Cecil Henry Viney was in Grant’s House 1905-1907 and left school to pursue a career as a painter. He was a student at the Royal Academy Painting Schools up until the war, but sadly none of his work survives. On the outbreak of war he obtained a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion of the Northants Regiment. He went out to the Western front in March 1915 and was killed in action at Fromelles, France on 9th May, 1915. He was one of three Old Westminsters to die that day in the Battle of Aubers Ridge, part of a series of conflicts that took place that spring over the strategic town of Ypres.
This battle was an unmitigated disaster for the British army. No ground was won and no tactical advantage gained.
While he was at Westminster School between 1908 and 1912, Ralph Davison was a keen swimmer, cricketer and footballer. He also took part in the school’s Officers Training Corps, where he was Cadet Lance-Corporal.
After leaving school, he entered an engineer’s office, but in January 1914 he joined the Northamptonshire Regiment. He was attached to the 1st Battalion and went out to the western front in August 1914.
He fought and was wounded at the first battle of Ypres in Nov. 1914. He recovered, however, returned to the front line and was promoted from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant on the 22nd of March 1915. He was killed in the disastrous attempt to take Aubers Ridge during the combined Anglo-French offensive in the Second Battle of Artois. His younger brother, who had followed him into Rigaud’s house, was still at the school at the time of his death.
Ralph Davison was remembered in the June edition The Elizabethan:
We are sure that the whole House tenders its most sincere sympathies to Davison, on the death of his brother R. Davison (Old Rigaudite) who was killed in action on Sunday, May 9. We must also congratulate Davison on being made a School Monitor. A brother Officer wrote: – ‘He was killed gallantly leading his mean in the attack on the German trenches. Out here he always behaved with the greatest pluck. I remember him especially in Ypres in November, when we were so hard pressed.’
Maurice Day was a pupil in Ashburnham House between 1906 and 1909. Upon leaving school hewas articled to an architect, and was just out of his articles when the war began. He enlisted in the 28th Battalion of the London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles) and went out to the Western Front in the autumn of 1914 to oversee the Officer Training Corps. The Artists Rifles was an extremely popular unit for volunteers. Due to the large number that joined it was formed into three sub-battalions in 1914, and recruitment was eventually restricted by recommendation from existing members of the battalion. He was promoted to the role of Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion ofPrincess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment in March 1915 moving to serve on the front line.
As with the two other Old Westminsters killed on 9th May, Day died in action at the Battle of Aubers Ridge, France.
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.
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.’
Two years after leaving school in 1912, Esmond Kellie had passed the exam for the Civil Service. But on the outbreak of war, he joined the 28th Battalion of the London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles). The following January, Kellie was transferred to the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, along with another young officer, Charles Kirch.
In April 2015, the Battalion was involved in the bitter competition over “Hill 60”, a spoil heap just south of Ypres. The small mound afforded an excellent viewpoint from which to observe the ground around Zillebeke and Ypres, and was the only place in the area that was not waterlogged. From the 12th to the 16th of April, the battalion prepared for an attack on Hill 60. They worked day and night reconnoitring disused French and German trenches, and in opening up communication trenches.
They were ready to attack on the 17th and, with the help of mines and heavy artillery, the Hill was successfully taken by the British. However, Hill 60 projected into enemy territory, which left it exposed and costly to occupy. The German counterattack the following day resulted in considerable casualties, and part of the hill was temporarily lost. The shelling and bombing intensified, and Kellie was killed on the 19th of April, along with Charles Kirch who had joined on the same day.
The Germans’ second attempt to recover the hill was successful, and Hill 60 was lost on 5th May, following a series of gas attacks.