Tag Archives: Ashburnham

John Ernest Vivian Rathbone

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.’

John Rathbone, centre, with elder siblings Basil and Beatrice.
Posted in The Fallen | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leslie Grantham Heigham-Plumptre

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.

Cadets on HMS Worcester, early 20th Century
Posted in The Fallen | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Archibald Robert Hadden

Archibald Robert Hadden was born on the 22nd October 1889. He was the elder son of Reverend Robert Henry Hadden, who was the Vicar of St. Mark, North Audley Street, London, and Eva Prudence, second daughter of John Carbery Evans, of Hatley Park, Cambridgeshire. His father served as Chaplain in Ordinary to Queen Victoria and as Honorary Chaplain to Edward VII.

Archibald joined Ashburnham in September 1902, and was joined by his younger brother Eustace Walter Russell Hadden in 1903.

At school, he took part in the Cadet Corps, and was promoted to the rank of Corporal in 1906. He was also a singer. In June 1907, The Elizabethan records:

Many Ashburnhamites sang in the very successful School Concert last month: D. J. Jardine, J. C. M. Davidson, D. M. Low, C. C. Treatt, and A. R. Hadden were prominent basses, while D. S. Scott and R. W. Dodds shone as alto and soprano respectively.

He left the school in July 1907, and matriculated into Christ Church, Oxford later that year. In 1909, the year his father died, Archibald joined the army as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th Battalion London Regiment (Queen Victoria’s Rifles). By March 1911, he had risen to Lieutenant, and in September 1914, he was promoted again to Captain.

On the 6th of May 1915, Archibald married Evelyn Forster, the only daughter of Edwin Thomas Morse Tunnicliffe, MRCS, of North Finchley. Between August 1914 and January 1917, he served on the staff of the 3rd London Infantry Brigade under General Monck.

During this time, his brother Eustace died of appendicitis while serving in France on the 11th June 1916. Archibald and Evelyn’s son, Alan Edwin Robert Haddon (GG 1929-1933), was born on 29th August 1916. Archibald went out to the western front, in January 1917, where he joined his regiment. But on the on the 25th April 1918, he was killed in action at Hangard Wood.

Soldiers of the 9th London Regiment (Queen Victoria’s Rifles) during a break in training at Hampstead Heath in December 1914 (Q 53457)
Posted in The Fallen | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in The Fallen | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in The Fallen | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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.
Posted in The Fallen | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ronald John McIver Wilson-Theobald

Ronald was born on the 20th September 1898. He was the only child of William and Rosie Wilson-Theobald. His father was a barrister-at-law in Kensington, and his mother was the daughter of Isaac Lotinga, of Sunderland, Co. Durham. He joined Ashburnham in September 1912.

In 1914, Ronald came second in the Under 16s 100 Yards race. He left the school at Easter of the same year, and in 1916, he started at RMC Sandhurst.

He was attached to the 5th Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry as a 2nd Lieutenant, in September 1917, and he went out with them to the western front in November.

He was stationed near St. Quentin, France, when the major German offensive – known as Operation Michael – was launched in the early hours of the 21st of March 1918. His battalion was defending the Somme, where they faced trench mortars, mustard gas, chlorine gas, tear gas, smoke canisters, and heavy artillery bombardment. Ronald was killed in action on that first day of the three-day long Battle of St Quentin.

The following account of that morning is by Winston Churchill, who was there carrying out an inspection as Minister of Munitions:

“And then, exactly as a pianist runs his hands across the keyboard from treble to bass, there rose in less than one minute the most tremendous cannonade I shall ever hear…It swept round us in a wide curve of red leaping flame stretching to the north far along the front of the Third Army, as well as of the Fifth Army on the south, and quite unending in either direction…the enormous explosions of the shells upon our trenches seemed almost to touch each other, with hardly an interval in space or time…The weight and intensity of the bombardment surpassed anything which anyone had ever known before.”

THE GERMAN SPRING OFFENSIVE, MARCH-JULY 1918 (IWM Q 8618)
Posted in The Fallen | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Eric James Tyson

Eric James Tyson was born in Balham on the 17th of March 1892. He was the only son of Joseph and Annie Tyson. Joseph Tyson was a Classics teacher at the school between 1885 and 1929, and worked as Bursar to the school. Annie was the daughter of John Branson, of Rockingham, Northamptonshire.

He was admitted to the school in May 1904, and joined Ashburnham. During his time at Westminster, he represented Ashburnham in Fives and Cricket as shown in the 1908 July edition of The Elizabethan where he was in a cricket match against Rigaud’s and in the House Notes section was stated that he ‘did well’. He was also mentioned in the 1909 October edition for competing in house Fives. He was forced to take a break from Football because he was suffering from “water on the knee”.

When he left the school in July 1910, he went on to be a motor engineer. This stood him in good stead because, in August 1914, he enlisted in the Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport). After a year, he became 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Coprs. He was gazetted in January 1916 for gallantry on photographic reconnaissance and artillery duties, and was promoted to Flight Commander and Captain by 23rd June 1916.

He was awarded the Military Cross on the 20th October 1916. In November 1916, he rose to the rank of Major, and was put in command of No. 5 Squadron in France. In September the following year, he decorated further with a Distinguished Service Order (pictured).

He was out on an artillery observation mission near Arras, France, when he encountered nine German aircraft. Eric was fatally wounded in the confrontation, with the victory attributed to Sielemann of Jagdstaffel 57.

Tyson died of his wounds the next day, on the 11th March 1918, leaving behind his wife Cora Florence Gladys (née Davies), daughter of Philip C. Davies, of Trinity Road, Ealham. He is buried in the Maroeuil British Cemetery in France.

 Compiled with the assistance of a pupil in the Vth Form.

 

Posted in Medals and Honours, The Fallen | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leslie Sidney Last

Leslie Sidney Last was the youngest son of Arthur William Last and Elizabethan Anne Balaam and was born in Sutton. He was a pupil in Ashburnham House from April 1909 until December 1911.  He was athletic and played in his house’s winning Junior Football Team in 1909.  The house ledger recorded that:

“(right back) is a very plucky and sturdy little player; he is a good kick with either foot and tackles admirably.”

He was the 5th member of that team to die in the war – following contemporaries R. Chalmers and J.W.H. McCulloch and G.J.M. Moxon and E.C. Graham.

On leaving the school he became a driver for the Honourable Artillery Company. He later served in Egypt during the war until 1916 when he was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery.  From there he went to Salonika before later becoming attached to the Royal Flying Corps in October 1917. Pilots were much in demand at this stage in the war and during 1917 experienced pilots were redeployed from the Sinai and Palestine Campaign to set up a new flying school and train pilots in Egypt. Last ‘obtained his wings’ – his license to fly in December 1917 and was then appointed as an instructor. He was killed accidentally while instructing a pupil near Cairo a less than two months later.

Aircraft crash at the Royal Flying Corps Training School at Aboukir, Egypt
Posted in The Fallen | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Sheridan Gregory

1914 Star © IWM 30007059

John Sheridan Gregory was born on the 15th of September 1889. He was the younger son of Lieutenant-Colonel Gregory Marcar Gregory, of West Kensington, and Edith Laura, the second daughter of John Sheridan, of Earl’s Court.

Before arriving up Ashburnham in 1902, John was educated under Mr George Egerton, Somerset Street.

While he was at the school, he represented his house at Football as a half-back. The Elizabethan notes that he “played very well” in the 1907 House Cup match in which his team won 6-0 against Rigaud’s, and was “on the top of his form” against the Homeboarders.

After he left the school in July 1907, he went on to Trinity College, Cambridge in Michaelmas 1908. He graduated with a BA and LLB in 1911, and was admitted to the Middle Temple in November 1913.

Particularly keen to become proficient in riding and driving, John enlisted in the Officer Training Corps (Army Service Branch). By August 1914, he had qualified for Certificate A, a proficiency award for basic training, and had passed all but his final examination for the Bar.

As soon as he had qualified, he went out to France as 2nd Lieutenant, Army Service Corps (Special Reserve). Then, between April 1915 and August 1917, he served as Supply Officer to the 9th Cavalry Brigade. He rose through the ranks, becoming a temporary Lieutenant in August 1915, a full Lieutenant in February 1916, and a temporary Captain in June 1916.

In August 1917, he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps, and returned to England to qualify as an Observer.

An observer operating an aerial camera in WW1

He returned to France in October 1917, and joined No. 16 Squadron R.F.C. before being transferred to No. 35 Squadron in November. He was promoted to Captain on the 29th November 1917, and was preparing to go through the training of a pilot.

He received the 1914 Star for his past services in France. But just a fortnight later, on 19th February 1918, his plane was shot down in an encounter with a German machine between Lempire and Épehy. He died aged 28, and is buried near Peronne.

Posted in Medals and Honours, The Fallen | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment