Category Archives: The Fallen

Geoffrey Hamilton Hobson

Geoffrey Hamilton Hobson was born in 1898 in Brondesbury, London.  His father was a ‘Cycles and Accessories’ manufacturer. Geoffrey joined Westminster School from Pamers School in Essex in 1911; his elder brother Eric had started in Grant’s the year before – Geoffrey was in Ashburnham.   He left in December 1913 and joined Melle College near Ghent, remaining there until the outbreak of the war.

In January 1915, aged just 17, Geoffrey enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles.  He went out to the Western Front in August 1915 and then took a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment in late 1916.  His battalion was involved in the two Battles of the Scarpe, part of the larger Battle of Arras in the first half of 1917. The second Battle of the Scarpe took place between 9th and 14th April and it is likely that Geoffrey was wounded in the early stages of this battle and moved to Etaples, near Le Touquet on the north French coast for treatment, where he died in hospital on 14th April.

First Battle of the Scarpe. Cheerful British troops boarding London omnibuses at Arras on their return from the capture of Monchy-le-Preux, 11 April 1917. Copyright: © IWM.
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Vivian Ernest John Bristowe

Vivian Bristowe was one of ten children – five boys and five girls. They lived at 11 Old Burlington Street, with their father, John Syer Bristow, and mother, Miriam Isabella Bristowe (née Stearns). All five of the boys were sent to Westminster, and their father, a physician specialising in the nervous system, was also physician to the school.

Vivian was the youngest son. He was born on the 12th of June 1874, and arrived as a Homeboarder in September 1885. He represented his house in the football, and The Elizabethan includes the following account of a game that Homeboarders won 9-1: “The ground was very heavy and slippery after the recent thaw, and towards the end of the game the players were covered with mud” Saturday March 12th 1892.

There is not a lot of information about Vivian or his time at the school, but we do know how much he weighed!

After leaving the school in July 1892, he became a stock jobber – a market maker on the London Stock Exchange, and continued playing football on the OWW team. He went out to South Africa shortly before World War I, where he worked as secretary to his eldest brother, Leonard Syer Bristowe – by then Hon. Mr Justice Bristow – in Pretoria.

He enlisted in the South African Medical Corps in November 1915, and joined the East African Expeditionary Force in January 1916. While on active service at Rug, Rufigi River, East Africa, he contracted dysentery and died on the 14th of April 1917.

His Colonel wrote of him: “he did excellent work, and never fell out in the most arduous treks imaginable… His pals miss him, and I miss a steady and trustworthy man, who was never known to shirk his duty.”

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Wilfrid James Nowell

Portrait of an unidentified boy by Wilfrid’s father, artist Arthur Trevethin Nowell (1862-1940). Perhaps it is a portrait of Wilfrid…

Wilfrid James Nowell was the only son of the artist, Arthur Trevethin Nowell and Lucy Helen Daniel.  He attended Westminster School for a brief period from April 1910 until December 1912 and boarded up Grant’s.

Wilfird showed great potential as an artist.  In a biography of his father, Arthur Trevethin Nowell, Christopher Mosley writes:

Some years later Augustus John (1878–1961) called to see his artist friend. His attention was drawn to paintings by Wilfrid. A proud father would tell the story of the day his son took off with one of his canvases and oils to paint a Scottish river in spate. Unaware of the venture Nowell was astonished at the result. The painting took pride of place in his home, never to be disturbed. John expressed a wish to have been equally talented when so young, a politeness perhaps, but, without question, Wilfrid was blessed with a fine natural gift.

We do not know what Wilfrid did immediately after leaving the school, but following the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles.  From there he obtained a commission in the 460th Howitzer Battery of the Royal Field Artillery.  He was initially posted in Egypt in November 1915, but was transferred to the Western Front in March 1916.

His regiment took part in a number of battles from 9th April to 16th May now collectively known as the Battle of Arras.  British troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras and achieved the longest advance since trench warfare had begun.  When the battle officially ended on 16 May, British Empire troops had made significant advances but had been unable to achieve a breakthrough.  Wilfrid was killed in action on the first day of the attack.

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Nevil Ford Furze

Nevil Furze was born on 30th April 1897. He was the youngest son of Herbert Furze, of South Kensington, and Mary Ford, daughter of Edward Tidswell, of Chigwell, Essex. He was admitted to the school in April 1912, where he joined Homeboarders’ house.

During his time at the school, Furze threw himself into the Football and Cricket scene, earning House Colours in both sports. The Elizabethan contains some congratulatory comments about some of his performances:

“The start of the second half was sensational; the Visitors pressed; Carless cleared and sent out to Furze, who ran through the whole defence and scored with a beauty (2-1).” (1st November 1914 against Old Wykehamists).

He left the school in July 1914 and, in September, enlisted in the 18th (Service) Battalion (1st Public Schools) the Royal Fusiliers. He became a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion (Reserve) The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment in June 12, 1915, and went out to the western front attached to the 2nd Battalion in September 1915.

Furze was involved in the operations at Bucquoy in March 1917. He was killed while leading a night attack there on 14 March 1917. Following the unsuccessful British attacks, the Germans retired from Bucquoy.

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James Wilkie Dunlop

James Wilkie Dunlop was a member of Homeboarders house from 1903-1906. We do not know any details about his time at the school, but six years after leaving, when he was twenty-two, he went out to Argentina. He worked in the service of the Buenos Ayres Western Railway until the outbreak of war in 1914. James then returned home and enlisted in the London Scottish, which then formed the 14th (Co. of London) Battalion of the London Regiment.

He went out to the Western Front in September 1914 and was wounded at Messines on 31st October before being invalided home. He rejoined the army in 1915 and was attached to 5th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers) of the Royal Irish Regiment in October. James then travelled out to Salonika in November, but once more was invalided home in December 1916. In January he was forced to resign his commission on account of his health.

James had been wounded badly in the arm at the Battle of Messines, and although he was later sent out to Salonika and eventually died of a cancer of the spine, he was always said to have died of wounds, since he never really recovered from this injury and its complications. When he returned to England he was cared for in Netley Hospital was a large military facility near Southampton. However, his family managed to bring him home as he reached the end of his life.

Patients receiving visitors at the Netley Hospital at Southampton, 1917. Copyright: ┬® IWM.
Patients receiving visitors at the Netley Hospital at Southampton, 1917. Copyright: ┬® IWM.
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James Montague Edward Shepherd

19170215_Shepherd,JMEJames Montague Edward Shepherd was born on the 2nd December 1895. He was the only son of Montague James Shepherd and Therese Louise, daughter of V. Cazabon, of Paddington.

He was admitted to the school in April 1910, and started off in Home Boarders, but switched to Grant’s at the beginning of Play 1911.

He elected to take the ‘Modern’ subjects instead of the ‘Classics’, and was an active participant in the Debating Society. In March 1914 he argued, alongside R. R. Turner, that “the man of science is of more use to the community than the man of letters” — a motion that was lost by 10 votes to 9.

He earned himself a Shooting Pink in 1912-13 and was made Captain of Shooting. In Election Term 1914, according to The Elizabethan, he “won the Brinton Medal with the fine score of 61; considering the wind, it was a praiseworthy performance”.

His behaviour at the school was not wholly positive, however, as the Grant’s House Ledger records in 1914:

“A distinctly unpleasant incident occurred at the end of this term, when Shepherd who had been ragged a good deal during the term, suddenly lost his temper and broke Hodgson’s jaw. As it was considered to have been done in a fit of blind rage and with no premeditated malice, no steps were taken and the matter was allowed to drop. Hodgson’s Jaw next term had completely recovered.”

Shepherd left the school in 1914 “desirous of entering the Royal Flying Corps”, and matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge. In January 1915, he enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 15th (Service) Battalion Rifle Brigade and went out with them to the western front the following September. He was promoted to Lieutenant in November 1915, and then to Captain a year later. He achieved his aim of joining the RAF as a Flight Commander R.A.F. on the 6th December 1916.

He was reported missing in action at Bixschoote, near Ypres, on 15th February 1917 at the age of 21. By July, he had been confirmed dead.

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Francis William Hubback

19170212_Hubback,FW_bFrancis William Hubback was admitted to the school as a Queen’s Scholar in 1897 and remained until he obtained the Triplett scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1903.

He was involved in all aspects of school life. He played cricket and football, took part in gymnastics competitions and represented the school at boxing at the Public Schools’ Competition at Aldershot. Hubback was an enthusiastic member of the Literary Society, who gathered to read plays aloud, making an excellent Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Malvolio in Twelfth Night. He must have had the makings of a talented actor, but his only stage performance at the school was in the Latin Play, Phormio, performed in his final year:

19170212_Hubback,FW_c

Mr. Hubback as Geta was extremely good, though one might hint that a gentleman of Geta’s lively disposition would scarcely have lived continually, as Mr. Hubback’s attitude seemed to suggest, at an angle of forty-five degrees. His opening scene was especially animated throughout, and made the story perfectly clear. Mr. Hubback has a great sense of humour and fully entered into the spirit of the part; his little asides, such as Iratus est! and others, were capital, as was also his by-play, too often wanting at Westminster, and he never seemed at a loss to know what to do with his hands. Finally, the well-known passage where he describes his eaves-dropping lost none of its old savour in Mr. Hubback’s hands. We can only regret that this will be the first and last time we shall have the pleasure of seeing him act at Westminster.

He also took part in the Debating Society, and his left-wing sympathies often shone through in the motions he defended. In a debate on the topic of chivalry he spoke about relations between the sexes:

[Hubback] went on to give a definition of courtesy, which he said was the treatment of one

another with mutual consideration of feelings. It would be hard, living as we did at such a rate, to

observe’ the same manners as formerly. Also as regards the treatment of women by men—the Status of women had changed—they now claimed more independence and had to face more hardships and difficulties than formerly. The more like men women became, the more natural and seemly was familiarity between the sexes.

It would be interesting to know what his future wife, Eva Marian Spielman, a feminist involved in the women’s suffrage movement, would have thought about his schoolboy opinions. Hubback clearly remained true to his support for broadening access to education, and following a successful Cambridge career lectured at Cardiff and Liverpool Universities and the Workers’ Educational Association at Manchester University. In 1912 he became a civil servant, working for the Board of Education.

He joined the 6th City of London Battalion the London Regiment on 7th July 1915 as a 2nd Lieutenant. His regiment served on the Western Front and he was died of wounds received in action on 4th February 1917 near the Butte de Warlencourt on the Somme.

19170212_Hubback,FW_a

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Richard Radford Turner

19170203_Turner,RRRichard Turner was the only son of Reverend Richard Turner, Vicar of Barnstaple, Devon, and Lydia Lucy, the daughter of Daniel Radford of Tavistock, Devon. He was born on 29th March 1986, and was sent to the school in 1910 as a King’s Scholar.

He played both cricket and football, representing the King’s Scholars as goalkeeper: he was described as doing “all that was necessary in goal, though at times rather slow in clearing”.

In the 1913 Latin play — the Andria — he played the role of Simo, and received the following review:

“The part offers such temptations to an actor to roar himself hoarse and the audience deaf, and Mr. R. R. Turner did neither of these things. He put some real emotion into Simo. His anger was the more credible, because restrained. He left himself plenty of scope within which to work up to the climax of indignation, with the result that he sustained the interest and kept his voice. Moreover his movements were easy, restful and dignified.”

Richard was an accomplished writer; he was the winner of the 1914 Duke of Devonshire’s Essay Prize that was open to all Public Schools, and he also won the Gumbleton Prize for English Verse with his poem on Icarus.

He was involved in the Officer Training Corps and shooting, and was successful in the practical examination — Certificate A — in March 1914.

He was awarded the school’s Triplett Scholarship when he left the school in December 1914, and he went on as a scholar to New College, Oxford.

He enlisted as 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd (Reserve) Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment on the 20th January 1915, and was attached to the 12th (Service) Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. He landed at Le Havre in March 1916, but was wounded on the 9th and 27th of April. He returned to the western front in December 1916. Richard was only 20 when he was killed in action near Vlamertinghe on 3rd February 1917.

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Sigurd Ayton Dickson

19170201_Dickson,SA
Dickson photographed in 1899 with the Grant’s Cricket Team

Sigurd Dickson was the youngest son of Sir John Frederick Dickson, who had also been a pupil at the school. Sigurd was in Grant’s House from 1897-1902. He played football and cricket for the school — a review of his performance over the 1901/2 season was printed in The Elizabethan:

S.A. Dickson played at his very best against Charterhouse. He lacked weight, but was neat. As was the case with most of the team, he could not face adversity.

Upon leaving he became a District Commissioner in West Africa, and subsequently in South Africa. Later he worked in business as a rubber-planter in the Federated Malay States; rubber production was a large growth industry due to its use in the manufacture of car tires.

Sigurd returned home on the outbreak of the First World War and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. He was attached to the 102 Brigade and went out to the western front with them in 1916.

On 15th and 29th November 1916, Haig met the French commander-in-chief Joseph Joffre and the other Allies at Chantilly. An offensive strategy to overwhelm the Central Powers was agreed, with attacks planned on the Western, Eastern and Italian fronts, by the first fortnight in February 1917. Early in 1917 troops were assembled in the area in preparation for the attack. British determination to clear the Belgian coast took on more urgency, after the Germans resumed unrestricted submarine warfare on 1st February 1917. Sigurd was killed in action near Ypres on 1st February.

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Sidney Frederick Johnson

19170110_Johnson,SFSidney Frederick Johnson was the second son of George and Blanche Johnson. He was born on the 19th August 1887 and arrived at the school in September 1901.

He threw himself into all elements of school life, from football and cricket, to debating and chess, to the School Mission. In Play Term 1905, he was made Head of Ashburnham, alongside being Captain of the School Football XI and also Captain of House Football and Cricket. His successor wrote in the House Ledger:

“to fill so many responsible positions eodem tempore needed a fellow of many parts: many of these parts he possessed and many he did not possess. No man has done more for the House GamesÔǪhe has succeeded by his own prowess and personality in establishing confidence in quite inferior players. For example he was absent on account of an exam from a large part of the HBB 1st inns in their shield match with us: but directly he came on the field, them who had been playing half-heartedly before put twice as much into their work as they had before his arrival.”

Upon leaving the school, Johnson achieved a BSc at the London University. He enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Queen Victoria’s Rifles in May 1910 before becoming a partner in Hendren’s Trust, Ltd., a financial company for promoting British enterprise in Canada.

On the outbreak of war, Johnson decided to re-join the army. But first — a fortnight before taking a position as 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion (Reserve) Border Regiment — he married Helen Marguerite, the elder daughter of Farquhar Robinson, of Montreal, Canada on 28th November 1914.

Johnson was attached to the 2nd Battalion and went out with them to the western front on 20th February 1915, but was invalided home in May 1915 as a result of wounds he received at Festubert. He was promoted to Lieutenant the following March and returned to the front on the 29th December 1916. He was appointed brigade bombing officer with the rank of temporary Captain on the 7th October 1916 and was killed in action at the age of 29 at Beaumont Hamel on the 10th January 1917.

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