November 22nd 1917

Earlier this month we entertained about 100 wounded soldiers to a performance of  “HMS Pinafore” and judging from their remarks it gave them real pleasure. At the request of Sister Wilkinson we put on a special performance at Somerville College for those who were unable to attend.

We are delighted to have received these kind words of appreciation:

“The crew of the saucy ship dropped anchor at Somerville Hospital on Thursday evening, Nov. 15th, 1917, at 5pm. It was with feelings of curious anticipation that we wended our way to listen to the delightful strains of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Pinafore.’

The performance was an undoubted success, the audience was in the happiest of moods and many of the numbers were received with well merited applause. The juvenile buoyancy of the crew together with the nautical stage settings were worthy of the very best ‘official’ recognition. The boys worked in true Jack Tar spirit, combined with a breezy cheerfulness, and all contributed in full measure to the evening’s enjoyment…

The performance was greatly appreciated and did quite a lot to brighten and cheer the wounded who are back in Oxford from the great adventure overseas.”

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 11th 1917

With mild mumps and some German measles prevalent, it has not been possible to arrange cricket matches against other schools this term.

The situation has been saved by our old friend Nurse, now Sister Wilkinson, who left us in 1914 to work in the Base Hospital and is now working at Somerville College. (The college, being next door to the Radcliffe Infirmary was taken over by the military in 1915 to provide accommodation for wounded officers).

We were visited a couple of years ago by groups of wounded soldiers, who bowled and batted in the nets and now, thanks to Sister Wilkinson, teams of wounded officers from Somerville have been regular visitors.

As Chris Jacques (who is leaving us at the end of this term to go to Repton) has recorded:

“An experimental match was played against ‘Sister Wilkinson’s XI,’ who was in charge of Dragon boarders before the war. Some of the visiting batsmen needed a runner, some of their bowlers had to dispense with a run-up, and they were suitably handicapped in the field – and the game was so much enjoyed by both sides that it was repeated each week for the rest of the term, with the visitors bringing, wheeling and even carrying more and more supporters with them each time.

In the evening bathe that followed each match, we were joined by those of our opponents who had Sister Wilkinson’s permission, and by one or two more who had arranged for her attention to be distracted.”

As popular as the cricket matches were, the teas were perhaps even more enjoyed – particularly by me and the macaws:

Bath-chair cases were very grateful to Mrs Vassall and her lady helpers. Instead of being wheeled along dusty streets, obtaining in the process parched throats and having to swallow mouthfuls of ‘petrofine,’ several have been able to sit in comfortable surroundings, watch the cricket and enjoy themselves thoroughly.

I think that the matches have been at least as good for the boys, and in many ways more enjoyable, than the usual matches with other schools.

 

Hum Lynam (top right) with young Dragons and old soldiers…

June 20th 1915

There has been so much distressing news from the various fronts of the war during these past months that it is pleasure to dwell this time on the life of the OPS and the Summer Term.

So much good cricket has been played and it is a great pity that an outbreak of measles has meant we have been unable to play matches against other schools.

The Fathers’ match, however, went ahead as normal. This contest was ‘fought out’ on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on June 18th.

One hundred years from the great fight near Brussels – 
And now another of the biggest tussles.
The bright green field, the cloudless sunny heaven
Between them hold the OPS eleven
And the old fellows who the boys begat
To settle which lot is the better bat.

So wrote Mr Harvey of this annual encounter. Unfortunately he and the other ‘old fellows’ could only amass 144 runs to the boys’ 147.

* * * * * * *

Mention must be made of two visits of parties of wounded soldiers from the Base Hospital and Somerville. On the first occasion, the soldiers played cricket in the nets, and in spite of bandages and crutches, bowled and batted with much skill. VIa were their hosts and bowled at them till tea-time; after tea, hosts and visitors mutually entertained each other with songs and recitations: one professional comedian, just home from the trenches, seems to have been well enough to stand on his head and sing until he was ‘as-you-wered’ by a companion, who was afraid the strawberries and cream wouldn’t stand the inverted position any longer.

A match was to have been played on the second occasion, but it was so wet that a sing-song was held in the School Hall instead.

We look forward to entertaining a team from the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry in a couple of weeks’ time.