Tag Archives: Football

Franklyn Theodore Rowland Rowlands

Franklyn Rowlands born in Torrington Cottage in Porthcawl on the South Wales coast on the 25th September 1898. He was the only son of His Honour Judge Rowland Rowlands and Mary, daughter of Gwilym Thomas. Franklyn’s parents were predominantly based in London because of his father’s work.

However, Franklyn continued to live in Porthcawl with his Uncle Charles, who was a law student and domestic nurse – and a rugby player. Franklyn eventually joined his parents in St John’ s Wood, and was recorded as living there by the 1911 census. But he continued to return home to Wales during the school holidays, staying with either his Uncle Charles, or his Grandfather Moses.

Franklyn arrived up Rigaud’s in May 1913. He was a keen sportsman. He was captain of the 2nd XI, and he earned his pink and whites in June 1916. He was on the winning Swimming team in July 1916.

Upon Franklyn’s leaving the school, the Head of Rigaud’s noted in the house ledger (written in July 1916):

“The most apt remark I can say about him is that:-

When he was good, he was very very good

But when he was bad, he was         .

He was a weak character, with a good heart. He meant well, but had strange fits of temper & coarseness. On the whole he was a great asset to the House in games & will be a sad loss now he has gone.”

He went on to RMC Sandhurst, and became 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, South Wales Borderers on the 1st of May 1917. He was attached to the 2nd Battalion and went out to the western front in October 1917. Only the following month, he was reported missing in action near Rumilly, Cambrai, France on the 21st November 1917.

The following notes were appended to the Head of Rigaud’s comments in the House Ledger:

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John Herbert Williams

John Herbert Williams was in his late 50s when the First World War broke out.  He had a well-established career as a Barrister and Judge, he was appointed a reporter on the staff of the Law Reports in 1911, and was one of the editors of ‘Smith’s Leading Cases,’ brought out several editions of ‘Goodeve’s Personal Property’ and collaborated in a book on ‘The Law of Ejectment.’

Williams had been successful at school, joining Grant’s in 1869 and passing the Challenge in 1872.  He remained a Queen’s Scholar at the school until 1876, when he was elected to Trinity College, Cambridge with the prestigious Triplett Scholarship.  He was athletic at the school and rowed in the 1st VIII and played for the football 1st XI

Anxious to take a share in war service, he applied for and received a commission and went to France to take up the appointment.  He was then 60 years of age.  Soon after arriving in France he was taken ill and invalided home.  He died in the war hospital at Reading.

Williams is almost certainly in this photograph of the Westminster VIII of 1876. Unfortunately, the caption and photograph has been damaged so we are unable to tell which he is.
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Hugh Plaskitt

Hugh Plaskitt was born on the 3rd October 1880. He was the son of Joseph Plaskitt of London, and Emily Julia, daughter of John Cowie of Calcutta. Both Hugh and his older brother Francis Joseph Plaskitt attended the school as Homeboarders, although Francis had left by the time Hugh arrived in 1893.

In 1899, Hugh represented the school at football, covering for regular team-members when they were injured. The Elizabethan records that “He tackles splendidly, but is inclined to roam around the field, and is much too careless in his passing.”

After leaving the school in July 1899, Hugh matriculated into Christ Church, Oxford. While he was there, he represented Oxford at lawn tennis against Cambridge in 1900.

In December 1910, Hugh was admitted as a solicitor to the family firm, F.J. Plaskitt and Co., Copthall Avenue, London. Later that month, on the 28th December, Hugh married his Scottish cousin, Norah Frances. Norah was the daughter of Colonel David Cowie of the Madras Staff Corps.

Hugh developed an addiction to alcohol, a factor that created difficulties in his marriage. The couple eventually separated in 1913 – the year their second daughter was born – and Norah took custody of their two daughters.

A travelling lorry-workshop of the Army Service Corps in 1917. IWM (Q 2759)

During the First World War, Hugh served as a Lance Corporal in the Army Service Corps, the organisation responsible for supplying the army with food, equipment and provisions. He contracted malaria while on active service, and died on the 12th November 1917.

His younger daughter, Naomi, went on to become an actress. She married the actor and director Alastair Sim (1900-1976), and appeared with him in the 1936 film Wedding Group.

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Ralph Cecil Batley

Ralph Cecil Batley was born on the 2nd December 1862. He was the son of John Batley, of Somerset, and Louise Marie, daughter of James Bonsor, of Lille, France. Ralph was admitted to Grant’s in January 1872, following his brother John Armytage Batley.

While he was a pupil here, he played football. The Elizabethan records that he “did useful work” representing the school against Charterhouse. He went on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was admitted as a pensioner in October 1881.

He continued playing football whilst he was at university. A couple of years after leaving the school, in November 1883, he returned to Westminster, bringing a team of players to play football against the school team (which Ralph’s team won 2:1).

He was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn on the 26th January 1882, and was admitted a solicitor in 1887.

Ralph went out to South Africa. He joined the Salisbury Horse volunteer force, and served with them in the First Matabele War in 1893. He also served with the Rhodesian Horse during the rising of 1895-7. He returned to England in 1897, where he joined the Dorset Yeomanry. During the South African War, he served with the Imperial Yeomanry, but was wounded at Diamond Hill 12 Jun 1900.

Following his injury, he was employed as Civil Commissioner for Pretoria and district. He was made Honorary Captain on 26th Jul 1901, and was mentioned in despatches L.G. 10 Sep 1901. By April 1902, Ralph was promoted to the rank of Major.

Mabel Terry-Lewis 1920

On the 14th June 1904, Ralph married Mabel Gwynnedd Terry-Lewis, an actress from a successful acting family. Mabel’s mother, Kate, had also been an actress and was the elder sister of Ellen Terry. Mable retired from her own successful stage career to begin their quiet married life together at Seaborough Court in Dorset. By 1911, the couple had moved to Benville Manor, Corscome, Dorchester.

When his regiment was ordered to Gallipoli, Ralph was declared medically unfit for foreign service. Instead he was given command of 3rd line Dorset Yeomanry battalion.

However, his ill-health meant that he had to retire in January 1917. He was awarded a TD for long service, and died at Silton Lodge in Wiltshire on 23rd October 1917.

After Ralph’s death, Mabel returned to the stage in 1920. She went on to resume her career on the stage and on film. Famously, she appeared as Lady Bracknell opposite her nephew John Gielgud in The Importance of Being Earnest in 1930.

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Edmund Davison

Edmund Davison’s first years at the school were spent in the shadow of his elder brother, Ralph, who was two years above him in Rigaud’s.  Once his brother had left, Edmund came into his own.  He excelled at sport, playing for the House team, initially described as a ‘useful and speedy half though not a polished player’.  He rose to the 2nd XI and finally appeared in the 1st XI in his final year at the school, receiving full pinks.  He won the 300 yard race at Athletic Sports, with a time of 36 2/5 seconds, leading most of the way and winning ‘fairly easily in average time’.

Edmund was particularly valued in the house as a recruiting sergeant for the Officer Training Corps, getting 14 boys to join in his first term alone.  He rose through the ranks here and ended his school career as the head of the school’s force, the Company Sergeant Major.  He was also appointed a monitor, Head of House and elected Head Town Boy.  His last at school was tinged with sadness though, as his elder brother was killed in action on 9th May 1915.

Edmund joined the army immediately upon leaving the school and took a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Sussex Regiment.  He was sent to the front with the 12th Battalion in June 1916 and invalided home wounded in October 1916.  Upon his recovery, he returned to the front in July 1917.  His death was reported in The Elizabethan:

Mr. DAVISON, the youngest son of Mrs. Davison, of Gordon Square, was at the School from April 1910 to Christmas 1915. His loss is much regretted by the present generation, who remember his zeal and efficiency as an Officer of the Corps. He was wounded soon after going to the Front, but recovered and returned. We have before had to record the death of his elder brother, and we feel deeply for his widowed mother in her heavy loss.

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Thomas George May

May joined Homeboarders’ in May 1906 but migrated up Rigaud’s during his time at the school. He was athletic and was awarded pinks in his final year at the school, following a football match against Winchester. We know he weighted 11st 3lb at that time was he also took part in the final of the Inter-House Tug of War, losing to his former house. He left school in July 1909.

He started his career as a tea and rubber planter in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and on the outbreak of war enlisted with the Ceylon contingent. He served in Egypt and Gallipoli and went to France in 1916. He returned to England that year and was appointed a temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the newly created Machine Gun Corps.

The experience of fighting in the early clashes and in the First Battle of Ypres had proved that the machine guns required special tactics and organisation. The Machine Gun Corps was formally established in October 1915.

In February 1917 May went out again to France. He was killed in action near Ypres, Flanders during the Battle of Passchendaele.

Two machine gunners of the 33rd Battalion Machine Gun Corps siting a barrage position with a prismatic compass and a range finder, Battle of Passchendaele, 1917. (IWM)
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William Duncan Geare

William Duncan Geare joined Homeboarder’s House at the School in September 1904. His older brother, Harry Leslie Geare, was a Queen’s Scholar and had joined four years previously. Harry would have boarded at the school, but William lived with his parents and sister at 14, Chalcot Gardens in Hampstead.

At school he was good at football and cricket, scoring 63 runs in one match in his final year at the school, and receiving colours for his performance on the house football team. In 1909 he went on to Queens’ College, Cambridge. After completing his degree he decided upon a career in the Church, attending Leeds Clergy School. He was ordained in 1913 and became the Curate of St. Margaret, Ilkley, Yorkshire the same year.

He became a Chaplain to the Forces in May 1916. He later served with the 7th and 9th Battalions King’s (Liverpool Regiment). He was instantaneously killed in Flanders by a shell on 31st July, whilst ministering to the wounded at a regimental aid post on the battlefield. He had been on his way to Plum Farm to bring cigarettes for the men in his regiment. After his death letters he had written home were published by his family.

His Senior Chaplain wrote: “He was absolutely regardless of danger, always anxious to be with his men wherever they went, and he never spared himself in his anxiety to serve them. His bravery and example have been an inspiration, and his work all the time he has been out here has been splendid,” and another officer: “He insisted on living with us in the trenches and sharing our common dangers, and he was always doing good in one direction or another. Almost every day he went round some part of the trenches on his own accord, and whenever there was a raid on he was off like a shot to the dressing station to see what he could do for the wounded.”

One of his men also wrote: “It came as a terrible blow to me and my chums of the 7th and 9th King’s to hear of Mr. Geare’s untimely death. If we were in need of help at any time, Mr. Geare was the one to see us through. At one time we had no canteen to keep us supplied with ‘fags’ while in the line. But Mr. Geare soon altered that, and made us happy. If any concerts were to be organized, leave that to Mr. Geare, and everything would be O.K. In fact if anything was needed to lighten our burdens and make us happy, Mr. Geare was the one to put things right for us. So you can imagine how much we feel his loss, the loss of more than a friend, as he proved himself in his Christian charity and willingness to succour those in need of it. . . . Mr. Geare has certainly, by his heroic death and noble work at all times, shown his critics that clergymen do not, and never did, shirk their duty as patriots by hiding under the protection of the Church.”

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Harold Embleton Macfarlane

Harold Macfarlane was the elder son of Harold and Elizabeth Macfarlane. He was born in Harrow on 11th September 1898 and spent his early years at Mr Douglas Gould’s Preparatory School, The Briary, Westgate-on-Sea.

Both his father and his mother’s brother had been educated at Westminster, and Harold arrived at the school in September 1911. Like his father, the young Harold was a Home Boarder.

Whilst at the school, Harold represented his house at Cricket, Football, Fives and the OTC. Upon leaving the school in July 1916, he joined the army. He received his commission as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Corps on 27th February 1917. He was given his “wings” in May, and went out to the front in June.

Harold was only 18 when he was killed in France while testing a new machine on 14th July 1917.

His father, who died two years later, donated a photograph of Harold to the Imperial War Museum. He also gave them a hand-written biography, in which he describes:

“An all-round sportsman possessing a cheerful and optimistic disposition, he was beloved by all with whom he came in contact. His eighteen years of life were redolent with happy memories.”

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Arthur Lindsay Maury Churchill

Arthur Lindsay Maury Churchill was born in Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, where his father was Director of Public Works. He joined the school, boarding in Riguad’s House for two years in September 1879. Whilst at Westminster he played football with some success, scoring a goal in a house match against Homeboarders. After he left the school he became a doctor at Westminster Hospital, before moving to work at Wonford Hospital, and County Asylum, Lancaster before undertaking general practice in Mevagissey, Cornwall where his mother had grown up.

Upon the outbreak of war, Churchill, then aged 49, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was attached to the Hampshire Battalion of the Royal Field Artillery in December 1914. He was promoted to the rank of Captain and transferred to the London Irish Rifles in 1915. His Batallion was stationed in Greece in late 1916, and then sailed for Egypt in June 1917. Churchill died on active service whilst the troops were training in the desert conditions at El Sahuth.

He is remembered on a memorial Mevagissey and his name was included in WildWorks’ 100: The Day our World Changed, a continuous theatrical event from dawn till dusk, travelling from the harbour of Cornish town Mevagissey to the nearby Lost Gardens of Heligan on 3rd August 2014.

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Rolf Mayne Neill

Rolf Neill was the only son of Harold and Louisa Neill of 22 Eldon Road, Kensington, London. He was born on 7th February 1898 and arrived at the school in September 1911.

He represented his house – Ashburnham – in Football, and eventually captained the Westminster 2nd XI by the time he was in his final year.

He was a member of the school’s Debating Society. On Thursday 9th March 1916, he seconded the motion “that in the opinion of this House it is inadvisable for Great Britain to attempt reprisals for air raids.” He is recorded in The Elizabethan as arguing:

“…we had already attacked fortified towns, but reprisals would be the attacking of unfortified towns. Taking reprisals would only cause competition with the Germans, and make them more ‘frightful’ than ever. Also we have no aeroplanes to spare.”

In February 1915, he enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, and was attached to the machine gun corps the following December. He left the school in April 1916 to join the Royal Flying Corps (Special Reserve) as a 2nd Lieutenant, and he became a Flying Officer with them in August.

In September 1916, he joined a Sopwith Squadron on the western but was only out there for a couple of months before being invalided home. He was able to rejoin his squadron in March 1917, but was killed in action near Messines on the 3rd June 1917.

His obituary in The Elizabethan reads as follows:

Mr. NEILL, the only son of Mr. Harold Neill, of Kensington, was at the School from September 1911 to Easter 1916, and was second Monitor in Ashburnham. He left School to join the Flying Corps, and after some meritorious and successful service, fell within the German lines. Our own generation mourns an excellent fellow.

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