Tag Archives: Rigaud’s House

George Claude Rivers

George Rivers, often known to his friends as Charlie, joined Rigaud’s house as a day pupil in 1899, becoming a boarder in the spring, 1902. He played Cricket for his house and for a Town Boy team but with limited success as a batsman, scoring few runs and often being bowled out quickly. He also enjoyed gymnastics, but is described in The Elizabethan as ‘careful but lacks strength’. Nevertheless, he earned half pinks during his final year at the school.

After leaving the school he went to work in Burma. He must have returned to London by 1913 as he married Miss Elsie Margaret Pickthall on 1st November and soon after the couple had a daughter. Once war was declared as he joined the Inns of Court O.T.C. and then took a commission as 2nd Lieut, 9th (Service) Batt. the East Surrey Regiment just before Christmas 1914. He was a ‘Grenade Officer’ — in charge of the bomb throwers within his battalion.

Rivers went out to the western front on 30th August 1915. Just under a year later his regimental history tells us his battalion was:

‘ordered up to the Briqueterie, near Montauban, in support of the 73rd Infantry Brigade, who, together with the 17th Brigade, attacked and captured the western outskirts of Guillemont. On the 21st the Battalion, together with the 8th Battn. the “Queen’s”, moved up in the new front line, the “Queen’s” occupying the trench just west of the quarry in Guillemont, whilst the Battalion held the trenches in the rear of the “Queen’s”.’

Rivers was killed in heavy shelling on the part of the enemy near Trones Wood during 21st August 1916, along with three other men from the regiment.

Unloading ammunition at battery position behind Arrow Head Copse, near Guillemont; August 1916 (IWM)
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Edmund Parker

Edmund Parker was in Rigaud’s House from 1907 until 1910. He decided to follow a career as an accountant andtook the Preliminary examination in November 1910, aged just 17. He was articled toCyril Hooper of Goodricke, Cotman, Hooper, Phipps & Co. in January 1911 and passed the Intermediate examination in November 1913. Upon the outbreak of war, Parker, along with many other articled clerks working for his firm volunteered for service. 18 members of the firm had joined up by early 1915.

Edmund joined the 1/5th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade), and made his way to France with the battalion on 5th November 1914.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) have published letters written by Edmund to his boss, Cyril Hooper. In March 1915 he wrote about daily life: ‘Each of the four companies does three days at a time [in the trenches]. Then we go to a large town for three days’ rest, including a bath; then three days in farms just behind the trenches, from which we supply parties to take up stuff to the trenches, and also to work there; after this three days in the village just behind, and then up to the trenches and so on.’

Edmund spent Christmas Day 1914 in the trenches and wrote that there was ‘a perfect truce and could stroll about as we liked.’

The ICAEW finish tell the rest of the story:

The last published letter from Edmund, dated 7 May 1915, described a lucky escape for Edmund and his brother (who had just come out with the draft from England). Edmund learnt that German forces had launched a violent attack on the line they had retired from, using much gas and shelling the empty trenches heavily. Sadly, by the time of publication Edmund was already dead.

Shell Trap Farm
Shell Trap Farm

He was killed in action on 13 May 1915. On this day, the battalion suffered the heaviest bombardment of the war to date and experienced very heavy casualties. Two platoons of the London Rifle Brigade alone were wiped out by intense shelling of their location at Shell Trap Farm, where shells had been observed falling at a rate of over a hundred per minute. The London Rifle Brigade had begun the day just 278 strong, having lost most of its men in the earlier fighting, but by evening a further 91 men had gone. Shortly before his death Edmund had been promoted to lance-corporal and he had been advised to apply for a commission. Lance Corporal Edmund Parker’s name is recorded on the Menin Gate in Ypres. His name also appears on the war memorial in the church of St. Peters in Myddle, Shropshire, on his firm’s Roll of Honour, on the war memorial at Chartered Accountants’ Hall and of course our own memorial up school.

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