Eugenius Alfred Roche

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.

Saint-Pierre following the eruption of the volcano in 1902
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Eric William Scarlett Faulkner

Eric William Scarlett Faulkner was born in London in 1898. In the 1901 census his father’s occupation was recorded as a ‘bespoke bootmaker’ and the family lived on Molton Street, near Bond Street. Ten years later the family had managed to move out of London into a house in Surrey. Eric then joined Westminster School in Ashburnham House in 1912, and became a non-resident King’s Scholar the following year. At school he attended the debating society, commenting on the motion ‘That this House deplores that Commissions in the British Army should only be granted after service in the ranks, or after a course at Woolwich or Sandhurst’ – querying whether ‘obedience was more fully learnt at school or in the ranks.’ Eric must have been very gifted academically, as he was joint Mure Scholar and elected head to Christ Church, Oxford in 1916.

Eric did not take up his place at Oxford and instead joined the army, not as an officer, but as a private in the London Rifle Brigade. The Elizabethan notes that ‘this was his own choice, dictated by the feeling that in his case this would be the best way to learn the work. It was characteristic of his fortitude and common sense.’ Eric was later posted to the Artists Rifles as a rifelman and was sent to France on 8th November 1917. He was wounded in action at Aveluy Wood and died two days later at the 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital at Dovelleris of his injuries. He was 19 years old.

Interior of an unidentified Canadian hospital during the First World War
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Paris Villiers Drake-Brockman

Paris was born in London in 1899 to parents Isabel Alice and Paris Frederick Drake Brockman, a barrister. He joined Rigaud’s House in 1912. We do not know much of his time at school, but after leaving he served with the Artists Rifles before training at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. From there obtained a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in ‘The Buffs’ – the Royal East Kent Regiment. The photograph shows him in his regimental uniform.

Paris went out to the Western Front in April 1918. He was killed in action in Flanders. The Elizabethan noted that he ‘saw considerable service, and proved a very capable officer.’

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James Hamilton Spence

James Hamilton Spence was the only son of Hamilton Robert Spence and his wife Constance (whose brother was also an Old Westminster). He joined the school in 1911 and was admitted into Grant’s House.

He was exceptionally athletic. He took part in gymnastics, fives, racquets, swimming, athletics and football whilst at school and also became a Lance-Corporal in the school’s Officer Training Corps. He won the Under 15 High Jump and Long Jump for his house and The Elizabethan noted that ‘Spence showed exceptionally good athletic ability for a boy of thirteen, his Long Jump has only been beaten twice in the last sixteen years.’

The school’s magazine also reviewed his performance on the football pitch. A report of the Town Boy’s match against the King’s Scholars states that ‘Spence was the better of the backs, but kept too far up, and was apt to muddle his halves.’ During the 1914-15 football season it was noted that he ‘played with dash’ and that ‘Spence improved greatly and was very useful. He kicked and headed reasonably well, and always tried to put the ball to one of his own side, and he learnt to anticipate where an opponent was likely to pass. His worst faults were keeping a little too far up the ground, and at times a curious hesitation in getting rid of the ball when on the defensive.’

On leaving the school he went to the Royal Millitary Academy at Woolwich, joining the Royal Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant in October 1915 and served on the Western Front. In 1917 he became attached to the Royal Flying Corps. He took off on the evening of 16th July 1918 and his aircraft was last seen going down in flames near to Courthiézy whilst attacking a Halberstadt 2-seater enemy plane. The Elizabethan noted that he was ‘a lad of high character and fine physique’ and ‘did excellent service before he was brought down in the enemies’ lines.’

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Henry Lionel Storrs

Henry Lionel Storrs was the second son of Harry Townsend Simons Storrs, Head Master of Shirley House Preparatory School and his wife Clara. He attended his father’s school, before obtaining a King’s Scholarship to Westminster in 1912. Henry was actively involved in many elements of school life. He won his full pinks for rowing, was a corporal in the school’s Officer Training Corps, and helped his house with the Singing Cup in his final year at the school. His obituary in The Elizabethan noted that his ‘high character was thoroughly appreciated’ at the school.

In 1916, Henry was elected to a scholarship at Trinity College Cambridge with both Triplett and Samwaies prizes. However, instead of going to University, he took a commission in the Royal Flying Corps in August of that year. He first went out to France as an observer in January 1917. In July of that year he returned to train to become a pilot, completing his course in November. In December 1917 he returned to France and served successfully until June. On 15th June he was wounded in a fight with ten enemy aeroplanes, but managed to make his way back to allied territory and to safely land his aircraft in the aerodrome. He was sent to the Duchess of Sutherland’s Hospital, near Arras where he died on pneumonia five days later.

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Edward Alexander Morgan Bindloss

Edward Alexander Morgan Bindloss was the son of Reverend Edward Bindloss and his wife Maria, whose father was from Russia. He was born in 1875 and joined the school in Homeboarders house in 1888. He left, just under four years later and we do not know what he did for the following 11 years. In 1903 he became an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and he worked as an electrical engineer in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Birmingham in subsequent years.

Edward served in the South African War with the Northumberland Fusiliers and took that rank of Lieutenant in 1902. He married Margery in 1909. In 1912, he became a Captain in the 5th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

When war was declared the 5th Battalion immediately mobilised. In March 1915 the force travelled to Le Havre and were here incorporated into the 48th (South Midland) Division. This Division took part in numerous battles on the western front over until November 1917, when they were transferred to Italy. Here they were involved in fighting on the Asiago Plateau on 15th and 16th June. It was in this battle that Edward lost his life. He was survived by his wife and daughter, Dorothy.

Aerial View over the Asiago Plateau, Italy, 1918 by Sydney William Carline Copyright: © IWM
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John Ernest Vivian Rathbone

Rathbone was a well-liked pupil whilst at the school. He joined Ashburnham House in May 1911 and stayed at the school until the age of 17, leaving at Easter 1915. The Elizabethan records that ‘he showed great energy and in his regiment he was a very effective and particularly popular officer. At School he was a football Pink and Company Sergeant Major in the Corps.’ He was also active within his house, serving as a monitor in his final year. His Head of House recorded in the Ashburnham ledgers that it was ‘…clear that Rathbone was a really good chap and I liked him immensely. He was senior NCO in the corps his last term and he did a great deal for the House in this line. He was immensely keen on all games. He was rather wild in his nature… he was however, I believe a true sportsman out and out.’

On leaving school Rathbone joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps. He received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion of the Dorset Regiment in June 1915. He was severely wounded at the Somme in July 1916 but quickly returned to the front. He was killed in action near Arras in 1918.

Rathbone was the younger brother of (Philip St John) Basil Rathbone, who survived the war and found fame as an actor, perhaps best known for playing Sherlock Holmes. When asked about his brother’s death in later life, Basil stated that he had instinctively felt his brother’s death at the moment that he was killed. He wrote the following passage in a letter to his family on 26th July 1918 following John’s death:

‘You ask how I have been since we heard, well, if I am honest with you, and I may as well be, I have been seething. I was so certain it would be me first of either of us. I’m even sure it was supposed to be me and he somehow contrived in his wretched Johnny-fashion to get in my way just as he always would when he was small. I want to tell him to mind his place. I think of his ridiculous belief that everything would always be well, his ever-hopeful smile, and I want to cuff him for a little fool. He had no business to let it happen and it maddens me that I shall never be able to tell him so, or change it or bring him back. I can’t think of him without being consumed with anger at him for being dead and beyond anything I can do to him.’

John Rathbone, centre, with elder siblings Basil and Beatrice.
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Leslie Grantham Heigham-Plumptre

Leslie was the son of J.V.N. Plumptre and Mary Ling. He was adopted by Henry Heigham and adopted his surname in addition to that of his father. He joined the school aged just nine years old from Shrewsbury House Preparatory School. He started initially as a day boy in Ashburnham in 1907 and then became a boarder in Grant’s. Leslie left in Easter 1913, then aged fifteen, and joined HMS Worcester. The ship was the home of the Thames Nautical Training College and cadets received training with a view to becoming seamen in the navy.

Leslie’s career took him in a different direction and he joined the Royal Military College, Sandhurst in 1917 before taking a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment in September 1917. In December he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps, and he went out to the Western Front in March 1918. Eleven days after arriving, he was wounded and invalided home, but he returned to the front on 19th May. Once again, less than a fortnight after arriving he was injured in a bombing raid. He died from his wounds on 4th June 1918.

Cadets on HMS Worcester, early 20th Century
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Paul Wrey Gardiner

IWM (HU 122588)

Paul Wrey Gardiner was born on the 13th April 1989. His parents were George and Beatrice Gardiner, of Maida Hill. He came from a staunch Westminster family. Both his elder brother, Geoffrey, and his younger brother, Kendrick, also attended the school, as did his maternal uncle, William Awdry Peck.

Paul arrived as a King’s Scholar in September 1911. While he was here, he joined in the Debating Society. When the society debated the motion that money was the root of all evil:

Mr. P. W. GARDINER wanted to know what school offences were due to money. He then made the astounding statement that money was in no way responsible for the war. He eulogised millionaires, saying that they were a public benefit.

He represented the school on the 2nd XI Football team, along with his brother Geoffrey, and earned his Pink and Whites in 1915.

After leaving the school in July 1915, he enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 4th Battalion (Extra Reserve), The Manchester Regiment. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 1st of July 1917. He went out to the western front on the 11th April 1918, and was attached to the 1st Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment.

He was killed in action at Roney, Champagne, on the 27th May 1918.

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Cecil Martin Sankey

Cecil Martin Sankey was the only son of Major William Sankey, of Ealing, and Alice Bertha, daughter of Albert Woecki, of Bayswater. He was born on the 27th September 1897, and was admitted into Grant’s in January 1911.

He was opted to study the ‘Modern’ subjects, and he threw himself into the sports scene at Westminster. He represented the school at both Cricket and Football

He left the school in July 1914, and enlisted in the 9th Battalion, London Regiment. He attended RMC Sandhurst from January 1916, and in August was joined the East Kent Regiment as 2nd Lieutenant. He went out with them to the western front in September 1916.

Cecil was awarded the Military Cross on 12th March 1917. In December of that year, he was attached to the RAF, and he rose to Lieutenant in February 1918.

On the 15th May 1918, he was accidentally killed while flying at Northolt, Middlesex. He is commemorated by a stained glass window in the Church of St Matthew, Ealing Common.

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