November 10th 1918

Although the newspapers give us hope of an end to our agonies very shortly, we still have digest the news of those who will not live to see the fruits of their endeavours.

Capt. Kenneth Rudd was killed exactly a month ago and now we have further information on the circumstances surrounding Kenneth’s death from his commanding officer and friend:

Kenneth Rudd

“Capt. Rudd was with me when he was killed. The Battalion had just reached our final objective in our advance on the morning of October 10th. We were talking to each other when an enemy shell burst just behind us. Capt. Rudd fell and I bent down to him to ask him where he was hit. He replied ‘All over the back, sir.’ He then caught hold of my hand and I could see he was going. I knelt down and kissed him for I loved your boy and in a moment he was dead.

Today I have been out to see his grave. It is in a little British cemetery (near Audencourt, east of Cambrai), with officers and men who were killed in August 1914. A wooden cross with his name and Regiment etc has been put up and I have arranged for some flowers to be planted on his grave…

A short time ago I recommended him for the MC. I do wish he had lived to receive the decoration he earned so well. I am afraid a posthumous award of the MC is very rare.

To me he was always ‘Ruddy’ and I shall always remember him as a most perfect gentleman and one of the best officers I have ever known. We were close friends and I was more attached to him than to any officer I have ever known.

Capt. Rudd died as he would wish to have died. In the face of the enemy, the end of the war in sight and his last fight won.”

 

 

October 25th 1918

Capt. Kenneth Rudd (West Yorks)

The advances of the past month, including the breaching of the Hindenburg Line,  suggests that (dare I say it?) an end to war is in sight. However, progress has once again been at considerable cost and we have lost a fourth dear friend in this last month.

Kenneth Rudd was killed by shell-fire near Inchy (not far from Le Cateau) on October 10th, the day before the death of Fluff Taylor in Flanders.

To receive the news of the death of a loved one in war is to suffer pain beyond description.  The significance of a letter from someone who witnessed the event and takes the trouble to write a letter of condolence is considerable for grieving family and friends. A fine example of this is the letter received from one of Kenneth’s men, a Corporal Field:

“No words of mine can express the admiration we all had for him. We mourn for him as a brother and hasten to convey the deep sense of sympathy we have with you in your irreparable loss. It was my privilege to look upon him in death, he looked beautiful.

He lies in a grave where a Briton has laid him with reverent hands, and a nice cross marks the last resting place of one ‘who never turned his back, but marched breast forward, never doubting that right would triumph.'”

Whilst he was with us Kenneth was just as keen, devoted and lovable as he proved to be afterwards.

 

 

May 10th 1916

Nevil Norway

Mrs Sturt tells me that she and her husband have received a postcard from Mrs Norway’s sister to say that young Nevil Norway is now safely back at Shrewsbury School for the Summer Term. He visited his aunt on the way back from Dublin on May 5th and reported that the family are well but had lost a number of valuable possessions, which had been stored safely – so they thought – in his father’s office in the burnt-out GPO.

Mrs Norway has also passed on another story of Nevil’s work with the Red Cross:

30/4/16. “This week has been a wonderful week for Nevil, never before has a boy of seventeen had such an experience. Yesterday morning he was at the Automobile Club, filling cans of petrol from casks for the Red Cross Ambulances. In the afternoon he went round in an ambulance with the Lord Mayor collecting food for forty starving refugees harboured in the Mansion House, and then went out for wounded, and brought in an old man of 78 shot through the body. He was quite cheery and asked Nevil if he thought he would get over it? So Nevil said, ‘Good Lord, yes! Why not?’ and bucked the old man up.”

You might wonder at Nevil’s pluck, but nowadays at the Public Schools the Officer Training Corps are preparing the boys for war and Nevil will have had two years of training, so that he was in readiness for such events as occurred in Dublin.

Sackville St in Dublin after the uprising…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 5th 1916

A second letter from Mrs Norway has been received, covering the events of April 27th-29th in Dublin.

28/2/16. “Yesterday was the worst day we have had, as there was desperate fighting in Grafton Street at our back and the side streets and several volleys in our street. In the morning I was sitting on a big settee in the window of the Lounge, looking out, and listening to the firing in Grafton Street when some shots were fired just outside our windows, and the Manager rushed in and said “We must shut all the shutters, it is getting a bit too hot,” so all the shutters were closed and I moved up to the drawing room, which also overlooks the street. Just then, the Red Cross sent in to call for volunteers and several men, including Nevil, went off.”

The situation improved in the afternoon, although Mrs Norway witnessed considerable looting from a nearby fruiterer’s shop:

“I never saw anything so brazen: the mob were chiefly women and children with a sprinkling of men; they swarmed in and out of the side entrance bearing huge consignments of bananas, the long bunches on the stalk, to which the children attached a cord and then ran away dragging it along; other boys had orange boxes which they filled with tinned and bottled fruits, women with their skirts held up received from the windows showers of oranges and apples and all kinds of fruit, which were thrown down by their pals…”

The following day (April 28th) was a day of considerable stress for Mrs Norway:

“I am still rather shaky from a fright I got last night. It is too long a story to write in detail, but we had reason to think that Nevil, who is working with the Red Cross Ambulance, had fallen into the hands of the rebels, and we spent an hour I don’t even like to remember and that unnerved me more than I like to think possible. The thing was unfounded and we found out he was all right, and this morning he turned up to breakfast and has now gone off again.

He is, of course, safer attached to the Red Cross than roaming the streets making rescues on his own, but the risks are many and great: among other things, they enter houses where there are known to be wounded Sinn Feiners and bring them out. This Nevil was doing yesterday…”

Nevil has indeed shown a lot of pluck for a boy of his age – but having lost her older son already to the war, Mrs Norway’s resolve is also to be marvelled at.

The night of the 28th was no easier for Mrs Norway and fellow residents in the Royal Hibernian Hotel. Bullets came through windows in an annexe, which had to be evacuated. All of them had to take refuge in the hotel’s lounge, fearing all the time that the hotel might be set on fire by the rebels. Only later could they venture to bed:

“Things quieted down and about 11.30 we crept up to our room and lay down in our clothes.”

In the morning an officer visited the hotel to try to persuade everyone that it had been the military whose bullets came through their windows the previous evening. Mrs Norway felt this to be the case.

“People were constantly pulling up their blinds with the lights on, probably servants and residents, to look at the fires, and the military have orders to fire on anything that resembles signalling, without asking any questions, and I expect that this is the true version.”

Mrs Norway rounded off her letter with the news of the rebels’ surrender:

29/4/16 4pm. “Sir M. Nathan has just rung up to say that the rebels have surrendered unconditionally. We have no details and the firing continues in isolated parts, but if the leaders have surrendered it can only be a question of a few hours before peace is restored and we can go forth and look on the wreck and destruction of this great city.

And so end six of the most terrible days in the history of Ireland, comparable only to the Indian Mutiny.”

 

 

 

 

May 2nd 1916

Word has come from Dublin that the Norway family are safe. A lengthy letter written by Mrs Norway, chronicling the events she has witnessed, has been received by her sister Grace. She has kindly furnished Mrs Sturt with a copy of this letter.

It transpires that Nevil and his mother found themselves outside the Post Office only ten minutes after it had been taken by the rebels – they were expecting to meet up with Mr Norway for lunch nearby.

His mother writes (dated April 25th) “We were close to the GPO when two or three shots were fired followed by a volley and the crowd began rushing down towards the bridge and people calling out ‘Go back, go back, the Sinn Feiners are firing.” I told Nevil I was going back and fled with the crowd, but Nevil said he would go on.

I got safely back to the hotel and found consternation, every moment people coming in with tales of people being shot in the streets and the whole of St. Stephen’s Green being in the hands of the rebels. I was told that the Post Office has been stormed, the Guard shot and the Sinn Feiners were in possession and firing volleys on the police from the windows.

About 1.30 p.m. Nevil returned and we had an anxious lunch.”

Their anxiety was allayed by a telephone call informing them that, just before the attack, Mr Norway had been summoned from the GPO to a conference in Dublin Castle and, although he was trapped there, he was safe. Had he still been at his desk, he would certainly have been taken hostage.

Nevil witnessed the arrival on the scene of a troop of Lancers. As they drew up, the rebels opened fire and he saw four go down before he scattered with the rest of the crowd.

The following day (April 26th) Mrs Norway reported that “the military are pouring into the City and are in the Shelbourne Hotel and Trinity College. The rebels have barricaded Sackville Street… While I am writing now there is incessant firing in St. Stephen’s Green and we fear there may be street fighting in this street (Dawson St).”

St Stephen's Green

A rough sketch – the Norways live on Dawson Street.

Notwithstanding the rebel positions on St Stephen’s Green, Mrs Norway seems to have been happy for Nevil (still only 17 years of age) to leave the hotel to explore the situation further:

“Nevil did a very plucky thing… He walked up to St. Stephen’s Green and saw a little group of men peering through the railings from our side into the Green. He went to see what they were looking at and found an extraordinary sight. A small gate in the railings had been barricaded by the rebels by putting one of the garden seats against it upside down and on the top of that another garden seat right side up, and lying full length on the seat, face downwards, was a man with all his lower jaw blown away and bleeding profusely.

Nevil immediately climbed the railings and dropped down on the other side, and ascertained the man was alive; he then turned and fairly cursed the men who were peering in, and asked if there was not one man enough to come over the railings and help him move the poor creature, whereupon three men climbed over and together they lifted down the seat with the man on it, dragged away the other seat, and so opened the gate and brought out the seat and man without moving him.

Nevil escorted the men till they were close to Mercer’s Hospital and then left them to take him in. When it is possible I will go and find out if the man is alive, but Nevil says he does not think he could possibly live. It was a terrible case.”

The newspapers today indicate that although Sackville Street is in ruins and the GPO nothing more than a shell, the situation in Dublin is now well under control, the rebels having surrendered. We look forward to further news of the Norways nonetheless.

 

May 1st 1916

Although today’s papers have more detailed news of recent events in Dublin and indicate an improvement in the situation, we are none the wiser as to the fate of the Norway family. There has been no mail and the country is under Martial Law.

We do know that the Norways have been living in the Royal Hibernian Hotel on Dawson Street, off St. Stephen’s Green. As the rebels have been in possession of the Green and that there are reports of numerous snipers in the area, one can only assume that they have been in some considerable danger.

The GPO, where Mr Arthur Hamilton Norway has his office, has been all but destroyed but, being a Bank Holiday, the hope is that he would not have been present when the rebels attacked.

His son, Nevil Norway was a day-boy here at the OPS from 1910-13, residing with the Sturt family close by in Park Town. The Norway family met the Sturts on holiday in Cornwall and they became friends.

We hope that Mr & Mrs Sturt, who are in touch with Mrs Norway’s sister, will receive some news shortly.

* * * * * * *

Also in today’s newspaper is an announcement that Mr Arthur Lionel Smith, the father of Lionel Smith (who was at the OPS  1890-94) has been elected the new Master of Balliol College, Oxford.

By my estimation, there are about twenty Old Dragons who later attended Balliol now fighting in this war. Of those 21 Old Dragons who have been killed, Regie Fletcher, George Fletcher, Ronald Poulton, Alasdair Macdonell together with Tom Higginson are all Balliol men.

 

November 23rd 1914

The arrival of winter weather has put an end, at least for the time being, to the fighting at Ypres. Both sides have suffered most horribly and there have been times when British troops have risked their lives to help the enemy wounded. George Fletcher (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) describes an incident in which he was involved.

George Fletcher

“We were fortunate in being able to rescue one wretched man. He was one of the advanced party in the charge, and had seven bullets in him. He stopped for a day in front of us shouting, but we were getting such a peppering from snipers all that day that we were not allowed to fetch him. At night I got two volunteers to come and fetch him, and just as we were getting out such a hail of bullets came that we nipped back.

I kept up a conversation (shouted) with him next day – he told me the Germans had been practically up to him in the night, but had refused to help him. I told him to hang on till night, and we would try and rescue him again. So at dusk I got two volunteers again, and we pulled him in successfully, and doctors say he will live in spite of his seven wounds. Funny thing, war.”

 * * * * * *

Whilst the war takes up the thoughts of us adults, it is important that life at the OPS continues as smoothly as possible for our young Dragons.

rugger

The beautiful weather which held for the first month of term made rugger impossible. In the first match, against Eagle House on November 4th, considering all things, although the team lost 0-22, they made a good show and look as they might develop into a good side.

I am not convinced of the desirability of keeping each boy to play in a particular place practically always. To know the game properly, a boy ought to be prepared to play half or forward or three-quarters as he may happen to be asked.

There seems to me nowadays a sort of prevalent fear of doing the wrong thing, and not enough initiative, not enough determination to get through and to score against the opponents…

I must say I think criticism of an individual’s play, sometimes very emphatic and loud-tongued, should be entirely abolished during the progress of the game; and nothing but encouragement allowed. Personally I know what the effect on myself would be if I were yelled at as a slacker or funk in the middle of a match!

Why, oh why do not Winchester, Charterhouse, Repton and Shrewsbury play rugby instead of the disgraced ‘soccer’? Malvern, Radley and Rossall have abandoned the professional game and joined the Rugger ranks…

 * * * * * *

The boys have sent stamps to the Base Hospital, and indeed have made a very large money collection considering their small incomes! The ‘Blue Dragon’ gramophone with its lovely old records and many new ones has delighted the inmates of Medical Ward V, where it is guarded jealously from the raids of other wards.

Hum Lynam

Hum Lynam

‘Hum’ has been almoner-in-chief and has installed and looked after Belgian refugees at the Lodge and elsewhere. He has also collected and forwarded sweaters, pipes, pencils and writing books, subscribed for by the boys, to various quarters, including HMS Colossus, HMS St. Vincent and HMS Russell.

 

We have had the following replies:

H.M.S. St Vincent

First Battle Squadron

November 20th 1914.

My Dear Dragons,

Pipes very much appreciated – now smoked by His Majesty’s Jollies.

Pipe 1
Who owned?                         

 

 

And the other one that might have been made by Krupp?

Pipe 2

 

It was a kind thought and entailing some sacrifice I’ve no doubt – parting with old friends – Censor allows no news.

William Fisher (Capt. R.N.)

H.M.S Russell

21/11/14

Dear Dragons,

A line to thank you all for sending us that generous supply of briar pipes. The men are no end pleased, and wish me to thank you for your kind thought for them. I only wish I could come and thank you all personally for them! But I shan’t be able to do that until they become Pipes of Peace.

 Lance Freyberg (Lieut-Commander R.N)