December 16th 1917

Christmas Term 1917

As another term draws to a close, there are always a number of matters to which I wish I had drawn attention. Thus, below are a collection of such things, of varying importance, but I hope worthy of being recorded here.

 

Our numbers this term totalled 143. Of these, 82 were boarders and 50 day boys and we had 11 day girls. The day boys were fewer than usual because many Oxford parents had left for work in Town or elsewhere, owing to the war; and in several cases their boys have been received into the Boarding House.

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We were delighted that Lieut. Lindsay Wallace – Pug – was able to rejoin the Staff this term. He was a boy at the OPS (1885-90) and a master (1901-15) before he joined the Army and was severely injured this summer.

He and his wife Deta are now looking after four young boarders in their house (which is known as the Ritz!)

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Miss Bagguley has taught the OPS for about 30 years, and, in the nature of things, will only remain with us a short time longer; Miss Williams has been here for 17 years, and now owing to her brother’s blindness (caused by a wound received in action) she has to leave us and live at home in London.

It is proposed to raise a joint subscription for a testimonial to them from their old pupils and friends. Will any who wish to contribute send their contributions to Lieut. Lindsay Wallace, 6 Park Town, Oxford.

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The Ford Ambulance caravan has been greatly in demand for convoy purposes. Since its equipment with an ambulance body it has met upwards of 60 convoys and has conveyed some 300 officers and soldiers to the hospitals in Oxford.

As a caravan it gave Kit, Joyce and myself a delightful summer holiday, with some adventurous incidents. It has now been fitted with a gas-bag, which however leaks at the seams and is not in use at present.

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We introduced morning drill this term. Swedish exercise took place from 8.50 – 9.00 in the Covered Playground. Hum tells me that the boys have become reconciled to missing 10 minutes of cramming up Prep before school, and have seemed fresher and better in school for the preliminary breathing and exercise in the open.

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The football team was so good and the selection so difficult that 17 colours were given. Four matches were won and we were only just beaten by a much heavier team of Radley boys under 15.

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May I thank those parents who, in response to the bursarial appeal accompanying the last School accounts, have added various sums to those accounts? I am afraid I must add that these additions, which amount in all to about £100 for the term, were far from enough to meet the vastly increased expenditure.

It is inevitable that all the salaries of masters, mistresses and other workers have had to be raised considerably, in addition to the great increase in housekeeping expenses. I only ask those, whose means enable them to do so, to increase their payments for their sons.

Many schools have raised their fees all round, but I know that would hit some of the parents of my boys very hard, and I will not do it.

 

Next term begins on Wednesday 16th January.

July 24th 1915

 July 23rd 1915 – End of the Summer Term.

The members of the school have sent in the course of the term £13 7s 3d (last year £13 2s 0d) to the Fresh Air Fund, after being asked to decide among themselves whether they would support the Fund again or devote their contribution to some War Fund. They have also sent £5 1s 0d to the Base Hospital Tobacco Fund, and £1 to the Red Cross Fund.

£2 of this represented what would have been spent on ices on the Fathers’ Match Day, but the boys asked to give up their ices.

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So comes to an end the most traumatic school year I have ever experienced in my 30 years as Headmaster of the OPS. At the final service of term, last Sunday, I spoke to the school as follows:

“We seem to have been living in a dark shadow all this year. Just a year ago we were all looking forward to bright and cheerful holidays. I was off on the ‘Blue Dragon’ to Norway over the foam and you were off to the sea side or the country and none of us had any thought of the dread horror that has befallen the world…

The question we who have to stay at home all have to ask ourselves is what have we done, what are we doing, what shall we do to help – and it is very difficult for you and me to say that we are really helping as much as we possibly can, to those who are enduring so much for us and for our country and for the cause of right. It is a question that each of us must answer for him or herself – personally, I find it very hard to get out of the ordinary way of living and thinking and I really don’t know whether it is right or wrong to enjoy oneself in ordinary ways – ought one, for instance, to refuse to eat meat, salmon, new potatoes? Ought one to give up driving a car because it is a pleasure to do so, ought one to give up the pleasure of giving tips or presents and buy war vouchers instead? Ought you boys not to spend any money on grub, on presents, on holiday excursions? It is very difficult to answer. I believe the young can answer these questions better than the old…

Try then, my dear boys and girls, to help and be good to others, to work hard and do your very best to help your parents, to be brave in refusing when other people try to make you do wrong by “daring” you or jeering at you, or by threatening to lick you if you don’t. You little boys and girls try to be specially good to your parents and brothers and sisters and to make the holidays happy ones…”

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PARENTS – please note:

As is well known, the expense of ‘keeping school’ has gone up very considerably – at least 33%. The Preparatory Schools Association suggested two courses, (1) to give a week extra holiday three times a year, (2) to increase the fees.

I do not think either of these proposals is to be commended, but I would ask parents to remember the circumstance, and not to ask for reductions for epidemic absence or lost time! Of course we do our share in taking sons of fallen officers and of Belgian refugees free or at nominal terms – but this is only possible if parents will remember that the schoolmaster suffers quite as much financially by the War as anyone else.

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Next term begins on September 22nd 1915.