Tag Archives: Queen’s Scholar

John Herbert Williams

John Herbert Williams was in his late 50s when the First World War broke out.  He had a well-established career as a Barrister and Judge, he was appointed a reporter on the staff of the Law Reports in 1911, and was one of the editors of ‘Smith’s Leading Cases,’ brought out several editions of ‘Goodeve’s Personal Property’ and collaborated in a book on ‘The Law of Ejectment.’

Williams had been successful at school, joining Grant’s in 1869 and passing the Challenge in 1872.  He remained a Queen’s Scholar at the school until 1876, when he was elected to Trinity College, Cambridge with the prestigious Triplett Scholarship.  He was athletic at the school and rowed in the 1st VIII and played for the football 1st XI

Anxious to take a share in war service, he applied for and received a commission and went to France to take up the appointment.  He was then 60 years of age.  Soon after arriving in France he was taken ill and invalided home.  He died in the war hospital at Reading.

Williams is almost certainly in this photograph of the Westminster VIII of 1876. Unfortunately, the caption and photograph has been damaged so we are unable to tell which he is.
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Frank Street

19160707_Street,FFrank Street attended Westminster School as a Queen’s Scholar from 1884-1889. Street was a talented sportsman at school and beyond. He played Association Football for Oxford, captaining the team in 1893. He also played cricket for Essex in 1897 and 1898. On leaving university he decided to be a teacher, working at Bury St. Edmunds School, Forest School and finally settling at Uppingham from 1900.

On 22nd April 1911 he married, at the age of 40, Marian Greenhill. On the outbreak of war he was faced with a difficult decision. Should he remain as a teacher and stay at Uppingham with his wife, or join up? In spite of being four years over the enlistment age, he decided it was his duty to go to war. He joined the 18th (Service) Battallion Royal Fusiliers in September 1914.

He had risen to the rank of Lieutenant when he led the men of the 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers over the top at Mash Valley near Ovillers on the Somme on 7th July 1916. They captured two German lines but as Street was clearing woodland and trenches between them, he was shot by a sniper.

The Uppingham School magazine included a moving epitaph:

The loss of Frank Street is one that cannot be repaired. Street was the best type of man we cannot afford to lose — the unselfish Englishman.

So fine an athlete might have been allowed some conscious pride in his prowess; but love of skill, keenness for a side, were the only instincts that inspired Street. In school…boys learnt to know and admire the same examples.

Never morose, never touchy, his humour ever ready, typical English, free from ‘swank’ of any kind. These were the reasons why he was so universally popular”

He achieved excellence from a high sense of duty; and the claims of his duty he had recognised long before the outbreak of war made them dawn upon the minds of present day patriots. His failings, if such they can be called, were modesty and the lack of personal ambition…[but] for him we feel no regrets; his life was fine, and his death a brave Englishman’s.

…Before the advance, he kept his men in hand under a heavy shell fire. We know the sort of encouragement he would have given, and almost seem to hear the words…

…Never a braver soldier fell, never was mourned a dearer friend…at the school from which he flew to arms his noble name will never die.

Street’s body was never found. His name is on memorials at Thiepval, Westminster School and St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Uppingham.

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Percival Ernest Knapp

Percival Ernest Knapp attended Westminster school for over four years. He was admitted as a Queen’s Scholar and, whilst academically very able, came from a military family as was destined for a career in the army. During his time at school he was a keen debater and The Elizabethan records him speaking ‘in a very concise form’ against a motion to uphold the powers of the House of Lords. He also excelled at football as he was ‘very fast’ and ‘had a wonderful knack of getting round the backs’.

He left school in December 1892 and entered military training at Sandhurst. He served the army in India, seeing action in the Tirah campaign in 1897-8 and at the Battle of Peking in 1900 which followed the Boxer rebellion. He received medals from both conflicts. By 1912 he had been promoted to the rank of Major.

On the outbreak of war, Knapp served in Egypt but moved to fight in the Mesopotamia campaign in November 1915. He was killed in action at the Battle of Sheikh Sa’ad in an attack on the Ottoman Army.

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Indian soldiers at the Battle of Sheikh Sa’ad
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Winfield Joyce Bonser

Winfield Bonser was born in Singapore and was admitted to as a Queen’s Scholar in January 1900. In his second term, he competed as a member of the College tug-of-war team, weighing 10st 3lb. He also took part in Cricket and Football, and was a member of the Debating Society.

As a Scholar, Bonser was amongst the Westminster pupils invited to the Coronation of King Edward VII on 9th August 1902, where he would have joined in the tradition of shouting “Vivat Rex!” The Coronation Song Book for the service describes how “these vociferous exclamations have been incorporatedÔǪ in a somewhat novel manner, as the Westminster boys, stationed aloft, sing their enthusiastic manifestations of loyalty”. The Captain of the King’s Scholars at the time, G.T. Boag, was unimpressed with such novelty, reporting in The Captain’s Book that “the acclamations for some unearthly reason were set to music and stuck into the midst of an anthem.”

After leaving the School, Bonser was admitted as a pensioner to Christ’s College Cambridge in October 1904, and became a scholar in November 1906. He achieved a 1st Class in the Classical Tripos, and went on to train as a barrister. He was called to the bar at Inner Temple on 28th June 1911. On the outbreak of war, he joined the Inns of Court OTC, and received a commission in the Rifle Brigade in September 1914.

Over the course of the next six months, Bonser rose through the ranks, becoming a Captain the following March. In July 1915, he went out to the western front, landing in Boulogne.

The day before Bonser died, the battalion moved out of their billets in Laventie. He was killed in action at Fauquissart, near Estaires, on the first day of the Battle of Loos.

19150926_Bonser

 

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John McAdam Craig

According to The Record of Old Westminsters John McAdam Craig was in Rigaud’s between 27th September 1900 and July 1905. However, following his death an Old Westminster wrote the following letter to The Elizabethan:

Passing through Dean’s Yard the other day, I noticed the Roll of Honour contained the name Lieut. J. M. Craig—followed by his regiment, and then-Rigaud’s. No mention whatever of his being a K.S. Surely the entry in the last column should be K.S. (Rigaud’s). I would not even allow Rigaud’s (K.S.). Any honour there may be in belonging to any particular house, or, indeed, in being an O.W. at all, is nothing compared with that of being a King’s Scholar. I only hope that the mistake was an oversight, but, remembering how the non-resident K. SS. were treated in my day, my hope is not very great. Mr. Craig was elected Q.S. at the last Challenge in Queen Victoria’s reign, and it is as a member of that same election that I make this appeal on his behalf. I am, Sir, Yours faithfully,

QUEEN’S SCHOLAR.

Our records show that Craig was indeed elected a Queen’s Scholar in 1900, but as he opted for a non-residential scholarship he was allocated to Rigaud’s House. Fewer and fewer pupils wished to board in College at this stage in the school’s history and although 40 boys sat The Challenge that year only 12 were prepared to become full Scholars.

As well as being a scholar, Craig was a talented sportsman. An early review of his footballing abilities in The Elizabethan noted that ‘though still very light, [he] playedin excellent style, and ought with care todevelop into a first-class centre half. This clearly was the case as Craig continued to playfootball for the school, earning full pinks and leading the Rigaud’s team to victory in the Inter-House competition two years running. He also played an active role in the Officer Training Corps and joined Sandhurst immediately after leaving the school.

Craig served in India before the war, arriving in Marseilles on 12th October 1914 with the 58th Rifles in the Indian division of the Expeditionary Force. Craig was in France for less than a month when he died from wounds received on 31st October at Bethune.

Craig is seated in the centre of the front row, holding on to the trophy.
Craig is seated in the centre of the front row, holding on to the trophy.
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