Tag Archives: Military Cross

Herbert Stanley Todd

Born in April 1898, Herbert was the eldest son in his family, and consequently the first to attend Westminster School. He was admitted to Grant’s in 1912, and often took part in cricket tournaments, where he was a keen bowler. He left the school in July 1914 and enrolled in the Public Schools Battalions just a few months later.

He was sent to the Western Front in November 1915 but returned to England the following year, having earned the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and transferring regiments. He transferred once more in 1916, moving to the East Surrey Regiment. With this regiment, he returned to the Western Front in August, before moving to Italy in November 1917.

It was here that Todd was invalided, and he returned to England in 1918, receiving upon his return the Military Cross with bar and the Croix de Guerre. By August 1918 he had recovered, and returned once more to the Western Front, where he was killed just a few months later.

Grant’s House Photograph in 1913
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Michael Edward Gonne

Michael Edward Gonne was born in 1898 and came to Westminster School, initially as a member of Homeboarders’ House in January 1912. Later that year The Elizabethan recorded that Michael had ‘made a trial of Rigaud’s last term and evidently liked it so much that he has come again’. He eventually settled in that house.

We do not know what he did immediately after leaving the school in Easter 1914, but in 1916 he attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and took a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) as soon as he turned 18. He was immediately attached to the Royal Flying Corps and in March 1917 travelled to Egypt, presumably to train. In May he was appointed a Flying Office and was sent to France in June.

Gonne was assigned to No. 54 Squadron, and flew Sopwith Pup no. A6215 to victory on 25th September and 18th October 1917, destroying Albatros D.IIIs on both occasions. His third victory came on 5th January 1918, driving down an enemy aircraft ‘out of control’. On 9th January Gonne was appointed a flight commander with the acting rank of captain. His fourth and fifth victories both came on 25th January, driving down a Albatros D.V, and sending a Rumpler C down in flames. His final tally was three enemy aircraft destroyed, two driven down out of control. He was awarded the Military Cross:

‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He is a daring and skilful leader of patrols, and has led his flight throughout a large amount of fighting, often against superior numbers, far over the enemy’s lines.’

In February 1918 he was injured whilst testing a machine. He was invalided back to England, where, on resuming duty, he acted as a gunnery instructor. He was able to rejoin his old squadron on the western front on 7th August 1918 and on the following day volunteered for a flight. He never returned and was last seen on the 8th August 1918, at the height of 2,000 feet over the Somme crossings at Brie, and is said to have died in the German Field Hospital at Villers-Carbonnel.

Gonne flew a Sopwith Camel. The type was highly manoeuvrable and popular with its pilots although the combination of the short-coupled aircraft and the rotary engine produced some handling quirks that could catch out inexperienced pilots. The Camel proved to be very successful in aerial dogfights and is said to have achieved more victories in combat than any other single type during the First World War.
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Cecil Martin Sankey

Cecil Martin Sankey was the only son of Major William Sankey, of Ealing, and Alice Bertha, daughter of Albert Woecki, of Bayswater. He was born on the 27th September 1897, and was admitted into Grant’s in January 1911.

He was opted to study the ‘Modern’ subjects, and he threw himself into the sports scene at Westminster. He represented the school at both Cricket and Football

He left the school in July 1914, and enlisted in the 9th Battalion, London Regiment. He attended RMC Sandhurst from January 1916, and in August was joined the East Kent Regiment as 2nd Lieutenant. He went out with them to the western front in September 1916.

Cecil was awarded the Military Cross on 12th March 1917. In December of that year, he was attached to the RAF, and he rose to Lieutenant in February 1918.

On the 15th May 1918, he was accidentally killed while flying at Northolt, Middlesex. He is commemorated by a stained glass window in the Church of St Matthew, Ealing Common.

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Eric James Tyson

Eric James Tyson was born in Balham on the 17th of March 1892. He was the only son of Joseph and Annie Tyson. Joseph Tyson was a Classics teacher at the school between 1885 and 1929, and worked as Bursar to the school. Annie was the daughter of John Branson, of Rockingham, Northamptonshire.

He was admitted to the school in May 1904, and joined Ashburnham. During his time at Westminster, he represented Ashburnham in Fives and Cricket as shown in the 1908 July edition of The Elizabethan where he was in a cricket match against Rigaud’s and in the House Notes section was stated that he ‘did well’. He was also mentioned in the 1909 October edition for competing in house Fives. He was forced to take a break from Football because he was suffering from “water on the knee”.

When he left the school in July 1910, he went on to be a motor engineer. This stood him in good stead because, in August 1914, he enlisted in the Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport). After a year, he became 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Coprs. He was gazetted in January 1916 for gallantry on photographic reconnaissance and artillery duties, and was promoted to Flight Commander and Captain by 23rd June 1916.

He was awarded the Military Cross on the 20th October 1916. In November 1916, he rose to the rank of Major, and was put in command of No. 5 Squadron in France. In September the following year, he decorated further with a Distinguished Service Order (pictured).

He was out on an artillery observation mission near Arras, France, when he encountered nine German aircraft. Eric was fatally wounded in the confrontation, with the victory attributed to Sielemann of Jagdstaffel 57.

Tyson died of his wounds the next day, on the 11th March 1918, leaving behind his wife Cora Florence Gladys (née Davies), daughter of Philip C. Davies, of Trinity Road, Ealham. He is buried in the Maroeuil British Cemetery in France.

 Compiled with the assistance of a pupil in the Vth Form.

 

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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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