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Moonraker

Public Schools and the Great War

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Moonraker

There's an article in today's Sunday Times about this new book by Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College and David Walsh. (Dunno if he's the David Walsh who for many years suspected Lance Armstrong of doping and who writes for the Sunday Times.) It promises for the first time a "league table" of the fatalities suffered by individual schools. The hardest-hit school was King Edward VII School, Lytham, with 32.4% killed of those who served.

Curiously the writer of the article refers to the" Officer Training Corps" and puts [sic] after a reference to the "Officers' Training Corps" in a letter signed by Kitchener.

There's also a brief reference to Blood and Thunder: The Boys of Eton in the First World War by Alexandra Churchill.

I don't think links to the article are possible as the on-line version of the paper is subscription-only?

Moonraker

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phil andrade

This is a thought provoking article. Eton lost 1,157, including 21 on a single day - September 15th, 1916...this presumably reflected the engagement of the Guards Division in the Flers - Courcelette fighting that day. I think Raymond Asquith was one of the twenty one. There's a picture of the Eton Boat, with three of the eight oarsmen, and the Cox, dying in the war . Four out of nine : double the overall death rate for Etonians. Perhaps rowing fosters that extra something in the team spirit.

Phil (PJA)

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Mark Hone

I supplied information about my school to the authors. We lost 15.9% (97 out of 612 known to have served). As with all statistics you have to treat comparisons with a degree of caution due to the inevitably varying methods of recording those who served adopted by different schools. I am looking forward to reading the book.

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charlesmessenger

Moonraker

David Walsh is a master at Tonbridge and an Old Marlburian. I have been answering some of his queries.

Charles M

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SiegeGunner

Perhaps rowing fosters that extra something in the team spirit.

Tall stature, Phil ...?

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phil andrade

Tall stature, Phil ...?

Not in the case of the Cox.

Phil (PJA)

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Old Owl

Is this a follow up to Peter Parker's "The Old Lie: The Great War and the Public School Ethos." First published 1987. ?

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phil andrade

Those born to lead, must expect to bleed....

I wonder how far this was an especially British feature : perhaps there were institutions in France and Germany - not to mention Russia, Austro - Hungary and Italy - that furnished their examples of noblesse oblige.

The proportion of officers to other ranks was much lower in those continental armies than it was in the British. Presumably, the aristocratic element was more heavily represented, too.

Eton is the public school most associated with the aristocracy in the public perception. Perhaps the " downmarket" public schools furnished a preponderantly middle class cadre. I wonder if those fellows were victims of an aspirational syndrome of sacrificial leadership, and suffered accordingly. Would the King Edward VII school at Lytham exemplify that ?

Phil (PJA)

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pmaasz

I'm writing this post only so that anyone searching the Forum for RIFLE WOOD will pick it up. One of the 1913 Eton VIII who was killed was Augustus Dilberoglue. He was serving as a Lieutenant in 3rd (King's Own) Hussars and died during the action to capture Rifle Wood on 1st April 1918. He is buried in Hourges Orchard Cemetery just down the D934 from Rifle Wood (Bois d'Hourges). 3rd KOH were one half of the First Wave for the attack, the other half being The Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars in which my uncle served and was killed in the same battle.

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Maricourt

I have not been able to read the article in The Times - what is the title of the book, please?

Regards ... Maricourt

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Old Owl

I have not been able to read the article in The Times - what is the title of the book, please?

Regards ... Maricourt

I assume that it is: "The Great War and the Public Schools" ? I didn't see the aricle either!

Regards, Robert

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phil andrade

It was in the Sunday Times, page eleven, main section of the paper, in an article titled Bloody Sacrifice of the Eton Rifles .

Phil (PJA)

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mandy hall

I assume that it is: "The Great War and the Public Schools" ? I didn't see the aricle either!

Regards, Robert

Robert is correct.

Also mentions forthcoming book by Alexandra Churchill - Blood and Thunder: The Boys of Eton in the First World War

I don't have time this morning, but having reclaimed paper from recycling will scan the article in the next couple of days.

Mandy

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Maricourt

Phil - Many thanks for the information where to find it in The Times.

Mandy - Look forward to reading the scan - many thanks for your time and trouble.

Robert - Thanks for providing the title - I will look it up next time I am in our local bookshop. It sounds an interesting read as does the one by Alexandra Churchill.

Regards ... Maricourt

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Mark Hone

The book by Seldon and Walsh is due to be published in November.

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Maricourt

Thanks Mark - Long time to wait!

Maricourt

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PhilB

It promises for the first time a "league table" of the fatalities suffered by individual schools. The hardest-hit school was King Edward VII School, Lytham, with 32.4% killed of those who served.

Moonraker

As a comparison, are any figures available on losses in schools other than public schools?

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phil andrade

Perhaps we could make a very generalised supposition : if one in five of the contingent from the ruling class was killed, and the overall national average fatality rate was in the order of ten per cent of the total male military population ( i.e men between the ages of 15 and 40 in 1914), then the "ordinary" menfolk were more or less decimated. I bet there were striking regional variations.

Phil (PJA)

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PhilB

Probably a reflection of the higher casualty rate among junior officers and also that the public schoolboys were much more likely to go into teeth arms rather than support arms?

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phil andrade

Lovely expression, Phil , " teeth arms " !

Officer status was the determining feature in the casualty rate, surely.

Incidentally, it might be worth considering the number of public schoolboys who enlisted in - and remained in - the ranks. I wonder how many of the 1,157 Etonians who died were privates. Perhaps there were some maverick types who felt it more noble to " slum it" .

There was the Public School Battalion, wasn't there ?

Phil (PJA)

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Maricourt

Frederick H Keeling [ben Keeling] is a good example of a public school man [Winchester] serving in the ranks. Keeling was born in 1886 and after attending Trinity College, Cambridge he became involved with the Webbs and worked hard to banish social inequality for both men and women [his wife, Rachel Townshend had been imprisoned for her support of women's suffrage]. Keeling continued to work in social areas, travelled extensively in Europe, including Germany and worked for The New Statesman. When war broke out, Keeling enlisted as a private in the 6/DCLI in August 1914. The battalion went over to France - May 1915 and he was wounded 29th July - "It is dying not death that one fears". Offered a commission several times, Keeling refused stating that he could serve his men better from the ranks and tirelessly campaigned for their welfare. He was killed on the 18th August, 1916 at Delville Wood, leading his men in a bombing raid. He was awarded the MM posthumously. Throughout his time in the trenches he sent articles home from the front that were published in The New Statesman.

His letters and other works were collected together by his wife and published in 1918 - Keeling Letters & Recollections. A very interesting man.

Maricourt

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Old Owl

As a comparison, are any figures available on losses in schools other than public schools?

Check out Peter Parker's "The Old Lie: The Great War and the Public School Ethos." From memory he discusses this in quite some detail and quotes comparisons between many of the Public Schools of the day. I found the book to be very interesting and informative--although it is quite a number of years since I read it!!

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Old Owl

Incidentally, it might be worth considering the number of public schoolboys who enlisted in - and remained in - the ranks. I wonder how many of the 1,157 Etonians who died were privates. Perhaps there were some maverick types who felt it more noble to " slum it" .

Phil (PJA)

Interesting point--here are some, if not all:

Astley, Hon J.J. CSM Sherwood Foresters Kia 26/9/17

Batchelor, G.A. L/Cpl PPCLI Kia 27/2/15

Buller, F.E. Tpr KAR(EAMR?) Kia 25/9/14

Chapman, H. Pte Can Inf Kia 15/8/17

Cooper, H.A. Sgt Can Inf Kia 19/8/16

Drummond, F.J. Tpr Bowkers Horse Kia 2/11/14

Farquhar, E.H.G. L/Cpl Seaforth Highlanders Kia 20/8/17

Garth, H. L/Cpl R.Fus att'd R.W.Kent Regt Kia 27/9/16

Gibbs, N.M. Tpr EAMR Kia 20/3/16

Green, H.B. Cpl Canadian Scottish Kia 22/4/15

Matthey, J.T. AB RNVR Kia 13/11/16

Myers, K. Sgt CEF Kia 22/7/18

Parry-Crooke, L.W. Pte R.Fus Kia 27/7/16

Smallwood, A.P. Pte RAOC Kia 25/5/15

Tarver, P.E. Pte London Regt Kia 12/3/15

Williams, J.N. Pte NZEF Kia 25/4/15

Willyams, A.H.V. CSM CEF Kia 18/5/15

I think that this is about it? Seventeen, I make it--so around 1.5% of the total?

Robert

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mandy hall

as promised

img017_zps4b00522f.jpg

img018_zps0b6e7ba0.jpg

img019_zpse714fc43.jpg

Mandy

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Perth Digger

Very interesting topic. Thanks, Mandy, for the scan.

Phil (PJA): You're right about the Guards' involvement on 15/9/1916 resulting in so many Old Etonian deaths. Taking a "long" 15th September (including the hours previous as they got into line etc; some hours on the 16th if the battalions had been involved on the 15th without respite; and including those subsequently dying of wounds), I have a list of 33 Old Etonian officers killed. 24 were in Guards' battalions and five in another elite regiment, the Rifle Brigade. One was in the RFC, 1 CO of the 21/KRRC, 1 Major in 6/Cameron Highlanders and 1 2/Lt in 6/Somerset LI (this last may not count in the end). The average age of the OEs was 27.5 (median age 25).

Some other schools' fatalities on that day: Winchester and Harrow 9; Marlborough 8; Wellington 7?; Charterhouse and City of London 6; Haileybury and Malvern 5; Blundell's, Tonbridge and Dulwich 4.

There were a lot of grammar school officers (and probably most whose school I don't know come into this category too), which reflects the type of battalion involved (a lot of London and Northern TFs, e.g.).

pmaasz: Augustus Dilberoglue's brother Richard (Old Etonian) was killed on 15 Sept 1916 with the Coldstream. The surviving brother, ex-Welsh Guards, committed suicide in 1952.

I'm still working through this, so I won't put my tables up yet (I intend to do so eventually).

Mike

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