Tag Archives: King’s Scholar

Paul Wrey Gardiner

IWM (HU 122588)

Paul Wrey Gardiner was born on the 13th April 1989. His parents were George and Beatrice Gardiner, of Maida Hill. He came from a staunch Westminster family. Both his elder brother, Geoffrey, and his younger brother, Kendrick, also attended the school, as did his maternal uncle, William Awdry Peck.

Paul arrived as a King’s Scholar in September 1911. While he was here, he joined in the Debating Society. When the society debated the motion that money was the root of all evil:

Mr. P. W. GARDINER wanted to know what school offences were due to money. He then made the astounding statement that money was in no way responsible for the war. He eulogised millionaires, saying that they were a public benefit.

He represented the school on the 2nd XI Football team, along with his brother Geoffrey, and earned his Pink and Whites in 1915.

After leaving the school in July 1915, he enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 4th Battalion (Extra Reserve), The Manchester Regiment. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 1st of July 1917. He went out to the western front on the 11th April 1918, and was attached to the 1st Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment.

He was killed in action at Roney, Champagne, on the 27th May 1918.

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Norman Mortimer Joseph Kohnstam

Norman Mortimer Joseph Kohnstam was the eldest of three brothers to attend Westminster. His parents were Rudolph Kohnstam, of Hampstead, and Emily, daughter of Jacob Piza, of Maida Hill.

He was born on the 26th February 1897, and was admitted to Grant’s in 1910. He became a non-resident King’s Scholar in 1911.

Norman was made Head of Grant’s in 1914. The following incident – in his own words – is recorded in his house ledger on 29th March 1915:

It is the last evening of Lent Term 1915 and the event that I am to describe took place on the last evening of Lent Term 1914; on the evening in question we had our annual fire-escape practice, the canvas shute had been thrown out of window and according to custom I was the first to descend; I managed to get half way down without any misadventure, but no further, there I remained, the lower end of the shute had unfortunately either been retained at the big dorm window or had stuck in a window on the way down, anyhow after a considerable amount of rather unnecessary excitement on the part of everyone but myself I was at length hauled into safety hanging onto the rope that constituted part of the fire escape, the rope I might say is in a distinctly work  out and rather precarious condition and I advise no-one to repeat my adventure unless absolutely necessary.

Only a short time into his tenure as Head of House, Norman fell ill with scarlet fever:

…from which I did not rise for 10 weeks, for the next 6 months I was kept in exile and did not return to Westminster until Lent Term 1915. I left at the end of that term somewhat abruptly as I was at last enabled to take a commission, which I am still waiting for as I write.

After leaving the school at Easter 1915, Norman enlisted as 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion, the Manchester Regiment in May. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 1st of February 1916, and later became a Captain. He joined the Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli in October 1915 and remained at Suvla Bay until the evacuation in December. He served in the Sinai Peninsula between January and June 1916.

His younger brother Oscar Jacob Charles Kohnstam was killed in the trenches on the Somme on the 29th June. And Norman himself was sent out to the western front less than a month later. He was killed in action on the 22nd of March 1918.

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Archibald Gordon

Archibald Gordon was the younger son of William Edward Gordon, a barrister and his wife Bertha.  He followed his brother into the school becoming a King’s Scholar in September 1911.

The Elizabethan noted that ‘although of small stature, he was a vigorous athlete, beginning as a cricketer but later going to Water.’ The topic of sport obviously interested him and he spoke at the Debating Society when the motion ‘That in the opinion of this House Athletics in time of peace are a good training for War’ was discussed in 1915.  He is recorded as having ‘made a bitter attack on professional footballers and their supporters, who flocked to see them play. He considered that professional football was not a game, but merely a financial concern which was now acting as a serious hindrance to recruiting.’

He left the school in April 1916 and after briefly working as an assistant master at Temple Grove School, Eastbourne he became a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.  He took on the role as Observer in the Royal Navy in March 1917.  In June, he left England to serve in the Naval Air Service and drowned in the Mediterranean while on active service patrol.

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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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