July 11th 1917

With mild mumps and some German measles prevalent, it has not been possible to arrange cricket matches against other schools this term.

The situation has been saved by our old friend Nurse, now Sister Wilkinson, who left us in 1914 to work in the Base Hospital and is now working at Somerville College. (The college, being next door to the Radcliffe Infirmary was taken over by the military in 1915 to provide accommodation for wounded officers).

We were visited a couple of years ago by groups of wounded soldiers, who bowled and batted in the nets and now, thanks to Sister Wilkinson, teams of wounded officers from Somerville have been regular visitors.

As Chris Jacques (who is leaving us at the end of this term to go to Repton) has recorded:

“An experimental match was played against ‘Sister Wilkinson’s XI,’ who was in charge of Dragon boarders before the war. Some of the visiting batsmen needed a runner, some of their bowlers had to dispense with a run-up, and they were suitably handicapped in the field – and the game was so much enjoyed by both sides that it was repeated each week for the rest of the term, with the visitors bringing, wheeling and even carrying more and more supporters with them each time.

In the evening bathe that followed each match, we were joined by those of our opponents who had Sister Wilkinson’s permission, and by one or two more who had arranged for her attention to be distracted.”

As popular as the cricket matches were, the teas were perhaps even more enjoyed – particularly by me and the macaws:

Bath-chair cases were very grateful to Mrs Vassall and her lady helpers. Instead of being wheeled along dusty streets, obtaining in the process parched throats and having to swallow mouthfuls of ‘petrofine,’ several have been able to sit in comfortable surroundings, watch the cricket and enjoy themselves thoroughly.

I think that the matches have been at least as good for the boys, and in many ways more enjoyable, than the usual matches with other schools.

 

Hum Lynam (top right) with young Dragons and old soldiers…

June 29th 1917

A typical cricket pavilion moment – checking the scores!

It has been some time since events at school received a mention on these pages. What of the Summer Term, you may ask? For the boys – particularly when the weather is good – time is spent on the river and cricket field.

No cricket match is more keenly anticipated than:

Dragons XI  v  The Fathers

The fathers did battle with their sons this year in the time honoured fashion: competitively.

Mr Barker, who captained the fathers, has provided a match report:

“There was a new and subtle invention this year… According to this invention fathers might bat with a cricket bat or a broom-stick. If they selected the pusillanimous safety of the bat, they might make a maximum of 15. If they chose the glorious risks of a broom-stick, they might make a total of 25.

Mark the dilemma: consider the cogitations provoked. x + 15 = y + 25: find the relative values of x and y, assuming x is discreditable…”

Fortune did not favour the brave and the fathers managed only 37 runs, 15 of which were from the bat of Lieut. Wylie. Mr Barker is slightly less than generous in his remark concerning his top scorer:

“Wylie, murmuring the incredible excuse that he had never handled a bat for the last thirty years, chose the bat and made his inglorious maximum.”

The boys made a considerably larger score than their fathers. Modesty almost prevents me from saying it – they scored 177.

I should mention Mr Barker’s personal contribution – or rather let him explain himself:

“Veni, non vidi, victus sum. I came to the match: I did not see any of the three balls delivered to me; and I was beaten by the first straight one…”

In my opinion, he thinketh too much and playeth too little.

 

 

 

June 20th 1915

There has been so much distressing news from the various fronts of the war during these past months that it is pleasure to dwell this time on the life of the OPS and the Summer Term.

So much good cricket has been played and it is a great pity that an outbreak of measles has meant we have been unable to play matches against other schools.

The Fathers’ match, however, went ahead as normal. This contest was ‘fought out’ on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on June 18th.

One hundred years from the great fight near Brussels – 
And now another of the biggest tussles.
The bright green field, the cloudless sunny heaven
Between them hold the OPS eleven
And the old fellows who the boys begat
To settle which lot is the better bat.

So wrote Mr Harvey of this annual encounter. Unfortunately he and the other ‘old fellows’ could only amass 144 runs to the boys’ 147.

* * * * * * *

Mention must be made of two visits of parties of wounded soldiers from the Base Hospital and Somerville. On the first occasion, the soldiers played cricket in the nets, and in spite of bandages and crutches, bowled and batted with much skill. VIa were their hosts and bowled at them till tea-time; after tea, hosts and visitors mutually entertained each other with songs and recitations: one professional comedian, just home from the trenches, seems to have been well enough to stand on his head and sing until he was ‘as-you-wered’ by a companion, who was afraid the strawberries and cream wouldn’t stand the inverted position any longer.

A match was to have been played on the second occasion, but it was so wet that a sing-song was held in the School Hall instead.

We look forward to entertaining a team from the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry in a couple of weeks’ time.