November 20th 1920

Yesterday we said our final goodbyes to Kenneth Stradling, following his death on November 16th.

Most beautiful flowers were sent by relations and by friends from Osborne and Dartmouth, many wreaths by combinations of boarders, a splendid wreath from ‘the dayboys’, as well as others from masters and friends and individual boys.

At two o’clock, the boys lined both sides of the drive, while the motor-hearse, followed by two cars with the family and the staff (who acted as bearers), passed out on their way to Wolvercote Cemetery. Here a special service – a very beautiful one, sanctioned by the Bishop for use in the case of children – was read by Rev Henry Spurling.

Mr & Mrs Stradling have kindly allowed us to print the this reproduction of their card in memory of their son.

The card also had these most fitting verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (a poem which we also used in our school service on the day following Kenneth’s death).

Yet, O stricken heart, remember, O remember
How of human days he lived the better part.
April came to bloom, and never dim December
Breathed its killing chills upon the head or heart.

Doomed to know not Winter, only Spring, a being
Trod the flowery April blithely for a while,
Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing,
Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased to smile.

Came and stayed and went, and now when all is finished,
You alone have crossed the melancholy stream,
Yours the pang, but his, O his, the undiminished
Undecaying gladness, undeparted dream.

All that life contains of torture, toil, and treason,
Shame, dishonour, death, to him were but a name.
Here, a boy, he dwelt through all the singing season,
And, ere the day of sorrow, departed as he came.

When Kenneth came to the School at the beginning of term, it became clear at once that he was a boy of outstanding qualities. He had not played rugger before, but he took to it at once, and came to the front in every game. He was generally top of his form, and would have had a double move at the beginning of next term. Above all, his delightfully cheery disposition and his tonic smile had won him a place in the hearts of all in so short a time.


[The above poem, ‘In Memoriam F.A.S,’ was written in Davos, Switzerland, in 1881. Stevenson wrote it following the death of the 18-year-old son of a friend, who had died from pulmonary disease.]

November 17th 1920

Kenneth Stradling

The years of the Great War brought many of us untold grief; the influenza epidemic too caused us great concern, but thankfully our boys escaped the worst of it. Only now has the hand of fate descended on us. It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of one of our new boys, Kenneth Stradling. He joined us, aged ten, barely eight weeks ago when his father joined the staff to teach Science and run a junior boarding house.

On Sunday [7th] he was on the football field having an informal kickabout with one or two others. After tea at home he felt unwell, and came back to School and went to bed. There were no serious symptoms till Tuesday, when meningitis was suspected, and soon afterwards this was definitely diagnosed.

From Friday November 12th, Kenneth was unconscious, until 3.30 p.m. yesterday, when he passed peacefully into that new life, where we cannot doubt that his sweet temperament, and his glorious boyish smile, are in some way filling a part not less important than that which he would have played here.

We must record a word of thanks to his parents for their considerate attitude, through a time of great anxiety, and to Sister Willis for her indefatigable efforts and her skill, by which that young life was undoubtedly prolonged, though, unhappily for us, the hoped-for rally never came.