Nevil Furze was born on 30th April 1897. He was the youngest son of Herbert Furze, of South Kensington, and Mary Ford, daughter of Edward Tidswell, of Chigwell, Essex. He was admitted to the school in April 1912, where he joined Homeboarders’ house.
During his time at the school, Furze threw himself into the Football and Cricket scene, earning House Colours in both sports. The Elizabethan contains some congratulatory comments about some of his performances:
“The start of the second half was sensational; the Visitors pressed; Carless cleared and sent out to Furze, who ran through the whole defence and scored with a beauty (2-1).” (1st November 1914 against Old Wykehamists).
He left the school in July 1914 and, in September, enlisted in the 18th (Service) Battalion (1st Public Schools) the Royal Fusiliers. He became a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion (Reserve) The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment in June 12, 1915, and went out to the western front attached to the 2nd Battalion in September 1915.
Furze was involved in the operations at Bucquoy in March 1917. He was killed while leading a night attack there on 14 March 1917. Following the unsuccessful British attacks, the Germans retired from Bucquoy.
Sigurd Dickson was the youngest son of Sir John Frederick Dickson, who had also been a pupil at the school. Sigurd was in Grant’s House from 1897-1902. He played football and cricket for the school — a review of his performance over the 1901/2 season was printed in The Elizabethan:
S.A. Dickson played at his very best against Charterhouse. He lacked weight, but was neat. As was the case with most of the team, he could not face adversity.
Upon leaving he became a District Commissioner in West Africa, and subsequently in South Africa. Later he worked in business as a rubber-planter in the Federated Malay States; rubber production was a large growth industry due to its use in the manufacture of car tires.
Sigurd returned home on the outbreak of the First World War and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. He was attached to the 102 Brigade and went out to the western front with them in 1916.
On 15th and 29th November 1916, Haig met the French commander-in-chief Joseph Joffre and the other Allies at Chantilly. An offensive strategy to overwhelm the Central Powers was agreed, with attacks planned on the Western, Eastern and Italian fronts, by the first fortnight in February 1917. Early in 1917 troops were assembled in the area in preparation for the attack. British determination to clear the Belgian coast took on more urgency, after the Germans resumed unrestricted submarine warfare on 1st February 1917. Sigurd was killed in action near Ypres on 1st February.
Sidney 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 Games & he 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.
Leonard James Moon was at Westminster School, up Grants, from 1891 until 1896. He was the youngest of three brothers who were all exceptional athletes. Leonard was in both 1st XIs and continued to play association football whilst at Pembroke College, Cambridge and cricket of Middlesex in 1899 and 1901. In 1905 he played cricket for the national side against South Africa.
Wisden records that:
In the autumn of 1905 he was second in the averages for the M.C.C.’s team in America with 33.00, and before the next season opened toured South Africa with another M.C.C. side. During the latter tour he made 826 runs with an average of 27.33. He was a vigorous batsman who could cut well, and a useful wicket-keeper. At association football he gained high honours, obtaining his blue for Cambridge and playing for the Corinthians.
After university Leonard went into teaching and became Head Master of Wellesley House School, Broadstairs, Kent. After the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps, taking a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion of the Devon Regiment in February 1915. He served in France but lost his life in near Salonica in Greece.
Leonard was recorded in the school’s roll of honour as having died from wounds, but records found in The National Archives reveal that he actually committed suicide. Letters he left just before he died suggest that he was concerned about a rumour which had been spread about him and feared it would bring his regiment into disrepute. Leonard seems to have been suffering from paranoia as a result of what would now be identified as post-traumatic stress. A subsequent investigation found that his concerns were groundless.
William Ash began Westminster School in Dale’s boarding house in 1883, before migrating up to Rigaud’s. He was a keen cricketer, playing for the school in the Charterhouse match. Cricket continued to be an important activity in his life after leaving the school, in 1888, for the army. In addition to taking part in military cricket, he also played for Old Westminsters, Free Foresters, the Butterflies and Berkshire and was a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club from 1896. He married Edith Learoyd, the second daughter of Edward Wright Barnett, in 1894.
His first commission in the army was as a 2nd Lieutenant in the The Duke of Cambridge’s Own (The Middlesex Regt.), in 1892. He was made a Lieutenant in 1895 and a Captain in 1900. He served in the South African War in 1902 and continued to advance through the army ranks after the conflict had finished. When the First World War broke out he had achieved the rank of Major and was serving in Malta. Ash went to the western front in November 1914 and was wounded at Loos on 25th September 1915 and invalided home. He returned to the front on 3rd May 1916 to command a Football Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment.
At 11pm on the night of the 14th September 1916 his Battalion moved forward from the village of Montauban to assembly trenches in Carlton and Savoy Trenches for an attack on the village of Flers the following day. By 1am on the 15th they were in position and at 6.20am the leading units went into the assault, led by tanks which were being used for the first time in the history of warfare. The Middlesex men moved off at 10am; as they went forward they had to shelter from enemy shelling on a number of occasions. At midday they were ordered to take up positions at Scimitar Trench and they again moved forward under fire, with the battalion split either side of the Flers Road. By this time Flers itself had been taken but the situation in the northern part of the village was obscure. The battalion resumed the attack and at 5pm they lost their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel William Claudius Casson Ash, who fell mortally wounded, having led the attack. He died at Etaples on 29th September from his injuries.
His widow, Edith, placed an In Memoriam notice in The Times every year until her death, in her 80s, in 1955. Each year she included a different paragraph, the following is from 1926:
Edward Whinney was the sixth son of Frederick Whinney and Emma Morley. He was born in London on the 31st August 1870 and was admitted to the school as a Homeboarder in September 1884. During his time at the school, he was a keen cricketer. Even after he left, he continued to represent the school in the Old Westminsters XI.
After leaving school in July 1887, Edward and became a member of the London Stock Exchange. On the 7th October 1987, he married Maude Clementine Louise, who was the elder daughter of John Crow, of Hampstead.
He had already served in the army, and following the outbreak of war, he rejoined his old former regiment, becoming a Captain of the 2/7th Battalion (Territorial Force) Middlesex Regiment on the 23rd October 1914. He was promoted to Major just over a month later, and was transferred to the 12th (Service) Battalion, Middlesex Regtiment. He served with them at Gibraltar and in Egypt, before going out to the western front in June 1916.
He was killed in the action at Thiepval on the 26th Sept 1916, at the age of 46, leaving behind him his wife, three sons and a daughter.
George Rivers, often known to his friends as Charlie, joined Rigaud’s house as a day pupil in 1899, becoming a boarder in the spring, 1902. He played Cricket for his house and for a Town Boy team but with limited success as a batsman, scoring few runs and often being bowled out quickly. He also enjoyed gymnastics, but is described in The Elizabethan as ‘careful but lacks strength’. Nevertheless, he earned half pinks during his final year at the school.
After leaving the school he went to work in Burma. He must have returned to London by 1913 as he married Miss Elsie Margaret Pickthall on 1st November and soon after the couple had a daughter. Once war was declared as he joined the Inns of Court O.T.C. and then took a commission as 2nd Lieut, 9th (Service) Batt. the East Surrey Regiment just before Christmas 1914. He was a ‘Grenade Officer’ — in charge of the bomb throwers within his battalion.
Rivers went out to the western front on 30th August 1915. Just under a year later his regimental history tells us his battalion was:
‘ordered up to the Briqueterie, near Montauban, in support of the 73rd Infantry Brigade, who, together with the 17th Brigade, attacked and captured the western outskirts of Guillemont. On the 21st the Battalion, together with the 8th Battn. the “Queen’s”, moved up in the new front line, the “Queen’s” occupying the trench just west of the quarry in Guillemont, whilst the Battalion held the trenches in the rear of the “Queen’s”.’
Rivers was killed in heavy shelling on the part of the enemy near Trones Wood during 21st August 1916, along with three other men from the regiment.
Dallas Gerard le Doux was born in Glamorgan in 1897. He took the additional name of ‘Veitch’ from his stepfather, John Gould Veitch, who married Dallas’ mother, Dorothy, when Dallas was six years old. It was natural that Dallas would attend Westminster School as his maternal uncle and stepfather were both Old Westminsters. He joined the school on 22nd September 1910 as a member of Grant’s House, the same house his stepfather had attended in the 1880s.
He also followed in his stepfather’s footsteps onto the football pitch. Veitch senior was a football Blue and played for England against Wales in 1894, scoring three goals in the match. Veitch junior was a Cricket and Football pink, captaining the Cricket 1st XI in his final year at school, 1914.
1914 was a difficult year for the family. In October, Veitch senior died, aged only 45, after problems with his health, particularly his lungs. Dallas left school in December and entered a firm of chartered accountants, perhaps wanting to help support his mother and sister. However by April 1915 he was gazetted to the Royal Sussex Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant. In June 1916 he was attached to the 7th Battalion and went out to the western front.
He was killed in the early morning of 4th August whilst gallantly attacking a German bombing post as part of an attempt to take the town of Pozieres. He was barely nineteen years of age.
The 7th Sussex Regiment war diary entry for that day reads:
“At 3am received orders to send one company over to RATION TRENCH to get in touch with 8th Royal Fusiliers and work up to the right, also one platoon to attack Strong Point on the right, after this had been captured they were to work down RATION and get in touch with ‘A’ Coy. ‘A’ Coy went too much to the left but reached RATION TRENCH finding the Buffs already there, Col Cope, (O.C. Buffs) ordered ‘A’ Coy to push forward and take the ridge which they reached without any difficulty but were heavily counter attacked and obliged to fall back to RATION TRANCH. The platoon on the right came under heavy Machine Gun fire and were not able to capture the Strong Point. Later in the day orders were received for two Companies to attack the right of RATION TRENCH in conjunction with attack of 9th Royal Fusiliers. Two platoons were again to attack Strong Point on right from POZIERES TRENCH ‘B & ‘D’ Coy’s attacked across the open but lost direction, some however reached their objective and got in touch with 9th Royal Fusiliers. The two platoons of ‘C’ Coy were unable to capture Strong Point owing to heavy Machine Gun fire. The result of this operation was that practically the whole of RATION TRENCH was captured and consolidated. Casualties during this two days, 2nd Lts WOOD & LE DOUX VEITCH killed, 2nd Lt’s COOKE, FITZSIMONS & ROLFE missing, Captain TROWER wounded. Other Ranks 18 killed, 25 missing, 109 wounded.”
William Vernon Rayner was in Homeboarders house from 1894 until 1898. Rayner played cricket for the school, although it is difficult to see why he was included on the team as he was not a good fielder and the most runs he is recorded as scoring is 4! He played for the school against Charterhouse and Eton, as well as in a special match against a team made up of members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. In football, he played as a forward for Homeboarders. He scored their only goal in a 4-1 loss against Rigaud’s in the house football final in 1897. He performed even better in goal and in a match against the Old Carthusians in 1898 played ‘splendidly, saving shot after shot in fine style’ ensuring his team won 6-0.
After leaving school he became a solicitor and practiced in Smith Square. In the 1911 census he is noted as boarding at No. 10 Vincent Square. He then moved to Buenos Aires where he worked for the British Consulate. On the declaration of war, he returned to England and enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers. He served as a Lance-Corporal in France but was sent home wounded in March 1916. He returned to the front in late June 1916, and reported ‘missing’ three weeks later, when the advance was made near Bethune; presumed killed in action July 23, 1916.
Wyndham was at the school for barely two years, joining Ashburnham House in April 1902 and leaving in July 1904 at the age of 17.
He represented Ashburnham in the Senior House Match against Grant’s in 1904. The match was not going well for Ashburnham, when: ‘About this time Aglionby unfortunately put his finger out and was compelled to leave the field. Coventry took his place behind the wickets, and the change was not forhe better.’ But he had more success when the game resumed on Friday: ‘Coventry, the only batsman to offer any resistance, was last out for a plucky 23, after batting nearly an hour and a half.’ Wyndham was rewarded with House Colours at the end of the Season.
He came from a military family. His maternal grandfather, John Joseph Grinlinton had served in the Crimean campaign and was knighted in 1894. Therefore it is not surprising that Wyndham joined the army after leaving school. After passing out from Sandhurst in 1907 he joined the Indian Army. Here he excelled in horse riding and held the unique distinction of having won both Indian Cavalry Steeplechases (for horses and ponies) on the same day in 1914.
On the outbreak of war he left India with drafts for the Western front and worked as an observer in the Royal Flying Corps until June 1915. He was then recalled to his regiment in India and joined the expeditionary force to Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) in July 1915. He took part in the battles of Kut and Ctesiphon and was mentioned in despatches by General Townshend for gallant and distinguished service in the field. He died on 1st January 1916 from wounds received in action at Ali Gharbi the previous day. His colonel wrote: ‘He is indeed a great loss to the regiment, and the Indian officers and men feel it as much as we do; we shall miss him very much’.