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.”

October 11th 1920

Brigadier General Stuart Taylor DSO

Two years ago today – just a month before the Great War came to an end – we lost our beloved Fluff Taylor, who died from the wounds he received from an exploding shell ten days previously.

We are delighted to have received this photograph of his grave at La Kreule Military Cemetery in Hazebrouck, south-west of Ypres. He was one of 78 generals to have died as the result of enemy action in the War.

Before his promotion to command the 93rd Division, Fluff had been Commanding Officer of the 15th Battalion of the West Yorks (known as the Leeds Pals) and was much loved, as this letter from one of his men testifies:

“The loss of our dearly loved and much respected Brigadier General has come as a great blow, and I am only one out of many hundreds who are so upset with this sad affair. I was servant to the Brigadier when he was Colonel in the Leeds Pals, and he always loved us boys and saw to everything we desired; respected by every man in the Battalion, he was known as a thorough gentleman soldier, and, like the boys of 1916 whom he lamented, he died well, I’m sure. It gave me a shock when the news came, and I couldn’t have felt it more if it had been my own father, as indeed he was like a father to me all the time I was in France. I was wounded in the retirement in March, and the Brigadier wrote at once to my mother, whom he frequently wrote to, and told her not to be alarmed…”

It was Fluff who first suggested, back in 1917, the idea of a war memorial and opened our fund with a very generous donation of £50. We look forward next month to welcoming the Bishop of Oxford to preside over a service of dedication of the Memorial Cross, being constructed at the bottom of our field on the banks of the River Cherwell.

September 24th 1920

Mr AE LYNAM (Hum)

The Christmas Term started yesterday with my brother Hum at the helm, following my announcement of semi-retirement at the end of last term.

We now number 192 children with a further 20 in the junior ‘Baby School’ – this compared with under 60 when I took over the running of the School in 1886!

This term sees some changes in the boarding houses. Mr & Mrs Brown have charge of boarders at 10 Charlbury Road. Mr Bye, having been appointed headmaster of Thame Grammar School, Mr Stradling from the Royal Naval College Osborne, has taken on his house for juniors at 12 Bardwell Road. Miss Field is now running a house for ‘Baby School’ boarders and a few sisters – altogether 4 boys and three girls. This meets a serious need. Parents living in India are glad to be able to leave even young children in so homely an atmosphere.

Lastly:

We have decided to revert to the old name of the School, viz, the Dragon School, Oxford, instead of the Oxford Preparatory School. The boys have always been the ‘Dragons,’ but the School has come to be known as ‘Lynams’ or ‘the OPS,’ and we prefer ‘the Dragons.’

 

 

September 19th 1920

 

Today is the fourth anniversary of the death of Leslie Eastwood, who on the outbreak of war in 1914 left the OPS staff to join the army. It seems appropriate therefore to post this picture, sent to us earlier in the year, of his grave in Alexandria, where he died on September 19th 1915.

He had been wounded in Gallipoli and his letters indicated he was making a good recovery from what seemed to be relatively minor wounds. What we didn’t know was that he had been suffering from dysentery for quite some time.

It was a couple of days before the start of the school year in 1915 that the news of his death got to us.

We suffered a double blow, as the  day following Leslie’s death his friend and colleague, Higgy (Thomas Higginson), was also a  casualty of the war. We still miss them both and for many, like Kildare Dobbs, who wrote to us last year, the OPS has struggled to be the same without them.

 

The new school year, the first with my brother Hum at the helm, starts next week (September 23rd).

August 15th 1920

There are always sad farewells at the end of the Summer Term, not only to the boys, but also the staff. We are very sorry to be losing Mr. Bye.

Capt. Walter Bye

Mr Bye joined the staff in 1914, but on the outbreak of war he joined the University and Public Schools Brigade of the Royal Fusiliers. After his training with them, he took up a commission with the Royal West Surreys. He returned to us at the OPS last year as Capt. Bye DSO MC and he has shown himself to be an excellent schoolmaster and housemaster. He has taken the top mathematical set during the year, and has carried out some systematic science teaching, with most satisfactory results.

General Science lessons have been given on Thursday evenings to the boys in the upper part of the School, and I think this innovative action in the School curriculum has been quite justified, in spite of the fact that some boys have missed a small amount of Classical Prep!

That some form of Scientific teaching is necessary is to my mind a settled fact. It can, at least, cater to some extent for the intense natural curiosity about ‘things of everyday’ with which these boys of 12-14 come into constant and immediate contact. It can also attempt to give them some slight appreciation of the greatness of Science in modern life, and to give them some idea of what the great men of Science have done for everybody’s comfort and health. The pre-existing state of affairs has been that boys are well able to write five lines or so on such historical celebrities as Lambert Simnel, Perkin Warbeck etc, but not one line could they have supplied on such men as Galileo, Faraday, Newton, Kelvin or Crookes

The following are some of the subjects with which Mr Bye has dealt in broad outline: the Atmosphere and Atmospheric Pressure, Water, Combustion, some of the fundamental principles of Electricity and Magnetism, Radio-activity, Liquid Air, X-rays and the Solar System.

Mr Bye has been appointed Headmaster of Thame Grammar School, and we wish him good luck.

August 7th 1920

As the summer edition of the ‘Draconian’ is assembled and I come to the examinations section, I recall that there may be a number of you interested in the the results of the English Literature Paper set by Frank Sidgwick towards the end of term.

He duly furnished us with the marks (out of 100) which ranged from 85-21. The joint winners were JM Huggins & Isabel Fausset-Farquhar (85%) with J Betjemann (75%) third.

For those of you who attempted the paper at home, here are some of the answers:

1 (a) Charles Kingsley (b) Erskine Childers (c) Rudyard Kipling (d) Alfred Lord Tennyson (e) Sir Walter Scott (f) Charles Dickens  (g) William Blake (h) John Masefield (i) Edward Fitzgerald (j) George Chapman.

2 (a) ‘The Pickwick Papers’ – Charles Dickens (b) ‘Kidnapped’ – Robert Louis Stevenson (c) ‘Peter Pan’ – JM Barrie (d) ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ – WS Gilbert (e) ‘Hiawatha’ – HW Longfellow.

6 (a) And never brought to mind,/Should auld acquaintance be forgot/For the sake of Auld Lang Syne? (Robert Burns, ‘Auld Lang Syne‘) (b) ‘All things both great and small,/For the dear God who loveth us,/He made and loveth all’. (S. T. Coleridge, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’) (c) The captains and the kings depart:/Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,/An humble and a contrite heart. (Kipling, ‘Recessional) (d) A thing of shreds and patches,/Of ballads, songs and snatches,/And dreamy lullaby (W. S. Gilbert, ‘The Mikado’).

Frank Sidgwick also provided these comments regarding answers to the other more general questions:

“The paper was not so much a test of knowledge of the facts of English Literature as an attempt to probe general literary intelligence and thought: this was particularly the purpose of questions 3, 4, and 5 which gave scope for the display of literary history, and the comparison of ancient and modern literatures…

In question 3 most showed good sense, but this was often nullified by bad expression… Isabel, Betjemann and Vernon did particularly well.

Question 4 was rather a disappointment in the result. Nearly everyone proposed to ask Shakespeare whether he wrote his own plays, and which he thought his best play. Burton suggested asking him what he thought of the OPS performances, and others had original ideas; but on the whole the opportunity was missed. Somebody ought to note that that Elysian Fields do not mean the Champs-Élysées.”

Indeed!