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.
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.
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.
Gordon Stewart Ness was at Westminster for only two years. In The ElizabethanGrant’s House recorded that they were ‘very sorry to have lost him when he left unexpectedly in the middle of the Election Term 1902′. We don’t know whether he then enrolled at another school, but in 1904 he matriculated at Clare College, Cambridge. He also joined the 4th Battalion of the Black Watch as a volunteer. In 1909 he began working at Lloyd’s as an underwriter.
Ness married Gladys Harrison in Kensington in the spring of 1914. Soon after (in fact, considerably less than 9 months after) a son was born, Anthony Patrick Ness on 5th June. After the declaration of war Ness joined the 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and went out to the Western Front on 11th September. He was killed in action at Ypres on 10th November 1914. Gladys Ness gave birth to his second child in June 1915, a daughter named Marguerite. Gladys never recovered from the loss of her husband and their children were raised by Ness’ sister, Catherine Ann Horsley.
Ness’ son went on to marry Lady Brigid Guinness, who had formerly been married to Prince Frederick of Prussia, grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II. His daughter, Marguerite, married Heinz Friedrich Eberhard, Baron von Westenholz. The School has been in touch with their son, Ness’ grandson, who kindly provided us with a photograph of his grandfather. Ness is commemorated on the school’s war memorial, the Menin Gate at Ypres, the Lloyd’s of London Arch on Leadenhall Street and at his home town of Braco Castle, Dunblane.
The eldest of three brothers to attend Westminster, George Hodgson had a seemingly unremarkable time at the school. He was involved in the literary society, as well as being a decent cricket player, though seemed to concentrate more on his school work than anything else. The same can’t be said of his time at Cambridge, where he started at Trinity College in 1907. He spent a lot of time in his first 2 years coxing the third college boat, at which he was apparently so bad that “he has been thanked by the county council for so ably assisting their work of widening the river at that point”. An interest in Beagling, which he won trophies for, followed by some illness meant he did little coxing in his final two years.
He went straight into the army, having received his commission from the university, where he joined the Border Regiment in September 1911 as a second lieutenant. The years before the war were spent in England, but in 1914 his battalion was put under control of the 7th Division at Lyndhurst, before leaving for Belgium at the beginning of October. As with Tomlinson’s battalion, they assisted with the evacuation of Antwerp before moving to Ypres, where Hodgson spent the next month. He was made a lieutenant a few days after they arrived.
Both he and his younger brother were injured around the same time, though it was George who had the worst of it. While his brother was invalided home, he was taken to the military hospital in Boulogne, where he died of his wounds 4 days later, on the 6th of November 1914, aged 26. His service was distinguished after his death by mention in John French’s despatch the following January.