Edward Savory Wykeham Leach

Edward Leach was born on 12th May 1891. He was the son of Arthur Francis Leach, a barrister from Kensington, and Emily Archer Cook from Brighton. His brother Wilfrid John Leach was in his final year at the school when Edward arrived up Ashburnham in September 1904.

He came second in the Hurdles race final in April 1907. According to The Elizabethan, “another rather poor Hurdles; yet with a little coaching a vast improvement might be made.”

Edward left Westminster in July 1908 and embarked on a career in the army. He arrived at R.M.C. Sandhurst in 1909 and was made 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment on the 5th October 1910.

In March 1914, he was attached to the West African Regiment and was promoted to Lieutenant the next month. He served in the Cameroons from September 1914 until he was invalided home in February 1916. He had been acting as temporary Captain since September 1915, and was made Captain proper on 18th March 1916.

He went out to France in March 1917. He was attached to the 7th Battalion East Surrey Regiment, and promoted to Company Commander. He saw action in the Third Battle of the Scarpe near Monchy-le-Preux. He was killed in action at the age of 26 on the first day of the battle: 3rd May 1917.

Germans shelling Monchy-le-Preux. A battery of the Royal Field Artillery 18-pounder field guns firing in the open in the foreground, 24 April 1917. © IWM
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Marcel Andre Simon

Marcel Andre Simon was a pupil at the Royal Naval College, Osborne from the age of 12. He was born in Sidcup in March 1899, the son of Dr Alfred Leon Simon, a French-born mining engineer, and his wife Kathleen Simon, the daughter of Sir Philip Fysh, a British-born Australian politician and businessman. In January 1914, he joined Westminster and was a pupil in Homeboarders house for until July. On the outbreak of war, then aged just 14, he tried to join the Naval Cadets but was rejected as he was colour blind (it was essential to be able to differentiate between the red and green lights which indicate port and starboard on ships).

Marcel lied about his age so that he could sign up with the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment) and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 19th December,1916. He was later attached to the 2nd Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry and went out to the western front in February 1917. Two months later he was killed during the Battle of Arras on 29th April.  The place where he fell, near Oppy Wood, was recorded but his body was never recovered. It was not until 1998 that a group out metal-detecting found his badges and pips. He was then given a burial with full military honours at Orchard Dump Cemetery in Arleux-en-Gohelle in 2000.

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Hugh Dobbie Carless

Hugh Dobbie Carless joined the school in 1910, and although he was a member of Ashburnham House he was made a non-resident King’s Scholar in 1912.  He left the school in December 1914, and although he had a place at Trinity College, Cambridge, Hugh enlisted in the 14th Battalion the London Regiment (London Scottish).  He was made a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion (Reserve) the in June, 1915 and then was attached to the 2nd Battalion and went out to the western front on 29th May 1916.

Troops of the Gordon Highlanders resting outside Tilloy-les-Mofflaines on their way to the front in May 1917. Copyright: © IWM.

Hugh was wounded at High Wood in the Battle of the Somme on 21st July 1916, but he returned to the front after his recovery in January 1917, and was attached to the 7th Battalion.  He died on 24th April 1917, of wounds received in action on the Scarpe the previous day.

In the Ashburnham House Ledger, his successor as Head of Monitor of Ashburnham, H.L. Helsdon, writes a very positive account of his regime:

‘I find the task of criticising my predecessor especially difficult owing to the fact that under his leadership the wheels of the House rolled very smoothly. There was, as a matter of fact, practically only one phase of his management with which I have any fault to find, and that was his lack of originality. It is, perhaps, hardly fair to censure this, as it is certainly doubtful, if originality is a characteristic to be encouraged when in a position of this kind…there is no doubt that Carless was most consistent, and much praise is due to him for this good quality, which is so often lacking. Moreover he was rather a “man of moods” in my humble opinion, and therefore consider that he merits particular credit for not letting them influence, to the slightest degree, his management of the house, when it must often have required an effort to avoid so doing, especially when he was worried by his India Police Examination, captaining of football etc…Finally after this unsuccessful attempt to find fault with anything of any moment in any phase of this management, I must say of Carless that he was thoroughly conscientious in all house business and worked energetically for the good of Ashburnham, something which certainly cannot be said of all his predecessors and last but not least, left the house finances in a comparatively sound condition.’  Play 1914

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Alexander Kenelm Clark-Kennedy

Alexander was born on the 18th December 1883 to Captain Alexander William Maxwell Clark­ Kennedy, of Knockgray, Galloway, and Hon. Lettice Lucy Hewitt, third daughter of James, 4th Viscount Lifford.

His two elder brothers William Hew and Leopold James Clark-Kennedy had both already been at the school, by the time Alexander arrived in September 1898. Whilst at the school, he represented Ashburnham at Football. According to The Elizabethan, he was the best of “a poor lot” in the Ashburnham Football team in November 1893. He left in July 1902, the same year his younger brother Archibald Douglas Hewitt arrived at the school, and went on to Trinity College, Cambridge obtaining his BA in 1905.

He became one of H.M. Inspectors of Factories on the 31st of July 1906, but enlisted as 2nd Lieutenant with the Galloway Rifles (later known as the 5th Battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers) the following October. He was promoted to Lieutenant in August 1907.

Alexander acted as secretary to the Employment of Children Act 1909. By January 1912, he was 1st division clerk in the Home Office, but was reappointed an Inspector of Factories 13th August 1912. He also undertook the role of honorary secretary of the Elizabethan club for a year.

Following the outbreak of war, Alexander re-joined the Scottish Borderers with the rank of Captain. He set out with them for Gallipoli in May 1915, but had to be invalided home in October. He was well enough to join his battalion in Egypt in April 1916.

He was killed in action near Gaza, Palestine, on 19th April 1917, and is memorialised on the Carsphairn war memorial, which was unveiled in 1923 by his elder brother William.

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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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