Tag Archives: King’s Royal Rifle Corps

Kenneth Rae Morrison

Kenneth was born on 16th December 1896. He was the son of William Rae Morrison, who worked for the Stock Exchange, and Lily Dawtry, originally from Petworth, Sussex. He joined Ashburnham in January 1912, but only stayed until the end of the calendar year.

Kenneth studied on the Modern Side, which meant that he chose to study modern languages and sciences instead of the Classics. There was a longstanding rivalry at Westminster between those who opted to study the Classics and those on the Modern Side. In 1912, the Debating Society met to discuss the “somewhat hackneyed” motion “That in the opinion of this House, classical education is better than modern”. In this iteration of the debate, the main argument given in favour of the Modern side was that “science men … were more generally useful in life, and quicker-witted.” Unsurprisingly, this argument failed to sway the audience, and “the motion was carried by acclamation.”

Two years after he had left the school, in August 1914, Kenneth enlisted with the Honourable Artillery Company. By December he had become a 2nd Lieutenant with the Middlesex Regiment, and went out with them to the western front in 1916. In April 1917, he transferred to the 5th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

Kenneth was at Tower Hamlets, near Ypres, during the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge. He was killed on the 21st September 1917 by a German who had previously surrendered. He was 20 when he died, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

German prisoners being marched through Cathedral Square, Ypres on 20th September 1917. © IWM (Q 2863)
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James Pitcairn Blane

19151123_Blane,JP

James Pitcairn Blane was in Ashburnham House from May 1895 until July 1901. He was a keen cricketer and played in the school’s XI with the highest batting average in the team of 24.0. When he left the school he became a mining engineer, spending four years in Western Australia and travelling to West Africa on several occasions. On the outbreak of war he was the manager of a mine in Cornwall. He joined inthe8th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in October 1914 and went out tothe western front in May 1915.

Blane was seriously wounded at 5pm on 19th November whilst to the left of the B16 trench to the north-east of Ypres. He was hit by a ‘whizzbang’ the nick name given to German field artillery shells. The name derived from the fact that the shells fired from German 77mm field guns travelled faster that the speed of sound and therefore soldiers heard the ‘whizz’ of the shell travelling through the air towards them before the ‘bang’ issued by the gun itself upon firing. The result of this high velocity was that defending soldiers had very little notice of the incoming shell. Blane was taken to the nearby military hospital in Poperinghe but died in the early hours of the morning of 23rd November.

His younger brother, Hugh, also died in active service in 1914 and his father was killed in action at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Blane had played cricket for MCC and is also commemorated on the club’s roll of honour.

 

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