May 16th 1919

Capt. Henry Stanley Way (Royal Fusiliers & Tank Corps)

We are very sorry to hear that on May 6th Stanley Way, who was on duty in France with the Tank Corps, during the loading of tanks on to a train for removal to Germany, was accidentally killed. He has been buried with full military honours at St. Pol.

Stanley went through the whole war untouched. His letters home were full of his adventures behind the lines, and notes on bird-life, of which he was very fond – a great observer and student, and if spared he would have been famous as an ornithologist.

His quiet unassuming manner, combined with more than ordinary pluck and determination, marked him out amongst brilliant contemporaries. He would have tackled the reconstruction problem had he been spared, in just the same spirit as he faced the war. Those who knew him are the better for the privilege of knowing him.

He visited us on his last leave in March and he was full of joy at the thought of going to Southern Russia.

* * * * * *

It is to be regretted that it is still not possible for families to visit British graves in France or Belgium. However, an article in the papers today states that work needs to be done to exhume those in isolated graves in favour of central cemeteries. There is also at present a great lack of transport and accommodation. So for the time being, the War Office is not granting permission to families to travel to these areas.

Those who have read Geoffrey Freyberg‘s account of his visit to the battlefields around Reims, might also wonder how safe they are, even now.

May 11th 1919

Six Captains of the Fleet Row Admiral Tyrwhitt Ashore in his Galley at Harwich

“A signal honour was paid to Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt KCB DSO when he hauled down his flag as Admiral of the Harwich Fleet, for six captains rowed him ashore in his galley, while all hands lined the deck of the flagship and cheered again and again as the galley put off down a lane formed by gaily-decorated small craft. Admiral Tyrwhitt has been in command of the Harwich patrol since the early days of the war, and greatly distinguished himself at the battle of Heligoland Bight.”

The above picture and caption formed the front page of yesterday’s edition of ‘The Sphere.’ This follows an article in ‘The Times’ on Friday 2nd May, entitled “Admiral Tyrwhitt’s Farewell to Harwich.”

When Sir Reginald disembarked on the pier, buglers sounded a fanfare and the band of the Royal Marines played “Rule Britannia.”

The following farewell message from Sir Reginald was signalled to the Fleet:

“On hauling down my flag as Rear-Admiral in command of the Harwich Force, I wish to express to captains, officers, and ships’ companies my deep appreciation of their services rendered during the war. I am deeply sensible of the arduous work they have performed, and am grateful for their loyalty and assistance on every occasion.”

Sir Reginald is now due six weeks well-deserved leave before setting off for his new appointment as the Senior Naval Officer at Gibraltar.

May 6th 1919

Commander Geoffrey Freyberg (RN), who reported on the surrender of the German U-boats in November, has returned from a week of celebrations in Paris and Cherbourg at the invitation of a grateful French nation. He and his ship, HMS Valiant, have now returned to Scapa Flow, from where he has written to us.

The French government had wished to honour the work of the Royal Navy in the War and on April 23rd (St George’s Day) held a review of our naval troops in the Court of Honour of the Hotel des Invalides, conducted by the Governor of Paris. It was attended by both Rear-Admiral Reginald Tyrwhitt and Admiral Sir David Beatty, their staffs and various ships’ companies.

On April 26th Geoffrey and his fellow officers were taken to see Reims and something of the war-torn countryside:

“From Château Thierry and Épernay we passed through the devastated area. Every town and every village was in ruins. Famous Châteaux with their roofs battered in, with broken beds gaping out of holes in the walls, and Churches with perhaps only half the Chancel or the Choir still standing, made one realize for perhaps the first time the feelings of intense hatred of the French towards the Boche, and one now understands why it is the Frenchmen are still burning to revenge themselves…

Reims had 100,000 inhabitants before the war, but only 10% now remain. Sixteen houses only are undamaged in the City. Little or no repair has been undertaken in the devastated area owing to lack of building material.”

Reims Cathedral is in a particularly bad condition.

“Outside its western front we were met by Cardinal Luçon (aged 83) and conducted round the ruins of what was once the most glorious Church in France. The building is no longer open to the public as it is in a state of dangerous collapse, the roof lies on the floor, the High Altar has vanished and the Northern Tower looks very shaky.”

Reims Cathedral nave.

“We now motored out in the rain to Fort la Pompelle, the N.E. corner of the Reims defences and the scene of desperate fighting. All the trenches are filled in, but shells, grenades, human bones and an occasional dead horse with miles of wire lie everywhere. Two grenades went off without hurting anyone, and of course most fellows carried back trophies in the shape of broken rifles or fragments of shell.

La Pompelle Fort

A French Colonel of Infantry at one place said, ‘Gentlemen, this is holy ground, as you stand on the bodies of all my officers and most of my men. I ask you to salute them.'”

When they had all returned to Paris that evening, at the end of a very full day, they looked for some lighter entertainment:

“Although feeling rather tired, we again sallied forth to visit the magnificent Allied Officers’ Club next to the British Embassy. Finding this rather dull we moved on to Maxims, which has just been reopened after the recent brawl there, which resulted in four American and French officers being killed or wounded because an American kissed a French lady…”

April 5th 1919

My brother Hum, in his role as Housemaster of School House, has prepared some remarks reflecting on the past term, for the next issue of the ‘Draconian’:

“The epidemics were not as formidable this term. The ‘flu’ was of a much milder type than the onslaught which we dodged last term, and it considerately spread its visitation over several weeks. We were lucky in getting excellent additional nurses, and in escaping complications in all cases.

It is almost ridiculous to treat German Measles seriously. In most cases there was no rise in temperature and the rash sometimes only popped out for a few hours. Our difficulty lay in dealing with boys normally ill, and infectious, but actually very full of life and mischief.

* * * * * *

On the last Sunday of term we anticipated what we hope may be a frequent delight next term, by a very enjoyable bike-ride and picnic to Begbroke, where the woods were explored and a rare plant was discovered by Mr. Haynes.

* * * * * * 

School services have been held each Sunday, sometimes at School and sometimes, during the ‘flu’, at the House. We hope and believe that our short services, with prayers, hymns and readings carefully selected, and rendered strikingly well by the boys themselves, followed by an address from a varied selection of preachers, each knowing the needs of boys, may engender an attitude towards worship different from that which has too frequently held among school boys. We hold that the religious life of a school – even a Preparatory School – should be the care of the boys and staff, lay as well as clerical.

It should claim interest least as much as cricket or football, and it should not be regarded as priggish to show such interest… We shall at all times be glad to welcome any Old Boy or friend who is willing to come and talk for 10-15 minutes to the boys at one of these services.

* * * * * * 

Mr W Bye BSc, at present Capt. Bye MC DSO, returns to us next term from military service. He will have a ‘small’ house (12 Bardwell Road) where he will be in charge of about a dozen boarders. There has been considerable demand for a ‘small’ house for boys just beginning their school career, and new boys will usually start with a term or two in this house.”

 

To this I may add that Noel Sergent, who entered the French Army as a poilu and won his commission in the Heavy Artillery, is joining the staff next term. He went right through the Gallipoli campaign, was torpedoed in the Mediterranean (a very narrow escape, only due to his wonderful powers of swimming) and fought through the last part of the war in Flanders.

His perfect French and good mathematics, besides his strong personality, should make him a valuable addition, and I hope a permanent one, to our staff.

We are most grateful to Old Dragons  Maurice Jacks, Pat Duff, Jack Richards and Oliver Sturt, who have been most useful in giving us temporary help over this past term and we are greatly indebted to them.

 

March 28th 1919

February 4th 1919 – Admiral Tyrwhitt joins us in a school photograph.

As we come to the end of term, we can look back on the pleasure of meeting up again in peacetime with many of our Old Boys. We were particularly honoured by the visit of Rear-Admiral Reginald Tyrwhitt (who took the surrender of the German submarines).

It has been an especial pleasure to receive visits from those Old Dragons who contributed letters and articles to the Draconian during the war years. What a rich tapestry they have woven for us:

Roger Mott (writing of his archeological find),  Robin Laffan (on the difficulty of being understood by the Serbs), Walter Moberly (who wrote so movingly on the death of Hugh Sidgwick), Leslie Grundy (one of the first British soldiers to enter Lille last year), Maurice Jacks (who used Shakespeare to defeat the censor), Treffry Thompson (dealing with shirkers on a medical board at Cowley), Jack Gamlen (critic at our Shakespeare plays), Donald Hardman (recent winner of the DFC), Pat Campbell (on his experiences at Ypres), Donald Innes (who gave us the Despatch Riders’ Prayer), Pat Duff (who wrote about the evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula), Tyrrell Brooks (who was so supportive of ‘Thomas Atkins’), and Geoffrey Rose (who recorded the battle in which Walter Moberly won his DSO).

How glad we were to see them all back at their old school after such years!

Many have told me that their deepest impression is the revelation of the supreme worth of a British Tommy. This seems to have formed a bond between classes which must in the end wipe out many class distinctions.

March 18th 1919

Commander John Bywater-Ward (RN)

Yesterday’s edition of the Times brought news of the death of Jack Bywater-Ward, at his home at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight, on March 14th.

During the War he served in the North Sea, where he contracted consumption. Continued ill health forced him into retirement last July.

Jack trained for the navy on HMS Britannia, becoming a Midshipman in 1898, aged 16. He subsequently served on HMS Canopus (1907-9) and was on the staff of HMS Excellent (Portsmouth Gunnery School) as Senior Staff Lieut.  From 1912-17 he served on HMS Ajax, and was awarded the Russian Order of St. Anne, 3rd class, “with swords” for distinguished service during the Battle of Jutland.

HMS Ajax’s forward guns.

In 1917 he was back at HMS Excellent as a Commander, instructing on the Long Gunnery Course Gunnery on Whale Island, Portsmouth, where he was also credited with four inventions that were accepted by the Admiralty.

Jack’s father died in 1898, but he is survived by his mother (who lives here in Oxford), his wife and eight-year-old daughter.

He will be buried on the Isle, at St Helen’s Churchyard, St Helens.

March 12th 1919

Sub-Lieut. Percy Trevelyan (RN)

It is now four months since the Armistice was signed and we assumed that those who had served their country so faithfully were to be spared. However, the influenza and associated illnesses are proving just as deadly.

Percy Trevelyan, who had been assigned to HMS Sable in December, died of bronchial pneumonia at his home on Marston Ferry Road in Oxford on March 10th, aged just 19.

He only spent a year at the OPS (1909-10), being ordered by his doctor to go to a school with a different climate, but we all grew very fond of him and his bright, happy disposition during the short time he was with us.

He entered the Navy by way of the Royal Naval Colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth.

At Jutland, Percy (then a 16 year old midshipman) was in the thick of the fighting, being on the battleship HMS Malaya, which sustained more casualties than any other battleship that day.

He then served in the Dover Patrol for about nine months on the patrol boat HMS P 50, when it was commanded by another Old Dragon, Lieut. Desmond Stride (RN).

Percy lost his mother in 1903 and his older brother Wilfred, who served with the Rifle Brigade, died at Ypres in May 1915 after barely a month at the Front.

His body is to be interred in the family plot alongside his mother at Wolvercote Cemetery.