Tag Archives: Sandhurst

Harold Winning Fleming

Harold Winning Fleming’s parents were Alexander (Alec) John Fleming and Lily Huthart Brown. Alec was a medical doctor in Hampstead. Lily was a daughter of Forrest Loudon Brown, of Bombay, India. In 1891, she was working as a teacher of music, and living in Altrincham, Cheshire, with her sister and widowed mother. Alec and Lily were married in September 1894 in Altrincham, Cheshire.

Harold was born in Hampstead, London, on the 25th of April 1898. He was one of four children: he had an elder brother, Alan McKinstry Fleming, and two younger sisters, Lily Woodrow Fleming and Sheila Laudon Fleming. Before arriving at Westminster, he attended St John’s House, Hampstead.

He arrived as a non-resident King’s Scholar in September 1911, and joined Homeboarders’ House. He was absent for two terms, when he went abroad on account of his health. He left the school for good in July 1915, and attended R.M.C. Sandhurst between August 1916 and May 1917.

In May 1917, he was made 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Battalion (16th Foot) The Bedfordshire Regiment. He went out to the western front May 31, 1917, served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders, and was mentioned in despatches for gallant and distinguished service.

His Chaplain wrote: “I frequently saw him both in and out of the trenches, and we all liked him for his bright and happy disposition, as well as for his keenness and great efficiency. It was no secret that he was considered one of the most promising of the junior officers in the battalion.”

On 5th October 1917, Harold was killed in action at the age of 19 by a sniper at Gheluvelt, on the Ypres-Menin Road.

One of his brother officer wrote: “I am certain that at his death the 1st Bedfords lost one of the bravest of its officers.”

Another wrote: “ The other officers of his company having become casualties early in the attack (Oppy Wood, near Arras), this officer, 2nd Lieut. H.W. Fleming who was in the trenches for the first time, assumed command throughout the attack, and in the subsequent tour of duty showed coolness, gallantry and ability, and his example afforded great encouragement to his men.”

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Colin Hyde Edwards

Colin was the youngest son of Lieutenant-Colonel Edwards and his wife, Mrs Hyde Edwards. He joined Ashburnham House in 1909 and spent two years at the school, before going on to Bradfield College.  On the outbreak of war, he attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, taking a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment in May 1915.

He was reported missing on 8th May in the aftermath of the Third Battle of the Scarpe, but it was only established in September, 1917, that he had died of wounds as a prisoner of war on 22nd May that year.  He has been wounded in action near Fresnoy and taken by the enemy to a war hospital at Shelotille, Douai.  According the press-notice on his death ‘he was only 20 years of age, and had proved himself an enthusiastic young officer of the Regiment which his father was for so long associated’.

Soldiers overlooking the town of Douai, which remained in German hands until 1918.
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Nicholas George Berwick Lechmere

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The cap badge for the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment

Nicholas was the youngest son of Sir Edmund Lechmere who was MP for Worcestershire. He arrived at the school up Ashburnham in May 1895 and studied modern languages and science, rather than Classics. He left in Election 1897 and four years later he enrolled at RMC Sandhurst.

He became 2nd Lieutenant of the Scots Guards in May 1902, just when the Scots Guards were returning home from the Boer War, but he retired from the army in 1906.

On the 23rd June 1904, Nicholas married Mary Katherine Pegg of Basingstoke, who was the only daughter of Major John Pegg, but she died after only six years of marriage. They had no children.

When war broke out, he re-joined the army as Captain of the 10th Service Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment and was attached to the 2nd Battalion. He was sent out to the western front in June 1915.

He was killed in action, aged 34, while attempting to capture the Hohenzollern Redoubt, near Loos

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Cecil Hurst-Brown

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Cecil was born in Bayswater, the middle son of William Hurst-Brown, a stockbroker, and his wife Ethel Mary Dredge Newbury Coles.

He was an active sportsman: a double pink whilst at school and then secretary of the University Association Football Club whilst at Christ Church, Oxford. He played cricket whilst at Westminster, gaining a place on the 1st XI and averaging 14.60 and 19.00 in the 1912 and 1913 seasons.

 

Upon the outbreak of war he left university and joined the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. On 16 December 1914, he was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, and was posted to the 2nd Battalion, which he joined in France on 7th June 1915. He died on 26th September 1915, having been wounded in action the previous day.

His younger brother, 2nd Lieutenant Dudley Hurst-Brown, 129th Battery R.F.A was wounded on 13 June 1915, and died two days later. A family historian said of Cecil’s death that “he was the second of two brothers killed within three months of each other. It sent my wife’s great grandmother [Cecil’s mother, Ethel] insane with grief – she spent the rest of her life in and out of mental hospitals – thus two casualties became three – very sad.”

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Richard Edward John Thomson

Richard Edward John Thomson was in Rigaud’s House from 1906 until 1909. He was interested in a military career from an early stage and joined the school’s Officer Training Corps, taking part in shooting competitions – with mixed success. He left the school after passing his Woolwich qualifying examination and in 1910 joined the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He joined the Indian Army in 1912 as aDouble Company Officer for the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. With this regiment he saw active service atNowshera and Lorala before joining the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front in September 1914. He was killed in action at Neuve Chapelle on 18th May 1915.

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The same day, just a few hundred metres away,Lieutenant John Smyth of the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs, led ten volunteers on a perilous mission to supply bombs to the front line. Lieutenant Smythconveyed a supply of 96 bombs to within 20 yards of the enemy’s position over exceptionally dangerous ground, after the attempts of two other parties had failed. Lieutenant Smyth succeeded in taking the bombs to the desired position with the aid of two of his men (the other eight having been killed or wounded), and to effect his purpose he had to swim a stream, being exposed the whole time to howitzer, shrapnel, machine-gun and rifle fire. Smyth was awarded the Victoria Cross, Lance-Naik Mangal Singh the Indian Order of Merit, and every sepoy in the party the Indian Distinguished Service Medal.

Speaking at the500th Birthday Anniversary of Guru Nanak at Grosvenor House in Park Lane in December, 1969 the thenBrigadier the Rt. Hon. Sir John Smythe, Bt. V.C. made the following speech:

56 years ago I joined the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs in Loralai, Baluchistan and at once became embued with the teachings and the life of Guru Nanak. The Sikh Gurus, the Sikh religion, the Gurdwara, the Granth Sahib became part of my life. The British and Sikh officers of the Regiment were convinced that religion was an important factor in the make-up of a good soldier and we fostered that in every way possible.

 

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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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Donald Stuart Stirling Smurthwaite

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Photograph of Smurthwaite from Lawrence Tanner’s Journal

The second of the two Old Westminsters to die on 26th October 1914 was also a Grantite at school with Lawrence Tanner. Tanner records Smurthwaite’s first day at Westminster inhis journal:

‘The first arrival was about 5.30pm in the shape of a new boy called Smurthwaite. I found him in the process of re-adjusting his ideas about a Public School. At present he is delighted with everything: the School, the House, the arrangement are all that they should be in his opinion. I took him down and showed him Hall and Chiswicks and told him he would be my fag and he seemed relieved at the mildness of my aspect and appeared surprised as he had pictured himself arising at 5.30am to make me cocoa (I can see myself at that hour drinking cocoa!). I only hope that he will not have to re-adjust his ideas again and that he may find everything in the future as pleasing as he does at present.’

He turned out to be an excellent choice as a fag. Tanner recorded that he

‘spoke to the amazingSmurthwaitetoday and told him my books didn’t seem to have been dusted this term, he said ‘oh that’sSorley, it’s really his business but I spoke to him today about it, however I’ll get my duster and do it!!’ He manages to do for his own pleasure three quarters of thefaggingof the House, always the first to answer ‘Halls‘ etc. Consequently this evening my table was dusted and arranged with mathematical precision, everything arranged in severe straight lines.’

Smurthwaite clearly did enjoy his time at Westminster and was popular with other members of the house – although it was reported that he gave ‘lectures to his Dormitory being an Imperialist on the state of the navy and they can’t shut him up’.

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A company of the Blackwatch in the trenches in 1914, wearing kilts

Smurthwaite was an active member of the Corps whilst at school, reaching the rank of Lance-Corporal. Unsurprisingly, upon leaving school hewas admittedwith a Prize Cadetship to the Royal MilitaryCollege,Sandhurst. In 1914has passed out (graduated) fromSandhurst at the head of the list, being the onlycandidate to obtain honours. He joined the 1st Battalion of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) as a 2nd Lieutenant. A number of authors state that the regiment was given the nickname “Ladies from Hell” (“Die Damen aus der H├Âlle”) by German troops, allegedly on account of their kilts and fighting qualities. The regiment went out to the Western Front in September 1914. Smurthwaite was killed in action at Ypres on 26th October 1914.

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