Tag Archives: Machine Gun Corps

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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Oscar Jacob Charles Kohnstamm

19160629_Kohnstam,OJCOscar Jacob Charles Kohnstamm, known as Jacob, was the second son of Rudolph and Emily Kohnstamm. He was born on 28th February 1898 and was admitted as a boarder up Grants in Play 1911. He arrived at an uneventful time; the Head of Grants noted that “nothing of importance occurred this term. There does not seem to be much talent either for work or games in the House. But many of the younger people are promising. At least it appears that there will be no big rows this year.”

Jacob seems to have got himself into trouble on a fairly regular basis. He was tanned “for ragging and breaking a window in Hall”, and again for “being out of bed at the Half”. He managed to get his younger brother Geoffrey in trouble too — they were both punished “for being out of his place for prep.”

Jacob was a member of the Junior football team and “would make a very useful forward if he had any pace. At present he is included to wander round the ball, instead of making for the opposing goal.”

Jacob’s elder brother, Norman, was made Head of Grants, but unfortunately came down with scarlet fever in 1914 and was forced to postpone his studies while he recovered. This meant that Jacob left the school in December 1913, over a year before Norman did.

In September 1914, Jacob joined the Inns of Court OTC and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion (Extra Reserve) Prince of Wales’s Regiment (North Staffordshire) on the 31st March 1915. He was attached to the Machine Gun Corps in December and was sent to the western front on the 5th February 1916. He was killed in the trenches at Carnoy on the Somme, France on the 29th June 1916.

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