Tag Archives: Homeboarders

Harold George Fairfax Longhurst

Harold was the youngest of four brothers, all of whom attended Westminster School.  There was one of the Longhurst siblings at the school from 1885 until 1907, when Harold left.  Harold was in Homeboarders’ House and from 1902 was an exhibitioner.

Harold took an active interest in many areas of school life.  He was a Lance Sergeant in the Cadet Corps and on the Committee of the Debating Society.  He often spoke at meetings, proposing the motion that ‘in the opinion of this House the encouragement of Minor Sports at Westminster is not detrimental to the welfare of the rest’, and opposing the motion ‘That this House disapproves of Vivisection’.

He also played sport at the school, playing initially for his house cricket team.  In a house match against Ashburnham in 1906 he scored 46 runs and bowled out three members of the opposing team.  He went on to play for the school’s 1st XI and received half-pinks.  In his final year he was made Head of House.

We do not know what he did immediately after leaving the school, but on the outbreak of war he joined the army, taking a commission as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th Service Battalion of the Berkshire Regiment in September 1914.  He rose swiftly through the ranks and was a Captain by the time he first went out to the Western front in July 1915.  He was wounded in 1916, but returned to action.  He was acting Lieutenant-Colonel when he died during an attack by his battalion on the village of West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.  It had been raining for two days prior to the action and the ground, churned up by shellfire, had become a quagmire making movement difficult.

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Harold Winning Fleming

Harold Winning Fleming’s parents were Alexander (Alec) John Fleming and Lily Huthart Brown. Alec was a medical doctor in Hampstead. Lily was a daughter of Forrest Loudon Brown, of Bombay, India. In 1891, she was working as a teacher of music, and living in Altrincham, Cheshire, with her sister and widowed mother. Alec and Lily were married in September 1894 in Altrincham, Cheshire.

Harold was born in Hampstead, London, on the 25th of April 1898. He was one of four children: he had an elder brother, Alan McKinstry Fleming, and two younger sisters, Lily Woodrow Fleming and Sheila Laudon Fleming. Before arriving at Westminster, he attended St John’s House, Hampstead.

He arrived as a non-resident King’s Scholar in September 1911, and joined Homeboarders’ House. He was absent for two terms, when he went abroad on account of his health. He left the school for good in July 1915, and attended R.M.C. Sandhurst between August 1916 and May 1917.

In May 1917, he was made 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Battalion (16th Foot) The Bedfordshire Regiment. He went out to the western front May 31, 1917, served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders, and was mentioned in despatches for gallant and distinguished service.

His Chaplain wrote: “I frequently saw him both in and out of the trenches, and we all liked him for his bright and happy disposition, as well as for his keenness and great efficiency. It was no secret that he was considered one of the most promising of the junior officers in the battalion.”

On 5th October 1917, Harold was killed in action at the age of 19 by a sniper at Gheluvelt, on the Ypres-Menin Road.

One of his brother officer wrote: “I am certain that at his death the 1st Bedfords lost one of the bravest of its officers.”

Another wrote: “ The other officers of his company having become casualties early in the attack (Oppy Wood, near Arras), this officer, 2nd Lieut. H.W. Fleming who was in the trenches for the first time, assumed command throughout the attack, and in the subsequent tour of duty showed coolness, gallantry and ability, and his example afforded great encouragement to his men.”

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Arthur Cecil Estall

Arthur Cecil Estall was born on 3rd October 1890. His father was Thomas Estall of Kensington, a Senior General Manager of the National Provincial Bank of England and a Master of the Worshipful Company of Turners. His mother was Emily, daughter of George Tilly, of Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey. Arthur had one sister, Murriel Hilda Estall (subsequently Gould).

Arthur was admitted to Westminster, as a Homeboarder on 26th April 1901. Between July 1902 and September 1905, e temporarily left the school. From then until he left, he was a keen sportsman. He represented the school at rowing, played for his house football team, and came third in the half-mile with hurdles Open Challenge Cup in 1909. He was in the same Tug of War as Thomas George May – on the winning side – and weighed 11st 6lbs.

After leaving the school in July 1909, Arthur followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a clerk in the Bank of England. He subsequently went into the bill broking business.

He had joined the Honourable Artillery Company upon leaving school, and was promoted to Corporal in 1914. He went out to the western front in September 1914 but was invalided home the following January.

He became a 2nd Lieutenant with the Army Service Corps on 22nd March 1915, and had risen to Lieutenant by September 1915 and to Captain by May 1916. He returned to the front on 18th September 1916.

In March 1917, a note in The Tatler announced Arthur’s engagement to Miss Brenda Sells (pictured), the youngest daughter of Mrs Perronet Sells of Beechwood, Highgate.

On the 6th August 1917, he was wounded in action north of Ypres and died two days later at the 7th Stationary Hospital, Boulogne.

Arthur’s father died only a few years later in 1920. His mother published a memorial in The Times to her son every year until her death in 1947. In 1935, she gave £1,000 to the school’s War Memorial Fund, the interest to be used in assisting in the education of boys at the school.

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Thomas George May

May joined Homeboarders’ in May 1906 but migrated up Rigaud’s during his time at the school. He was athletic and was awarded pinks in his final year at the school, following a football match against Winchester. We know he weighted 11st 3lb at that time was he also took part in the final of the Inter-House Tug of War, losing to his former house. He left school in July 1909.

He started his career as a tea and rubber planter in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and on the outbreak of war enlisted with the Ceylon contingent. He served in Egypt and Gallipoli and went to France in 1916. He returned to England that year and was appointed a temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the newly created Machine Gun Corps.

The experience of fighting in the early clashes and in the First Battle of Ypres had proved that the machine guns required special tactics and organisation. The Machine Gun Corps was formally established in October 1915.

In February 1917 May went out again to France. He was killed in action near Ypres, Flanders during the Battle of Passchendaele.

Two machine gunners of the 33rd Battalion Machine Gun Corps siting a barrage position with a prismatic compass and a range finder, Battle of Passchendaele, 1917. (IWM)
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Alfred Grahame Cartwright

Alfred Grahame Cartwright followed his elder brother to Westminster School, starting in 1871. We do not know which house he was in, but it was probably Homeboarders’. He left in August 1875 and joined the army, gradually advancing through the ranks and serving in the Nile Expedition 1884-5, the Sudan Frontier Field Force 1885-6 and the Tirah Expedition 1897-8. He was promoted to the rank of Major in the Yorkshire Regiment in 1896 and then retired from the forces in 1906.

On the outbreak of war he volunteered for service once more, then aged fifty-six. He was made second in command of the 7th service battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment in September 1914 and served in France in 1915. He was mentioned in despatches on 30th April 1916.

St. Mary’s Church, Richmond, Yorkshire

Cartwright was then made Lieutenant-Colonel of the 14th Reserve battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. New recruits were allocated to these reserve battalions for basic training, before being posted to an active service unit. In September 1916 this system was reorganised. With the introduction of conscription, the regimental system simply could not cope with numbers. The local nature of recruitment for infantry regiments was abandoned and the entire system centralised. Regimental distinctions disappeared and the reserve units of the regiments were instead redesignated as battalions of the Training Reserve. Cartwright’s battalion was renamed the 81st Training battalion.

He retired due to ill health on 31st May 1917 and died on 5th August that year. His wife, Julia, arranged for a plaque to be placed in St. Mary’s Church, Richmond, North Yorkshire.

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William Duncan Geare

William Duncan Geare joined Homeboarder’s House at the School in September 1904. His older brother, Harry Leslie Geare, was a Queen’s Scholar and had joined four years previously. Harry would have boarded at the school, but William lived with his parents and sister at 14, Chalcot Gardens in Hampstead.

At school he was good at football and cricket, scoring 63 runs in one match in his final year at the school, and receiving colours for his performance on the house football team. In 1909 he went on to Queens’ College, Cambridge. After completing his degree he decided upon a career in the Church, attending Leeds Clergy School. He was ordained in 1913 and became the Curate of St. Margaret, Ilkley, Yorkshire the same year.

He became a Chaplain to the Forces in May 1916. He later served with the 7th and 9th Battalions King’s (Liverpool Regiment). He was instantaneously killed in Flanders by a shell on 31st July, whilst ministering to the wounded at a regimental aid post on the battlefield. He had been on his way to Plum Farm to bring cigarettes for the men in his regiment. After his death letters he had written home were published by his family.

His Senior Chaplain wrote: “He was absolutely regardless of danger, always anxious to be with his men wherever they went, and he never spared himself in his anxiety to serve them. His bravery and example have been an inspiration, and his work all the time he has been out here has been splendid,” and another officer: “He insisted on living with us in the trenches and sharing our common dangers, and he was always doing good in one direction or another. Almost every day he went round some part of the trenches on his own accord, and whenever there was a raid on he was off like a shot to the dressing station to see what he could do for the wounded.”

One of his men also wrote: “It came as a terrible blow to me and my chums of the 7th and 9th King’s to hear of Mr. Geare’s untimely death. If we were in need of help at any time, Mr. Geare was the one to see us through. At one time we had no canteen to keep us supplied with ‘fags’ while in the line. But Mr. Geare soon altered that, and made us happy. If any concerts were to be organized, leave that to Mr. Geare, and everything would be O.K. In fact if anything was needed to lighten our burdens and make us happy, Mr. Geare was the one to put things right for us. So you can imagine how much we feel his loss, the loss of more than a friend, as he proved himself in his Christian charity and willingness to succour those in need of it. . . . Mr. Geare has certainly, by his heroic death and noble work at all times, shown his critics that clergymen do not, and never did, shirk their duty as patriots by hiding under the protection of the Church.”

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Alexander Daniel Reid

Alexander Daniel Reid, son of William and Margaret Reid, was born on 2nd February 1882. The family was from Dufftown, Scotland, and Alexander had an older sister, Rachel, and two younger brothers Stewart and Henry. Alex was admitted to the School as a Homeboarder on 16th January 1896, but he only stayed until December 1897.

He went on to R.M.C. Sandhurst in 1899 and became a 2nd Lieutenant (unattached) on 28th July 1900. He served as a Lieutenant with the Black Watch from October 1902 and was made temporary Major for the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in February 1915.

Alex and Harry were both present on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele (3rd Battle of Ypres), which began in the early hours of 31st July 1917. Alex was killed by 10am. According to Harry’s memoir: “… the progress of the battalion was held up and Alex went ahead to ascertain the position. He was killed almost instantly by machine gun fire. […] an attempt was made to bring his body back but was abandoned owing to the rapid advance of the enemy behind a barrage of shell fire.”

Harry recorded his unsuccessful attempt to recover Alex’s body that ended with Harry being stretchered away to a casualty clearing station: “A  small lake lay to the north in front of me called Bellewaarde Lake. It had at one time been surrounded by trees, now only a few shattered stumps remained. The land around it, as far as one could see, had been churned by shell fire and reduced to a complete swamp by the continuous rain. It occurred to me that it would be almost impossible to bring Alex’s body back to the road even if I found him, yet I felt that I could not subject the sergeant and his men to the fatigue and risk of attempting such a task…”

Alex had been keeping a diary of his experiences since April 1916 and, following his death, this was forwarded to their mother who, by then, was living in Cowichan Station, Vancouver.

 

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Harold Embleton Macfarlane

Harold Macfarlane was the elder son of Harold and Elizabeth Macfarlane. He was born in Harrow on 11th September 1898 and spent his early years at Mr Douglas Gould’s Preparatory School, The Briary, Westgate-on-Sea.

Both his father and his mother’s brother had been educated at Westminster, and Harold arrived at the school in September 1911. Like his father, the young Harold was a Home Boarder.

Whilst at the school, Harold represented his house at Cricket, Football, Fives and the OTC. Upon leaving the school in July 1916, he joined the army. He received his commission as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Corps on 27th February 1917. He was given his “wings” in May, and went out to the front in June.

Harold was only 18 when he was killed in France while testing a new machine on 14th July 1917.

His father, who died two years later, donated a photograph of Harold to the Imperial War Museum. He also gave them a hand-written biography, in which he describes:

“An all-round sportsman possessing a cheerful and optimistic disposition, he was beloved by all with whom he came in contact. His eighteen years of life were redolent with happy memories.”

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Norman Cairns Robertson

Norman Robertson was born on the 9th January 1876 to William and Mary Elizabeth Robertson. He arrived at Westminster in 1888 where his elder brother, William Alexander, was in his final year. Their younger brother Laurence Grant joined him in 1891. The three Robertson boys were all members of Homeboarders’ House.

It is uncertain what Norman went on to do immediately after leaving the school in 1894. However, on the outbreak of the First World War, he joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps.

On the 20th February 1917, he became a Captain in the 2nd Battalion Royal Hampshire Regiment. During the second Battle of Arras on the 23rd April, Norman was taken prisoner near Monchy-le-Preux. He died two months later, at the age of 40, in a German military hospital at Hanover on 20th June 1917.

His eldest brother, William Alexander was the only one to survive the war; Laurence Grant had already been killed in action during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. In memory of his two brothers, William left a bequest to the National Trust, which enabled the purchase of Sutton House – a Tudor house in Hackney. William also commemorated his two brothers on the Robertson’s Corner memorial on the Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire.

Commemorative plaque at Sutton House
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Marcel Andre Simon

Marcel Andre Simon was a pupil at the Royal Naval College, Osborne from the age of 12. He was born in Sidcup in March 1899, the son of Dr Alfred Leon Simon, a French-born mining engineer, and his wife Kathleen Simon, the daughter of Sir Philip Fysh, a British-born Australian politician and businessman. In January 1914, he joined Westminster and was a pupil in Homeboarders house for until July. On the outbreak of war, then aged just 14, he tried to join the Naval Cadets but was rejected as he was colour blind (it was essential to be able to differentiate between the red and green lights which indicate port and starboard on ships).

Marcel lied about his age so that he could sign up with the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment) and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 19th December,1916. He was later attached to the 2nd Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry and went out to the western front in February 1917. Two months later he was killed during the Battle of Arras on 29th April.  The place where he fell, near Oppy Wood, was recorded but his body was never recovered. It was not until 1998 that a group out metal-detecting found his badges and pips. He was then given a burial with full military honours at Orchard Dump Cemetery in Arleux-en-Gohelle in 2000.

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