May 13th 1917

Lieut. Morice Thompson (Shropshire Light Infantry & MGC)

I am sorry to report that a second Old Dragon has been killed at Arras.

We have learnt from the Thompsons that Morice was killed by machine gun fire in the Scarpe Valley, whilst leading his section over the top in the big attack on May 3rd. At the time he was hit, it is reported, he was attending to a man in his section who was severely wounded.

Circumstances did not allow for the recovery of Morice’s body for burial.

The battle at Arras, which started on April 9th, has cost many lives.  The length of the lists in the newspapers seems almost as long as those from the Somme battle last year, when we lost nine of our Old Boys.

I remember Morice as a rather silent and reserved boy, but, as such boys often are, exceedingly popular and beloved by all who knew him at all intimately.

He played in many Old Dragon football matches and was always a most loyal Dragon.

 

September 22nd 1915

Higgy

Capt. Thomas Higginson (Shropshire Light Infantry).

Our most recent grief has been compounded by the news that on the day after the death of Leslie Eastwood, his friend and colleague on the OPS staff,  ‘Higgie,’ was killed in a most tragic accident.

The Commanding Officer’s letter to his parents explains the circumstances of his death:

“He was sitting in a dug-out with another officer about 1.30 a.m. yesterday morning, the 20th September, when the roof collapsed. He had spent most of the day before altering it and adding more bricks and earth to make it proof against shell fire. He must have put on more than the beams could stand, as it gave way.”

Higgie was educated at Ludlow Grammar School and won an Exhibition to Balliol College, Oxford. Here he helped his parents keep him at College by journalism, and made quite a large sum by his contributions to the ‘Westminster’ and ‘Pall Mall’ magazines, amongst others.

In the holidays, with congenial friends, he used to pose as a tramp. They hired a barrel-organ and would sing (in harmony) as they moved around the country, seeing life from a different standpoint to the ordinary one.

He leaves behind Winifred, his wife of only 4 months.

January 25th 1915

At the beginning of last term four most valued members of staff left us to join the armed forces. Mr Higginson, we note, has been promoted to Captain in the 6th Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry and has been undergoing training at Aldershot and on Salisbury Plain.

Mr Watson left to join the Queen’s Own Dorset Yeomanry and was by chance in the vicinity of the attack launched by the Germans on the people of Norfolk last week.

 The Zeppelin Raid January 19th 1915.

Blair Watson

Mr Blair Watson

“On the evening of Tuesday 19th January, some of the quiet villages and sea-board towns of Norfolk were roused by the purring drone of motor engines and the crashing of bombs from the sky woke them to the fact that the long-expected Zeppelins had arrived. Yarmouth was subjected to a feverish outpouring of these missiles which destroyed a considerable amount of property and killed two people, a man and a woman, both typical raid victims, poor, inoffensive and old.

The only disappointing feature from the German point of view was that the wild panic supposed to be engendered by these instruments of frightfulness took the form of an inquisitive crowd gazing sky-wards and a few family shot-guns fired into the air by irate old men long after the monsters had disappeared.

From Yarmouth the fleet spread itself over Norfolk, spitting bombs with reckless vehemence and doing the same amount of trivial and unnecessary damage wherever it went. One of the number passed quite close to Sandringham and dropped bombs at Derringham, three miles away from the King’s residence.

King’s Lynn was the object of a heavy bombardment and here whole streets of houses in the working-class and dock quarter were damaged, some of them reduced to ruins, but with the loss of only two lives, the victims being a boy of seventeen and the young widow of a soldier who lost his life at Mons. The raiders then drew off at about 11.15 p.m., having spent less than three hours over English soil and hurried back to spread the tidings of their magnificent exploits.

When one reflects that the total ‘bag’ consisted of four harmless non-militants and a certain amount of damage to private property, one cannot help thinking that the shortage of petrol in Germany is not so acute as some authorities would have us believe.”                                                                                                                                                                                           

These deaths are said to be the first ever suffered in this country due to aerial bombardment.

* * * * * * *

Henry Souttar (previously featured in this log on October 5th & 19th) has had a book published in which he recounts his recent experiences. It is called ‘A Surgeon in Belgium’  and in it he tells of a quite astonishing incident concerning the Editor of an English Sporting Journal, who had joined the Belgian Army in the exciting role of machine-gunner in an armoured motor car.

On one occasion, having got out of his car to reconnoitre, some Germans in hiding opened fire and shot him, breaking the bones of both legs. He fell to the ground and an officer in the car by some mistake gave the order to start. But the Sporting Editor had no intention of being left behind. He seized one of the rear springs and held on, while his back and broken legs were bumped along the ground for half a mile at the rate of 25 miles per hour. He is now well and in England.