Tag Archives: Aldershot

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:


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.


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Noel Marshall Vernham

Noel Marshall Vernham was a member of Rigaud’s house from 1910 until he left to join the army after the outbreak of war in 1914. Whilst at the school he was an accomplished gymnast, helping Rigaud’s to secure second place in the Senior House competition and representing Westminster at Aldershot. He was also represented the House at fives and football.

Vernham’s athletic antics appear to have got him into some scrapes — in July 1913 he broke his nose, but made a speedy recovery and in November 1913 he injured an eye. He took part in the Officer Training Corps and advanced through the ranks whilst at school, helping to prepare himself for his military career. Initially he enlisted in the Middlesex Regiment, but was transferred to the East Surrey Regiment in March 1915. He first went out to the western front on 19th March 1916.

After his death his father received a letter from another member of his son’s regiment which was printed in The Elizabethan:

SIR,—With reference to the death of 2nd Lieut. Vernham, I wish to describe what I saw of it. At 4 a.m. on the morning of July 28 the regiment proceeded into action at Longueval. Mr. Vernham was then commanding No. 14 Platoon, No. 4 Company. This platoon was immediately in front of me in a communication trench, which was being very badly knocked about, owing to the very severe shelling which was prevailing at the time. Mr. Vernham, however, highly indifferent and utterly regardless of all danger, stood and walked about on top of the trench, organising and generally looking after his men. He stood on top that he might more easily do this, fully aware that every second his life was in danger, as there was no pause whatever between one shell and another. However, he was not the least disturbed, but added greatly to the safety of his platoon by moving them every moment to places of safety (such places as existed); of these, there were very, very few. About 5.30 a.m. to 6 o’clock he was killed by a very powerful shrapnel shell which burst above his head, a piece striking him on top of the head. Death was instantaneous. Owing to his bravery and zeal and continued thought of the welfare of his men, his platoon looked to him as their chief protector and thought the very world of him. It was chiefly owing to his zealousness and great care for his men that he met his death in this way. I can assure you, his loss was felt very acutely by his company, more especially by the platoon he commanded, and they offer their deepest sympathy to you in the loss of such a gallant son. His body was buried at Longueval.

Yours obediently,


Q 4010
Black Watch back at rest after delivering a counter-attack at Longueval on the morning of 19th July 1916.
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