Tag Archives: King’s Scholar

Arthur Nesbit Charlton

Arthur Nesbit Charlton initially joined Homeboarders’ house in September 1909, but became a King’s Scholar in 1910. As a Scholar he would have attended the coronation of King George V in Westminster Abbey on 22nd June 1911.

Charlton was athletic at school, receiving his full pinks and playing for the College XI and the school 1st XI.  He spoke at the Debating Society, opposing a motion, in 1913, that ‘in the opinion of this House Great Britain should not participate in the Olympic Games at Berlin’.  He performed in the Latin Play two years running, first as Ancilula in Terence’s Famulus and then in Andria, where his ‘pleasant voice and a Christmassy appearance combined to make Crito’s tardy intrusion into the plot very welcome.’

He was elected to a scholarship at Christ Church, Oxford, in July 1914, but on the outbreak of war decided to join the army.  He took a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment, he rose through the ranks, attaining the role of Captain in November 1916.  He served on the Western Front from May 1915, and received a mention in dispatched on 4th January 1917.  Charlton was awarded the Military Cross on 30th June 1917.

His obituary in The Elizabethan noted:

‘All who knew him deplore the frustration of a promising career and of so many good qualities of head and heart.’

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Geoffrey Richard Dudley Gee

Geoffrey Gee was born in Summergangs, Pinjarra, Western Australia to Raymond Gee and his wife Annie Matilda Alderson. His father was English and at some point before 1888 had emigrated to Perth, where he was Head Master of Hales School for a year.

Geoffrey was sent to school in England, joining Ashburnham House in September 1909. He was made an exhibitioner in 1910, and a King’s Scholar in 1911. Outside of term time he lived with his paternal aunt and her husband, Dr Bernard Ley, in Earl’s Court.

Geoffrey was very successful in a range of school activities. He was athletic, winning the school fives ties and was a runner up in the gymnastic competition (losing out due to a ‘lack of symmetry in some exercises’). He played cricket and football for the 1st XIs, earning full pinks after his performance in the Charterhouse football match, although ‘he dribbled much too close on to his forwards and only passed moderately’. In his final cricket season it was commented that he had ‘persevering temper, and both with bat and with ball did better than some of his critics expected’.

Gee was academic as well, winning the Phillimore prize for translation and speaking regularly at the school’s debating society – opposing a motion to restrict the franchise in this country. He performed ‘very creditably’ in the 1913 Latin Play. In his final term at the school, Election 1915, he was made a monitor.

Although Geoffrey won a place at Christ Church, Oxford, he joined 3rd Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment straight after leaving the school. He went out to the western front in August 1916, but was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in January 1917 as an observer.

Geoffrey went up in his aeroplane near Ypres on 4th June 1917 and was never seen again. His name is on the Arras Flying Service Memorial in the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery.

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Douglas Morley Griffin

The Elizabethan records that Douglas Morley Griffin was ‘the only son of the late William Hall Griffin, the biographer of Browning, was admitted a King’s Scholar in 1903, and left on his father’s death in 1907. He was a boy of character, and faced misfortune with the courage which he afterwards showed in war.’

Griffin had proved a successful athlete whilst at Westminster, representing the school in gymnastics, although his performance on the parallel bars was once described as ‘disappointing’. He was also in the Officer Training Corps and took part in shooting competitions, exceeding the school’s ‘highest hopes’ with an excellent performance at a training camp at Bisley in 1907 leading to promotion to the rank of Lance-Corporal. Upon his father’s death it clearly became impossible for his mother to pay the fees necessary for him to continue in his education. In order to support his family he joined an architect’s office, Harris and Hobson, in Liverpool, his mother’s home town. He attended Liverpool University School of Architecture and became a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1910. He was elected Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1914.

On the outbreak of war Griffin enlisted, becoming a Lieutenant in the King’s Liverpool Regiment in November of 1914 and going out to the Western Front in 1915. His sister also joined the war effort and worked as a nurse in Rosslyn Lodge in Hampstead from 1916 and we know that Griffin gave her a photograph album to record her experiences.

We know little about Griffin’s death. His battalion were involved in the Battle of Albert, an offensive which formed part of the Battle of the Somme and ran from 1st-13th July. The French Sixth Army and the right wing of the British Fourth Army inflicted a considerable defeat on the German Second Army but from the Albert—Bapaume road to Gommecourt, the British attack was a disaster where most of the c.ÔÇë60,000 British casualties were incurred.

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William Horace Vere Nelson

19160708_Nelson,WHVWilliam Nelson was the only son of Peter and Gertrude Nelson, of Mayfair. He was born on the 11th November 1895 and was admitted to the school as a King’s Scholar on the 23rd September 1909.

William was a member of the debating society. On one occasion, he opposed the building of a Channel Tunnel: he “very properly dealt with the matter from a military standpoint, and thrilled the society with blood-curdling calculations as regards military matters” [27 November 1913]. And on Thursday 12th February 1914, he seconded the motion “that in the opinion of this House the risk to human life involved in exploring uninhabitable countries is not justifiable”, arguing that “there was no reason why anyone should want to go to the South Pole again now that it had been discovered. He ÔǪ argued that the fact that these regions were inhabited in the past was of very little interest to most people, and they were not likely to be habitable again for a very long time”.

William was strong academically; when he left the school in 1914, he was awarded a Triplett Exhibition for three years, a value of ┬ú20. He was also a keen sportsman, coming second in the 1914 One Mile Open Challenge Cup and competing in school gymnastics. “W.H.V. Nelson is a good gymnast and was last year very nearly good enough to represent the School. On this occasion [Inter-House Gymnastic Competition, 23 March 1914] he was a little below his usual form and made several unexpected mistakes.”

In the September after he left the school, William joined the 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters as a 2nd Lieutenant. He became Lieutenant in July the following year and was attached to the 10th Battalion.

In November 1915, he went out to the western front where he was wounded twice. He died on the 8th July 1916 of wounds he had received in action at Fricourt, Somme.

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Matthew Arden Phillimore

19160625_Phillimore,MAMatthew Phillimore was born on the 17th March 1896. He was the younger son of George Grenville Phillimore. He was admitted to the school as a King’s Scholar in September 1909.

Matthew and his elder brother Henry were the latest in a long line of Phillimores to attend the school — over 25 members of the family across 5 generations were pupils at Westminster. Members of the Phillimore family were still actively involved in school life. Matthew’s father, for example, was involved with the publication of The Elizabethan. The school was also awarding the Phillimore Translation Prize and the Phillimore Essay Prize.

In 1912, both Matthew and his brother Henry took part in the Latin Play, Famulus. The write-up in The Elizabethan reviews the performance of each:

“Mr. M. A. PHILLIMORE made a capital Dorus. He quaked with terror, said aye or no as required of him and, in general, had such an air of terrified idiocy as rendered him irresistibly comic.”

“Mr. H. A. G. PHILLIMORE as Sophrona was suitably, old and feeble, though his gait suggested rather temporary lameness in one foot than perpetual infirmity.”

At the end of his time at the school, Matthew was elected to an exhibition at Christ Church, Oxford. He matriculated in Michaelmas 1914, but he was there for just six months before joining the army on 23rd April 1915. He became a 2nd Lieutenant for the 11th (Service) Battalion of the Essex Regiment, which was billeted in Brighton, and was attached to the 9th Regiment.

In the February of 1915, eight companies of Royal Engineers were created to dig mines below the front line, and to detect and destroy enemy mines. Matthew was attached to one of these tunnelling companies and he went out to the western front in October 1915.

Matthew Phillimore was killed in action near B├®thune on the 25th June 1916. His parents gave a processional cross to the Church of St John the Baptist, Shedfield in his memory. His brother Henry was wounded in 1917, but survived the war and went on to become a preparatory schoolteacher in Abingdon.

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Thomas Reginald Dawson

19160204_Dawson,ThomasReginald
Dawson’s grave at Beckenham Cemetery

Thomas Dawson was elected as a King’s Scholar at Westminster School in 1909. He was Secretary of the school’s Scientific Society and an active debater. In one debate he argued against compulsory military service stating that ‘Englishmen are becoming keener every year to volunteer, which makes compulsory service unnecessary.’

Dawson was true to his word and although he won a scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford in July 1914, he joined the army on the outbreak of the war. He took a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 19th Battalion of the London Regiment but it was nearly a year before he was sent out to see active service on the Western Front.

Dawson was wounded at the Battle of Loos on 25th September 1915. He was sent back to England to have his wounds treated and ended up in hospital in Vincent Square, not far from the school. He died there from his wounds on 4th February 1916 and a number of pupils were able to attend his funeral at St. Philip’s, Sydenham and burial at Elmer’s End Cemetery, now known as the Beckenham Cemetery. Many of them would have remembered him from his time at the school.

The following letter was sent to the Editor of The Elizabethan following his death:

It is with some diffidence that I ask for the inclusion of this letter, because the paragraphs of eulogy that appear with absolute precision in most school magazines on the dead condemn themselves by their sentimental universality as in most cases obviously untrue. Nor shall I eulogise now. Much might be written upon the three young King’s Scholars whom the battle has claimed so far as its toll. First, we saw the death of W. B. W. Durrant, next of K. T. D. Wilcox, and now it is T. R. Dawson—all three only sons. But it is of the last that I should like to speak, for I was one of the few who knew him well, and it would be a pity if to future generations of Westminsters he were but a name on the wall. Not popular, not distinguished in athletic or intellectual ability, not striking except in a personality of extraordinary obstinacy and endurance. Such characteristics devoted to low ideals might have brought fame. Directed on the side of the angels, they were realised in full only by those to whom it was given to know him to the very end. It is as the first Head of Water after the revival that the School collectively owes him the deepest gratitude. Head of Water, but he gave up his place in the four when he saw someone better to fill it. But reference to foregoing pages would show in how many ways he did the ‘spade-work’ while others held more showy positions. And it was only his obstinacy that got him into the Army when the War called for officers, for, like Hannibal, he was blind in one eye. And, personally, may the gratitude be recorded of one who knew what it was to be able to rely on him absolutely when all others might fail– gratitude that ‘Bacchus’ Dawson did live once?

Yours as before,

εγρηγορος  Φρονημα

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Kenneth Theodore Dunbar Wilcox

19151108_Wilcox,KTDKenneth Wilcox was the only son of Rev. G.A. Wilcox, who was the vicar of St George’s Battersea Park and who had previously been temporary chaplain to the forces. Kenneth was admitted into Homeboarders’ in May 1905 for a year.

He sat the Challenge over the 23rd, 24th and 25th June 1909 and was elected a resident King’s Scholar. He was a strong member of the Junior College Football team in 1911. The house notes recall that “KTD Wilcox led our Juniors to victory over Rigaud’s, and at present looks like repeating the performance at the expense of Homeboarders”.

In July 1913, he was elected to an exhibition at Christ Church, Oxford, and matriculated the following Michaelmas term. He did not finish his degree, however, because in less than a year he had enlisted in the Public Schools Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. The Public Schools Battalions were set up for former public schoolboys who wanted to fight as soldiers beside their friends, rather than serving as officers. In October 1914, he became 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th (Service) Battalion Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment and went out to the western front on the 8th of October 1915.

Exactly a month later, Kenneth Wilcox was fighting just south of Ypres at Lankhof Farm — sometimes also known as Lankhof Battery —a cluster of bunkers, which can still be seen today. He was killed there at the age of 20 and is commemorated at Chocques Military Cemetery. His obituary in the Elizabethan tells us that he “died of wounds on the Western front, and was laid to rest by his father”.

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Kenneth Desmond Murray

19150925_Murray,KD

KennethMurray was a King’s Scholar from 1905 until 1911. He threw himself into every aspect of school life. He was an active sportsman who played on the school’s football and cricket teams as well as competing in fives and athletics competitions for his house. He debated, edited the school magazine, The Elizabethan, in 1910 and shared the prize for Orations in 1911 for his recitation of Song of Deborah. He stared in the Latin Play in 1909 where as Micio ‘he managed the long and trying soliloquy that begins the play with much skill, and he was at all times an excellent foil to Deme’. The chance of a leading role in the 1910 performance was snatched from him when the play was cancelled due to the death of Edward VII.

Murray was elected head to Christ Church, Oxford in July 1911 and made a promising start to his degree, receiving a 1st Class in his Classics Mods. The outbreak of war meant that he failed to finish his qualification, leaving to serve in the 9th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment in December 1914. He went out to the Western Front in August and as killed barely a month later at the Battle of Loos.

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John White Ferguson

19150607_Ferguson,JWJohn White Ferguson was the second son of John Ferguson, a well-known yacht builder. As with many scholars he was a keen debater, advocating for both compulsory Greek and compulsory military service! He showed sporting ability from the start, winning the quarter mile and hundred yards at his first Athletic Sports competition. He became a keen cricketer whilst at Westminster and played for the school’s 1st XI, as well as for the King’s Scholars own team. As a footballer his kicking was described as being ‘particularly fine’ in The Elizabethan. His work kicking and tackling was ‘admirable’ in the Charterhouse match of 1908 – although clearly not quite enough to save the game which was lost 4-0.

Upon leaving the school he was apprenticed to his father in the shipbuilding trade. In April 1913 he joined the Clyde Division of the Navy. On the outbreak of war he took part in the siege of Antwerp and received a Distinguished Conduct Medal. In March of 1915 he was transferred to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. He was killed in action in the aftermath of the 3rd Battle of Krithia on 4th June 1915.

A fellow officer, D.W. Cassie, wrote to the family after the death:

I got his, or most of his, official papers and maps. I wanted to get his ring and cigarette case to send home to you but the danger was too great for me to wait and it couldn’t be done. The Hood Battalion is now practically at an end. We have only three officers and 120 men left now, so we no longer count, but before I close I should like to say that I, nor anyone in the Battalion can pay enough tribute to Johnnie’s bravery and gallantry, he died in action, he led his men. …. I am on my way now to Alexandria in charge of 350 Turkish prisoners. It was been given me as a sort of rest after that terrible action.

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Royston Cecil Gamage du Plessis Le Blond

Royston Le Blond was born in 1887 in Norbiton, Kingston Upon Thames. In the 1901 census he is recorded as being a scholar at the Abbey School, Brackley Road, Beckenham, Kent. He was clearly very academically able and joined Westminster as a King’s Scholar in 1901. He left the school for Trinity College with the Triplett Scholarship in 1906.

Le Blond made the most of his time at school, taking part in Football, Cricket and Athletics as well as debating, taking part in the school’s Scientific Society and performing in the Latin Play. He became particularly exercised on the topic of speed limits, which was debated by the school society in 1906, and gave a speech with which many present day motorists would sympathise!:

‘Police-traps were a shameful abuse of justice ; they were often inaccurate and so unfair, and did no good to anyone except the policemen themselves, who were rewarded for every victim they caught—a temptation to neglect their proper duties for this lucrative method of business—and to the municipal councils, who reaped an excellent harvest from the fines’

He went on to add that he hoped:

‘the new Government would soon adopt the moderate and sensible system in vogue in France, where the speed limit was eighteen and a-half miles per hour and was strictly enforced in towns only’

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Le Blond staring as Syrus in The Adelphi, 1905

It is perhaps unsurprising that given his love of argument he opted for law as a profession, and was admitted to Inner Temple in 1909. He joined the 12th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade as 2nd Lieutenant in September 1914 and by January 1915 had been promoted to temporary Captain. He died in Camp at Salisbury on 17th May following an operation. He was buried at the Brompton Cemetery, London and there is also a brass memorial plaque for him at the church of St Mary the Virgin, Orton Waterville, Peterborough. The inscription reads as follows:

IN GLORIAM DEI MAIOREM
ET IN MEMORIUM
ROYSTON CECIL GAMAGE DU PLESSIS LE BLOND
NATI AD XXVI KAL APR MDCCCLXXXVII MORTUI AD XVII MAI MCMXV
SCHOLARIS WESTMONASTERIENSIS
COLL SANCT TRIN APUD CANTAB PENSIONARII
ARTIUM BACCALAUREI
INTER ADVOCATOS TEMPLI INTERIOSIS ADMISSI
A PUERO POETARUM
ET ARTIUM ERUDITORIUM STUDIOSISSIMUS
INGENIO BONO ET AMABILI INDOLE
OMNIUM ANIMOS SIBI CONCILIAVIT
BELLO INGENTI
A BRITANNIS CONTRA GERMANOS SUSCEPTO
HIC STATIM SE PATRIAE
LAETUS LIBENSQUE OBTULIT
ET ECENTURIONE CITO FACTUS TRIBUNIS
12TH BATTALION THE RIFLE BRIGADE
MORTE NIMIS IMMATURA OBIIT
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