Tag Archives: Ypres

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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Lancelot Tudsbery

Lancelot Tudsbery was born on 14th February 1898. His father was John Henry Tudsbery DSc, of Westminster, and his mother was Ruberta Emeline, daughter of John McMurdo Cannon, of Rock Ferry, Cheshire. His brother Marmaduke Tudsbery had spent a brief time in Ashburnham for between 1907 and 1908, and their family home was 100 St George’s Square, SW.

Lancelot arrived at the school in September 1910 and studied on the Classical side. He represented Ashburnham in the OTC, being promoted to Corporal in Lent 1915. During the athletics season in Election 1916 he won the Hammer Throwing with a distance of 1,87ft, and “owed his success to his strength”. He was on the Town Boys’ Tug of War team vs. the King’s Scholars and is recorded as weighing 12st 0 lbs.

In Lent 1916, the Ashburnham House Ledger records “Tudsbery, L. has managed to pass an examination, we know not what, but the mere passing is sufficient glory without its name. He also went through touching farewells to us twice, but each time reappeared.” This exam was apparently the Civil Engineers’ Exam and The Elizabethan wryly congratulates him “on his success in deceiving the examiners”. He was a student of the Institute of Civil Engineers from 4th of April 1916, and he did actually leave the school in July 1916.

On the 13th January 1917, Lancelot joined the Royal Field Artillery (Special Reserve) as a 2nd Lieutenant, and went out to the western front on 30th March 1917. He was part of the ‘B’ Battery, 70th Brigade RFA, which was, at this time, a six-gun battery. His Brigade saw action at the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe (including the capture of Guemappe during the Arras Offensive). They went on to Flanders, where they were in action at the Battle of Pilckem (31 July-2 Aug) and the Battle of Langemarck in August 1917.

Lancelot was killed in action at the age of 19 near Ypres on the 22nd August 1917. He is buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No. 3.

Two men of the RFA sleeping on a limber on a road near Hooge, August 1917.
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Frank Charlton Jonas

Frank Jonas was a Rigaudite, joining the house in 1895 and leaving in 1898. After leaving the school he travelled to Copenhagen to study brewing and went on to become a manager of a branch brewery of Messrs. Miskin and Co. in India. In 1908 he married Maria, the only daughter of John Fell Swallow, of Mosborough Hall, Derbyshire. On the outbreak of war, he returned to England and joined the Cambridge University Officer Training Corps. He took a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Cambridgshire Regiment in October 1914. He went out to the Western Front in November 1916.

A Death Plaque to Frank Charlton Jonas, sold at auction in 2014

In July 1917 Jonas was commanding C company, whose soldiers were drawn from the Cambridgeshire towns of Whittlesey and Wisbech. They were in the second line of the advance that day and pushed past St Julien occupying captured bunkers – Jonas was sent with two platoons to occupy the bunker known as Border House and hold at all costs. They killed or captured the defenders and held it against successive counter attacks until ordered to withdraw. The party that remained at the end of the day was led by a Lewis gunner by the name of Private Muffett who declined to withdraw until he received written orders because those were the only conditions Jonas said that the position should be relinquished. Muffett had held the position by replenishing the drums for his Lewis gun from the contents of a knocked out Tank.

During the offensive, heavy rains and shelling destroyed the drainage system in the Ypres Salient, creating a swamp-like terrain. This meant that over 125,000 casualties, including Captain Jonas, were never found.

Jonas has two memorials in Duxford, the village where he lived with his wife in the old rectory and where his parents, George and Jane Jonas, owned a farm. The Duxford village memorial Celtic cross was unveiled in 1920 and can be found on the village green. The names on this memorial are ordered by rank and as Captain Jonas was the highest-ranking casualty from the village, he is listed at the top. There is also a plaque within Duxford Church. He has also been commemorated in Ely Cathedral on one of 16 painted oak panels in the Chapel of St George.

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Roland John Howard Bull

Roland was born at 2, Hill Crest, West Hill Road in Wandsworth. He was baptised at St Peter’s, Hammersmith by the Revd. George Henry Tidcombe. Aged 12 he joined Westminster School, becoming a member of Ashburnham House and remaining until 1907. He served for a period in the army, joining the Artists’ Rifles in February 1909. He later trained as a solicitor with his father’s firm, being admitted to the profession in December 1913 and becoming a partner in the family firm, Bull & Bull, shortly afterwards.

On the outbreak of war he joined the army once more, taking a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Queen’s Westminster Rifles. In September 1915 he first went out to the Western Front and was attached to the Royal Engineers for Army Signal Service. The group had been formed in 1908 and provided a communications service throughout the war using dispatch riders on motorcycles and wireless communications. As the war went on telephones became increasingly common. Increasing numbers of soldiers were trained specially in communications. Roland was promoted to Lieutenant in June 1915 and then to Captain in 1917. He then moved to the 8th Heavy Artillery. He was killed accidentally at Canada Farm, Elverdinghe near Ypres on 13th July 1917.

His uncle dedicated a memorial to Roland at the entrance to St. Luke’s Church on the Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush.

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Geoffrey Richard Dudley Gee

Geoffrey Gee was born in Summergangs, Pinjarra, Western Australia to Raymond Gee and his wife Annie Matilda Alderson. His father was English and at some point before 1888 had emigrated to Perth, where he was Head Master of Hales School for a year.

Geoffrey was sent to school in England, joining Ashburnham House in September 1909. He was made an exhibitioner in 1910, and a King’s Scholar in 1911. Outside of term time he lived with his paternal aunt and her husband, Dr Bernard Ley, in Earl’s Court.

Geoffrey was very successful in a range of school activities. He was athletic, winning the school fives ties and was a runner up in the gymnastic competition (losing out due to a ‘lack of symmetry in some exercises’). He played cricket and football for the 1st XIs, earning full pinks after his performance in the Charterhouse football match, although ‘he dribbled much too close on to his forwards and only passed moderately’. In his final cricket season it was commented that he had ‘persevering temper, and both with bat and with ball did better than some of his critics expected’.

Gee was academic as well, winning the Phillimore prize for translation and speaking regularly at the school’s debating society – opposing a motion to restrict the franchise in this country. He performed ‘very creditably’ in the 1913 Latin Play. In his final term at the school, Election 1915, he was made a monitor.

Although Geoffrey won a place at Christ Church, Oxford, he joined 3rd Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment straight after leaving the school. He went out to the western front in August 1916, but was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in January 1917 as an observer.

Geoffrey went up in his aeroplane near Ypres on 4th June 1917 and was never seen again. His name is on the Arras Flying Service Memorial in the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery.

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Sigurd Ayton Dickson

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Dickson photographed in 1899 with the Grant’s Cricket Team

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.

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John Oswald Heath

John Oswald Heath was the only son of John Edgar Heath, of Lee, Kent, and his wife Nora Mary, daughter of Oswald Lofthouse, of Warrington, Lancashire. He was born on 24th May 1895.

He was admitted to Westminster at the end of September 1910, and joined Ashburnham house. Since he had arrived at the school at the slightly older age of 15, he joined the Transitus — a transitional year for pupils who were new to the school. After leaving the school in July 1912, he entered the pottery and glass manufacturing business for a short 19161007_Heath,JOtime before joining the Honourable Artillery Company in 1913.

In September 1914, the HAC moved from Finsbury, London to Belhus Park, Essex, and on the 18th of that month John Heath went out with them to the western front. They landed two days later at Saint-Nazaire and were placed onto lines of communication. He served with them for nine months, which meant that he would have been involved in the First Battle of Ypres.

After those first nine months, he returned to Britain to take a commission as 2nd Lieutenant with the 11th (Service) Battalion, the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment on 28th June 1915. He was promoted to Lieutenant the following February and returned to the western front as the Battalion Bombing Officer on May Day 1916.

He was killed in action, at the age of 21, during the attempt to capture Le Sars during the Battle of Le Transloy on the 7th Oct. 1916. He is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 11 C).

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James Pitcairn Blane

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James Pitcairn Blane was in Ashburnham House from May 1895 until July 1901. He was a keen cricketer and played in the school’s XI with the highest batting average in the team of 24.0. When he left the school he became a mining engineer, spending four years in Western Australia and travelling to West Africa on several occasions. On the outbreak of war he was the manager of a mine in Cornwall. He joined inthe8th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in October 1914 and went out tothe western front in May 1915.

Blane was seriously wounded at 5pm on 19th November whilst to the left of the B16 trench to the north-east of Ypres. He was hit by a ‘whizzbang’ the nick name given to German field artillery shells. The name derived from the fact that the shells fired from German 77mm field guns travelled faster that the speed of sound and therefore soldiers heard the ‘whizz’ of the shell travelling through the air towards them before the ‘bang’ issued by the gun itself upon firing. The result of this high velocity was that defending soldiers had very little notice of the incoming shell. Blane was taken to the nearby military hospital in Poperinghe but died in the early hours of the morning of 23rd November.

His younger brother, Hugh, also died in active service in 1914 and his father was killed in action at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Blane had played cricket for MCC and is also commemorated on the club’s roll of honour.

 

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George Constantine Paul

19151017_Paul,GC_2 George Paul was born in Belgium. His father, Paul Paul (1865-1937) was an eminent landscape and portrait painter who also painted under the name Politachi. His mother, Marion, died in 1909 when George was just 13 years old. He started at Westminster the following year in Ashburnham House and remained at the school until July 1914.

George Paul played an active part in House life. He was tanned [beaten] by a monitor, McCulloch for ‘coming into upper [the senior boys study] when not properly dressed’. He made up for his misdemeanours by his sporting ability and was awarded house colours and later full pinks. In 1913, thanks to Paul’s help, Ashburnham House managed to win both the inter-house Football and Cricket competitions.

Paul played football for the school, although it was wryly noted in The Elizabethan that he and a contemporary Veitch would never be ‘of much value till they realise that feeding their forwards well is nearly as valuable as robbing their opponents of the ball’. He can’t have been that bad a player as he made it on to the 1st XI during his last year at school, although the report for the season state that ‘he must learn to keep his eye on the ball when he tackles instead of making rather a blind dash for it.’

That summer, following the outbreak of war with Germany, he joined the army. He served in The King’s Liverpool Regiment. He was killed in action at Ypres, Belgium when he was just 19 years old.

(c) Bushey Museum and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
One of George Paul’s father’s paintings now held by the Bushey Museum and Art Gallery.
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William Blencowe Wells Durrant

William Blencowe Wells Durrant was the only son ofFrederick Chester Wells Durrant the Attorney-General of the Bahamas, West Indies. Durrant was clearly very academically gifted – he joined the school as a King’s Scholar in 1908 and obtained a Classical Scholarship at Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1913.

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He was less gifted on the football pitch – indeed his first appearance in the annual football match between the scholars and the Town Boys was rather disastrous. Playing in goal, he managed to allow the opposition to score five times! One of the goals was particularly unfortunate, initially hitting the post but then rebounding off Durrant (who had fallen down trying to save it) and landing straight into the net.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given his father’s occupation, Durrant particularly excelled in public speaking. He was a stalwart of the school debating society and spoke in a style described as ‘fluent but rambling’. He also appeared in the Latin Play two years running, playing female parts both times. A reviewer commented that ‘his movements were far too masculineand strenuous, and he wielded his fan with morevigour than grace.’

On the outbreak of war Durrant left Cambridge and took a commission in the Rifle Brigade. He was killed in action near Ypres on 8th May 1915.

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