Tag Archives: Football

Sigurd Ayton Dickson

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Dickson photographed in 1899 with the Grant’s Cricket Team

Sigurd Dickson was the youngest son of Sir John Frederick Dickson, who had also been a pupil at the school. Sigurd was in Grant’s House from 1897-1902. He played football and cricket for the school — a review of his performance over the 1901/2 season was printed in The Elizabethan:

S.A. Dickson played at his very best against Charterhouse. He lacked weight, but was neat. As was the case with most of the team, he could not face adversity.

Upon leaving he became a District Commissioner in West Africa, and subsequently in South Africa. Later he worked in business as a rubber-planter in the Federated Malay States; rubber production was a large growth industry due to its use in the manufacture of car tires.

Sigurd returned home on the outbreak of the First World War and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. He was attached to the 102 Brigade and went out to the western front with them in 1916.

On 15th and 29th November 1916, Haig met the French commander-in-chief Joseph Joffre and the other Allies at Chantilly. An offensive strategy to overwhelm the Central Powers was agreed, with attacks planned on the Western, Eastern and Italian fronts, by the first fortnight in February 1917. Early in 1917 troops were assembled in the area in preparation for the attack. British determination to clear the Belgian coast took on more urgency, after the Germans resumed unrestricted submarine warfare on 1st February 1917. Sigurd was killed in action near Ypres on 1st February.

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Sidney Frederick Johnson

19170110_Johnson,SFSidney Frederick Johnson was the second son of George and Blanche Johnson. He was born on the 19th August 1887 and arrived at the school in September 1901.

He threw himself into all elements of school life, from football and cricket, to debating and chess, to the School Mission. In Play Term 1905, he was made Head of Ashburnham, alongside being Captain of the School Football XI and also Captain of House Football and Cricket. His successor wrote in the House Ledger:

“to fill so many responsible positions eodem tempore needed a fellow of many parts: many of these parts he possessed and many he did not possess. No man has done more for the House GamesÔǪhe has succeeded by his own prowess and personality in establishing confidence in quite inferior players. For example he was absent on account of an exam from a large part of the HBB 1st inns in their shield match with us: but directly he came on the field, them who had been playing half-heartedly before put twice as much into their work as they had before his arrival.”

Upon leaving the school, Johnson achieved a BSc at the London University. He enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Queen Victoria’s Rifles in May 1910 before becoming a partner in Hendren’s Trust, Ltd., a financial company for promoting British enterprise in Canada.

On the outbreak of war, Johnson decided to re-join the army. But first — a fortnight before taking a position as 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion (Reserve) Border Regiment — he married Helen Marguerite, the elder daughter of Farquhar Robinson, of Montreal, Canada on 28th November 1914.

Johnson was attached to the 2nd Battalion and went out with them to the western front on 20th February 1915, but was invalided home in May 1915 as a result of wounds he received at Festubert. He was promoted to Lieutenant the following March and returned to the front on the 29th December 1916. He was appointed brigade bombing officer with the rank of temporary Captain on the 7th October 1916 and was killed in action at the age of 29 at Beaumont Hamel on the 10th January 1917.

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Eric Clive Graham

Eric Clive Graham was a pupil in Ashburnham House from 1909 until 1913. He was the youngest son of American, Lionel Henry Graham and his English wife, Hilda.

At school he was a keen sportsman, taking part in football, athletics and fives. He was the 4th member of the winning 1909 Ashburnham Junior Football team to die in the war — after R. Chalmers and J.W.H. McCulloch and G.J.M. Moxon. The ledger describes his performance that year in mixed terms stating that ‘he kept goal against Rigauds when Carless was out of school. Although he did one or two good things, he was not safe and had no understanding with the backs’. He was clearly more successful as a forward, being described as the House’s chief goal scorer in his final year at the school.

After leaving the school he went to Ingleden Park, Kent to learn agriculture with a view to farming in Canada. However, on the outbreak of war he changed his plans and enlisted in the Public Schools Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He left England in February 1916 to join the 1st Battalion at Busreh, on the Tigris in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). He was invalided to Bombay in June, but returned to his regiment in Busreh on 12th October 1916. He was killed in action at Kut-el- Amara, Mesopotamia on 9th January 1917 in one of a series of battles which led to the recapture of Kut and, ultimately, the fall of Baghdad.

Recapture of Kut-al-Amarah, 24 February 1917. British infantry resting in town.  IWM
Recapture of Kut-al-Amarah, 24 February 1917. British infantry resting in town. IWM
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Leonard James Moon

19161123_Moon,LJLeonard James Moon was at Westminster School, up Grants, from 1891 until 1896. He was the youngest of three brothers who were all exceptional athletes. Leonard was in both 1st XIs and continued to play association football whilst at Pembroke College, Cambridge and cricket of Middlesex in 1899 and 1901. In 1905 he played cricket for the national side against South Africa.

Wisden records that:

In the autumn of 1905 he was second in the averages for the M.C.C.’s team in America with 33.00, and before the next season opened toured South Africa with another M.C.C. side. During the latter tour he made 826 runs with an average of 27.33. He was a vigorous batsman who could cut well, and a useful wicket-keeper. At association football he gained high honours, obtaining his blue for Cambridge and playing for the Corinthians.

After university Leonard went into teaching and became Head Master of Wellesley House School, Broadstairs, Kent. After the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps, taking a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion of the Devon Regiment in February 1915. He served in France but lost his life in near Salonica in Greece.

Leonard was recorded in the school’s roll of honour as having died from wounds, but records found in The National Archives reveal that he actually committed suicide. Letters he left just before he died suggest that he was concerned about a rumour which had been spread about him and feared it would bring his regiment into disrepute. Leonard seems to have been suffering from paranoia as a result of what would now be identified as post-traumatic stress. A subsequent investigation found that his concerns were groundless.

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Dallas Gerard le Doux-Veitch

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Dallas Gerard le Doux-Veitch from the IWM Collection

Dallas Gerard le Doux was born in Glamorgan in 1897. He took the additional name of ‘Veitch’ from his stepfather, John Gould Veitch, who married Dallas’ mother, Dorothy, when Dallas was six years old. It was natural that Dallas would attend Westminster School as his maternal uncle and stepfather were both Old Westminsters. He joined the school on 22nd September 1910 as a member of Grant’s House, the same house his stepfather had attended in the 1880s.

He also followed in his stepfather’s footsteps onto the football pitch. Veitch senior was a football Blue and played for England against Wales in 1894, scoring three goals in the match. Veitch junior was a Cricket and Football pink, captaining the Cricket 1st XI in his final year at school, 1914.

1914 was a difficult year for the family. In October, Veitch senior died, aged only 45, after problems with his health, particularly his lungs. Dallas left school in December and entered a firm of chartered accountants, perhaps wanting to help support his mother and sister. However by April 1915 he was gazetted to the Royal Sussex Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant. In June 1916 he was attached to the 7th Battalion and went out to the western front.

He was killed in the early morning of 4th August whilst gallantly attacking a German bombing post as part of an attempt to take the town of Pozieres. He was barely nineteen years of age.

The 7th Sussex Regiment war diary entry for that day reads:

“At 3am received orders to send one company over to RATION TRENCH to get in touch with 8th Royal Fusiliers and work up to the right, also one platoon to attack Strong Point on the right, after this had been captured they were to work down RATION and get in touch with ‘A’ Coy. ‘A’ Coy went too much to the left but reached RATION TRENCH finding the Buffs already there, Col Cope, (O.C. Buffs) ordered ‘A’ Coy to push forward and take the ridge which they reached without any difficulty but were heavily counter attacked and obliged to fall back to RATION TRANCH. The platoon on the right came under heavy Machine Gun fire and were not able to capture the Strong Point. Later in the day orders were received for two Companies to attack the right of RATION TRENCH in conjunction with attack of 9th Royal Fusiliers. Two platoons were again to attack Strong Point on right from POZIERES TRENCH ‘B & ‘D’ Coy’s attacked across the open but lost direction, some however reached their objective and got in touch with 9th Royal Fusiliers. The two platoons of ‘C’ Coy were unable to capture Strong Point owing to heavy Machine Gun fire. The result of this operation was that practically the whole of RATION TRENCH was captured and consolidated. Casualties during this two days, 2nd Lts WOOD & LE DOUX VEITCH killed, 2nd Lt’s COOKE, FITZSIMONS & ROLFE missing, Captain TROWER wounded. Other Ranks 18 killed, 25 missing, 109 wounded.”

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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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