Thomas Colwell Johnson was born in 1897 of mixed heritage, with an American mother and an English father. He joined Westminster School in 1912 and was admitted to Rigaud’s. Upon leaving the school, he travelled extensively, taking full advantage of his dual heritage and spending much time in the United States, as well as in South America and Europe. In the early autumn of 1914, he travelled to Australia, and it is here that he volunteered to join the war effort.
He enlisted as a Private in the 1st Battalion Australian Imperial Force, and was sent to Gallipoli, were he served until wounded. He was sent to Egypt to recover and from there to the Western Front. He was wounded once again in July 1916, and was again invalided until he recovered. His courage earned him a special mention for gallant conduct in 1918, and a few months later he once more braved the Western Front. It was here that he died in action, passing way on 18th September 1918.
Born in July 1888, Archibald was the youngest of a large family. Many of his older siblings, including his brothers Alexander Kenelm and William Hew, were also Old Westminsters. He joined Ashburnham House in 1901 and was a keen sportsman, as well as achieving good results in scientific subjects. After he left Westminster, he swiftly found employment with an insurance firm, working in both Edinburgh and Bombay (Mumbai), before moving to a London-based company in 1914.
Once war began he volunteered early, and saw service in Gallipoli in 1915, Egypt in 1916, and Palestine in 1917. He was sent to the Western Front in April 1918, and, despite having survived both the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and the Gallipoli Campaign, was killed in action only a few months later.
Gavin Ferguson Young was born on 8th July 1899. He was brother to Fergus Ferguson Young, who had also attended Westminster school at the turn of the century. Young was admitted to Westminster in September 1913, joining Rigaud’s. In 1917 he became both Head of Water and Monitor for Rigaud’s, before leaving the school in July of that year.
He joined the Royal Naval Air Service a few months later, and became Flight Sub-Lieutenant in March 1918. He then moved to the central branch of the Royal Air Force, becoming an active pilot and Lieutenant in April 1918. He was sent to the Western Front in April 1918, and after many months of operation was killed in action in September that same year.
Edwin Charles Kay Clarke was the only son of stock-broker Charles Sidney Clarke and his wife Elizabeth Clarke. He was born in 1908 and admitted to Westminster in 1910, joining Rigaud’s House. He was an accomplished cricketer and won the Pashley Cup for bowling two consecutive years in a row. He left the school in 1910, and joined the Inns of Court Officers’ Training Corps in 1911. He remained with this division for five years, and was promoted through the ranks to become a Captain in 1916.
In 1918 he joined the 8th Battalion of the London Regiment, an unusual regiment that were not affiliated with the Territorial Force, but instead was treated as a corps in its own right. Clarke was sent to the Western Front with the London Regiment in May, and was killed during an attack on Massiere’s Wood in August of that year.
Son of Lord Rupert William Ernest Gascoyne-Cecil and Lady Florence Cecil, John Arthur Gascoyne-Cecil was one of three brothers who lost their lives during The Great War. Born in March 1893, he joined Westminster School in 1905 and was admitted to Ashburnham House. Here he remained until 1912, and the following year he joined the 4th Home Counties Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.). This volunteer unit was based in Kent and formed part of the Territorial Force. He saw active service on the Western Front in 1914 following the unit’s conversion into a Divisional Ammunition Column, and 1915 Gascoyne-Cecil was attached to a Regular Battery of the R.F.A. He became adjutant in October of that year.
However, he was keen to pursue frontline service and joined the Salonika Expeditionary Force in January 1916. The British Salonika Army was station in Salonika (modern Greece) to oppose Bulgarian advances. The following year Gascoyne-Cecil became Captain and then Brigade Major in 1918, whereupon he returned to the Western Front.
It was in this posting that he lost his life. By the end of the war the Gascoyne-Cecil family were deprived of not one but three sons, as his brothers Rupert Edward and Randle William had also lost their lives. In 1920, a stained glass window was gifted to St Ethelred’s Church by James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquis of Salisbury, commemorating the three brothers.
John Arthur Gascoyne-Cecil was awarded the military cross posthumously, and is buried in Ficheux, France.
James Benjamin Wallace Wolstenholme was born in 1895, the eldest son of James Wolstenholme and Mary Elizabeth Gossling. He joined Westminster School in 1908 and was admitted to Ashburnham House. By 1913 he had enlisted with the Artists’ Rifles, a volunteer regiment of the British Army Reserve. He remained part of the Territorial Force for several years, and in 1915 became Lieutenant Railway Transport Officer. In this role he worked as part of the Royal Engineers, the body responsible for the creation and maintenance of not only British railways, but transport networks across Europe and beyond.
In August 1917 Wolstenholme was transferred to the RFC (Royal Flying Corps). The RFC was a precursor to the Royal Air Force, and remained in place until 1918. Here Wolstenholme trained at the 47th Training Depot Station, based with the North Eastern Training Group in Doncaster. It was while training with the RFC that Wolstenholme was fatally wounded, and he passed away on the 20th August 1918.
Admitted to Westminster School in September 1910, John Brown Hugh Terres (frequently referred to as simply ‘Hugh Terres’) was a man of many talents. Born in 1896, he was the only son of American doctor John Brown Terres and Frenchwoman Corrinne Pascal. He joined Westminster School and was admitted to Ashburnham House, before studying at Christ Church, Oxford in 1915. During his time at Westminster, Terres took an active role in House competitions, including debating, water, and House tug of war. He was also an active member of the Westminster Officer Training Corps, where he learnt the skills that he would soon apply during active service.
During his years at Oxford Terres became a keen artist, and meticulous records of his work were compiled by friend and fellow student F.G. Roe. Although an American by birth, Terres utilised his dual heritage and enlisted in the French army in 1917, a full year before American citizens were required to serve. Working initially as an interpreter to the American Squadron before becoming a flying pilot in May the same year, Terres was attached to the English bombarding group, 214 Squadron. Fitted with Handley Page twin-engine bombers, the squadron was based in France and responsible for night raids on military targets in Belgium.
Terres was transferred to the Italian front on 10th August 1918, following a call to partake in a secretive special mission. It was at this post that he tragically lost his life, dying in action just seven days later.
Charles was the eldest son of Sidney Iorwerth Mansel-Howe. ‘Iorwerth’ is a Welsh name and as it is unfamiliar to many, it has often been incorrectly transcribed as ‘Torwerth’ making records about Mansel-Howe difficult to locate. Charles was born in 1891 and attended the school in Homeboarder’s house from 1904 until 1910. His family’s home was in Pimlico so he wouldn’t have had far to travel to get to school. He appears to have been fairly good at cricket, getting 5 wickets for 30 in his final season and winning house colours.
We do not know what he did upon leaving the school, but he joined the 28th Battalion of the London Regiment, the Artists’ Rifles, on the outbreak of war. He became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 23rd Battalion of the London Regiment in July 1916 and was later promoted again to the rank of Lieutenant. He was killed in action on 9th August 1918, whilst his battalion was preparing for an offensive on the western front later in the month.
Michael Edward Gonne was born in 1898 and came to Westminster School, initially as a member of Homeboarders’ House in January 1912. Later that year The Elizabethan recorded that Michael had ‘made a trial of Rigaud’s last term and evidently liked it so much that he has come again’. He eventually settled in that house.
We do not know what he did immediately after leaving the school in Easter 1914, but in 1916 he attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and took a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) as soon as he turned 18. He was immediately attached to the Royal Flying Corps and in March 1917 travelled to Egypt, presumably to train. In May he was appointed a Flying Office and was sent to France in June.
Gonne was assigned to No. 54 Squadron, and flew Sopwith Pup no. A6215 to victory on 25th September and 18th October 1917, destroying Albatros D.IIIs on both occasions. His third victory came on 5th January 1918, driving down an enemy aircraft ‘out of control’. On 9th January Gonne was appointed a flight commander with the acting rank of captain. His fourth and fifth victories both came on 25th January, driving down a Albatros D.V, and sending a Rumpler C down in flames. His final tally was three enemy aircraft destroyed, two driven down out of control. He was awarded the Military Cross:
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He is a daring and skilful leader of patrols, and has led his flight throughout a large amount of fighting, often against superior numbers, far over the enemy’s lines.’
In February 1918 he was injured whilst testing a machine. He was invalided back to England, where, on resuming duty, he acted as a gunnery instructor. He was able to rejoin his old squadron on the western front on 7th August 1918 and on the following day volunteered for a flight. He never returned and was last seen on the 8th August 1918, at the height of 2,000 feet over the Somme crossings at Brie, and is said to have died in the German Field Hospital at Villers-Carbonnel.
Eugenius Alfred Roche was at the school for barely 18 months. He was a member of Grant’s House, and after leaving the school in August 1868, trained as an army surgeon. He served in the Afghan War between 1878 and 1880. He reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel by 1897 and retired from the army 10 years later. He married Louisa Forbes in 1888 and had four children.
It is perhaps as he served abroad that we have relatively few records of his life. Roche was thanked by Secretary of State for Colonies on the occasion of the destruction of Saint-Pierre, Martinique, by volcanic eruption in 1902, for his ‘ready and valuable assistance’. 28,000 people died as a result of the eruption.
It remains slightly unclear why Roche is included on the school’s war memorial. He died at home in Brighton, aged 65 and was not in active service. However, it is possible that he did serve during the war in a medical capacity, and his death might have resulted from this work.