May 19th 1918

M A Y    1 8 t h    –    V C   D A Y

 

In honour of Capt. Jack Smyth (Sikhs, Indian Army) winning the Victoria Cross on this day in 1915, we have enjoyed a day off, and what a perfect day it turned out to be.

There was a great river picnic on the Upper River, with lunch and tea at the point where Wytham Wood comes nearest the river, just below Eynsham Bridge. The School House maids drove out and joined the party for tea and changed places with some of the juniors for the journey home.

The racing, the blisters, the bathe (Chell’s especially), the sun (Percival), the fruit salad, the big spoon (2 members of Staff), the walk home (Cecil and A.N. Other) and the frequent attempts to drown her crew (another member of the Staff) will long live in the memory.

Unfortunately, I had to attend a meeting in London and missed all the fun!

It has been some time since we last heard from Jack. As far as we know, he is doing a staff job in Bombay – safely away from the Western Front at least.

June 28th 1916

A report on the Summer Term at the OPS is long overdue.

A mumps scare put us into quarantine for the first month, but since then all has been well and we have been able to play cricket matches against other schools. The weather was lovely at the beginning, even if it is execrable at present. Some people call cold and rain healthy. It may be so, but it is not pleasant.

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We have had two grand whole holidays. About 50 boys and girls went in a char-à-banc to Stokenchurch Woods on May 18th – V.C. Day, marking Jack Smyth‘s deeds of valour – and a more delightful day could not have been spent. Others went to Frilford and enjoyed golf with Mr Vassall.

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I discovered that the school car could be put to a better use and as a result the Ford was sent to Rochdale at the beginning of June and a ‘Scott’ Ambulance body was built on the Ford chassis.

Since then it has been in constant use in taking wounded soldiers to and from the station and various hospitals, and in taking the men for country drives. It accommodates two stretcher cases very comfortably and often has carried six or seven sitting patients.  These patients were refreshed on their short journeys by bunches of grapes, kindly provided by money raised by the boys and their families.

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We invited over a hundred wounded soldiers to attend our production of ‘The Gondoliers.’ They came limping in, some on sticks, some on crutches. Some in chairs and some on stretchers, but one and all meant to have a good time, and the Dragons in charge saw to it that they had it. What the doctors said the next day about the effects of too many cigarettes and too many other good things does not concern us here.

One thing that confused the soldiers was the fact that the female parts were also being played by boys. In short, nothing would persuade Tommy that black was white, and when he saw 3 or 4 girls, and very pretty ones too, girls they were – and he did not believe for one moment they were boys.

The actors themselves got a little mixed sometimes, and once one of them earnestly assured us that he would make a “dutiful husband, I mean wife.”

This made Tommy think a little, and one of the staff had the great idea of getting the ‘boy-girls’ amongst the wounded, and parting the golden and raven locks to show the unbelievers the unmistakable hairy heads of Dragons beneath.

On the way from the green room, one of the damsels tripped, and what he (she) said, made one soldier remark, “Well, that one’s a boy anyhow!”