Gilbert Goodman was the only son of Alfred William Goodman and Penelope Mary, and was born on the 5th July 1895. He was admitted to Westminster in 1909 and joined Ashburnham House, where he remained until 1913. In 1913, he studied with London University, but swiftly enlisted in the Public School Battalion, before transferring to the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps in 1914. That same year he was made 2nd Lieutenant of the 10th Battalion of the Loyal North Lanes Regiment.
He was sent to the Western Front in 1916, but was mistaken for another officer of the same name and reported as deceased to the War Office in 1917. Despite this mishap, that same year he was wounded in battle and invalided home, proving to be very much alive. During his time in the UK, he joined the Air Force and by 1918 had been gazetted to a permanent lieutenancy in the army. Once he received his wings as a pilot he was sent to the Italian Front, and it is here that he tragically lost his life, killed fighting two Austrian crafts before the rest of the patrol could get to his assistance.
Rathbone was a well-liked pupil whilst at the school. He joined Ashburnham House in May 1911 and stayed at the school until the age of 17, leaving at Easter 1915. The Elizabethan records that ‘he showed great energy and in his regiment he was a very effective and particularly popular officer. At School he was a football Pink and Company Sergeant Major in the Corps.’ He was also active within his house, serving as a monitor in his final year. His Head of House recorded in the Ashburnham ledgers that it was ‘…clear that Rathbone was a really good chap and I liked him immensely. He was senior NCO in the corps his last term and he did a great deal for the House in this line. He was immensely keen on all games. He was rather wild in his nature… he was however, I believe a true sportsman out and out.’
On leaving school Rathbone joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps. He received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion of the Dorset Regiment in June 1915. He was severely wounded at the Somme in July 1916 but quickly returned to the front. He was killed in action near Arras in 1918.
Rathbone was the younger brother of (Philip St John) Basil Rathbone, who survived the war and found fame as an actor, perhaps best known for playing Sherlock Holmes. When asked about his brother’s death in later life, Basil stated that he had instinctively felt his brother’s death at the moment that he was killed. He wrote the following passage in a letter to his family on 26th July 1918 following John’s death:
‘You ask how I have been since we heard, well, if I am honest with you, and I may as well be, I have been seething. I was so certain it would be me first of either of us. I’m even sure it was supposed to be me and he somehow contrived in his wretched Johnny-fashion to get in my way just as he always would when he was small. I want to tell him to mind his place. I think of his ridiculous belief that everything would always be well, his ever-hopeful smile, and I want to cuff him for a little fool. He had no business to let it happen and it maddens me that I shall never be able to tell him so, or change it or bring him back. I can’t think of him without being consumed with anger at him for being dead and beyond anything I can do to him.’
Harold Leofric Helsdon was born on 18th November 1896. He was the eldest son of Horace John Helsdon, an architect, and Flora, the eldest daughter of W. Franklin Dickson. He was admitted to Ashburnham House as an exhibitioner in September 1910 and made a monitor in Lent Term 1914.
Harold was made Head of Ashburnham in Play 1914, and although he was not an entirely successful Head of House, he seems to have been reasonably well-liked. His successor wrote the following, rather equivocal, account of Harold’s year as Head of House in the Ashburnham Ledger:
“Helsdon had a great many natural advantages, but he made very little use of them during his last year. He was clever to a very high degree and probably his last year’s behaviour here will cause him much regret and sorrow. Helsdon was extremely good-natured and pleasant to get on with in House matters. In the matter of punishments etc. I consider him to have been scrupulously fair and justÔÇª Helsdon was not much use at games, but he was decidedly keen on them and set the House a good example which I believe has been well followed. Financially Helsdon left the House slightly in debt which should not have been the case ÔÇª Finally I trust and hope that Helsdon will have greater success in his future. He is at present in the Inns of Court OTC and expects a commission shortly.”
(J.L. Strain, Lent 1915)
After leaving the school at Easter 1915, Harold entered the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps. He became a 2nd Lieutenant for the 3rd Battalion (Reserve) Dorsetshire Regiment on the 28th July of that year. He was attached to 1/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and went out to the western front in June 1916, where he acted first as bombing officer, and afterwards as intelligence officer.
Just a week after his 20th birthday, on the night of the 25th and 26th November 1916, Harold was killed in night patrol work near Butte de Warlencourt.
Leon de Barr Kelsey was the only son of Richard and Annie Kelsey, of South Kensington. He attended Homeboarders’ House from April 1898 until July 1901.
Leon was knocked out in the first round of the 300 yards race at the Athletic Sports Competition in 1900. However, he did make it into the Cricket 3rd XI, scoring 49 runs in one match.
After leaving the school Leon embarked on a career as an architect, studying for six more years before entering his father’s business as a bootmaker. Leon’s father died in 1911, aged only 54, and it must have been Leon’s responsibility to support his widowed mother and younger sister.
In April 1915 Leon entered the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps. He took a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 23rd Battalion of the London Regiment. He went out to the western front on 24th September 1915.
He left all his money and belongings to his younger sister Lilian, who was not yet 30. Unusually, his body was brought back to England and he is buried in Highgate Cemetery, directly behind Karl Marx.