December 19th 1918

THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE

Due to disruptions caused by the ‘flu’, the play this term, which was Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance,’ had to be delayed until the very last day of term.

Our reviewer was most generous in his remarks:

“Beginning with diffidence, they gathered confidence as they progressed and ended with ‘brio’ on a note of almost boisterous hilarity.”

A number were singled out for their performances, including Ruth (J. Betjemann):

“A pleasing buxom wench was Ruth, who scored a great success in the part of ‘Maid of all work.’ Always perfectly self-possessed, she enunciated her lines with a clearness which even in that company was remarkable.”

* * * * * *

The holidays ahead – the first ones in which we can all enjoy peacetime pleasures since the summer of 1914 – we hope will be healthy ones too.

As Hum Lynam, writing in ‘House Notes’ for the ‘Draconian’ points out, we have been very lucky this term:

“The Armistice Term was also the ‘Flu’ Term and will be remembered as the first occasion on which the boarders have been sent home during term time. It was a preventative measure, which was fully justified by results, and we were heartily thankful that we were spared the anxieties and prolonged interruption of work, which were the lot of many schools. Except for a few mild cases of ‘flu’ just before we dispersed, we have been entirely free from illness.”

May 5th 1917

The battle at Arras continues unabated. Indeed, a couple of nights ago (around 1 a.m) many in Oxford were awoken by the sounds of the artillery bombardment – or so it was believed to be. I did not hear it myself.

* * * * * * *

We now have more encouraging news of William Leefe Robinson. His sister has been told that a captured German airman has revealed that William is alive and is now a prisoner of war.

We still do not know the fate of Peter Warren, who has been missing since April 2nd.

The casualties suffered by our airman last month must be a matter of great concern to our leaders. The Daily Telegraph of April 27th reported a significant increase in our losses (killed, wounded and missing):  January – 56, February – 119, March – 152, April –  319.

Of the twenty or so Old Dragons serving with the RFC, William and Peter are the first to have been declared “missing” and the news of William renews our hope that Peter is also a prisoner.

* * * * * * *

It is good to have the boys back and on the very first day of term our cricket team enjoyed a match against a team of young Old Dragons who are still on holiday. We scored a creditable 63 to the ODs’ 93.

The new boys are settling in well, although there have been some tears. Indeed, I found young Betjemann crying outside the Lodge. We walked up and down the road whilst I tried to comfort him.  He does know Ralph Adams from their holidays in Cornwall, so we have put them both in Form II. Let’s hope Ralph can help buck him up.

My brother Hum got to know the Betjemanns on holiday in Trebetherick a few years ago, and hearing that John was not having a good time of it at Highgate School (where his German-sounding name led to some unpleasantness), suggested he came to board here at the OPS.

 

May 2nd 1917

Summer Term 1917

Today we open the gates to a new term and we welcome 18 new boys into the school: G Naish (aged 12.9), E Webb (11.1), D Seebohm (10.3), G Page (11.10), C de Bunsen (11.6), T Anson (13.3), J Betjemann (10.8), M Garrett (7.11), C Neep (9.0), C John (8.10), W Haselfoot (9.0), Joan Gibson (9.4), B Gibson (8.1), Marguerite Leplae (9.7), M Edginton (9.2), A Onions (9.1), Joan Stenning (8.8), B Thomas (9.8).

A special mention should also be made of young Stephen Field, who joined us midway through last term. He is the son of the late Captain Stephen Field, who died so heroically whilst tending his fellow prisoners at the Wittenberg Camp.

Stephen has received a War Exhibition at Wellington College and has passed the necessary examination. He is only ten years old and will, I hope, be with us for two or three years before going to Wellington.