Tag Archives: Queen Victoria’s Rifles

Sidney Frederick Johnson

19170110_Johnson,SFSidney Frederick Johnson was the second son of George and Blanche Johnson. He was born on the 19th August 1887 and arrived at the school in September 1901.

He threw himself into all elements of school life, from football and cricket, to debating and chess, to the School Mission. In Play Term 1905, he was made Head of Ashburnham, alongside being Captain of the School Football XI and also Captain of House Football and Cricket. His successor wrote in the House Ledger:

“to fill so many responsible positions eodem tempore needed a fellow of many parts: many of these parts he possessed and many he did not possess. No man has done more for the House GamesÔǪhe has succeeded by his own prowess and personality in establishing confidence in quite inferior players. For example he was absent on account of an exam from a large part of the HBB 1st inns in their shield match with us: but directly he came on the field, them who had been playing half-heartedly before put twice as much into their work as they had before his arrival.”

Upon leaving the school, Johnson achieved a BSc at the London University. He enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Queen Victoria’s Rifles in May 1910 before becoming a partner in Hendren’s Trust, Ltd., a financial company for promoting British enterprise in Canada.

On the outbreak of war, Johnson decided to re-join the army. But first — a fortnight before taking a position as 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion (Reserve) Border Regiment — he married Helen Marguerite, the elder daughter of Farquhar Robinson, of Montreal, Canada on 28th November 1914.

Johnson was attached to the 2nd Battalion and went out with them to the western front on 20th February 1915, but was invalided home in May 1915 as a result of wounds he received at Festubert. He was promoted to Lieutenant the following March and returned to the front on the 29th December 1916. He was appointed brigade bombing officer with the rank of temporary Captain on the 7th October 1916 and was killed in action at the age of 29 at Beaumont Hamel on the 10th January 1917.

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Eric Leslie Faire

Eric Leslie Faire was born on the 30th September 1893 and was the younger son of Harry Washington Faire, of Putney. His elder brother was Washington Morley Faire, and the two boys arrived up Grant’s together in September 1905. Both brothers left the school around Easter 1909, and Eric decided to go and study languages at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

On the outbreak of war, Eric enlisted in the 25th (County of London) Cyclist Battalion, the London Regiment.

19161008_Faire,EL

The Cyclist Battalion was originally intended to be a home defence force. Their two main duties were firstly to ride along the English coast looking-out for signs of German invasion and secondly, once air attacks began in May 1915, to alert civilians by carrying “Take Cover” signs.

However, when the Battalion was sent out to the western front in July 1916, the ability of cyclists to contribute to trench warfare was unsurprisingly restricted. Eric acted as an Interpreter for the Battalion for a short time before he, like many others, was redeployed as a rifleman with the 9th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment, Queen Victoria’s Rifles. He would have fought with the 169th Brigade, which was part of the 56th (London) Division in the Battles of Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette and Morval during September 1916.

The Battle of the Transloy Ridges began on the 1st of October 1916. Eric was killed in action, at the age of 23, a week later, probably as part of the attack on ‘Rainy Trench’, northeast of Lesboeufs.

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Dudley Leycester Summerhays

Dudley Leycester Summerhays was in Homeboarders house for over five years between 1902 and 1908. He travelled into school from his family home in Wimbledon. He served his Articles in order to become a solicitor, but on the outbreak of the war enlisted in the East Surrey Regiment. He soon got a commission in Queen Victoria’s Rifles, with whom he saw nearly six months’ service at the Front.

19150421_Summerhays_Hill60_Nash
The Landscape, Hill 60 by Paul Nash
┬® IWM (Art.IWM ART 1155)

After his death a fellow Old Westminster wrote to the school’s magazine, The Elizabethan:

‘SIR, As a brother officer and old Schoolfellow of Mr. Dudley Summerhays, with whom I spent five months in the trenches in Belgium, I feel I must place on record how much he was beloved by the officers and men in his regiment. All through the hardships of the winter one quality in his fine character was always apparent, that of his great unselfishness. He was ever thinking of others and never of himself, and he is mourned by officers and men as a comrade in the truest sense of what that word means. Yours faithfully, KENNETH W. JOHNSON, Queen Victoria’s Rifles.

His Colonel wrote to his father on the 22nd April, 1915:

MY DEAR MR. SUMMERHAYS, It is with the most profound regret and distress we tell you that your boy has given his life for his country, being killed yesterday morning. He died a hero’s death on Hill 6o, having taken his men forward to assist Major Lees who was gallantly holding a crater against tremendous odds ; he was killed close to Major Lees, and instantly, being hit by a bomb on the head.

It is perhaps some consolation to know that his superbly gallant conduct has kept the above hill, from which the enemy dominated our positions, entirely in our hands, and we have been able to make the position good and can now hold it I trust to the great advantage of the whole army. I cannot tell you in any way adequate what a loss he is to the Regiment and myself, his many sterling qualities and his devotion to duty endeared him to one and all of us indeed; it was their love for him that prompted his men to follow him and stick to him to the last. The whole night through they fought on and on and stuck to their leaders who so heroically led them.

You must forgive me if I have been blunt or curt in writing this, but I have just come through a big strain, and am still surrounded by the incessant noise of heavy artillery. We of the Regiment will never forget the superb example set us by your son, and can only hope when our time comes to try to emulate his heroic behaviour and utterly unselfish patriotism.

Believe me, Yours very sincerely, R. B. SHIPLEY.

P.S.-Please accept and convey to your family the most sincere and heartfelt sympathy of my Regiment and my own self.’

 

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