August 6th 1917

Fluff Taylor has written in reply to Hugh Sidgwick on the subject of a Memorial Chapel being built at the OPS after the War. He says that he is very much in favour of the school services continuing as they are, with the boys playing an active part, and hopes this would be possible in a consecrated chapel.

Lieut.-Col Stuart Taylor

The hybrid building, which is one day a theatre, the next a ball-room or even a garage, and on the third a chapel, does not appeal to my old-fashioned mind, and brings before me the picture of Jesus Christ driving the money changers from the Temple. However the opinion of the majority must decide, and whatever that is, will, I am sure, be for the best, and my subscription as stated in my former letter is at your service.”

We have now opened a subscription list and are grateful to the following for their contributions:

Lieut.-Col SC Taylor DSO – £50; CRL Fletcher – £200; Lieut. AH Sidgwick – £20; GC Vassall – £30; The Hon. AI Mayhew – £10. Total: £310.

After further discussion, a Committee will be appointed to settle what form our War Memorial shall take.

* * * * * *

With a new battle now raging around Ypres, one can only imagine that a number of our Old Boys are currently fighting for their lives. The days that follow are going to be ones of even greater worry for their families and friends, and we all hope and pray that they come through it safe and sound.

 

July 18th 1917

KCB FOR CAPTAIN TYRWHITT

Capt. Reginald Tyrwhitt, CB, DSO, RN (Commodore, First Class).

The Times today has the joyous news of the award of a Dragon KCB:

“Captain Tyrwhitt has been concerned in some of the most brilliant naval exploits of the war, and the honour conferred on him by the King is well deserved. He commanded the destroyer flotillas in the famous action with a German squadron in Heligoland Bight on August 28th 1914. Concerning this action, which resulted in the destruction of the cruisers Mainz, Ariadne and Koln, the official despatch stated ‘his attack was delivered with great skill and gallantry.’ On the same date he was made CB…

He led the destroyer flotillas in the Dogger Bank action of January 24th 1915 and was in command of the Arethusa when she struck a mine and was wrecked off the east coast in February 1916.

Captain Tyrwhitt was awarded the DSO in June 1916, ‘in recognition of services rendered in the prosecution of the war,’ and was decorated Commander of the Legion of Honour by the President of the French Republic in September 1916.

A scouting force of light cruisers and destroyers under Captain Tyrwhitt, on May 10th of the present year, chased 11 German destroyers for 80 minutes and engaged them at long range until they took refuge under the batteries of Zeebrugge. Only the precipitate flight of the enemy’s ships saved them from disaster.

A few weeks later, on June 5th, a force of light cruisers and destroyers under his command engaged six German destroyers at long range, and in a running fight one of the enemy’s ships, S20, was sunk and another was severely damaged.”

 

In addition, the London Gazette lists Lieut.-Col Stuart Taylor (West Yorks) as having been awarded the DSO:

“For conspicuous gallantry when in command of the right of an infantry attack. The attacking troops having been compelled to fall back, he collected the remnants of his battalion and about 100 men of other units, and, regardless of a heavy fire, he organised these in defence of a position, and by his fine example of courage and skill he successfully resisted three counter-attacks, and thus saved a critical situation.”

Fluff will no doubt be demanding another half-holiday for the boys on the back of this when he next visits!

 

To these awards, we should also note these honours which have been acquired in the course of this term:

 

Lieut.- Col AR Haig Brown (Middlesex Regiment) and Major S Low (RGA) have both been awarded the DSO.

Capt. GK Rose MC (OBLI) now has a Bar to his Military Cross. The citation reads:

“When in command of a raid on the enemy’s trenches, he displayed the greatest skill and energy. He organized an effective resistance to the enemy counter attack, and conducted a masterly withdrawal under heavy machine gun and rifle fire.”

The Croix de Guerre has been awarded to Capt. JD Denniston (RNR) and 2nd Lieut. CM Hughes-Games (Gloucs), has the MC:

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He displayed great coolness and initiative when in command of a daylight patrol, obtaining valuable information. He has at all times displayed great gallantry under fire.”

 

 

March 21st 1917

Lieut.-Col Stuart Taylor (West Yorks) has written to the Editor of our magazine formally to ask us to address the question of how we commemorate those Old Dragons who have laid down their lives.

Various Public Schools are already raising money for their Old Boys. Indeed last week we read that Eton has raised £101,000 for a Memorial, and in order to educate the sons of fallen Old Etonians at Eton. 750 of the 5,200 Etonians serving have been killed.

A letter in the Daily Telegraph yesterday (on page 9) invites Old Rugbeians to attend a meeting with the same aim in mind. Other Public Schools are sure to follow this example.

They are, of course, considerably larger schools with many parents of considerably greater means than ours.  Nonetheless, at present we have about 350 Old Dragons serving, of whom 39 have lost their lives and it is right that we now give consideration to this question.

Fluff Taylor’s letter is very timely.

 

A War Memorial

BEF, France.

March 14th 1917.

To the Editor of the Draconian,

11 Charlbury Road, Oxford.

Dear Sir,

I would like to suggest that the time has now arrived for the consideration of a memorial to the gallant Dragons who have given and who may be called upon to give their lives for their country in this great war.

The School is without a Chapel, and I can think of no more appropriate permanent memorial than a Chapel, which will be a lasting tribute to those who have died and a continual reminder of their heroic deaths to those who come after.

I will give £50 to start the fund for the building of the Chapel, and I am sure Old Boys and Parents will subscribe if the proposition is placed before them.

Yours,

Stuart C Taylor (OD), KOYLI (Lieut.-Col., 15th West Yorks R.)

 

We shall be glad to receive any correspondence on the matter.

 

March 6th 1917

We have a mumps epidemic and thus have been obliged to have our Sunday services at School. We have therefore had Old Boys on leave preaching – or rather talking (the word preaching, except in the case of a minister of religion, has an annoying meaning).

This week Lieut.-Col Stuart Taylor (West Yorks), ‘Fluff,’ gave the boys a capital talk:

Stuart Taylor 2“You see, in the Parks, the Drill Sergeant drilling the soldiers. Perhaps you wonder why it is necessary to be so particular that the soldiers should turn their heads and eyes to the right on the words ‘eyes right,’ why they should spring smartly to attention at the word of command, or why they must stand absolutely still and steady in the ranks. Why is it?

Why shouldn’t 1,000,000 men each be given a rifle, taught how to fire it, and be sent out to kill Germans? Simply because they will have, in the course of their work, to face unusual situations, sudden dangers, where steadiness, coolness and level-headedness are necessary.

You cannot trust a man or boy’s instinct to prompt him to do the right thing. It will make him do the natural thing. The natural thing is to avoid danger, to run away from it. Instinct will prompt this. But habit, which is the child of discipline, will make a man or boy face the danger and act rightly in an emergency…

The soldier is taught to keep his buttons bright, his hair brushed and short, his clothes clean and smart, not because these things in themselves are of great importance, but because they all tend to make him punctual, clean, smart, cheerful and tidy in mind and body throughout his life.

A smart, well turned out, well-disciplined regiment always fights much better than a dirty, ill-disciplined one. There is no doubt whatever about that…

If a bomb dropped in the street and damaged some people, the natural inclination of a man or boy is to avoid the danger and ugliness of pain and suffering, but the habit of your training, to command yourself and your natural instinct, will teach you to go and succour those who are injured and prevent others coming into danger…

And the outward and visible sign of your habit, of your discipline, is the Dragon which you wear on your cap…

That Dragon represents to you and to all who know you and your famous badge, the desire and determination to live a helpful, kind, courageous and unselfish life; to be true not only to others, but to yourself’. There is nothing so sad as the man or boy who succeeds in deceiving himself. It is far worse than deceiving others, because before successfully deceiving one’s own self, all self-respect must have disappeared.

That Dragon of yours stands to you and me as a symbol of courage, truth, unselfishness and kindliness.

I have met men who wore that badge in all parts of the world, in the North West Frontier of India, Mauritius, South and West Africa, Malta, Crete, Egypt and during the present war, in France; and everyone who knows it, loves it and respects it.”

 

November 1st 1916

Our old friend ‘Fluff,’ Lieut. – Col. Stuart Taylor (West Yorks) has recovered from his wounds. He returned to command his battalion on September 16th and, although he cannot say as much, I think it highly likely he is somewhere in the region of the Somme.

We are most grateful that he has found the time to write to the boys:

Stuart Taylor 2“We are living in stirring times now and there is much doing. I wish I could tell you all about it, but the censor rules are very strict.

There are one or two things I hate in the trenches worse than the Boches – rats and cats.

The rats are enormous grey shiny looking things with great fat tails, and they come out in swarms at night and eat up all the horrid things they can.

You would think the cats would eat the rats, but they do not, I regret to say. They are kittens which have been born since the war, in the desolated and ruined villages and towns of Northern France, and they are rapidly forming a new species of wild cat, living in old disused trenches or holes in the ground and coming out at night.

There is so much to eat lying about that they do not kill the rats or mice.”

 

This is not the way of nature, but it is to be supposed that war is bound to have some sort of effect on all who partake in it – even cats and rats, it now seems.

 

July 20th 1916

DW Brown 2The length of the lists of those who have become casualties in the newspaper this morning is truly horrifying, and now we have heard that Capt. David Brown (Leics Regiment) has been reported as “wounded and missing” since July 14th.

His father understands that David went out with a sergeant to reconnoitre prior to an attack. The sergeant was subsequently found dead but there was no sign of David.

Further information is awaited.

* * * * * * *

One of the hardest hit regiments on July 1st was the Leeds Pals Battalion (West Yorks). Their commanding officer, Lieut. Col. Stuart Taylor, was not with them as he is recovering from wounds he received in an earlier encounter with the enemy in May.

He has written from the Queen Alexandra’s Hospital in London to the Yorkshire Evening Post:

Stuart Taylor 2“I mourn the loss of tried comrades and dear friends with whom I have been closely associated day and night, in sunshine and storm, for the past fourteen months. But with my sorrow is mingled an immense pride, a great gladness, as I hear from all sources of the magnificent bearing and heroic conduct of our dear lads, who have cheerfully given their lives for their King and country.

The tidings of their gallant conduct and courageous deeds causes me no surprise, as I well knew how splendidly they would stand the test when the supreme call was made upon them.

To those who are left behind to mourn their loss, may God grant consolation in the sure knowledge of their dear ones’ valiant deaths. For the wounded I pray earnestly for a speedy return to health and strength.

For myself, my only wish is that I had been able to be with the battalion in their great and glorious attack.”

On July 1st, 233 of his men lost their lives. In addition, 15 of his 24 officers were killed (and the rest were wounded).

July 4th 1916

Somme map

The Anglo-French Offensive

The Push has indeed started, but we have little news as yet.

The report (as it appeared in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph) was general in scope, but positive in tone. However, the German statement quoted on page 10 suggests that the Germans were well prepared for this and that we suffered “very heavy casualties.”

Today’s paper (page 9) does mention that the West Yorks Regiment were involved in an attack on Fricourt and that they “went across toppingly.” Whilst we know that its Commanding Officer, Lieut. Col. Stuart Taylor is not involved (he is recovering from wounds received earlier in May in Princess Alexandra’s Hospital for Officers in London), Capt. Jack Ruttledge is a West Yorks man and may well be in the thick of it.

Lieut. Robert Gibson, whose letter we received only a few days ago, may well now be in action, as the Bedfordshires are also mentioned as taking part in this offensive.

We most earnestly hope that our dear Old Boys all come though unscathed, but meanwhile their parents are condemned to live in continual fear of the post boy with a telegram for the duration of this great battle.

We must all be brave.