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.
George followed his elder brother into Westminster School, joining Rigaud’s in 1903. He left the school at the end of the Election term, 1905, but returned again for the Lent and Election terms in 1906. He played football for his house and for the school and, according to an article in The Elizabethan, whilst ‘hardly an ideal back, played many good games’.
On leaving the school he joined the Technical College in South Kensington and took a BSc. He then won a nomination to the Royal Engineers at Chatham in 1909 and was appointed first at Rosyth for a year, before entereing the Indian Public Works Department as an assistant engineer in 1911. He returned to England in May 1916 and joined the army, taking a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in July 1916. He went out to the western front in February 1917, serving with the 98th Field Company and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in January 1918. He was killed by a shell along with several other officers as they sat at mess.
Eric James Tyson was born in Balham on the 17th of March 1892. He was the only son of Joseph and Annie Tyson. Joseph Tyson was a Classics teacher at the school between 1885 and 1929, and worked as Bursar to the school. Annie was the daughter of John Branson, of Rockingham, Northamptonshire.
He was admitted to the school in May 1904, and joined Ashburnham. During his time at Westminster, he represented Ashburnham in Fives and Cricket as shown in the 1908 July edition of The Elizabethan where he was in a cricket match against Rigaud’s and in the House Notes section was stated that he ‘did well’. He was also mentioned in the 1909 October edition for competing in house Fives. He was forced to take a break from Football because he was suffering from “water on the knee”.
When he left the school in July 1910, he went on to be a motor engineer. This stood him in good stead because, in August 1914, he enlisted in the Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport). After a year, he became 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Coprs. He was gazetted in January 1916 for gallantry on photographic reconnaissance and artillery duties, and was promoted to Flight Commander and Captain by 23rd June 1916.
He was awarded the Military Cross on the 20th October 1916. In November 1916, he rose to the rank of Major, and was put in command of No. 5 Squadron in France. In September the following year, he decorated further with a Distinguished Service Order (pictured).
He was out on an artillery observation mission near Arras, France, when he encountered nine German aircraft. Eric was fatally wounded in the confrontation, with the victory attributed to Sielemann of Jagdstaffel 57.
Tyson died of his wounds the next day, on the 11th March 1918, leaving behind his wife Cora Florence Gladys (née Davies), daughter of Philip C. Davies, of Trinity Road, Ealham. He is buried in the Maroeuil British Cemetery in France.
Compiled with the assistance of a pupil in the Vth Form.
Leslie Sidney Last was the youngest son of Arthur William Last and Elizabethan Anne Balaam and was born in Sutton. He was a pupil in Ashburnham House from April 1909 until December 1911. He was athletic and played in his house’s winning Junior Football Team in 1909. The house ledger recorded that:
“(right back) is a very plucky and sturdy little player; he is a good kick with either foot and tackles admirably.”
He was the 5th member of that team to die in the war – following contemporaries R. Chalmers and J.W.H. McCulloch and G.J.M. Moxon and E.C. Graham.
On leaving the school he became a driver for the Honourable Artillery Company. He later served in Egypt during the war until 1916 when he was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. From there he went to Salonika before later becoming attached to the Royal Flying Corps in October 1917. Pilots were much in demand at this stage in the war and during 1917 experienced pilots were redeployed from the Sinai and Palestine Campaign to set up a new flying school and train pilots in Egypt. Last ‘obtained his wings’ – his license to fly in December 1917 and was then appointed as an instructor. He was killed accidentally while instructing a pupil near Cairo a less than two months later.
John Sheridan Gregory was born on the 15th of September 1889. He was the younger son of Lieutenant-Colonel Gregory Marcar Gregory, of West Kensington, and Edith Laura, the second daughter of John Sheridan, of Earl’s Court.
Before arriving up Ashburnham in 1902, John was educated under Mr George Egerton, Somerset Street.
While he was at the school, he represented his house at Football as a half-back. The Elizabethan notes that he “played very well” in the 1907 House Cup match in which his team won 6-0 against Rigaud’s, and was “on the top of his form” against the Homeboarders.
After he left the school in July 1907, he went on to Trinity College, Cambridge in Michaelmas 1908. He graduated with a BA and LLB in 1911, and was admitted to the Middle Temple in November 1913.
Particularly keen to become proficient in riding and driving, John enlisted in the Officer Training Corps (Army Service Branch). By August 1914, he had qualified for Certificate A, a proficiency award for basic training, and had passed all but his final examination for the Bar.
As soon as he had qualified, he went out to France as 2nd Lieutenant, Army Service Corps (Special Reserve). Then, between April 1915 and August 1917, he served as Supply Officer to the 9th Cavalry Brigade. He rose through the ranks, becoming a temporary Lieutenant in August 1915, a full Lieutenant in February 1916, and a temporary Captain in June 1916.
In August 1917, he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps, and returned to England to qualify as an Observer.
He returned to France in October 1917, and joined No. 16 Squadron R.F.C. before being transferred to No. 35 Squadron in November. He was promoted to Captain on the 29th November 1917, and was preparing to go through the training of a pilot.
He received the 1914 Star for his past services in France. But just a fortnight later, on 19th February 1918, his plane was shot down in an encounter with a German machine between Lempire and Épehy. He died aged 28, and is buried near Peronne.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.