Every day I open the morning newspaper to read on the ‘Roll of Honour’ of large numbers of officers killed and wounded, always in fear that I shall see the name of one of our Old Boys.
I am also confronted by an increasing number of those who are pronounced as ‘Missing’. This gives hope, but the families of these men are condemned to months of uncertainty as to whether their loved ones are dead, wounded or captured. In the case of the family of Capt. Edmund Gay (Norfolk Regiment) it has been nearly two years; he has been missing since August 1915.
Now two more of our Old Dragons have joined this list.
On May 20th, Mr Herbertson received a telegram stating that his grandson, Lieut. Hunter Herbertson (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) was reported as missing, but he understands that this does not necessarily mean that he is either wounded or killed.
On the night of May 16th he went out on a patrol with two others near Cherisy (at the southern end of the Arras battlefield). None of them returned. Enquiries will be made in the hope that he was captured and is a prisoner of war.
Hunter had done two years at Balliol (reading History) when war was declared. He joined up, but whilst training he suffered a double tragedy. His father (Oxford’s first Professor of Geography) died in July 1915, followed two weeks later by his mother. Both are buried in the Holywell Cemetery.
Mr & Mrs Dowson have also been informed that their son, Captain John Dowson (Royal Berkshire Regiment) has been notified as “missing.”
Like Morice Thompson, he was involved in the attacks that took place on May 3rd in the Arras district, but as yet we have no further information as to the circumstances of his disappearance.
John has been a regular visitor to the school in recent times. When home on leave he was always about, ready to take a form or a game.
It is at times like this that you are glad to have a photograph that captures happier times and places to have in front of you. This is John, as the boys will remember him, and hopefully he will return to us in the fullness of time.
Better news was to be found on a list headed ‘Previously reported missing, now reported prisoners of war in German hands.’ Included on it was the name of 2nd Lieut. Peter Warren, whose fate has been unknown these past seven weeks.
His squadron was returning to their base on April 2nd when they were set upon by German squadron. It seems that Peter’s plane was singled one and forced to ditch behind enemy lines.