twenty men killed; and the squadron commander stopped about six machine-gun bullets… This affair was undecided when darkness intervened.

The following day we caught a weak Turkish rearguard, and the Central India Horse charged with the lance, capturing the Turkish position between Er Remte and Deraa, and the Dorset Yeomanry took Er Remte village and about sixteen machine-guns.

At Deraa we joined hands with the Hedjaz Army, or Shereefians as they are called… commanded by the Emir Feisal, who had Colonel Lawrence and several British officers with him. One of these British officers was pursued and threatened by one of our Sikh sowars, who seeing a white man in Arab head-dress jumped to the conclusion that he was a German masquerading as an Arab and took a deal of persuading to the contrary.

I was appalled at the brutal way in which the Shereefians treated their Turkish prisoners – who were mostly stripped half naked and were kept without water and food. I was told that this was done because the retreating Turks had wiped out a village near Deraa, men, women and children. Altogether I was not impressed by our Hedjaz allies…

We continued our march from Deraa to Damascus and ultimately struck the Serb El Haj or pilgrims’ route from Mecca to Damascus…

The 4th Cavalry Division halted two miles to the south of Damascus to allow Fiesal with his troops and Arab riff-raff to enter the city first. One would have imagined by the sound of the firing that a general massacre was proceeding after their entry – but it was merely the frolicsome habit of every Arab armed with a rifle to do rapid fire every ten minutes or so to show how pleased he was…

After Damascus the Spanish ‘flu played havoc with the Division, which had been severely strained by being kept in the Jordan Valley during the summer – one of our officers died of it, and about thirty men…

The ten Indian cavalry regiments all hoped to go to India after the Armistice, since they had been in France since 1914 till the beginning of 1918 – but they were not destined to leave Palestine till 1921…”

Of the 600 men of the Central India Horse who had departed India on November 10th 1914, only 150 boarded the ship at Suez when they left for home on February 2nd 1921.