November 6th 1916

Although France is currently the centre of attention in this war, the North-West Frontier continues to require policing, in order to thwart German efforts to threaten British power in India.

north-west-frontier

Lieut. Jack Smyth VC (15th Sikhs), who wrote to us in June about the signalling course he was sent on, has written to say that he is back on active service there:

Jack Smyth28/10/16 “Here we are on the frontier, once more on active service and I am writing this in the Mess tent, well dug down below ground to escape stray bullets…

I arrived at Peshawar to find the regiment had marched out the day before and orders awaiting me to command the Depot.

A newly joined subaltern came up and reported that he had been left as Adjutant and handed over piles of correspondence, which we had to get down to at once…

We had two or three very strenuous days with the usual notes from everyone who had gone out with the regiment asking for various things they had left behind. This sort of thing:

‘Please get the keys of my bungalow from my gardener and on the bunch you will find a brass key, which opens the third drawer of my writing table. At the back of the drawer you will find my despatch case and in it my cheque book. Please send this out by the milk lorry tomorrow. Awfully sorry to bother you, as I know how busy you must be,’  but this is part of the Depot commander’s job…

Three days ago I was relieved and sent out to join the regiment. The Mohmands with whom we are fighting, or supposed to be fighting, have so far left us severely alone, but come down at night and snipe and hurl abuse at us…

We can’t attack them because they would only retire to their hills and we should need a large force and a long line of communication to follow them, and they won’t attack us because they think barbed wire and mountain guns an unfair advantage.”

Before this, Jack had been on leave in Kashmir, where he reports that he met up with fellow Old Dragon, 2nd Lieut. Edward Sheepshanks (Indian Army) at a dinner party,

“…and thereupon had an OD dinner on our own and drank to the Skipper and the OPS, which astonished the rest of the party…”

Knowing how lively an affair an OD dinner can be, I am not surprised they were astonished!

(At least there were no Wykehamists present to sing a joyous chorus in praise of the present subjunctive – and they did not have to suffer my recitation of the Banjo Song!)

* * * * * * *

Roderick HaighToday is the second anniversary of the death of Lieut. Roderick Haigh (Queen’s Royal West Surreys). Thanks to his bequest, which paid for our shooting range, the boys will be competing for the Roderick Haigh Cup at the end of this term.

He was a noble man, who saw it as a privilege to die for his country.

February 15th 1915

 

Roderick Haigh

Roderick Haigh

Roderick Haigh’s Will.

The will of Roderick Haigh, who was killed at Ypres in November (see October 12th, 29th and November 16th posts) has just been published. We are immensely grateful to Roderick for remembering us, as no doubt will be all who are benefitting from his generosity:

£2300 to the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, to found a scholarship or annual prize in memory of Arthur Elam Haigh (his father, a Fellow of the College).

£1000 to the Governing Body of Leeds Grammar School to found a scholarship or annual prize in memory of Arthur Elam Haigh.

£500 to the Headmaster of Winchester College for some purpose as he may determine to assist the Winchester College Mission.

£500 to the Headmaster of the Oxford Preparatory School to supplement the Exhibition Fund, or for any other purpose he may determine.

£30 to the Oxford Women’s Church of England Temperance Society and £20 to the Oxford Surgical Aid Society.

£500 to the officer commanding 2nd Battalion Royal West Surrey Regt., for investment as he may determine and to apply the income in the purchase of instruments, music etc for the drum & fife band, or for any other purposes he may determine.

Roderick also left a number of bequests varying from £50-£10 to warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of his regiment ‘as a token of gratitude’ In the event of their being no longer alive, the gifts will go to their next-of-kin.

Part of Roderick Haigh’s bequest to the OPS has been used to pay for the miniature rifle range and the Roderick Haigh Cup will be shot for annually, and will be won by the best individual marksman in a competition between Day-boys and Boarders.

The range has also been very useful to the 4th Territorial Battalion of the OBLI (Ox & Bucks Light Infantry) and to the Oxford Volunteer TC. Officers home on leave from the front and others in training have also used the range for revolver practice. In fact it has been a great success.

The rest of the money may be used to help the sons of Oxford dons attending the School, who, on account of the war, or for other reasons, may need it.

* * * * * * *

Mr Haynes has contributed a handsome addition to the Boarders’ Library in the shape of the following books, which were chosen by a plebiscite of the VIth Form:

W. H. Ainsworth: 	Old St. Paul's 
		 	Windsor Castle
		 	Tower of London
F. Anstey: 		Vice Versa
R. M. Ballantyre: 	Coral Island
Rolf Boldrewood: 	Robbery Under Arms
A. Conan Doyle: 	White Company 
			Rodney Stone
                	Exploits of the Brigadier Gerrard
Quiller Couch: 		Dead Man's Rock
Fitchie: 		Deeds that Won the Empire
W. S. Gilbert: 		The "Bab" Ballads
Rider Haggard: 		King Solomon's Mines 
	       		She
	       		People of the Mist
J. K. Jerome: 		Three Men in a Boat
R. Kipling: 		Just So Stories
	    		Jungle Book 
	    		Second Jungle Book
Lamb's 			Tales from Shakespeare
Capt. Marryat: 		Midshipman Easy
Anna Sewell: 		Black Beauty
Seton Thompson: 	Wild Animals I have known 
			Lives of Hunted
Jules Verne: 		From Earth to Moon 
	     		20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Stanley  Weyman: 	Gentleman of France
P. G. Woodhouse: 	Mike 
	         	Psmith in the City

November 16th 1914

We have been notified of the death of another very dear Old Dragon.

 Roderick Haigh 2

Lieut. Roderick Haigh (Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment)

Roderick has been killed; his crusade has come to an end. He was in the last charge of the 22nd Battalion at Klein Zillebeke (also known as Hill 60) near Ypres on the night of the 6th– 7th November, when the Brigade, only 700 strong, attacked and carried the German trenches, capturing three machine guns.

A private in his Regiment witnessed his death:

“We had the order to attack some trenches at dawn. I saw our Adjutant (Lieut. Haigh) cheering the men. We had only advanced a few yards when the enemy saw us and fired ‘Rapid Fire’ at us, and then we charged through a terrible hail of bullets, and got the first line of trenches.

Then Mr Haigh gave the order to advance, which we did, quick; and we took another trench, and then were told to get ready again, and we took the last trench; but when we got into it we found it was a running stream. The Adjutant with myself and 14 others got into this ditch only to find that the Germans were only 10 to 15 yards away, strongly entrenched.

We were firing point-blank range at each other, and all the time the Adjutant was standing up in the trench, head and shoulders showing. I actually stopped firing to look at him and admire him. He was using his revolver with great effect, and kept saying to encourage us, ‘That’s another one I hit.’ Oh, he was a cool man.

The Lance-Corporal went back for reinforcements, but couldn’t return. We kept firing for half-an-hour afterwards; then the brave Adjutant was shot through the temple. He died a noble death. I found myself alone, the only one of the fifteen alive, and I made a dash for it, and never got hit, though I had three bullets in my pack close to my neck.”

One of his tutors when at Corpus Christi writes:

“When the war broke out, he was recalled with his battalion from South Africa, and ordered to the front.  I know that he went fully realising the possibility that lay before him, but counting it the highest honour which can befall a soldier, to be allowed to give his life for his country and his king.  For him, therefore, we must not grieve.  Almost ever since I heard of his death, Shakespeare’s glorious words have been beating in my brain:

    ‘Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier’s debt.’…
    ‘Had he his hurts before?’
    ‘Ay, on the front.’
    ‘Why then, God’s soldier he be!
    Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
    I would not wish them to a fairer death.’

May his memory and example long continue to inspire those who knew him.”

Roderick’s sister was notified of his death on November 11th by way of a telegram from the War Office:

Haigh telegram 2

Lieut CR Haigh Queens Reg’t was killed in action 7 November  no further details – Lord Kitchener expresses his sympathy.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Teffrey ThompsonTreffry Thompson is not only an Old Dragon but a sailing companion. Some of you may have read of our voyages together in the ‘Log of the Blue Dragon.’ He is kindly sending us extracts from the diary he is keeping.

Having been a casualty house surgeon at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, he joined the RAMC. At present he is attached to the headquarters of XV Brigade with the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA). He writes of the battle which has been going on at Ypres since mid October.

“It might interest you to know what sort of things the Germans fling into Ypres. One of the RAMC men was walking outside a large house on the outskirts of the town, which had been taken over for a hospital, when a large shell burst some distance away, and the flat base only of the shell came back and hit him on the foot. This flat base was 16 inches in diameter and weighed 93 lbs., so that the whole shell probably weighed about 800-900 lbs.

These evidently come from large howitzers a very long distance off, as one never hears the bang of the gun, but suddenly a rushing noise, just like that of a train in a tunnel, ending in a mighty crash, which even 3-400 yards away shakes the ground and trees, and when they fall only 50 yards away, as a couple did this morning, they make the whole house rock.

One great advantage here at present is that the ground is very soft; so that the shell buries itself about 12 feet  (down) before it explodes, so that most of the force is spent hurling large sods and chunks of shell into the air; one can be quite close comparatively without real danger. It is anywhere from 100-150 yards away that one may get hit by the fragments.

October 29th 1914

Whilst the German advances through Belgium and France have now been arrested, attempts to outflank the German forces seem to have failed.   Tyrrell Brooks (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) does not think we can now hope for a quick victory.

JBBrooks

23/10/14 “We have been in this place for eight days and there is a sort of state of siege – each side digging in – so one hardly ever gets on a horse and consequently they are all eating their heads off. I have three extraordinarily good horses, all of which would make real good hunters.

This war is going to be a very slow one, and a decisive victory seems hard to realise or rather imagine, owing to the length of the line and the various ups and downs which occur in it. There is one thing I am sure of and that is the Germans are as tired and cold as we are, perhaps more so, as I doubt if their Commissariat is as good as ours. The RAMC have done splendid work out here and the removal of the sick has been quickly and splendidly carried out.”

* * * * * * *

Roderick Haigh (Royal West Surrey Regiment) has been wounded in the battle going on at Ypres, although thankfully not badly:

Roderick HaighSt Crispin’s Day (25/10/14). “This has been no St Crispin, but a quiet, peaceful Sunday in Reserve after a week’s very heavy fighting.

On Tuesday last I was wounded by a shrapnel bullet in my thumb. These bullets are about 1/3 to ½ inch in diameter. The bullet was ¾ covered. I at once bit the bullet out, and Capt. Weeding put on my ‘First Field Dressing.’ It is a very slight wound indeed, and is healing up well. I am remaining with my unit, and can even write orders, although, as it is my right hand, I cannot write as fast as usual.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoy it all. There is something so noble and something so grand about the whole show, which places it on a far higher plane than any other scene in which one has acted in this life.”

October 12th 1914

Roderick Haigh’s sister has kindly shared with us a letter she has received from him. Roderick’s father is a Fellow and Tutor of Corpus Christi College Oxford and Roderick won an Exhibition to Winchester from the OPS before going up to his father’s college. He took up a commission in the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment in 1911 and is now serving with the BEF.

Roderick Haigh  “I am extremely fit, and thoroughly enjoying myself. We are all inspired with the justice of our cause, and by the fact that we are fighting for the cause of honour and liberty throughout the world. The question at stake is whether liberty and justice or military despotism and tyranny are to prevail. It is a great privilege to fight in such a struggle.

I look forward to seeing you all again one day in England. But if I do not return, remember that it is the highest honour to which a man can attain – an honour which is open to officers and men alike, a higher honour than all the honour that can be showered on those who survive – to die for one’s country.”

 *  *  *  *  *  *

Under Mr. Wallace’s superintendence a really good rifle range has been made with 12 feet high butts, and firing sheds at 25 and 50 yards. It is parallel with the Cherwell at the east end of the field. Colonel Henry has most kindly taken batches of boys to the Oxford Rifle Range whilst ours was being made and had taught them the beginnings of shooting. Some of them are very promising and we hope to have regular competitions next term. We have six BSA miniature rifles with .22 ‘long’ cartridges and the Staff and visiting Old Boys have lively competitions.

The field is being used considerably by Oxford recruits as a drilling ground. The recruits have been drilled by Sholto Marcon, Billy Smyth, Alasdair Macdonell and other Old Boys. I shall be very glad to let the range be used for practice under responsible officers during the holidays.

Cyril Pouncey, in my top form, has written a capital poem, which we shall put in the next edition of ‘The Draconian’.

Oh! Kaiser William, I today
Do condescend to write to you
And ask you, if indeed I may,
If what men say is really true?

Some people say you are the cause
Of all this grief and useless strife,
Of breaking treaties, starting wars,
And cutting short the Belgian life.

They say you slaughter many a child,
And pound with shells each ancient town;
And use as shields the women mild,
And turn cathedrals upside down.

They say your soldiers, at your will,
Do rob and plunder just for you;
And often poor civilians kill.
Oh! Kaiser, is this really true?