Tag Archives: Flanders

John Loudon Strain

John Loudon Strain, known as ‘Jack’ to family and friends was the eldest son of William Loudon and Dorothy Maud Strain. He joined Ashburnham House in September 1910 and remained at the school until 1915, when he left, with a scholarship, to attend Trinity College Cambridge. Whilst at the school he was active in the Debating Society and the Scientific Society. In January 1915 he gave a paper to the latter society on ‘Diseases of Plants’ in which he showed ‘a very thorough knowledge of his subject, which he illustrated with large diagrams on the board’

His ambition was to train as a doctor, but he was also determined to play his part in the war. Initially, as a medical student, he was refused a commission, but he managed to obtain a post as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery Special Reserve. He went out to the Western Front in September 1916.

Whilst on leave from the front he visited the school to give a lecture to pupils in the Officer Training Corps within the school.

He was killed in action at Frezenberg, Flanders when he and a fellow officer and signaller were caught in the German barrage.

Jack Strain’s family have produced an excellent website, which commemorates his life and includes transcriptions of letters written by Jack, and those sent to his parents following his death. A letter from his fellow soldier, Lieutenant A. W. Cockburn is particularly poignant:

‘Nobody could help loving Jack, even people who saw him only occasionally. It took a very short time to size him up as the most perfect little gentleman in his unvarying cheerfulness, his thought for others and contempt of danger when occasion demanded it, and the wonderful way in which he lived up to a wonderfully high ideal of thought and word and deed.

Those of us who knew him intimately in Ypres can hardly believe he has gone. He was the life and soul of the Mess, always joking and playing like a child, and yet most efficient as an officer and hugely respected by the men.’

You can read more here: http://www.jackstrain.co.uk/

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Charles Thomas Bruce

Charles Thomas Bruce was the eldest son of the late Hon. Thomas Charles Bruce, M.P. attended the School as a member of Homeboarders House from June 1876 to March 1880. He was a nephew of Lady Augusta Stanley, and lived at the Deanery. He was attached to Sir Henry Drummond Wolff’s mission to Constantinople and Egypt, 1885-6. On his return he married Edith Mary Parker in 1897 and they had a child together around 10 months after their wedding. Sadly Edith died in 1912 and Bruce married for a second time in 1914 to Gwendolen Mary Speir. In the war he commanded a field hospital in Flanders, where he contracted the enteric fever which killed him.

Enteric fever is now more commonly known as typhoid and still kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide each year. Work began to develop a vaccine against the disease in the 19th Century. A British bacteriologist Almroth Edward Wright created an effective vaccine which was first used successfully in the Boer War in the 1890s. On the outbreak of the First World War, Wright convinced the army to produce 10 million vaccines for troops sent to the Western Front, undoubtedly saving hundreds of thousands of lives. The British Army was the only combatant at the outbreak of the war to have its troops fully immunized against the bacterium. For the first time, their casualties due to combat exceeded those from disease. Unfortunately Bruce, as the commander of field hospital rather than a soldier, must have not received the vaccine.

A Doctor operates in a Field Hospital in the First World War
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