June 1st 1918

There is news that 2nd Lieut. Adrian Raleigh (Leics) and 2nd. Lieut. William Dyson (Devons) went missing in recent fighting at the Front.

Adrian is the son of Sir Walter Raleigh, Oxford’s Professor of English Literature. (Professor Raleigh is a familiar figure, along with the Poet Laureate, Robert Bridges, training with the Oxford Volunteer Corps – known to some as ‘Godley’s Own’ – around the town).

Adrian was wounded on March 24th and captured along with a significant proportion of his unit the following day. News that he was a prisoner of war was noted in the newspapers on May 3rd.

The Devons were enveloped by a German attack on Villers Bretonneux, near Amiens, on April 24th and William Dyson is one of many whose fate is unknown. He is listed as “missing,” but in the circumstances there is every chance that he has become a prisoner of war.

February 28th 1918

Lieut. Blake Budden (Middlesex), who has been in captivity since the beginning of the war, is now in Holland. It was announced in the newspapers early last month that he was one of the second batch of British prisoners of war to be transferred. He was given quite a reception!

Daily Telegraph 7/1/1918

Blake was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1910, after serving in the Officer Training Corps whilst he was at Repton School. At the outbreak of war, he was on an extended stay in Frankfurt and was taken prisoner there in August 1914.

Soon after his capture, his father wrote to the War Office to enquire whether there was any possibility of Blake being included in an exchange of British nationals, suggesting that his knowledge of languages would make him a useful officer if only he could be released. This was to no effect.

In June 1917 however, following talks at The Hague, it was agreed any officers who had spent 2½ years in captivity could spend the remainder of the war in neutral territory.

Blake’s new address is British Interned Prisoner of War, Hotel Royal, Scheveningen, Holland. We have had a letter from him, the contents of which I will share shortly.

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.