Tag Archives: Artists’ Rifles

James Benjamin Wallace Wolstenholme

The Gravestone of James Benjamin Wallace Wolstenholme, courtesy of The War Graves Project

James Benjamin Wallace Wolstenholme was born in 1895, the eldest son of James Wolstenholme and Mary Elizabeth Gossling. He joined Westminster School in 1908 and was admitted to Ashburnham House. By 1913 he had enlisted with the Artists’ Rifles, a volunteer regiment of the British Army Reserve. He remained part of the Territorial Force for several years, and in 1915 became Lieutenant Railway Transport Officer. In this role he worked as part of the Royal Engineers, the body responsible for the creation and maintenance of not only British railways, but transport networks across Europe and beyond.

In August 1917 Wolstenholme was transferred to the RFC (Royal Flying Corps). The RFC was a precursor to the Royal Air Force, and remained in place until 1918. Here Wolstenholme trained at the 47th Training Depot Station, based with the North Eastern Training Group in Doncaster. It was while training with the RFC that Wolstenholme was fatally wounded, and he passed away on the 20th August 1918.

 

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Charles Iorwerth Mansel-Howe

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.

Artists’ Rifles cadets digging a trench in 1916
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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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Roland John Howard Bull

Roland was born at 2, Hill Crest, West Hill Road in Wandsworth. He was baptised at St Peter’s, Hammersmith by the Revd. George Henry Tidcombe. Aged 12 he joined Westminster School, becoming a member of Ashburnham House and remaining until 1907. He served for a period in the army, joining the Artists’ Rifles in February 1909. He later trained as a solicitor with his father’s firm, being admitted to the profession in December 1913 and becoming a partner in the family firm, Bull & Bull, shortly afterwards.

On the outbreak of war he joined the army once more, taking a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Queen’s Westminster Rifles. In September 1915 he first went out to the Western Front and was attached to the Royal Engineers for Army Signal Service. The group had been formed in 1908 and provided a communications service throughout the war using dispatch riders on motorcycles and wireless communications. As the war went on telephones became increasingly common. Increasing numbers of soldiers were trained specially in communications. Roland was promoted to Lieutenant in June 1915 and then to Captain in 1917. He then moved to the 8th Heavy Artillery. He was killed accidentally at Canada Farm, Elverdinghe near Ypres on 13th July 1917.

His uncle dedicated a memorial to Roland at the entrance to St. Luke’s Church on the Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush.

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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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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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Geoffrey Wilkins

Geoffrey Wilkins was in Homeboarders House between 1898 and 1900. All we know about his time at school is that he played football for his house on two occasions against Grant’s. Homeboarders were beaten on both occasions — the score for one of the matched was 7-0!

We do not know what he did after leaving school but he joined the army on the outbreak of war, enlisting in the Artists’ Rifles on 2nd September 1914. He married Letitia Gertrude Hill on 10th October before going to the front. By May 1915 he was transferred to the Northumberland Fusiliers.

19151005_Wilkins,G

He died of wounds received in action on 3rd October 1915 at the Battle of Loos. As with many soldiers he was given a temporary grave until he could be properly buried in Chocques Military Cemetery. The plain wooden cross used to mark this makeshift burial was sent to the church where Wilkins had worshiped — All Souls in St Margarets, Middlesex. Together with the cross from the grave of Corporal Lawrence Richards, another local man it flanks the church’s hand lettered Roll of Honour listing all the men from the parish who were killed in the war. Underneath the names the following caption is carved:

“In the year 1914 England waged war against Germany that faith should be kept between nations and life might be ordered by right and not by violence. For this end Englishmen left their homes and fought and suffered for 4 years. Amongst them men of this parish of whom 86 lost their lives in helping to gain the victory. Wherefore their names are enshrined above in grateful and loving memory and in hope that their deeds and sacrifice may inspire Englishmen for all time.”

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Alfred Crosfield Vernor Miles

19150824_Miles,ACVAlfred Miles joined his elder brother Cyril up Grant’s in September 1908. He seemed set to follow in his brother’s footsteps as a gifted sportsman, winning the Junior Gymnastic Competition in his second term at the school, and reaching the semi-finals for the under-16 100 yards later in the year. He sat the Challenge in June, and was elected to a non-resident King’s Scholarship.

In March 1909, there was an outbreak of measles at the school, and Alfred was one of those who succumbed to the illness. In the boredom of convalescence, he turned to causing mischief. His head of house, Lawrence Tanner, wrote in his diary on Monday April 5th 1909: “ÔǪsome Grantites had been throwing water on to Rigaudites playing in a yard tie, from one of the upper windows. It turned out to be the ‘measlers’ Radford and Miles.”

Throughout his time at the school, Alfred was an active member of the Debating Society and prone to “rhetorical outbursts”. The society’s debate on Civilisation on 8th of February 1912 was reported in The Elizabethan:

Mr. A.C.V. Miles, in the course of some Hobsonian and irrelevantremarks, informed the Societythat the had picked up Civilisation in the streets (according to our reporter), and that he had also found itgrowingon walls, rotten trees, dry sponges, and precipitous abysses.

Alfred took part in the OTC, and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in his final year of school. After year of being articled to his father, a solicitor of Hampstead, he enlisted in the 1st Battalion Artists’ Rifles in August 1914. By April 1915, Alfred was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion Welsh Regiment. He was sent out to the Western front in October 1914, where his brother Cyril joined him the following March.

It was near Vermelles, France, and while he was acting as a Brigade Wiring Officer, that Alfred was killed on 24th August 1915.

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Maurice Day

The Royal Berkshire Regiment in the Ypres Salient, Spring 1915
The Royal Berkshire Regiment in the Ypres Salient, Spring 1915

Maurice Day was a pupil in Ashburnham House between 1906 and 1909. Upon leaving school hewas articled to an architect, and was just out of his articles when the war began. He enlisted in the 28th Battalion of the London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles) and went out to the Western Front in the autumn of 1914 to oversee the Officer Training Corps. The Artists Rifles was an extremely popular unit for volunteers. Due to the large number that joined it was formed into three sub-battalions in 1914, and recruitment was eventually restricted by recommendation from existing members of the battalion. He was promoted to the role of Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion ofPrincess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment in March 1915 moving to serve on the front line.

As with the two other Old Westminsters killed on 9th May, Day died in action at the Battle of Aubers Ridge, France.

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