July 19th 1919

A visiting headmaster, who attended our end-of-term Prize-Giving commented that there was “something delightfully friendly and unbigwiggish about it, and I loved the variety in your prizes and the variety of things they were given for…”

He rightly observed that I enjoyed the occasion, and given this encouragement, I am including here extracts from my speech:

“Hum has been for the past two years in entire charge of the Boarders, and I make some recognition of his efficiency and help by associating with me in the Headmastership. We are now joint Headmasters – with different spheres of responsibility. From our experience so far, I have not the slightest doubt that this arrangement will be most satisfactory in every way. With our other old hands, Mr [GC] Vassall, Mr Wallace and Mr Haynes to run the outdoor life, and with Mr Bye, who has come back with honour of war and runs the Junior House, and with GC still as our enterprising and most efficient Editor of the ‘Draconian,’ all should be well with the School.

I may also say here that my daughter [Kit Lynam/Marshall] has come back from her war work in France and Italy after nearly 4 years and that she is to marry Captain Cyril Barclay (Durham Light Infantry) and that they are to come to Oxford, and that we hope he will eventually join the Staff.

Thirty boys and girls are leaving this term, but we have already more than enough new boys down to take their places next term. It is always a sorrowful task to say goodbye to those who are passing on from us, especially to those who have been with us for a long time…

I wish all you boys and girls who are leaving every happiness and success in the future. I thank you for all the good you have done in the School by example and leadership and the credit you have won for us. It may be by winning scholarships or winning School matches or in other ways…

I have nothing special to say to the Parents, but I must thank them for this: that so very few wished to send their boys back on the 18th instead of the 24th September, whilst the vast majority welcomed the extra days in honour of the Great Peace.

These Scholarships have been gained this School year (in order in which they were gained):

D Wiggins, Exhibition, King's School, Canterbury.
E Frere, Scholarship, St. Leonard's School, St. Andrews.
M Carritt, Scholarship, Sedburgh.
C Clark, 1st Scholarship, Winchester.
J Brunyate, 2nd Scholarship, Winchester.
D Hunt, Scholarship, Malvern.
P Vernon, Scholarship, Oundle.
P Mair, Scholarship, Oundle.
B Sheard, Scholarship, The Leys.
H Milford, Scholarship, Sherborne.
E Webb, Scholarship, Charterhouse.
L Salkeld, Scholarship, Rugby.

E Webb is not taking up his scholarship, having passed the interview and qualifying examination for the Navy. Stella Joy was top for Roedean. They must have an uncommonly high standard or else be short of cash, as I am sure Stella was worth a Scholarship.

This, though not quite as long a list as last year’s, is a record for any school in containing 1st and 2nd at Winchester.”

In the top form of 18, half were awarded scholarships.

July 20th 1918

The Summer Term has ended in pell-mell fashion, with four days telescoped into one. This did not make it easy for Hum and his School House boarders:

“A ‘soaker’ for the whole afternoon of Sports Day; followed by a very showery carrying out of the programme, a few hours before the departure of the boys’ luggage, increased enormously the difficulties of packing, which are not mitigated by the habit of leaving boots and macintoshes, sun hats etc., in the field, pavilions, and even hedges, in spite of many exhortations to bring such things up in good time.”

Cecil Salkeld on the banks of the Cher.

As a result of the ‘soaker,’ our final day of term started with the Sports Day programme. In between the showers we completed all events except the Obstacle Race and, in spite of the bad conditions, Cecil Salkeld beat the school record with his Hop, Step and Jump, which was measured at 32 ft. 7 ins.

From Sports we moved on to Prize-giving. Numerous cups and prizes were presented and speeches made – including one of my own, which I will come back to another time.

Then it was time for the Concert, featuring a violin trio by Mendelsohn, a Beethoven piano solo, ‘And did those Feet‘ for solo and chorus (a new piece written by Parry) and numerous other musical items and recitations. It was all rounded off with ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and the singing of the School Song, which rather took our critic by surprise:

“Little boys can make a noise, a master knows it well; but never have I heard such a cry as that roof-raising yell!”

He went on to note that there is only one thing that you should expect at the OPS, and that is the unexpected.

“And so ends the Concert, which, on top of Sports and Prize-giving, you might think enough for one day. But is a Dragon tired or lacks he voice for more? Feed him with supper and he is ready for the House Smoker [‘Sing Song’].  Now beware the Skipper’s eye. The sword of Damocles hangs over you and sooner or later it will fall: for he has got you on the list and you will none of you be missed. Visitors, the ladies, servants, les fiancés, ‘salvete, ‘valete,’ all are called upon and none may refuse the summons.”

An important change to arrangements had to be made for the evening. In amongst all this excitement, around midday, six boys collapsed with the ‘flu’ (we had five cases about a fortnight ago).  Hum is to be credited with this successful move:

“A successful innovation in connection with the house supper was the adjournment to the School Hall (necessitated on this occasion by illness in the sickroom, above the Dining Hall) for the ‘Sing Song’ after supper. There was more air, more freedom, and certainly more talent displayed than on previous occasions.”

A full final day indeed, but what are the holidays for if not for some rest?

 

CHRISTMAS TERM will start on SEPTEMBER 20TH 1918

 

July 22nd 1917

The Summer Term has finally come to an end with a number of special events. We had a beautiful afternoon for our Sports Day. Notable performers were John Tew with 32 ft. in the Hop, Step and Jump and George Naish with 4 ft 4 ins in the Under 13 High Jump. These are new records.

Our friends from Somerville muscled in on the Tug of War competition, until they managed to break the rope! One of the most exciting races of the afternoon was the 100 yards race for officers – a pair of crutches won by inches from a bath chair, and the prize-winners received a stirring reception at yesterday’s prize-giving.

The prize-giving included a Challenge Cup inscribed “From the Officers now in Somerville. July 1917” which was presented to the School, to be awarded each year by the vote of the whole school to the boy who ‘has the most gentlemanly bearing and best influence on other boys.’ Our first winner is Tony Disney.

Just how much the young have helped reinvigorate our battle-scarred soldiers can be seen in an appreciation received from one the Somerville officers:

“To us it has been unalloyed pleasure and no words could express our gratitude in being privileged to enjoy so many happy afternoons among the boys… The golden days of youth came back to us this summer, those glorious days when enthusiasms are fresh and alive, when one never sickens of effort and when the game we play is everything to us…

You have given us many happy days and have helped us once again to re-discover the springs of youthful joyousness and love of life. May the memory of those happy days, spent with you on the banks of the Cher, ever live with us, go with us when we return to duty.”

 

 

 

July 23rd 1916

Yesterday we came to the end of another school year and, as always, we concluded with our annual Prize Day.

I took the opportunity to pay tribute to the role that our Old Boys have played in the War in my annual speech to the parents:

“I cannot but strike a sad note and yet a very proud one on looking back on the past year; sorrow that in the War we have lost so many very dear Old Boys and Masters; pride in knowing that they have fallen gloriously in the noble field of duty and honour. We are indeed proud of them one and all: 31 killed, 52 wounded, 1 VC, 1 CB, 8 DSO, 14 MC, 3 Special Promotions, 4 Legion of Honour, 1 Croix de Guerre, 1 Order of St George and 34 Old Dragons Mentioned in Despatches.

It seems a terrible grim Fate which has robbed us of these our friends in their youth and manhood, and yet if the veil were lifted we might understand that it is not all sheer waste, that the life and death and memory of each one of them is a stone upon the Altar of holy doing and deserving, which will raise us and all who have known them nearer to a heaven of love and peace.

Let us look to a happy day, in no distant future, when the blast of war’s great organ shall be hushed in peace, and victory shall have crowned our great sacrifice.”

The holidays ahead, in the current circumstances, will I fear continue to bring further unwelcome news for many of us. May our children, at least, endeavour to enjoy them as much as they ever did.

 

Christmas Term starts September 20th 1916

 

 

July 5th 1915

Sports Day & Prize-giving – July 1915

For the first time in the history of the school these were amalgamated. We had War weather on the Sports Day proper and could only finish off the High Jump in the shelter of the tent. Then we boldly announced that the rest of the events would be decided next morning at 9.00 a.m. before Prize-giving – and they were!

A gathering like this and our Sports and Prize-giving seem out of place in this terrible war year. I am not going to apologise for holding them as usual – and yet not as usual – for nothing is the same…

Mr Harvey, father of Cyril, was due to given away the prizes, but was unfortunately detained in London owing to the War. Had Mr Harvey been able to be present he would have spoken on the following lines. We very much hope that all the boys and girls (and shall we say grown-ups too?) will read, mark, learn and inwardly digest what he intended to say.

“It is a very great treat for me to be here…

I went to school in the big provincial town where I was born. I hated it. I was a scholarship boy, or what was called a ‘free bug.’ I was also a day bug, a chapel bug and every other kind of bug. The 6th kept the lower school in order by licking them with a long strip of rhinoceros hide and by roasting them on the stove of the big school room. We had half holidays on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays… That was the part of school I enjoyed. I used to go messing about on the river, fishing and sailing and falling overboard, or I used to fool about on a farm.

I played cricket once and had my teeth knocked out. I played football once or twice and got my nose broken.

About the age you boys are going to leave here and go to a Public School, I left school altogether. It was a rotten school. It was rotten because I had a rotten time there. What the boys think about their school is right. If you have a good time at school, that means you are at a good school. My boys enjoy their holidays, but they were always glad to get back here, and they were right. Cyril has told his mother that he is going to send his children to the OPS…

There is one thing that all us grown-ups have to think about these times besides our kids, and that is this great war… Although your lives are not directly altered, I expect you sometimes wonder whether there is anything you can do to help your country. You make contributions for the wounded, you make things to help the soldiers and sailors who are fighting for you and I do not think you are too young to understand how you can help in another way…

There is now a tremendous waste going on. Waste that cannot be avoided. Every soldier in the fighting line has to have six or seven rifles provided for him. The powerful cordite in the cartridges makes such heat that the bolts seize after 30 or 40 rounds of rapid fire. A little mud will spoil a rifle and rifles get lost and broken. The guns wear out very quickly with the heavy firing and one shell costs sometimes £100 and sometimes £1,000. The waste of cartridges is enormous…

And this is only some of the waste; there has got to be lots more and this waste will ruin us, unless we can save as much some other way. Here is where you come in. Don’t let your people buy anything for you that you can do without. Don’t help to give employment to anybody who is not making something that helps in this war…

When we were at peace, we wanted wool and silk for new clothes and socks and neckties. We wanted to be a nut. Now we want everything that goes to make guns and shells, rifles and cartridges…

There is a definite limit to the amount of things we can buy from abroad. And that limit is the amount of gold or other things that we have to give in exchange. We have £55,000,000 gold in the Bank of England and the war costs £3,000,000 a day. If we give our gold and other things for spotted socks, we get much less ammunition. And we have got to knock off lots of things besides spotted socks. We have got to knock off tea and coffee and cocoa and sugar and lots of everything that comes from abroad…

When you boys get back for the holidays, you will see that your people are trying to save and what you have got to say is ‘Right Oh!’”