December 16th 1917

Christmas Term 1917

As another term draws to a close, there are always a number of matters to which I wish I had drawn attention. Thus, below are a collection of such things, of varying importance, but I hope worthy of being recorded here.


Our numbers this term totalled 143. Of these, 82 were boarders and 50 day boys and we had 11 day girls. The day boys were fewer than usual because many Oxford parents had left for work in Town or elsewhere, owing to the war; and in several cases their boys have been received into the Boarding House.

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We were delighted that Lieut. Lindsay Wallace – Pug – was able to rejoin the Staff this term. He was a boy at the OPS (1885-90) and a master (1901-15) before he joined the Army and was severely injured this summer.

He and his wife Deta are now looking after four young boarders in their house (which is known as the Ritz!)

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Miss Bagguley has taught the OPS for about 30 years, and, in the nature of things, will only remain with us a short time longer; Miss Williams has been here for 17 years, and now owing to her brother’s blindness (caused by a wound received in action) she has to leave us and live at home in London.

It is proposed to raise a joint subscription for a testimonial to them from their old pupils and friends. Will any who wish to contribute send their contributions to Lieut. Lindsay Wallace, 6 Park Town, Oxford.

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The Ford Ambulance caravan has been greatly in demand for convoy purposes. Since its equipment with an ambulance body it has met upwards of 60 convoys and has conveyed some 300 officers and soldiers to the hospitals in Oxford.

As a caravan it gave Kit, Joyce and myself a delightful summer holiday, with some adventurous incidents. It has now been fitted with a gas-bag, which however leaks at the seams and is not in use at present.

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We introduced morning drill this term. Swedish exercise took place from 8.50 – 9.00 in the Covered Playground. Hum tells me that the boys have become reconciled to missing 10 minutes of cramming up Prep before school, and have seemed fresher and better in school for the preliminary breathing and exercise in the open.

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The football team was so good and the selection so difficult that 17 colours were given. Four matches were won and we were only just beaten by a much heavier team of Radley boys under 15.

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May I thank those parents who, in response to the bursarial appeal accompanying the last School accounts, have added various sums to those accounts? I am afraid I must add that these additions, which amount in all to about £100 for the term, were far from enough to meet the vastly increased expenditure.

It is inevitable that all the salaries of masters, mistresses and other workers have had to be raised considerably, in addition to the great increase in housekeeping expenses. I only ask those, whose means enable them to do so, to increase their payments for their sons.

Many schools have raised their fees all round, but I know that would hit some of the parents of my boys very hard, and I will not do it.


Next term begins on Wednesday 16th January.

December 18th 1916

As this term comes to a close, it is right that we should record some of the many note-worthy events that have taken place:

The Ambulance has been used for meeting convoys of wounded and conveying them from the station to the various hospitals. I have to thank the boys and others for supplying grapes, for which the wounded men express thanks. After their long and often tedious journey, a few grapes are found more refreshing than anything else.

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Lieut. Hoare, brother of two new boys, gave us a capital description of the Tanks. He had just come from the Somme and had seen them in their first actions.

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Bathing Parade!


These boys have kept up the morning bathe in the river with Mr Haynes before breakfast for the whole term: A. Owen, J. Tew,  C. Jaques, A. Rees,  E. Moffatt, whilst B. Mallalieu, R. Ferguson, T. Horsley and C. Salkeld only gave it up for the last ten days, owing to feverish colds. They started on Sept 20th (58°F) and finished on Dec 16th (34°F).

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Mr CRL Fletcher (the father of Regie and George came and spoke to the boys early in the term about collecting new laid eggs for the wounded soldiers in the Oxford hospitals. Miss Field undertook the arrangements and the conveyance of the eggs. The response has been enthusiastic – 1,416 eggs ‘of the best’ have been handed in to the Matron at the Base Hospital during the 8 or 9 weeks since Mr Fletcher came.

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During the second half of term, the VIth Forms learnt the whole of ‘The Passing of Arthur’ by Tennyson. With only one or two exceptions the whole form of 35 boys knew the poem perfectly and I am sure they find it a ‘possession for ever.’

As our hours for English are so limited, I fear that the form will come out badly in History and Geography.

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In response to an appeal from many quarters, we have decided to add another week to the holidays this Christmas.

The boarders will return on Tuesday, January 16th. School will begin on Wednesday, January 17th, at 9 a.m.

The Play (Midsummer Night’s Dream) will be on Saturday January 20th at 2.30 and 5.45 p.m.


June 28th 1916

A report on the Summer Term at the OPS is long overdue.

A mumps scare put us into quarantine for the first month, but since then all has been well and we have been able to play cricket matches against other schools. The weather was lovely at the beginning, even if it is execrable at present. Some people call cold and rain healthy. It may be so, but it is not pleasant.

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We have had two grand whole holidays. About 50 boys and girls went in a char-à-banc to Stokenchurch Woods on May 18th – V.C. Day, marking Jack Smyth‘s deeds of valour – and a more delightful day could not have been spent. Others went to Frilford and enjoyed golf with Mr Vassall.

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I discovered that the school car could be put to a better use and as a result the Ford was sent to Rochdale at the beginning of June and a ‘Scott’ Ambulance body was built on the Ford chassis.

Since then it has been in constant use in taking wounded soldiers to and from the station and various hospitals, and in taking the men for country drives. It accommodates two stretcher cases very comfortably and often has carried six or seven sitting patients.  These patients were refreshed on their short journeys by bunches of grapes, kindly provided by money raised by the boys and their families.

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We invited over a hundred wounded soldiers to attend our production of ‘The Gondoliers.’ They came limping in, some on sticks, some on crutches. Some in chairs and some on stretchers, but one and all meant to have a good time, and the Dragons in charge saw to it that they had it. What the doctors said the next day about the effects of too many cigarettes and too many other good things does not concern us here.

One thing that confused the soldiers was the fact that the female parts were also being played by boys. In short, nothing would persuade Tommy that black was white, and when he saw 3 or 4 girls, and very pretty ones too, girls they were – and he did not believe for one moment they were boys.

The actors themselves got a little mixed sometimes, and once one of them earnestly assured us that he would make a “dutiful husband, I mean wife.”

This made Tommy think a little, and one of the staff had the great idea of getting the ‘boy-girls’ amongst the wounded, and parting the golden and raven locks to show the unbelievers the unmistakable hairy heads of Dragons beneath.

On the way from the green room, one of the damsels tripped, and what he (she) said, made one soldier remark, “Well, that one’s a boy anyhow!”