Tag Archives: Grant’s

Ralph Louis Francis Forster

Ralph Forster was born on the 13th July 13 1898 and arrived at the school in September 1912. His father – Ralph William Elliott Forster – had been at the school before him as a Homeboarder, but Ralph junior became a member of Grantite.

He played on the school football team and took part in the Officers Training Corps, as Lance-Corporal. He left the school for RMC Sandhurst in December 1915.

On the 16th of August 1916, Ralph enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant 1st Battalion “The Buffs” (East Kent Regiment). He went out with them to the western front in the autumn of 1916.

He was one of three Old Westminsters who were killed on the 3rd of May 1917.

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Wilfrid James Nowell

Portrait of an unidentified boy by Wilfrid’s father, artist Arthur Trevethin Nowell (1862-1940). Perhaps it is a portrait of Wilfrid…

Wilfrid James Nowell was the only son of the artist, Arthur Trevethin Nowell and Lucy Helen Daniel.  He attended Westminster School for a brief period from April 1910 until December 1912 and boarded up Grant’s.

Wilfird showed great potential as an artist.  In a biography of his father, Arthur Trevethin Nowell, Christopher Mosley writes:

Some years later Augustus John (1878–1961) called to see his artist friend. His attention was drawn to paintings by Wilfrid. A proud father would tell the story of the day his son took off with one of his canvases and oils to paint a Scottish river in spate. Unaware of the venture Nowell was astonished at the result. The painting took pride of place in his home, never to be disturbed. John expressed a wish to have been equally talented when so young, a politeness perhaps, but, without question, Wilfrid was blessed with a fine natural gift.

We do not know what Wilfrid did immediately after leaving the school, but following the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles.  From there he obtained a commission in the 460th Howitzer Battery of the Royal Field Artillery.  He was initially posted in Egypt in November 1915, but was transferred to the Western Front in March 1916.

His regiment took part in a number of battles from 9th April to 16th May now collectively known as the Battle of Arras.  British troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras and achieved the longest advance since trench warfare had begun.  When the battle officially ended on 16 May, British Empire troops had made significant advances but had been unable to achieve a breakthrough.  Wilfrid was killed in action on the first day of the attack.

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James Montague Edward Shepherd

19170215_Shepherd,JMEJames Montague Edward Shepherd was born on the 2nd December 1895. He was the only son of Montague James Shepherd and Therese Louise, daughter of V. Cazabon, of Paddington.

He was admitted to the school in April 1910, and started off in Home Boarders, but switched to Grant’s at the beginning of Play 1911.

He elected to take the ‘Modern’ subjects instead of the ‘Classics’, and was an active participant in the Debating Society. In March 1914 he argued, alongside R. R. Turner, that “the man of science is of more use to the community than the man of letters” — a motion that was lost by 10 votes to 9.

He earned himself a Shooting Pink in 1912-13 and was made Captain of Shooting. In Election Term 1914, according to The Elizabethan, he “won the Brinton Medal with the fine score of 61; considering the wind, it was a praiseworthy performance”.

His behaviour at the school was not wholly positive, however, as the Grant’s House Ledger records in 1914:

“A distinctly unpleasant incident occurred at the end of this term, when Shepherd who had been ragged a good deal during the term, suddenly lost his temper and broke Hodgson’s jaw. As it was considered to have been done in a fit of blind rage and with no premeditated malice, no steps were taken and the matter was allowed to drop. Hodgson’s Jaw next term had completely recovered.”

Shepherd left the school in 1914 “desirous of entering the Royal Flying Corps”, and matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge. In January 1915, he enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 15th (Service) Battalion Rifle Brigade and went out with them to the western front the following September. He was promoted to Lieutenant in November 1915, and then to Captain a year later. He achieved his aim of joining the RAF as a Flight Commander R.A.F. on the 6th December 1916.

He was reported missing in action at Bixschoote, near Ypres, on 15th February 1917 at the age of 21. By July, he had been confirmed dead.

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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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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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Eric Leslie Faire

Eric Leslie Faire was born on the 30th September 1893 and was the younger son of Harry Washington Faire, of Putney. His elder brother was Washington Morley Faire, and the two boys arrived up Grant’s together in September 1905. Both brothers left the school around Easter 1909, and Eric decided to go and study languages at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

On the outbreak of war, Eric enlisted in the 25th (County of London) Cyclist Battalion, the London Regiment.

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The Cyclist Battalion was originally intended to be a home defence force. Their two main duties were firstly to ride along the English coast looking-out for signs of German invasion and secondly, once air attacks began in May 1915, to alert civilians by carrying “Take Cover” signs.

However, when the Battalion was sent out to the western front in July 1916, the ability of cyclists to contribute to trench warfare was unsurprisingly restricted. Eric acted as an Interpreter for the Battalion for a short time before he, like many others, was redeployed as a rifleman with the 9th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment, Queen Victoria’s Rifles. He would have fought with the 169th Brigade, which was part of the 56th (London) Division in the Battles of Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette and Morval during September 1916.

The Battle of the Transloy Ridges began on the 1st of October 1916. Eric was killed in action, at the age of 23, a week later, probably as part of the attack on ‘Rainy Trench’, northeast of Lesboeufs.

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Victor Roundell George Biddulph

Victor Biddulph was the only son of George Tournay Biddulph and Lady Sarah Palmer, youngest daughter of Roundlell, 1st Earl of Selborne. He was born on 24th May 1897, after his parents had been married for over a decade. He shared his birthday with Queen Victoria, who insisted that the baby should be named after her. Victor was baptised the week following the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in Henry VIIth Chapel, Westminster Abbey.

Victor’s paternal uncle had been at the school in the 1850s, so it was natural that he should also attend Westminster. He joined Grant’s House as a half boarder from September 1911 until Easter 1914. He was probably planning on joining his father’s bank, or perhaps he intended to practice law. Either way, he joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps in 1915 and became a 2nd Lieutenant the 5th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade on 11th August 1915. His parents were keen supporters of the Ham & Petersham Rifle Club so his choice of regiment is perhaps unsurprising.

The following year Biddulph was attached to the 8th Battalion and went out to the western front on 12th July 1916. He was killed in action on the Somme, near Flers aged just 19. His body was not found, but a gravestone was added at the foot of his mother’s grave — she had died in 1910.

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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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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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Archibald Francis Noble

Archibald Noble was born on 4thJuly 1886 and was the only son of Joseph and Sarah Noble, of Ham, Surrey. He arrived up Grant’s in the September 1898.

He did not have an unblemished record at the school; the Grant’s House ledger notes that he was tanned twice in 1902. One of the occasions was for smoking in Grant’s on Saturday night, and the other was for being “more than 5 minutes late for Sunday breakfast”!

He left the school in July 1904. Following in his father’s footsteps, Archibald became a solicitor in October 1908 and worked for Bayley, Adams, Hawker and Noble, a firm based on Tower Bridge Road, Bermondsey.

On the 12th September 1914, Archibald enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. He was made adjutant, a role that consisted of providing administrative support to the commanding officer, and moved with the Battalion to Codford St Mary in Wiltshire. In November 1914, the battalion was billeted in Bournemouth, where Archibald was promoted to temporary Captain on 9th December. After six months in Bournemouth, they moved to Aldershot.

They were finally sent out to the western front and landed in France on the 26th September 1915. He was mentioned in despatches and was engaged in the fighting at Vimy Ridge, near Arras, in May 1916.

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A French soldier in the trench line below the crest of Vimy Ridge, December 1915.
Note a man looking into a periscope. (IWM Q49225)

The ridge had been under German control since October 1914 and the French had been attempting to recapture it. In May, the fighting intensified with the British mining and the German artillery and trench mortar fire. On the 21st May 1916, during heavy shelling, Archibald was killed in action at the age of 29.

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