May 2nd 1916

Word has come from Dublin that the Norway family are safe. A lengthy letter written by Mrs Norway, chronicling the events she has witnessed, has been received by her sister Grace. She has kindly furnished Mrs Sturt with a copy of this letter.

It transpires that Nevil and his mother found themselves outside the Post Office only ten minutes after it had been taken by the rebels – they were expecting to meet up with Mr Norway for lunch nearby.

His mother writes (dated April 25th) “We were close to the GPO when two or three shots were fired followed by a volley and the crowd began rushing down towards the bridge and people calling out ‘Go back, go back, the Sinn Feiners are firing.” I told Nevil I was going back and fled with the crowd, but Nevil said he would go on.

I got safely back to the hotel and found consternation, every moment people coming in with tales of people being shot in the streets and the whole of St. Stephen’s Green being in the hands of the rebels. I was told that the Post Office has been stormed, the Guard shot and the Sinn Feiners were in possession and firing volleys on the police from the windows.

About 1.30 p.m. Nevil returned and we had an anxious lunch.”

Their anxiety was allayed by a telephone call informing them that, just before the attack, Mr Norway had been summoned from the GPO to a conference in Dublin Castle and, although he was trapped there, he was safe. Had he still been at his desk, he would certainly have been taken hostage.

Nevil witnessed the arrival on the scene of a troop of Lancers. As they drew up, the rebels opened fire and he saw four go down before he scattered with the rest of the crowd.

The following day (April 26th) Mrs Norway reported that “the military are pouring into the City and are in the Shelbourne Hotel and Trinity College. The rebels have barricaded Sackville Street… While I am writing now there is incessant firing in St. Stephen’s Green and we fear there may be street fighting in this street (Dawson St).”

St Stephen's Green

A rough sketch – the Norways live on Dawson Street.

Notwithstanding the rebel positions on St Stephen’s Green, Mrs Norway seems to have been happy for Nevil (still only 17 years of age) to leave the hotel to explore the situation further:

“Nevil did a very plucky thing… He walked up to St. Stephen’s Green and saw a little group of men peering through the railings from our side into the Green. He went to see what they were looking at and found an extraordinary sight. A small gate in the railings had been barricaded by the rebels by putting one of the garden seats against it upside down and on the top of that another garden seat right side up, and lying full length on the seat, face downwards, was a man with all his lower jaw blown away and bleeding profusely.

Nevil immediately climbed the railings and dropped down on the other side, and ascertained the man was alive; he then turned and fairly cursed the men who were peering in, and asked if there was not one man enough to come over the railings and help him move the poor creature, whereupon three men climbed over and together they lifted down the seat with the man on it, dragged away the other seat, and so opened the gate and brought out the seat and man without moving him.

Nevil escorted the men till they were close to Mercer’s Hospital and then left them to take him in. When it is possible I will go and find out if the man is alive, but Nevil says he does not think he could possibly live. It was a terrible case.”

The newspapers today indicate that although Sackville Street is in ruins and the GPO nothing more than a shell, the situation in Dublin is now well under control, the rebels having surrendered. We look forward to further news of the Norways nonetheless.

 

May 1st 1916

Although today’s papers have more detailed news of recent events in Dublin and indicate an improvement in the situation, we are none the wiser as to the fate of the Norway family. There has been no mail and the country is under Martial Law.

We do know that the Norways have been living in the Royal Hibernian Hotel on Dawson Street, off St. Stephen’s Green. As the rebels have been in possession of the Green and that there are reports of numerous snipers in the area, one can only assume that they have been in some considerable danger.

The GPO, where Mr Arthur Hamilton Norway has his office, has been all but destroyed but, being a Bank Holiday, the hope is that he would not have been present when the rebels attacked.

His son, Nevil Norway was a day-boy here at the OPS from 1910-13, residing with the Sturt family close by in Park Town. The Norway family met the Sturts on holiday in Cornwall and they became friends.

We hope that Mr & Mrs Sturt, who are in touch with Mrs Norway’s sister, will receive some news shortly.

* * * * * * *

Also in today’s newspaper is an announcement that Mr Arthur Lionel Smith, the father of Lionel Smith (who was at the OPS  1890-94) has been elected the new Master of Balliol College, Oxford.

By my estimation, there are about twenty Old Dragons who later attended Balliol now fighting in this war. Of those 21 Old Dragons who have been killed, Regie Fletcher, George Fletcher, Ronald Poulton, Alasdair Macdonell together with Tom Higginson are all Balliol men.

 

April 26th 1916

Harold Leefe Robinson

2nd Lieut. Harold Leefe Robinson (101st Grenadiers, Indian Army)

Yesterday’s edition of ‘The Times’ reported the death, on April 19th, of Harold Leefe Robinson.

Harold, together with his brother William, was only briefly at the OPS, in 1901-2,  after which he returned to India with his mother. He did return to England to complete his education at St Bees School in Cumberland, but he then went back to India and took charge of a tea estate in the Coimbatore district in 1913.

On the outbreak of war he joined up and entered the Indian Army Reserve. He was attached to the Mahratta Light Infantry and had been serving in Mesopotamia since December. He died of wounds received during the attempts to relieve our troops stationed in Kut.

(His brother William Leefe Robinson, who is now in the RFC, has been wounded, having received a shrapnel wound in the leg when flying over Lille on May 9th last year.)

* * * * * * *

Today’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ contains news (on page 9) of an attack on the GPO in Dublin, which gives us great concern for one Old Dragon family living there: the Norways.

In 1912, Nevil Norway‘s father, Arthur Hamilton Norway, was made Secretary to the Post Office in Ireland – in effect in charge of the Post Office throughout the country. His office is in the Post Office building attacked by the rebels.

We await news as to both his safety and that of the family. Nevil Norway, now aged 17, will have returned home recently for the holidays from Shrewsbury, where he is now at school.