Tag Archives: Football

Noel Marshall Vernham

Noel Marshall Vernham was a member of Rigaud’s house from 1910 until he left to join the army after the outbreak of war in 1914. Whilst at the school he was an accomplished gymnast, helping Rigaud’s to secure second place in the Senior House competition and representing Westminster at Aldershot. He was also represented the House at fives and football.

Vernham’s athletic antics appear to have got him into some scrapes — in July 1913 he broke his nose, but made a speedy recovery and in November 1913 he injured an eye. He took part in the Officer Training Corps and advanced through the ranks whilst at school, helping to prepare himself for his military career. Initially he enlisted in the Middlesex Regiment, but was transferred to the East Surrey Regiment in March 1915. He first went out to the western front on 19th March 1916.

After his death his father received a letter from another member of his son’s regiment which was printed in The Elizabethan:

SIR,—With reference to the death of 2nd Lieut. Vernham, I wish to describe what I saw of it. At 4 a.m. on the morning of July 28 the regiment proceeded into action at Longueval. Mr. Vernham was then commanding No. 14 Platoon, No. 4 Company. This platoon was immediately in front of me in a communication trench, which was being very badly knocked about, owing to the very severe shelling which was prevailing at the time. Mr. Vernham, however, highly indifferent and utterly regardless of all danger, stood and walked about on top of the trench, organising and generally looking after his men. He stood on top that he might more easily do this, fully aware that every second his life was in danger, as there was no pause whatever between one shell and another. However, he was not the least disturbed, but added greatly to the safety of his platoon by moving them every moment to places of safety (such places as existed); of these, there were very, very few. About 5.30 a.m. to 6 o’clock he was killed by a very powerful shrapnel shell which burst above his head, a piece striking him on top of the head. Death was instantaneous. Owing to his bravery and zeal and continued thought of the welfare of his men, his platoon looked to him as their chief protector and thought the very world of him. It was chiefly owing to his zealousness and great care for his men that he met his death in this way. I can assure you, his loss was felt very acutely by his company, more especially by the platoon he commanded, and they offer their deepest sympathy to you in the loss of such a gallant son. His body was buried at Longueval.

Yours obediently,

E. HAYES, C.S.M.

Q 4010
Black Watch back at rest after delivering a counter-attack at Longueval on the morning of 19th July 1916.
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William Vernon Rayner

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.

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Oscar Jacob Charles Kohnstamm

19160629_Kohnstam,OJCOscar Jacob Charles Kohnstamm, known as Jacob, was the second son of Rudolph and Emily Kohnstamm. He was born on 28th February 1898 and was admitted as a boarder up Grants in Play 1911. He arrived at an uneventful time; the Head of Grants noted that “nothing of importance occurred this term. There does not seem to be much talent either for work or games in the House. But many of the younger people are promising. At least it appears that there will be no big rows this year.”

Jacob seems to have got himself into trouble on a fairly regular basis. He was tanned “for ragging and breaking a window in Hall”, and again for “being out of bed at the Half”. He managed to get his younger brother Geoffrey in trouble too — they were both punished “for being out of his place for prep.”

Jacob was a member of the Junior football team and “would make a very useful forward if he had any pace. At present he is included to wander round the ball, instead of making for the opposing goal.”

Jacob’s elder brother, Norman, was made Head of Grants, but unfortunately came down with scarlet fever in 1914 and was forced to postpone his studies while he recovered. This meant that Jacob left the school in December 1913, over a year before Norman did.

In September 1914, Jacob joined the Inns of Court OTC and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion (Extra Reserve) Prince of Wales’s Regiment (North Staffordshire) on the 31st March 1915. He was attached to the Machine Gun Corps in December and was sent to the western front on the 5th February 1916. He was killed in the trenches at Carnoy on the Somme, France on the 29th June 1916.

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Gerald John Mortimer Moxon

Gerald Moxon was born on 22nd November 1893, the only son of J. P. Moxon and joined the school in 1908 up Ashburnham. He opted to study “the modern tongues and sciences”, joining the school-wide rivalry between the Moderns and the Classics which, by 1908, had taken a poetic turn:

“Classics indeed can strut righte well
And talke and boast in their conceit;
But ne’ertheless in things that count
They’ll finde the Modernes hard to beat.”

by C.M. Goodall (AHH 1906-09)

Gerald played in the winning Ashburnham Junior House Football team in 1909. The Ashburnham House ledger records that he played outside right, but that he “also played back instead of last. He is a dashing player, very fast, and goes straight for the man (and usually gets him too!). He is a much better outside right than back.”

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A celebratory Supper was held in honour of the victory on Tuesday 21st December. A song specially composed for the occasion was performed, the chorus went —

“Oh don’t let me play ‘gainst Ashburnham
For never that game I’ll forget
I was charged and knocked over the touch-line
While the rest put the ball in the net.”

(sung to the tune of The Tarpaulin Jacket)

On 1st of October 1913, Gerald joined the 7th Batt. Royal Fusiliers and was attached to the 4th Battalion in September the following year. He went out to the western front, but received a wound to the head on 20th October 1914 and was invalided home. He was promoted to temporary Lieutenant in February 1915 and returned to the front in March. By July, Gerald had achieved the rank of temporary Captain. He was killed in action at St. Eloi at the age of 22 on 27th March 1916. He was the 3rd member of the winning Ashburnham Junior Football teamto lose his life in the war — after R. Chalmers and J.W.H. McCulloch — and he was not the last…

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Frank Besson

Frank Besson attended Westminster Schoolfrom May 1910 to Christmas 1914 in Rigaud’s House. He was successful at school, taking part in cricket, football, gymnastics – where he made up ‘in strength and energy for what he lacks in style’,and athletics, excelling particularly in the latter. His performances, particularly as a short-distance runner, helped Rigaud’s to win Athletic Sports two years running.

His obituary in The Elizabethan noted that ‘he possessed boundless energy and the divine gift of enthusiasm. His tastes were all for mechanical science and adventure, and before the war he had already designed to join the Air Service.’

Indeed just before leaving the school, on 12th December 1914, Frank addressed the school’s Scientific Society on ‘Theories of Aviation’. A review of his talk noted that ‘he explained the various laws which govern the science of Flight, illustrating his points with experiments on the bench. He thus demonstrated very clearly a thing which many of his hearers perhaps did not know before, namely, why and how a heavier than-air body like an aeroplane will support itself in a less dense medium.’

After training as a pilot Frank served at Dunkirk in August 1915 before going out to the Dardanelles. Hedrowned off the Gallipoli Peninsula whilst on reconnaissancepatrol when his aircraft was brought down into the sea by the enemy. His death was not confirmed until April, when his observer, who had been captured by the enemy forces, was able to get word back to his family.

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A Wight seaplane used in the Gallipoli Campaign, 1915
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Kenneth Theodore Dunbar Wilcox

19151108_Wilcox,KTDKenneth Wilcox was the only son of Rev. G.A. Wilcox, who was the vicar of St George’s Battersea Park and who had previously been temporary chaplain to the forces. Kenneth was admitted into Homeboarders’ in May 1905 for a year.

He sat the Challenge over the 23rd, 24th and 25th June 1909 and was elected a resident King’s Scholar. He was a strong member of the Junior College Football team in 1911. The house notes recall that “KTD Wilcox led our Juniors to victory over Rigaud’s, and at present looks like repeating the performance at the expense of Homeboarders”.

In July 1913, he was elected to an exhibition at Christ Church, Oxford, and matriculated the following Michaelmas term. He did not finish his degree, however, because in less than a year he had enlisted in the Public Schools Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. The Public Schools Battalions were set up for former public schoolboys who wanted to fight as soldiers beside their friends, rather than serving as officers. In October 1914, he became 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th (Service) Battalion Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment and went out to the western front on the 8th of October 1915.

Exactly a month later, Kenneth Wilcox was fighting just south of Ypres at Lankhof Farm — sometimes also known as Lankhof Battery —a cluster of bunkers, which can still be seen today. He was killed there at the age of 20 and is commemorated at Chocques Military Cemetery. His obituary in the Elizabethan tells us that he “died of wounds on the Western front, and was laid to rest by his father”.

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John Wyndham Hamilton McCulloch

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John was the only son of John Exley McCulloch of Paddington. He was born in December 1894,and arrived up Ashburnham in 1909.

He took part in the debating society. A report in The Elizabethan, notes that “On Thursday, October 19, the House met to discuss the following motion, ‘That in the opinion of this House the advantages of a boarding school are exaggerated.’ÔǪ The Seconder (Mr J.W. McCulloch), dwelt upon the splendid discipline of home life; in a moment of confidence, he gave the Society a glimpse of himself seated over his books in a lonely attic, from which the ‘injusta noverca’ forbade him to stir”.

However, his primary interest at school was sports and his contemporaries said he was a “useful” player. He earned a pink in both Cricket and Football and, in 1913, he played cricket for Middlesex.

On the 4th November 1914, he enlisted as 2nd Lieutenant for the 8th (Service) Battalion Border Regiment, and became Lieutenant the following February. He was serving as a temporary Captain when he was wounded in Flanders on the 20th October 1915.

He died of his injuries at Bailleul the following day.

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George Constantine Paul

19151017_Paul,GC_2 George Paul was born in Belgium. His father, Paul Paul (1865-1937) was an eminent landscape and portrait painter who also painted under the name Politachi. His mother, Marion, died in 1909 when George was just 13 years old. He started at Westminster the following year in Ashburnham House and remained at the school until July 1914.

George Paul played an active part in House life. He was tanned [beaten] by a monitor, McCulloch for ‘coming into upper [the senior boys study] when not properly dressed’. He made up for his misdemeanours by his sporting ability and was awarded house colours and later full pinks. In 1913, thanks to Paul’s help, Ashburnham House managed to win both the inter-house Football and Cricket competitions.

Paul played football for the school, although it was wryly noted in The Elizabethan that he and a contemporary Veitch would never be ‘of much value till they realise that feeding their forwards well is nearly as valuable as robbing their opponents of the ball’. He can’t have been that bad a player as he made it on to the 1st XI during his last year at school, although the report for the season state that ‘he must learn to keep his eye on the ball when he tackles instead of making rather a blind dash for it.’

That summer, following the outbreak of war with Germany, he joined the army. He served in The King’s Liverpool Regiment. He was killed in action at Ypres, Belgium when he was just 19 years old.

(c) Bushey Museum and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
One of George Paul’s father’s paintings now held by the Bushey Museum and Art Gallery.
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Cyril Vernor Miles

LT_CVMilesJust over a month after his younger brother Alfred was killed in action, Cyril Miles was sent to fight in the Battle of Loos.

At school, Cyril was a keen sportsman, participating particularly in Cricket and Football — receiving a Pink in footer in Lent 1911. But he also earned himself a reputation for playing pranks.

In his third winter at the school, Miles and a group of friends were discovered “very busy emptying pails of water in yard to make a slide for tomorrow if it freezes”, and got into trouble for being on the roof “and snowballing people in College Street, to their amusement and their victims’ disgust as theyÔǪ were quite invisible so they say”. One evening in January 1909, Miles produced a dead mouse that had just been caught in Hall, which his friend Hobson — an aspiring doctor — skinned.

When he left the school in 1911, he went on to Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he continued to be a core member of the sporting scene. In Feburary 1914, he was mentioned in The Elizabethan:

Mr. C.V. Miles is a tower of strength to the all-victorious Pembroke Soccer team, which we believe to be so far unbeaten. He owns a small motor of a somewhat obstreperous disposition, which has on at least one occasion dragged him into the jaws of that legal code which he is said to be studying.

In August 1914, Cyril joined the South Wales Borderers as 2nd Lieutenant, and was attached to the Welsh Regiment in February 1915. He was sent out to the western front, where he was promoted to Captain on 29th July 1915. His little brother Alfred, who had been there since the previous October, was killed in Vermelles in August 1915.

Only a month later, on 26th September, Cyril was killed in action at Hulloch near Loos.

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Cecil Hurst-Brown

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Cecil was born in Bayswater, the middle son of William Hurst-Brown, a stockbroker, and his wife Ethel Mary Dredge Newbury Coles.

He was an active sportsman: a double pink whilst at school and then secretary of the University Association Football Club whilst at Christ Church, Oxford. He played cricket whilst at Westminster, gaining a place on the 1st XI and averaging 14.60 and 19.00 in the 1912 and 1913 seasons.

 

Upon the outbreak of war he left university and joined the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. On 16 December 1914, he was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, and was posted to the 2nd Battalion, which he joined in France on 7th June 1915. He died on 26th September 1915, having been wounded in action the previous day.

His younger brother, 2nd Lieutenant Dudley Hurst-Brown, 129th Battery R.F.A was wounded on 13 June 1915, and died two days later. A family historian said of Cecil’s death that “he was the second of two brothers killed within three months of each other. It sent my wife’s great grandmother [Cecil’s mother, Ethel] insane with grief – she spent the rest of her life in and out of mental hospitals – thus two casualties became three – very sad.”

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