Leslie Imroth was the only son of Gustav Imroth, a minor Randlord involved in the development of the South African mining industry. He was born in 1897, and spent the early part of his life in South Africa, before studying at Westminster School from 1910. He was admitted to Grant’s, as is recorded in both the October 1910 and February 1911 copies of the Elizabethan. He remained at the school for only one year, leaving in 1911.
Little is known of his life during this period, and it is not until four years later that further records of him begin. These records report that he joined the army in 1915, serving as 2nd Lieutenant in the 11th Hampshire Regiment. He became Lieutenant in 1916, and served in active duty for two years. He sustained wounds in action in 1918, and eventually passed away in his home country of South Africa, at Johannesburg. He is buried in Braamfontein Cemetery in Johannesburg.
Macnab was born on 2nd December 1870, the third son of Alexander Macnab and Elizabeth Gilpin. He joined the school in 1885 as part of Homeboarders House, and remained for the following two years. Very little is known of his school life, although his role in active military service is honoured in many editions of the Elizabethan running 1899-1918.
He joined the Border Regiment in October 1891 as 2nd Lieutenant, gradually rising up the ranks and becoming Captain of the Northumberland Fusiliers in May 1900. Macnab was then sent to South Africa, serving there for two years, before returning to England in 1903. He continued his military career throughout the early 1900s and became Brigadier General in 1915, one of the highest military rankings. In 1916, he was called to duty in France, where he was mentioned in two separate despatches for his bravery and valour.
While in France, he contracted a serious illness and was forced to return to the UK, whereupon he received the honour of ‘The Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George’ as a companion. He married Beatrice Marian in 1918, before passing away on the 13th October that year, as a direct result of illness contracted in service.
Ralph Cecil Batley was born on the 2nd December 1862. He was the son of John Batley, of Somerset, and Louise Marie, daughter of James Bonsor, of Lille, France. Ralph was admitted to Grant’s in January 1872, following his brother John Armytage Batley.
While he was a pupil here, he played football. The Elizabethan records that he “did useful work” representing the school against Charterhouse. He went on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was admitted as a pensioner in October 1881.
He continued playing football whilst he was at university. A couple of years after leaving the school, in November 1883, he returned to Westminster, bringing a team of players to play football against the school team (which Ralph’s team won 2:1).
He was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn on the 26th January 1882, and was admitted a solicitor in 1887.
Ralph went out to South Africa. He joined the Salisbury Horse volunteer force, and served with them in the First Matabele War in 1893. He also served with the Rhodesian Horse during the rising of 1895-7. He returned to England in 1897, where he joined the Dorset Yeomanry. During the South African War, he served with the Imperial Yeomanry, but was wounded at Diamond Hill 12 Jun 1900.
Following his injury, he was employed as Civil Commissioner for Pretoria and district. He was made Honorary Captain on 26th Jul 1901, and was mentioned in despatches L.G. 10 Sep 1901. By April 1902, Ralph was promoted to the rank of Major.
On the 14th June 1904, Ralph married Mabel Gwynnedd Terry-Lewis, an actress from a successful acting family. Mabel’s mother, Kate, had also been an actress and was the elder sister of Ellen Terry. Mable retired from her own successful stage career to begin their quiet married life together at Seaborough Court in Dorset. By 1911, the couple had moved to Benville Manor, Corscome, Dorchester.
When his regiment was ordered to Gallipoli, Ralph was declared medically unfit for foreign service. Instead he was given command of 3rd line Dorset Yeomanry battalion.
However, his ill-health meant that he had to retire in January 1917. He was awarded a TD for long service, and died at Silton Lodge in Wiltshire on 23rd October 1917.
After Ralph’s death, Mabel returned to the stage in 1920. She went on to resume her career on the stage and on film. Famously, she appeared as Lady Bracknell opposite her nephew John Gielgud in The Importance of Being Earnest in 1930.
Vivian Bristowe was one of ten children – five boys and five girls. They lived at 11 Old Burlington Street, with their father, John Syer Bristow, and mother, Miriam Isabella Bristowe (née Stearns). All five of the boys were sent to Westminster, and their father, a physician specialising in the nervous system, was also physician to the school.
Vivian was the youngest son. He was born on the 12th of June 1874, and arrived as a Homeboarder in September 1885. He represented his house in the football, and The Elizabethan includes the following account of a game that Homeboarders won 9-1: “The ground was very heavy and slippery after the recent thaw, and towards the end of the game the players were covered with mud” Saturday March 12th 1892.
There is not a lot of information about Vivian or his time at the school, but we do know how much he weighed!
After leaving the school in July 1892, he became a stock jobber – a market maker on the London Stock Exchange, and continued playing football on the OWW team. He went out to South Africa shortly before World War I, where he worked as secretary to his eldest brother, Leonard Syer Bristowe – by then Hon. Mr Justice Bristow – in Pretoria.
He enlisted in the South African Medical Corps in November 1915, and joined the East African Expeditionary Force in January 1916. While on active service at Rug, Rufigi River, East Africa, he contracted dysentery and died on the 14th of April 1917.
His Colonel wrote of him: “he did excellent work, and never fell out in the most arduous treks imaginable… His pals miss him, and I miss a steady and trustworthy man, who was never known to shirk his duty.”
Sigurd Dickson was the youngest son of Sir John Frederick Dickson, who had also been a pupil at the school. Sigurd was in Grant’s House from 1897-1902. He played football and cricket for the school — a review of his performance over the 1901/2 season was printed in The Elizabethan:
S.A. Dickson played at his very best against Charterhouse. He lacked weight, but was neat. As was the case with most of the team, he could not face adversity.
Upon leaving he became a District Commissioner in West Africa, and subsequently in South Africa. Later he worked in business as a rubber-planter in the Federated Malay States; rubber production was a large growth industry due to its use in the manufacture of car tires.
Sigurd returned home on the outbreak of the First World War and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. He was attached to the 102 Brigade and went out to the western front with them in 1916.
On 15th and 29th November 1916, Haig met the French commander-in-chief Joseph Joffre and the other Allies at Chantilly. An offensive strategy to overwhelm the Central Powers was agreed, with attacks planned on the Western, Eastern and Italian fronts, by the first fortnight in February 1917. Early in 1917 troops were assembled in the area in preparation for the attack. British determination to clear the Belgian coast took on more urgency, after the Germans resumed unrestricted submarine warfare on 1st February 1917. Sigurd was killed in action near Ypres on 1st February.
On the 11th of January 1890, Thomas Stapleton boarded a ship and set off to make a new life for himself as a farmer in North Queensland. Three years after leaving Westminster in 1885, Stapleton had enrolled at the Hollesley Bay Colonial College. This was a college that provided young men who were intending to emigrate with practical training to prepare them for their new lives.
Stapleton spent only 5 years in Australia. A series of bad seasons, the spread of cattle ticks and rabbits were making the agricultural conditions difficult. He returned to England, only to emigrate again in 1896, this time to South Africa.
In the Boer War, he served with the Border Mounted Rifles as a Trooper, and as a Sergeant in the Natal rebellion. So by the outbreak of war in 1914, Stapleton was already an experienced soldier. He enlisted as a rifleman in the 1st battalion of the Rifle Brigade on the 13th October and was sent to the Western Front in November.
On the 19th of December 1914, the 1st Rifle Brigade was involved in an attempt to take the ‘Birdcage’ — a fortified German strongpoint east of Ploegsteert Wood. The attack failed — partly because British heavy artillery were firing short of target — and there were heavy casualties. Thomas Stapleton was among them.