Category Archives: Medals and Honours

Eric James Tyson

Eric James Tyson was born in Balham on the 17th of March 1892. He was the only son of Joseph and Annie Tyson. Joseph Tyson was a Classics teacher at the school between 1885 and 1929, and worked as Bursar to the school. Annie was the daughter of John Branson, of Rockingham, Northamptonshire.

He was admitted to the school in May 1904, and joined Ashburnham. During his time at Westminster, he represented Ashburnham in Fives and Cricket as shown in the 1908 July edition of The Elizabethan where he was in a cricket match against Rigaud’s and in the House Notes section was stated that he ‘did well’. He was also mentioned in the 1909 October edition for competing in house Fives. He was forced to take a break from Football because he was suffering from “water on the knee”.

When he left the school in July 1910, he went on to be a motor engineer. This stood him in good stead because, in August 1914, he enlisted in the Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport). After a year, he became 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Coprs. He was gazetted in January 1916 for gallantry on photographic reconnaissance and artillery duties, and was promoted to Flight Commander and Captain by 23rd June 1916.

He was awarded the Military Cross on the 20th October 1916. In November 1916, he rose to the rank of Major, and was put in command of No. 5 Squadron in France. In September the following year, he decorated further with a Distinguished Service Order (pictured).

He was out on an artillery observation mission near Arras, France, when he encountered nine German aircraft. Eric was fatally wounded in the confrontation, with the victory attributed to Sielemann of Jagdstaffel 57.

Tyson died of his wounds the next day, on the 11th March 1918, leaving behind his wife Cora Florence Gladys (née Davies), daughter of Philip C. Davies, of Trinity Road, Ealham. He is buried in the Maroeuil British Cemetery in France.

 Compiled with the assistance of a pupil in the Vth Form.

 

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John Sheridan Gregory

1914 Star © IWM 30007059

John Sheridan Gregory was born on the 15th of September 1889. He was the younger son of Lieutenant-Colonel Gregory Marcar Gregory, of West Kensington, and Edith Laura, the second daughter of John Sheridan, of Earl’s Court.

Before arriving up Ashburnham in 1902, John was educated under Mr George Egerton, Somerset Street.

While he was at the school, he represented his house at Football as a half-back. The Elizabethan notes that he “played very well” in the 1907 House Cup match in which his team won 6-0 against Rigaud’s, and was “on the top of his form” against the Homeboarders.

After he left the school in July 1907, he went on to Trinity College, Cambridge in Michaelmas 1908. He graduated with a BA and LLB in 1911, and was admitted to the Middle Temple in November 1913.

Particularly keen to become proficient in riding and driving, John enlisted in the Officer Training Corps (Army Service Branch). By August 1914, he had qualified for Certificate A, a proficiency award for basic training, and had passed all but his final examination for the Bar.

As soon as he had qualified, he went out to France as 2nd Lieutenant, Army Service Corps (Special Reserve). Then, between April 1915 and August 1917, he served as Supply Officer to the 9th Cavalry Brigade. He rose through the ranks, becoming a temporary Lieutenant in August 1915, a full Lieutenant in February 1916, and a temporary Captain in June 1916.

In August 1917, he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps, and returned to England to qualify as an Observer.

An observer operating an aerial camera in WW1

He returned to France in October 1917, and joined No. 16 Squadron R.F.C. before being transferred to No. 35 Squadron in November. He was promoted to Captain on the 29th November 1917, and was preparing to go through the training of a pilot.

He received the 1914 Star for his past services in France. But just a fortnight later, on 19th February 1918, his plane was shot down in an encounter with a German machine between Lempire and Épehy. He died aged 28, and is buried near Peronne.

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Arthur Martin-Leake

19150218_Martin-Leake
Portrait of Arthur Martin-Leake at The Army Medical Services Museum

On 18th February 1915 it was reported that Arthur Martin-Leake had been awarded a Bar to his Victoria Cross for his ‘most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty’ during ferocious fighting near Zonnebeke, Belgium, in October and November 1914.

Braving constant machine gun, sniper and shellfire, he rescued a large number of wounded comrades lying close to the enemy’s trenches. Recommending him for a Bar to his VC, his commanding officer wrote: ‘By his devotion many lives have been saved that would otherwise undoubtedly have been lost. His behaviour on three occasions when the dressing station was heavily shelled was such as to inspire confidence both with the wounded and the staff. It is not possible to quote any one specific act performed because his gallant conduct was continual.’

Martin-Leake was the first man to be honoured with two VCs. Following his time at Westminster School he qualified as a Doctor at University College Hospital. He served in the South African Wars winning his first VC at the age of 27.

During an action at Vlakfontein, on the 8th February, 1902, Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake went up to a wounded man, and attended to him under a heavy fire from about 40 Boers at 100 yards range. He then went to the assistance of a wounded Officer, and, whilst trying to place him in a comfortable position, was shot three times, but would not give in till he rolled over thoroughly exhausted. All the eight men at this point were wounded, and while they were lying on the Veldt, Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake refused water till every one else had been served.

At the outbreak of the First World War Martin-Leake, then aged 40, feared he would be considered too old to volunteer for the Western Front. To avoid being rejected he travelled to Paris and enlisted at the British Consulate before attaching himself to the first medical unit he could find—the 5th Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps.

The website Herts Memories are publishing the letters Martin-Leake wrote home to his mother. They are full of humorous observations – he notes that ‘I met the M.P. the other day with the Herts.He is getting hugely fat, but probably a good deal of his largeness is due to wind which he seems very full of.’

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