Arthur Charles Lionel Abrahams

Arthur Charles Lionel Abrahams was the only son of Sir Lionel Abrahams, K.C.B. and his wife Lucy. He was admitted to the school as a non-resident King’s Scholar in 1911 and was based in Grant’s House. Arthur was Jewish, and his faith may have led him to become an honorary scholar, rather than residing in College.

He excelled at the school and took an active role in the Debating Society. In 1915 he seconded the motion ‘That in the opinion of this House the present situation renders Conscription imperative’ and the school’s magazine, The Elizabethan records that:

‘with the help of a great many statistics, informed the House that there were at least one and a half million men who were able to join the Forces. Conscription, he considered, would be fairer and more economical all round. As to the ‘volunteer worth three conscripts’ fallacy, Napoleon practically conquered the world with a conscript army. He said that the Opposer’s views were those of a sentimentalist, and, after informing the House that he knew twenty-seven slackers, sat down.’

Arthur was also heavily involved in the Officer Training Corps, where he made a ‘very efficient sergeant’.  On leaving school in July 1916 he was elected to Christ Church, Oxford. However, he chose to join the war and took a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Cold Stream Guards later that summer. He went out to the western front in February 1917 and joined the 3rd Battalion of his regiment there. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in December and was killed in action the following year on 13th April 1918.

An excerpt from his obituary in the Jewish Chronicle, published in June 1918 read as follows:

‘The Commanding Officer with whom he served during the greater part of his service abroad has written to Sir Lionel Abrahams, “I knew your boy well and was commanding the battalion when he joined. He was most popular with all ranks, and he was particularly fearless……….Arthur was a Coldstream Guarder through and through. He fought like one and he died like one.” The colonel commanding the Guards wrote: “The regiment can ill afford to lose men like him”, and from the ranks there has reached his family the equally prized message: “The boys would follow him wherever he wanted them to.”

After he had been reported missing his parents learned that he fell on April 13th, when England lost a gallant son, Anglo-Jewry one of the most promising of its youngest generation, and his immediate family the joy of their hearts.’

You can read more about Arthur here:

https://www.jewsfww.london/arthur-charles-lionel-abrahams-1496.php

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Alexander Middleton Dobbie

Alexander Middleton Dobbie was born on the 22nd June 1898. His father, James Johnston Dobbie, was from Glasgow originally, and became Professor of Chemistry at Bangor University in 1884. He married Violet Chilton, who was from near Wrexham, and together they moved into Gwaen Deg, Bangor.

Alexander was one of 4 children. He had two elder sisters, Mary Wilkie and Violet Childon, and a younger brother James Childon.

The family moved away from Wales in 1903. First to Glasgow, when James became the Director of the Royal Scottish Museum. And then to London in 1911, where James was appointed Principal of the Government Laboratories in London.

Alexander arrived at Westminster in September 1912, and joined Ashburnham House. He was a keen sportsman: he represented his house in the 1915 at swimming in the relay team, and in the semi-finals of the Inter-House Tug of War on 5th April 1916, weighing in at 9st 12lbs. He earned his pink and whites in 1916 for Football, and became a house monitor in his final year.

After leaving the School in December 1916, he enlisted in the army. He joined 1/6th Battalion, the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) as a 2nd Lieutenant on the 26th April 1917. He went out with them to the western front in August 1917.

He was wounded in action near Bethune on 11th April 1918, and died two days later at Pernes. There is a stained glass window in his memory in Fairlie Parish Church.

As for Alexander’s siblings: his sister Mary went away to India and got married there to a George Frederick Ferrier Shearwood. Violet married the chemist Norman Hawarth in 1922, who went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1937. James went on to become an observer at the Solar Observatory, Cambridge University.

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Arthur William Bowman

Arthur William Bowman was the only child of Reverend Arthur Gerald Bowman, and Edith (née Paget). According to the 1881 census, Reverend Bowman was Curate of St Margaret’s and Private Secretary to the Dean of Westminster. He lived at 19 Great College Street, with his wife and widowed mother-in-law, Francis Paget.

Arthur was born on Mayday 1887, and by 1891, Reverend Bowman had become the Vicar of St. Mark’s, Kensington.

Arthur originally attended Eton until 1900, but then arrived at Westminster in January 1901. He joined Ashburnham House and stayed until 1905, when he matriculated into New College, Oxford. The House Notes in The Elizabethan congratulate him on passing his “Smalls” – the first year exams – in 1905.

He married Elinor Marion Conybeare, daughter of Reverend Charles Conybeare. They had one daughter, Barbara Paget Bowman, born 3rd January 1912.

He joined the army in August 1914, and served on the western front as Corporal 23rd Battalion London Regiment. He was wounded in action in April 1918, and taken to Valenciennes as a prisoner of war. According to an Australian POW, who was also there that April, “the [medical] treatment we received here was very good. The German doctors and German nursing sisters were both skilled and attentive. The food too was good, as it was supplied in the main, by French civilians.”

Despite this, however, Arthur died there on the 12th April 1918.

His widow remarried in 1925, to Arthur’s cousin. Humphrey Ernest Bowman had also become a widower in 1923. Arthur’s daughter Barbara grew up to marry Wing Commander Douglas Sender on the 30th April 1932, and they had three children.

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Thomas Edwardes

Thomas Edwardes was athletic whilst at Westminster. During his three years in Homeboarders’ House, he took part in the school’s racquets competition and played for the Football 2nd XI. In his final year he came second in the 300 yards race at Athletic Sports and represented his house in the tug of war, weighing 10st 9lb. With a partner, Ashley, he won the inter house fives competition. Thomas also represented the school in shooting competitions, practicing for which was made difficult due to the impossibility of procuring .303 ammunition. Perhaps as a consequence, the Westminster team did badly in its matches that year, but Thomas’ individual scores were respectable.

He left the school in July 1915 and had taken a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment by 4th August. He went out to the western front in January 1917 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in July of that year. He was killed in action on 12th April 1918.

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Basil Murray Hallward

Basil Murray Hallward was the only son of William Lambard Hallward, of Kensington, and Hannah Grace, daughter of William Murray, of Dereham, Norfolk. He was born on 17th November 1891, and probably had two sisters: Jola and Clara.

He arrived at Westminster as a Homeboarder in September 1906. He took part in Football, earning his Pink after the Winchester match in April 1911.

At the Debating Society, he seconded the motion ‘that this House has lost all confidence in the present Government’. According to the rather blunt account in The Elizabethan, he gave “some rather rambling remarks” and “showed the same incapacity to keep off details and to generalise, as the previous two speakers”.

More positively, his performance of Glorious Devon by Sir Edward German at the Glee Society concert was well received.

He left the school at Easter in 1911, to pursue acting, and was studying music at the outbreak of war. He left the stage to join the Army, enlisting as a 2nd Lieutenant, 10th (Service) Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the 14th September 1914.

He became Lieutenant in the February of the following year, and went out to the western front with the Royal Field Artillery in December 1915. He was with the four-gun (later increasing to six-gun) B Battery, 79th Brigade, RFA.

He was killed in action near Arras on the 10th of April 1918, and is buried at Senlis-le-Sec, Picardie.

Royal Field Artillery troops visiting French gunners at their bivouac, near Boues, 5th April 1918. (IWM Q 10871)

 

 

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George Benjamin Johnstone Stoddart

George Benjamin Johnstone was a pupil in Ashburnham House between September 1911 and July 1914. His father had died when he was very young and his mother, Rosa, went to work at the Bethlem Royal Hospital Lunatic Asylum. There she met and then married a psychiatrist, William Henry Butter Stoddart and George took his stepfather’s surname, in addition to his own once he had left the school.

We have fairly limited information about George’s time at Westminster. We know from the house ledger that he was beaten regularly, once at the Housemaster, John Sargeant’s request, as he had been annoying another master, Mr Westlake. On several occasions he was beaten for ‘ragging’ (fighting) during the Play Term, 1913 and Lent Term, 1914 and he was also punished for visiting one of the other houses, Homeboarders’, which was strictly forbidden.

He appears to have left the school in order to join the war, enlisting as a trooper in the 2nd Dragoon Guards (The Queen’s Bays) on 1st September 1914, despite being only 15 at the time. He served in France as a cavalry machine gunner from May 1915 until January 1916. At this point he was recommended for a commission, and the army discovered that he was underage and returned him to England. He started to learn farming, but joined up again once he was of the correct age. He became a 2nd Lieutenant in the R.A.F. in October 1917 and then a Flying Officer in January 1918. He went out to the western front on 6th April 1918 and was killed accidentally whilst flying near Picquigny.

Troopers in The Queen’s Bays, shortly before they went to France in 1914. Stoddart could easily be one of the individuals in this photograph. The picture was taken by Christina Broom the famous female press photographer of the period.
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Walter Gerald Orriss

Walter Gerald Orriss was the only son of Walter Felix Orriss and his wife, Amelia. The family lived in St. Johns Wood. Walter junior attended Westminster School for just over a year – joining Homeboarders’ House in January 1904 and leaving at the end of the school year in 1905. The only record we have of his time at the school is that he played for his house in a football match against Rigaud’s – Rigaud’s won the game 17-0.  Orriss was a forward, but as they were greatly outnumbered by Rigaud’s backs, they did not stand a chance. Rigaud’s went on to win the competition.

We know nothing of Walter’s life after leaving the school, until the war years. In July 1915, he was made a lieutenant in the 5th Reserve Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. He served in France with the 3rd Battalion and was twice wounded. He went out to France for a third time in March, 1918. He died in hospital at Doullens from wounds he had received in the First Battle of Arras the previous day. The attack by German forces formed part of Operation Michael, a military offensive which sought to break through the Allied lines and advance to the channel ports.

No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens, where Walter is likely to have been treated. Painted by Gerald Moira, 1918 and held by the Canadian War Museum.
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George Hepburn

George followed his elder brother into Westminster School, joining Rigaud’s in 1903.  He left the school at the end of the Election term, 1905, but returned again for the Lent and Election terms in 1906.  He played football for his house and for the school and, according to an article in The Elizabethan, whilst ‘hardly an ideal back, played many good games’.

On leaving the school he joined the Technical College in South Kensington and took a BSc. He then won a nomination to the Royal Engineers at Chatham in 1909 and was appointed first at Rosyth for a year, before entereing the Indian Public Works Department as an assistant engineer in 1911. He returned to England in May 1916 and joined the army, taking a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in July 1916. He went out to the western front in February 1917, serving with the 98th Field Company and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in January 1918. He was killed by a shell along with several other officers as they sat at mess.

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Norman Mortimer Joseph Kohnstam

Norman Mortimer Joseph Kohnstam was the eldest of three brothers to attend Westminster. His parents were Rudolph Kohnstam, of Hampstead, and Emily, daughter of Jacob Piza, of Maida Hill.

He was born on the 26th February 1897, and was admitted to Grant’s in 1910. He became a non-resident King’s Scholar in 1911.

Norman was made Head of Grant’s in 1914. The following incident – in his own words – is recorded in his house ledger on 29th March 1915:

It is the last evening of Lent Term 1915 and the event that I am to describe took place on the last evening of Lent Term 1914; on the evening in question we had our annual fire-escape practice, the canvas shute had been thrown out of window and according to custom I was the first to descend; I managed to get half way down without any misadventure, but no further, there I remained, the lower end of the shute had unfortunately either been retained at the big dorm window or had stuck in a window on the way down, anyhow after a considerable amount of rather unnecessary excitement on the part of everyone but myself I was at length hauled into safety hanging onto the rope that constituted part of the fire escape, the rope I might say is in a distinctly work  out and rather precarious condition and I advise no-one to repeat my adventure unless absolutely necessary.

Only a short time into his tenure as Head of House, Norman fell ill with scarlet fever:

…from which I did not rise for 10 weeks, for the next 6 months I was kept in exile and did not return to Westminster until Lent Term 1915. I left at the end of that term somewhat abruptly as I was at last enabled to take a commission, which I am still waiting for as I write.

After leaving the school at Easter 1915, Norman enlisted as 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion, the Manchester Regiment in May. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 1st of February 1916, and later became a Captain. He joined the Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli in October 1915 and remained at Suvla Bay until the evacuation in December. He served in the Sinai Peninsula between January and June 1916.

His younger brother Oscar Jacob Charles Kohnstam was killed in the trenches on the Somme on the 29th June. And Norman himself was sent out to the western front less than a month later. He was killed in action on the 22nd of March 1918.

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James Donald Allen Bell

James Bell joined Homeboarders’ house in 1901 and left the school at the age of 15 in December 1903.  He was one of several brothers at the school. We do not know what happened to him immediately after leaving the school, but from 1907-1912 he worked as a clerk in the office of the Royal Exchange Assurance Co., an insurance company based in the City of London.

His father was Canon of Norwich, and it is perhaps his religious upbringing which led him to travel to Norfolk Island in the Western Pacific on behalf of the Melanesian Mission in August 1913.  He returned home in 1915 and in 1916 he enlisted in the 22nd (Reserve) battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles.  He went out with the 10th battalion to the western front in September 1916.  He returned home in February 1917, having been recommended for a commission, but suffering with a frost-bitten hand which meant he remained in hospital until April.

He became a 5th Officer in the Cadet Corps between April and August 1917 before being promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers.  In October he returned to the western front once more and was killed in action there.

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