Tag Archives: Public Schools Battalion

Charles Westcar Sheppard

Charles Westcar Sheppard was the only son of William Sheppard, and he transferred to Westminster from Charterhouse School in 1897. He joined Grant’s House, where he remained for three years. When he left the school, he joined the Crystal Palace Engineering Collective, working with them for over a decade.

He enlisted in the 16th Public Schools Battalion in 1914, before moving to the Service Battalion in 1915. Here he rose the ranks to become Lieutenant in September 1916, before being transferred to the Royal Engineers in 1917.

He served in several locations during his time in the military, including the Western Front and Salonika. As part of the Royal Engineers, his bravery earned him a mention in despatches, and he returned home in 1918. Upon his return, he was employed in the Air Ministry, before passing away in unknown circumstances in October 1918.

The graves of Charles Sheppard and his spouse, at Putney Vale Cemetery
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Gilbert Anthony Goodman

Lieutenant Gilbert Anthony Goodman. Original Source: www.iwm.org.uk

Gilbert Goodman was the only son of Alfred William Goodman and Penelope Mary, and was born on the 5th July 1895. He was admitted to Westminster in 1909 and joined Ashburnham House, where he remained until 1913. In 1913, he studied with London University, but swiftly enlisted in the Public School Battalion, before transferring to the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps in 1914. That same year he was made 2nd Lieutenant of the 10th Battalion of the Loyal North Lanes Regiment.

He was sent to the Western Front in 1916, but was mistaken for another officer of the same name and reported as deceased to the War Office in 1917. Despite this mishap, that same year he was wounded in battle and invalided home, proving to be very much alive. During his time in the UK, he joined the Air Force and by 1918 had been gazetted to a permanent lieutenancy in the army. Once he received his wings as a pilot he was sent to the Italian Front, and it is here that he tragically lost his life, killed fighting two Austrian crafts before the rest of the patrol could get to his assistance.

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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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Eric Clive Graham

Eric Clive Graham was a pupil in Ashburnham House from 1909 until 1913. He was the youngest son of American, Lionel Henry Graham and his English wife, Hilda.

At school he was a keen sportsman, taking part in football, athletics and fives. He was the 4th member of the winning 1909 Ashburnham Junior Football team to die in the war — after R. Chalmers and J.W.H. McCulloch and G.J.M. Moxon. The ledger describes his performance that year in mixed terms stating that ‘he kept goal against Rigauds when Carless was out of school. Although he did one or two good things, he was not safe and had no understanding with the backs’. He was clearly more successful as a forward, being described as the House’s chief goal scorer in his final year at the school.

After leaving the school he went to Ingleden Park, Kent to learn agriculture with a view to farming in Canada. However, on the outbreak of war he changed his plans and enlisted in the Public Schools Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He left England in February 1916 to join the 1st Battalion at Busreh, on the Tigris in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). He was invalided to Bombay in June, but returned to his regiment in Busreh on 12th October 1916. He was killed in action at Kut-el- Amara, Mesopotamia on 9th January 1917 in one of a series of battles which led to the recapture of Kut and, ultimately, the fall of Baghdad.

Recapture of Kut-al-Amarah, 24 February 1917. British infantry resting in town.  IWM
Recapture of Kut-al-Amarah, 24 February 1917. British infantry resting in town. IWM
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Alexander Marchetti

Alexander was born in 1893, in Salford, the son of Greek-born George, an East India merchant. His mother, Alexandra (n├®e Petrocochino) was born in India to Greek parents. The family eventually settled in Paddington and Alexander joined Rigaud’s House in 1908.

He played an active role in all parts of school life, being academically successful and playing football for the school’s 2nd XI. The Elizabethan notes that he spoke on a debate on the topic of whether human happiness increased with civilization — noting that ‘the doctrine of the weakest going to the wall was the most cruel and most inhumane idea ever conceived of’ but, failing to ‘add anything strictly relevant to the motion’

The Elizabethan notes that whilst ‘he had great natural abilities’, reaching the Seventh Form in the school in which pupils prepared for university scholarships, he did not embark on a university career. In December 1914 he enlisted in the of the Royal Fusiliers before advancing to the role of 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. He died a few days after he reached the western front in March 1916.

He is buried in Rue-du-Bois Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix.

  Troops of the 28th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (Reserve Battalion Public Schools Brigade) on a march, November 1915, IWM

Troops of the 28th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (Reserve Battalion Public Schools Brigade) on a march, November 1915, IWM
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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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