July 30th 1918

Today is the second anniversary of the death of Eric Leggett, who was struck down by the scarlet fever whilst on active service in France.

I have the fondest of memories of Eric, who was the first young Dragon to fulfil the role of cabin boy (KB) on my boat the ‘Blue Dragon’ in 1892. He wrote the Log of 1894, when he sailed with us from Portree on Skye to Eigg, Tobermoray, Oban, Fort William, round Mull to Iona and Staffa, and on to Plockton.

Eric joined the Royal Artillery in 1899, after which his military career took him to foreign parts, which explains the references to India and Mandalay in the poem below. It was written by Frank Sidgwick, when ‘The Log of the Blue Dragon’ was published in 1907.

To E.L.

Will you read this little rhyme,
Our K.B. of olden time,
There in India's sunny clime?
                   (Exiled, alas)
Still we sail the old B.D.,
Still we bend the old burgee,
Though we ship a new K.B.
                   (Who is an ass.)
While the hathi's piling teak,
While the dreary punkahs creak,
Can you hear your shipmates speak?
                   (Isn't this rot?)
Can you hear your shipmates say,
"Come you back from Mandalay,
Come you back to Oban Bay"?
                   (Probably not.)

 

 

(A ‘burgee’ is a flag bearing the colours or emblem of a sailing club, typically triangular;  ‘hathi’ – an elephant in Hindi; ‘punkah – a large cloth fan on a frame suspended from the ceiling, moved backwards and forwards by pulling on a cord by a ‘punkah-wallah.’)

 

May 2nd 1917

Summer Term 1917

Today we open the gates to a new term and we welcome 18 new boys into the school: G Naish (aged 12.9), E Webb (11.1), D Seebohm (10.3), G Page (11.10), C de Bunsen (11.6), T Anson (13.3), J Betjemann (10.8), M Garrett (7.11), C Neep (9.0), C John (8.10), W Haselfoot (9.0), Joan Gibson (9.4), B Gibson (8.1), Marguerite Leplae (9.7), M Edginton (9.2), A Onions (9.1), Joan Stenning (8.8), B Thomas (9.8).

A special mention should also be made of young Stephen Field, who joined us midway through last term. He is the son of the late Captain Stephen Field, who died so heroically whilst tending his fellow prisoners at the Wittenberg Camp.

Stephen has received a War Exhibition at Wellington College and has passed the necessary examination. He is only ten years old and will, I hope, be with us for two or three years before going to Wellington.

 

August 21st 1916

I read with interest in the Daily Telegraph recently of the sacrifices being suffered by other schools. By the standard of Wellington College, our losses pale into insignificance. It was reported that of the 3,020 Wellingtonians serving, 395 have been killed and 490 wounded. In addition 4 masters have lost their lives.

Wellington is, of course, a much bigger school than the OPS, numbering 526 in 1914. Our numbers only reached 100 in 1905 and at the beginning of the war we had 119 children in the school (not counting our junior department of 20 children aged 5-8 yrs old).

Yet, by December 1914 there were 225 Old Dragons and staff in the armed forces, with a further 10 at Sandhurst, Keyham or Osborne and it may well be that there are over 300 serving now.

Our Roll of Honour currently lists 33 killed (including 2 members of staff) and 59 wounded/missing – 21 of whom since April.

* * * * * * *

My mind, now with some time to think on such things, dwells on the present stir in educational circles. Are we to have a scientific instead of a literary basis for the education of our children, or are the two to be combined in the scholastic edifice?

Preparatory Schools must of course follow the Public Schools and they the Universities. Shall we, after having conquered the Germans, proceed to imitate their methods and systems? Has our Public School education proved itself so much inferior in its product to the ‘scientific’ and ‘methodical’ Prussian system?

At the cost of a few days’ war expenditure a scheme could be carried out for all those young Englanders, whose so called education has hitherto been cut short at the age of 14, that would give every class the English Public School spirit and, in a generation, class antagonism would die down and the whole nation would be strengthened morally, physically and intellectually.

Here at the OPS, we have always tried to foster interest in Nature and her workings and should only be too glad to extend opportunities in such direction; Archer Vassall, Treffry Thompson, Dr. Slater, Professor Poulton and others have helped inspire this interest.

I hope to arrange for a regular series of lectures on the lines of the Ashmolean Society; this should be easy in Oxford. A knowledge of and an interest in ‘the world around us’ – this is of at least equal importance with, even if it does not include, the study of mind and thought; but this is a very different thing from a so-called ‘scientific’ and ‘systematic’ education, which rules out the Humanities and produces the German and his Kultur, as well as the weird English style in which its advocates usually express themselves.

* * * * * * *

My top English form last term did a good deal of essay writing and learning of good English and has somewhat neglected the acquisition of historical and geographical information, but the boys in future years will, I hope, bless me and not blame me for this; and if the pen be really mightier than the sword, they will have an armoury that will stand them in good stead.

August 3rd 1916

 

Leggett, Eric

Major Eric Leggett (Royal Artillery)

A third Leggett brother has died – barely two weeks after his older brother, Wilfred. Eric perished not in action, but of scarlet fever, whilst serving at the front. He had been taken to the hospital in St. Omer, where he died.

No loss has been such a shock to me. Eric was my cabin boy on the ‘Blue Dragon’ on many an adventurous cruise. After he left the OPS, I visited him when he was at Wellington and Woolwich. It was delightful to be taken round by him. Whilst full of fun, there was always a serious and romantic side to his character.

Eric married in 1911 and his son, Hector, born the following year, is down to join the OPS in September 1921.

Of the four Leggett brothers, only Lieut. Hugh Leggett survives.

July 25th 1916

Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph (p.7) told us of another tragic blow to the Leggett family.

Alan Leggett, the youngest of the four Leggett brothers, was killed in action near Armentières in October 1914. Now his eldest brother Wilfred, a Major in the RFA and in command of a siege battery, has also been killed in action.

Although he was not an Old Dragon, the family is one with which we have had the closest of ties. Their brother, Major Eric Leggett, is currently serving with the 188th Brigade Royal Artillery.

 

April 19th 1916

For those of you still struggling with your ‘Liddell and Scott’ to interpret the inscription on Roger Mott’s “Balkan find” (see previous post), ‘The Balkan News’ comes to your rescue:

“We present our readers with a translation, as we fear that the original text might be Greek to some, not to say all, of them.

‘The city (erected this tablet in honour of) Manius Salarius Sabinus, the head of the gymnasium and benefactor, who very often in times of dearth sold (corn) far below the market price, and when the armies of the Lord Caesar passed through, supplied to their stores 400 bushels of wheat, 100 bushels of barley, 60 bushels of beans and 100 firkins of wine at far less than the market price, and contributed 370 francs towards the repair of the gymnasium, and at the festivals gave gratuities to the tables of the councillors and ex-mayors and to those citizens who shared the banquet, and in all other respects frequently proved of service to the city. Pereisi as son of Phila, who is also called Biesias, and Herod, son of Beithys, supervised (the memorial) in the year 269.’

Some contractor, this Sabinus! We don’t fancy we have come across any of his descendants in Macedonia today. If there are any, we should like to meet them…

The inscription seems to belong to 123 A.D., and the Caesar referred to  would in that case be Hadrian, that much travelled statesman-emperor who paid a visit to Britain and organised a strong defence line to rescue northern England from the depredations of the savage Scot.”

An interesting discovery by Roger Mott and the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Hopefully the tablet will find a safe home and that we will all be able to inspect and enjoy it one day, when the war is over.

 

April 15th 1916

A Balkan Find!

Major Roger Mott has written from “somewhere in Macedonia,” where he has indulged in some archaeological digging alongside his military duties.

“At ******** we have for some time been digging trenches and, being situated in a country of such classical associations, you may imagine that quite a number of interesting ‘finds’ have come to light – for instance, a tour of the trenches would reveal several old stone coffins, which make excellent ammunition or grenade stores; whilst for the storage of water you would, here and there, come across an amphora.

But the particular ‘find’ I refer to is a memorial tablet in white marble, in practically perfect condition and believed to date from the first or second century.

So I bethought me to have a copy made and sent to you. Maybe it will interest the modern Dragon, for I think ingenuity and a ‘Liddell & Scott’** will be able to unravel the hidden meaning thereof.

Alas, the early instruction in those class-rooms in Crick Road has been allowed to rust within my brain, so that my attempts to decipher the thing have not been altogether a success.

I got it reproduced somehow in small Greek characters, then tried to split it up into separate words, then searched a modern Graeco-French dictionary and finally a French-English one, with the result that I gather the city was extremely grateful to the gentlemen who bust up a ring of evil merchants. But you never taught me the last letter of the last line but one, which is annoying!”

Mott find

I am sure readers would like to have the opportunity to exercise of their brains over this Easter holiday to work this out. To help, Hugh Sidgwick has transliterated thus:

Sidgwick transliteration

** This capital text book has a close link with the OPS.  Dragons will know the rhyme:

Liddell and Scott, Liddell and Scott:
Some of it’s riddle, and some of it’s rot.
That which is riddle was written by Liddell,
That which is rot was written by Scott

Whereas Mr Scott (and his rot) has no connection with us, the riddle-some Dean Liddell (of Christ Church) is one of our founders.

(I am tempted, by the way, to add an extra line: “And little or none of it learnt by Mott!”)