Tag Archives: Football

Arthur Bracebridge Challis

Arthur Challis was born in 1872, and was accepted into Westminster in 1885, joining Rigaud’s House. During his time at the school he participated in the Glee Club, performing on notable occasions, but his principle passion was football. He played in many inter-house and inter-school competitions, and continued to play both for and against the school as an Old Westminster. He left in 1888, and worked thereafter as a solicitor, practicing as part of the firm ‘Hayward, Smith and Challis’.

He served in the Queen’s Westminster Volunteers 1900-1902 and later the West Kent Yeomanry, where he remained until 1914. He retired from the Yeomanry with the rank of Sergeant, and became 2nd Lieutenant when he joined the Home Counties Heavy Battery R.G.A (Royal Garrison Artillery) that same year. He climbed the ranks of his division, becoming Major in March 1916. He was sent to the Western Front in 1917, commanding the 133rd Heavy Battery R.G.A. It was here that he lost his life, and died in action at Agincourt in September 1918.

Rigaud’s Football Team in 1896, a few years after Challis left.

 

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James Hamilton Spence

James Hamilton Spence was the only son of Hamilton Robert Spence and his wife Constance (whose brother was also an Old Westminster). He joined the school in 1911 and was admitted into Grant’s House.

He was exceptionally athletic. He took part in gymnastics, fives, racquets, swimming, athletics and football whilst at school and also became a Lance-Corporal in the school’s Officer Training Corps. He won the Under 15 High Jump and Long Jump for his house and The Elizabethan noted that ‘Spence showed exceptionally good athletic ability for a boy of thirteen, his Long Jump has only been beaten twice in the last sixteen years.’

The school’s magazine also reviewed his performance on the football pitch. A report of the Town Boy’s match against the King’s Scholars states that ‘Spence was the better of the backs, but kept too far up, and was apt to muddle his halves.’ During the 1914-15 football season it was noted that he ‘played with dash’ and that ‘Spence improved greatly and was very useful. He kicked and headed reasonably well, and always tried to put the ball to one of his own side, and he learnt to anticipate where an opponent was likely to pass. His worst faults were keeping a little too far up the ground, and at times a curious hesitation in getting rid of the ball when on the defensive.’

On leaving the school he went to the Royal Millitary Academy at Woolwich, joining the Royal Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant in October 1915 and served on the Western Front. In 1917 he became attached to the Royal Flying Corps. He took off on the evening of 16th July 1918 and his aircraft was last seen going down in flames near to Courthiézy whilst attacking a Halberstadt 2-seater enemy plane. The Elizabethan noted that he was ‘a lad of high character and fine physique’ and ‘did excellent service before he was brought down in the enemies’ lines.’

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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.
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Paul Wrey Gardiner

IWM (HU 122588)

Paul Wrey Gardiner was born on the 13th April 1989. His parents were George and Beatrice Gardiner, of Maida Hill. He came from a staunch Westminster family. Both his elder brother, Geoffrey, and his younger brother, Kendrick, also attended the school, as did his maternal uncle, William Awdry Peck.

Paul arrived as a King’s Scholar in September 1911. While he was here, he joined in the Debating Society. When the society debated the motion that money was the root of all evil:

Mr. P. W. GARDINER wanted to know what school offences were due to money. He then made the astounding statement that money was in no way responsible for the war. He eulogised millionaires, saying that they were a public benefit.

He represented the school on the 2nd XI Football team, along with his brother Geoffrey, and earned his Pink and Whites in 1915.

After leaving the school in July 1915, he enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 4th Battalion (Extra Reserve), The Manchester Regiment. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 1st of July 1917. He went out to the western front on the 11th April 1918, and was attached to the 1st Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment.

He was killed in action at Roney, Champagne, on the 27th May 1918.

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Cecil Martin Sankey

Cecil Martin Sankey was the only son of Major William Sankey, of Ealing, and Alice Bertha, daughter of Albert Woecki, of Bayswater. He was born on the 27th September 1897, and was admitted into Grant’s in January 1911.

He was opted to study the ‘Modern’ subjects, and he threw himself into the sports scene at Westminster. He represented the school at both Cricket and Football

He left the school in July 1914, and enlisted in the 9th Battalion, London Regiment. He attended RMC Sandhurst from January 1916, and in August was joined the East Kent Regiment as 2nd Lieutenant. He went out with them to the western front in September 1916.

Cecil was awarded the Military Cross on 12th March 1917. In December of that year, he was attached to the RAF, and he rose to Lieutenant in February 1918.

On the 15th May 1918, he was accidentally killed while flying at Northolt, Middlesex. He is commemorated by a stained glass window in the Church of St Matthew, Ealing Common.

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Francis Ingleby Harrison

Francis Ingleby Harrison was born in Underwood House, Hornsey Lane, Islington on 27th April 1883. He was the son of Reverend John James Harrison, R.N., of Highgate, and Louisa Edith, daughter of the Rev. Frederick William Darwall, Vicar of Sholden, Kent. His father was a Chaplain and Naval Instructor.

Francis was admitted to the school as a Queen’s Scholar in September 1897. He was an keen sportsman, and earning Pinks in Football and Cricket. Of his performance at Football, The Elizabethan notes:

He was elected to an exhibition at Christ Church, Oxford in 1902, but he left the University in 1904 to read for the Civil Service. He travelled to Ceylon, where he worked as a tea planter for a time. Then he went to manage a rubber property in Malaya.

He returned to England in 1915 to join the O.T.C. and enlisted as 2nd Lieutenant 3rd Battalion (Reserve) the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment in November. He went out to the western front in August 1916. In 1917, he was promoted to Lieutenant, and then was transferred to Italy in December. He returned to France in April 1918 and was Acting Captain, when he took gunshot wounds to the right thigh and foot, left arm and right foot. He was rushed to the 39th Stationary Hospital, but died there on 8th May 1918.

The 39th Stationary Hospital, Ascq, September 1919 (Art.IWM ART 3746)
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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.

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Thomas Edwardes

Thomas Edwardes was athletic whilst at Westminster. During his three years in Homeboarders’ House, he took part in the school’s racquets competition and played for the Football 2nd XI. In his final year he came second in the 300 yards race at Athletic Sports and represented his house in the tug of war, weighing 10st 9lb. With a partner, Ashley, he won the inter house fives competition. Thomas also represented the school in shooting competitions, practicing for which was made difficult due to the impossibility of procuring .303 ammunition. Perhaps as a consequence, the Westminster team did badly in its matches that year, but Thomas’ individual scores were respectable.

He left the school in July 1915 and had taken a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment by 4th August. He went out to the western front in January 1917 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in July of that year. He was killed in action on 12th April 1918.

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Basil Murray Hallward

Basil Murray Hallward was the only son of William Lambard Hallward, of Kensington, and Hannah Grace, daughter of William Murray, of Dereham, Norfolk. He was born on 17th November 1891, and probably had two sisters: Jola and Clara.

He arrived at Westminster as a Homeboarder in September 1906. He took part in Football, earning his Pink after the Winchester match in April 1911.

At the Debating Society, he seconded the motion ‘that this House has lost all confidence in the present Government’. According to the rather blunt account in The Elizabethan, he gave “some rather rambling remarks” and “showed the same incapacity to keep off details and to generalise, as the previous two speakers”.

More positively, his performance of Glorious Devon by Sir Edward German at the Glee Society concert was well received.

He left the school at Easter in 1911, to pursue acting, and was studying music at the outbreak of war. He left the stage to join the Army, enlisting as a 2nd Lieutenant, 10th (Service) Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the 14th September 1914.

He became Lieutenant in the February of the following year, and went out to the western front with the Royal Field Artillery in December 1915. He was with the four-gun (later increasing to six-gun) B Battery, 79th Brigade, RFA.

He was killed in action near Arras on the 10th of April 1918, and is buried at Senlis-le-Sec, Picardie.

Royal Field Artillery troops visiting French gunners at their bivouac, near Boues, 5th April 1918. (IWM Q 10871)

 

 

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Walter Gerald Orriss

Walter Gerald Orriss was the only son of Walter Felix Orriss and his wife, Amelia. The family lived in St. Johns Wood. Walter junior attended Westminster School for just over a year – joining Homeboarders’ House in January 1904 and leaving at the end of the school year in 1905. The only record we have of his time at the school is that he played for his house in a football match against Rigaud’s – Rigaud’s won the game 17-0.  Orriss was a forward, but as they were greatly outnumbered by Rigaud’s backs, they did not stand a chance. Rigaud’s went on to win the competition.

We know nothing of Walter’s life after leaving the school, until the war years. In July 1915, he was made a lieutenant in the 5th Reserve Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. He served in France with the 3rd Battalion and was twice wounded. He went out to France for a third time in March, 1918. He died in hospital at Doullens from wounds he had received in the First Battle of Arras the previous day. The attack by German forces formed part of Operation Michael, a military offensive which sought to break through the Allied lines and advance to the channel ports.

No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens, where Walter is likely to have been treated. Painted by Gerald Moira, 1918 and held by the Canadian War Museum.
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