Tag Archives: Ashburnham

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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Sidney Frederick Johnson

19170110_Johnson,SFSidney Frederick Johnson was the second son of George and Blanche Johnson. He was born on the 19th August 1887 and arrived at the school in September 1901.

He threw himself into all elements of school life, from football and cricket, to debating and chess, to the School Mission. In Play Term 1905, he was made Head of Ashburnham, alongside being Captain of the School Football XI and also Captain of House Football and Cricket. His successor wrote in the House Ledger:

“to fill so many responsible positions eodem tempore needed a fellow of many parts: many of these parts he possessed and many he did not possess. No man has done more for the House GamesÔǪhe has succeeded by his own prowess and personality in establishing confidence in quite inferior players. For example he was absent on account of an exam from a large part of the HBB 1st inns in their shield match with us: but directly he came on the field, them who had been playing half-heartedly before put twice as much into their work as they had before his arrival.”

Upon leaving the school, Johnson achieved a BSc at the London University. He enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Queen Victoria’s Rifles in May 1910 before becoming a partner in Hendren’s Trust, Ltd., a financial company for promoting British enterprise in Canada.

On the outbreak of war, Johnson decided to re-join the army. But first — a fortnight before taking a position as 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion (Reserve) Border Regiment — he married Helen Marguerite, the elder daughter of Farquhar Robinson, of Montreal, Canada on 28th November 1914.

Johnson was attached to the 2nd Battalion and went out with them to the western front on 20th February 1915, but was invalided home in May 1915 as a result of wounds he received at Festubert. He was promoted to Lieutenant the following March and returned to the front on the 29th December 1916. He was appointed brigade bombing officer with the rank of temporary Captain on the 7th October 1916 and was killed in action at the age of 29 at Beaumont Hamel on the 10th January 1917.

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Eric Clive Graham

Eric Clive Graham was a pupil in Ashburnham House from 1909 until 1913. He was the youngest son of American, Lionel Henry Graham and his English wife, Hilda.

At school he was a keen sportsman, taking part in football, athletics and fives. He was the 4th member of the winning 1909 Ashburnham Junior Football team to die in the war — after R. Chalmers and J.W.H. McCulloch and G.J.M. Moxon. The ledger describes his performance that year in mixed terms stating that ‘he kept goal against Rigauds when Carless was out of school. Although he did one or two good things, he was not safe and had no understanding with the backs’. He was clearly more successful as a forward, being described as the House’s chief goal scorer in his final year at the school.

After leaving the school he went to Ingleden Park, Kent to learn agriculture with a view to farming in Canada. However, on the outbreak of war he changed his plans and enlisted in the Public Schools Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He left England in February 1916 to join the 1st Battalion at Busreh, on the Tigris in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). He was invalided to Bombay in June, but returned to his regiment in Busreh on 12th October 1916. He was killed in action at Kut-el- Amara, Mesopotamia on 9th January 1917 in one of a series of battles which led to the recapture of Kut and, ultimately, the fall of Baghdad.

Recapture of Kut-al-Amarah, 24 February 1917. British infantry resting in town.  IWM
Recapture of Kut-al-Amarah, 24 February 1917. British infantry resting in town. IWM
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Harold Leofric Helsdon

Harold Leofric Helsdon was born on 18th November 1896. He was the eldest son of Horace John Helsdon, an architect, and Flora, the eldest daughter of W. Franklin Dickson. He was admitted to Ashburnham House as an exhibitioner in September 1910 and made a monitor in Lent Term 1914.

Harold was made Head of Ashburnham in Play 1914, and although he was not an entirely successful Head of House, he seems to have been reasonably well-liked. His successor wrote the following, rather equivocal, account of Harold’s year as Head of House in the Ashburnham Ledger:

“Helsdon had a great many natural advantages, but he made very little use of them during his last year. He was clever to a very high degree and probably his last year’s behaviour here will cause him much regret and sorrow. Helsdon was extremely good-natured and pleasant to get on with in House matters. In the matter of punishments etc. I consider him to have been scrupulously fair and justÔǪ Helsdon was not much use at games, but he was decidedly keen on them and set the House a good example which I believe has been well followed. Financially Helsdon left the House slightly in debt which should not have been the case ÔǪ Finally I trust and hope that Helsdon will have greater success in his future. He is at present in the Inns of Court OTC and expects a commission shortly.”

(J.L. Strain, Lent 1915)

After leaving the school at Easter 1915, Harold entered the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps. He became a 2nd Lieutenant for the 3rd Battalion (Reserve) Dorsetshire Regiment on the 28th July of that year. He was attached to 1/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and went out to the western front in June 1916, where he acted first as bombing officer, and afterwards as intelligence officer.

The Royal Warwickshire Regiment resting during Battle of the Somme 1916
The Royal Warwickshire Regiment resting during Battle of the Somme 1916

Just a week after his 20th birthday, on the night of the 25th and 26th November 1916, Harold was killed in night patrol work near Butte de Warlencourt.

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DÔÇÖArcy Algernon Cuthbert Dillon OÔÇÖFlynn

D’Arcy O’Flynn was born on the 12th November 1885 to John James Dillon O’Flynn, of Kensington, and Elizabeth Louisa, the eldest daughter of George William Lowe, of Southampton, Hampshire. Unfortunately, when D’Arcy was 9 years old, his family was caught up in scandal.

His parents had married in Madras in 1876 and were living in Houlgate, Dulwich. However, John had been systematically swindling two women — Emma Eliza Bevan and Hetty Michell — out of hundreds of pounds, by claiming to be investing their money in white lead and iron ore companies. Posing as a single man, he had made advances on both women, and even went so as to promise marriage to Miss Michell. Hetty Michell called the wedding off upon discovering the existence of John’s wife and family, but John told her that “the woman you are pleased to call Mrs. O’Flynn is not my wife, and has nothing to do with me”. John O’Flynn was found guilty of fraud and was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude on the 23rd July 1894.

The devastating impact of this scandal upon D’Arcy and his sister and three brothers — not to mention their mother — is uncertain. However, five years later, D’Arcy and one of his brothers, Albert, found themselves at Westminster School. D’Arcy joined Ashburnham in 1899, and left in July 1902.

In December 1906, D’Arcy emigrated to Canada, where he became a farmer. He enlisted in the 47th Battalion Canadian Infantry in May 1915 and was promoted to Sergeant that December. He went out to the western front July 1916 and was at the Canadians’ first major battle of the war at Courcellette, Somme. On the 10th November, D’Arcy was wounded in action and he died the following day — the day before his 31st birthday.

19161111_O'Flynn,DACD
Medical orderlies tending to the wounded in a trench during the Battle of Courcelette
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John Oswald Heath

John Oswald Heath was the only son of John Edgar Heath, of Lee, Kent, and his wife Nora Mary, daughter of Oswald Lofthouse, of Warrington, Lancashire. He was born on 24th May 1895.

He was admitted to Westminster at the end of September 1910, and joined Ashburnham house. Since he had arrived at the school at the slightly older age of 15, he joined the Transitus — a transitional year for pupils who were new to the school. After leaving the school in July 1912, he entered the pottery and glass manufacturing business for a short 19161007_Heath,JOtime before joining the Honourable Artillery Company in 1913.

In September 1914, the HAC moved from Finsbury, London to Belhus Park, Essex, and on the 18th of that month John Heath went out with them to the western front. They landed two days later at Saint-Nazaire and were placed onto lines of communication. He served with them for nine months, which meant that he would have been involved in the First Battle of Ypres.

After those first nine months, he returned to Britain to take a commission as 2nd Lieutenant with the 11th (Service) Battalion, the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment on 28th June 1915. He was promoted to Lieutenant the following February and returned to the western front as the Battalion Bombing Officer on May Day 1916.

He was killed in action, at the age of 21, during the attempt to capture Le Sars during the Battle of Le Transloy on the 7th Oct. 1916. He is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 11 C).

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James Leslie Buckman

Jack Buckman was the only son of James and Mary Jane Buckman, of East Dulwich, Surrey. He was born on 11th November 1892, and was sent to Fairfield Preparatory School in Southwark. His paternal grandfather had been a farm labourer, and his maternal grandfather was a rate collector. His father had worked hard to obtain a position as Borough Treasurer of Bermondsey; Jack’s parents’ decision to send him to Westminster was testimony to their ambitions for their son.

By the time he arrived up Ashburnham in 1907, Jack was suffering from a health condition that prevented him from participating in athletics and other activities, including the OTC. However, upon leaving the school in 1910, secured a place to read Law at Wadham College, Oxford.

He passed his prelims in February 1911, and graduated in June 1914. He was admitted to Middle Temple but, on the outbreak of war, decided to join the Army. He was placed on a waiting list following an unconvincing medical examination, but was soon posted as 2nd Lieutenant with the 8th (Service) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, which was training near Salisbury Plain. He was awarded a first class certificate in musketry, and his leadership potential was judged to be such that he was sent on a special staff course at Camberley.

He was transferred to the 12th Bermondsey Battalion, East Surrey Regiment in 1915 as a temporary Lieutenant, and was promoted to Captain in October 1915. He was given responsibility for 200 men. He went out went out to the western front on 1st May 1916, and on the 3rd of May, the editor of the Elizabethan received the following message:

19160915_Buckman

Jack Buckman was killed in action at Flers, France, on 15th September 1916. His parents published a memorial in the London Times every year on his birthday, and on the anniversary of his death.

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Eustace Walter Russell Hadden

Eustace Walter Russell was the younger son of the Rev. Robert Henry Hadden, Vicar and his wife, Eva Prudence. The family home was at Hazel Hatch in Addlestone, Surrey.

Eustace was educated at Westminster School, joining Ashburnham House in 1903 and went up to Christ Church in 1908, the year after his brother.

Whilst still an undergraduate at Oxford, he joined the 4th Battalion, Territorial Force in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and was gazetted Second Lieutenant on 29th November 1908. In 1910 he was attached to the 52nd Light Infantry at Shornecliffe and in September 1911 he was promoted to Lieutenant.

In 1912, although still in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, Eustace was called to the bar of the Inner Temple and became a Barrister. In 1913 he went to Siam (now Thailand) where he worked in a legal position for the Siamese Government. He returned to England the following year, and was promoted to Captain, on Tuesday 1st September 1914.

In 1915 he was sent to France with the 4th Battalion. Shortly afterwards he was wounded in the face. It was feared that he would lose his eyesight, however, he was treated in France and returned to his regiment. He was promoted to Temporary Major, now becoming the most Senior Officer in his Battalion.

19160611_Hadden,EWR

On 7 June 1916 he was admitted to hospital in Abbeville suffering with appendicitis. Although he was operated on that day he could not be saved and died four days later in 2 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne. His death was announced in The Times on Wednesday 14 June.

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