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.


June 4th 1916

Following the news of the sinking of HMS Invincible, our deep concern for the well-being of Lieut. Charles Fisher continues. As always, whilst we fear the worst, we must hope for the best.

We are also aware of others who may well have been involved in this battle off Jutland. Charles’s brother, Captain William Fisher (HMS St. Vincent) is known to be part of Jellicoe’s 1st Battle Squadron.

HMS St Vincent

HMS St Vincent

Mr & Mrs CRL Fletcher have already lost two sons to the war: Regie Fletcher was killed at Ypres on October 31st 1914 (a day that claimed three OPS victims), followed in March 1915 by his brother George Fletcher. Their oldest (and only remaining son) Lieut. Leslie Fletcher is known to be serving on HMS Colossus (also part of the 1st Battle Squadron). Surely fate cannot be so cruel as to take from the Fletcher family their only remaining child.

Attached to the 5th Battle Squadron are HMS Valiant and HMS Malaya. Both have Old Dragons aboard: Commander Geoffrey Freyberg in the former and Midshipman Percy Trevelyan in the latter.

Midshipman Francis Studdy is believed to be on HMS Temeraire in the 4th Battle Squadron, Lieut-Commander John Bywater-Ward is on HMS Ajax and, lastly, we think Lieut. Desmond Stride is on HMS Conqueror.

We await news of all of them.

December 21st 1914

A number of Old Dragons are serving in the Royal Navy. Earlier this month an action was fought in the Falkland Islands by a British fleet under Vice Admiral Sturdee, who had been dispatched to intercept Admiral Spee’s East Asiatic squadron. The action that ensued is here recounted by an Old Dragon, Lieut. Desmond Stride, who was on HMS Cornwall.

HMS Cornwall

HMS Cornwall

“A flag-lieutenant in his pyjamas hurried off to tell Admiral Sturdee that they had sighted the enemy and he found the Admiral shaving. ‘You had better get into our clothes, and I will finish what I am doing,’ was the calm comment, ‘then we will have breakfast.’”

Thus fortified, the British ships, having now been observed by the German fleet, gave chase. The speed of the British Battle Cruisers proved too much and the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau turned to give battle. Both were sunk. Stride’s ship was responsible for the sinking of the Leipzig and “all the German ships were badly on fire before the end, and according to survivors, the Germans assisted – when all their ammunition was expended – in the sinking of their ships, by opening torpedo tubes etc.”

Stride was in charge of a 6” gun and was in action for about four hours. It was indeed a clear victory. Only one German ship escaped and whilst over 2,000 Germans were killed, there were only ten British casualties. Although HMS Cornwall sustained a number of hits, damage was slight.

“There was only one serious casualty on my ship. When the fight was over I asked my servant how things had gone. The man looked very grave. ‘Well, what is it?’ I asked. ‘It’s my poor canary; he’d dead. All the feathers were blown off, and the cage, for which I paid 2s 9d at Plymouth, is smashed to pieces. It was a beautiful cage, sir.’”

I sympathise with this loss. Desmond no doubt remembers my study, where two parrots, 27 small birds and 5 canaries enliven the atmosphere. A few of the small birds live loose, whilst Joey and Polly fly about the room – and occasionally devour or otherwise destroy papers of value, such as the boys’ poems or exam papers; they also nibble bits with great discrimination out of my best books.

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We have received another extract from the diary of Treffry Thompson (RAMC), who is still attached to the Royal Horse Artillery near Ypres. It is good to hear that he has been enjoying a period of rest and recreation too.

Treffry Thompson

Treffry Thompson

30/11/14. “Resting… A typical day is as follows. I wake lazily at 7.30 when my servant brings me coffee and hot water. Down and walk sedately up to Mess for comfortable breakfast. Smoke a pipe and look at papers. Start off at 9.15 on horseback to do morning rounds. Trot along canal through woods for 1½ miles. Woods very pleasant and many pheasants about. See the sick of C Battery, then go on to K down the road. Chat with officers and then go off for a short gallop across country to Ammunition Column… Trot back to lunch.

After lunch either the General or some of the Staff come and we go off to the woods with two borrowed 12-bores. We then spend the afternoon waking up pheasants in the more open parts of the woods and get, say, six brace. Back to a cosy tea and much chatting. Change, read papers, and write letters. At 7.30 an excellent dinner of pheasant, venison etc. Pipes and more reading and off to bed at 10. And this is War!”

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Next term we will be putting on ‘Hamlet.’ During November, the two top forms read though the play in lessons. There was a certain amount of acting, the parts spread amongst the children and they have all been asked to learn passages for prep. Some of the more difficult passages I have explained to them, but the boys soon got the drift of the thing and gradually grasped the various scenes for themselves. I always prefer that they should form their own ideas, even if not quite accurate ones, than I should give them mine. ‘Clarendon Press’ notes, all philological and critical comments are rigidly avoided. I prefer the haphazard to ordered method.

All the parts were allocated before the holidays and by the start of term the boys are expected to know them absolutely pat. There will be three days for rehearsals and the play will be performed on January 16th in the Hall.