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.
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.
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.’
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.’
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.
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.
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.’
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.