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Remembered Today:

Public Schools and the Great War


Moonraker
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Certainly a book I will be interested in getting hold of! Peter parkers book is a good read, so this will complement it.

Michelle

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Mandy - Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to scan the article in The Times for us to read - fascinating and I look forward to reading about it more fully in the forthcoming books mentioned.

Regards ... Anne

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  • 3 weeks later...

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

Phil (PJA)

There were 4 Public School Battalions: 3 in the Royal Fusiliers; and 1 in the Middlesex Regimwnt

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As an interesting comparison, CJ Dixon's 2006 book about the Memorial at King Edward VII School in King's Lynn ("This Saddening List") states that "nearly 400 former pupils joined the forces during the First World War of whom 56 were killed, approximately 14%". He adds that their stories are "typical of the sacrifice made by countless Grammar Schools throughout the country". 25 of the 56 killed were of commissioned rank and there were another 10 NCOs among this group. At least one refused a commission.

Robert

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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

10 of the 17 were with colonial/dominion units. Maybe they didn`t see an Eton education as such an obvious cause for advancement?

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Out of interest, what's their definition of public school? I've got a copy of the roll of honour of my old school (St. Bees) so it would be interesting to know if it appears in it.

Simon

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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.

Phil (PJA)

I think the noblesse oblige spirite and disproportionate suffering of the public schools can be overdone. Sure, there were times and places, such as Flers on September 15, 1916, when and where it was bad to be an Eton old boy. But then Serre and Ovilliers on 1 July 1916 were not good places to be northern and working class.

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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)

is "decimated" meant in its correct sense, or the modern misuse, please?

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I think the noblesse oblige spirite and disproportionate suffering of the public schools can be overdone. Sure, there were times and places, such as Flers on September 15, 1916, when and where it was bad to be an Eton old boy. But then Serre and Ovilliers on 1 July 1916 were not good places to be northern and working class.

Interesting question, Hedley - Which is nobler (if either), for a privileged youth to volunteer for a commission and life as an officer or a working class man to volunteer as a private?

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Interesting question, Hedley - Which is nobler (if either), for a priveleged youth to volunteer for a commission and life as an officer or a working class man to volunteer as a private?

Phil,

That's a good one. Nobility is a state of mind. People either have it or not. I don't think it can be measured.

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  • 4 months later...
Guest Neumann

Nobody seems to have as yet mentioned schools like The Royal Hospital School, or The Duke of York's Royal Military School. Both of these schools, founded for orphans and dependants of Seamen, Marines, or Soldiers, respectively, provided large numbers of recruits to the services prior to and during WW1( and continue so to do): RHS to the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and Merchant Service, and DoY's RMS to the Army, and each school's former pupils suffered very great losses. In the case of RHS, some of its former pupils would have fought in the Naval Divisions too. Also, in the case of RHS, my old school, we still don't know with any precision how many former pupils were lost during WW1; The school's war memorial merely mentions the numbers of each class of warship lost, and mentions the Merchant Service, and Royal Marines.

Does anyone have figures for DoY's RMS, or Gordon's School?

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  • 2 months later...
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Just pre ordered this, it is out on 30th October

Michelle

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Nobody seems to have as yet mentioned schools like The Royal Hospital School, or The Duke of York's Royal Military School. Both of these schools, founded for orphans and dependants of Seamen, Marines, or Soldiers, respectively, provided large numbers of recruits to the services prior to and during WW1( and continue so to do): RHS to the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and Merchant Service, and DoY's RMS to the Army, and each school's former pupils suffered very great losses. In the case of RHS, some of its former pupils would have fought in the Naval Divisions too. Also, in the case of RHS, my old school, we still don't know with any precision how many former pupils were lost during WW1; The school's war memorial merely mentions the numbers of each class of warship lost, and mentions the Merchant Service, and Royal Marines.

Does anyone have figures for DoY's RMS, or Gordon's School?

I don't believe that any of the military schools you refer to, would really come under the definition of 'Public School', at least not back then, maybe now - although I'm sure someone will tell me if I'm wrong,

My five great uncles were pupils at the Royal Hibernian Military School in Dublin, and five of them went on to be soldiers, four seeing action in the Boer War and five serving during the Great War. Their father, my great-grandfather was a soldier who served overseas, hence their admission to the school. I certainly haven't read anything, or would have associated their school with the definition of 'Public School'. The Royal Hibernian Military school merged with the Duke of York Royal Military school in 1924. This is the Roll of Honour for 1919 for the Royal Hibernians

http://www.achart.ca/articles/hibernian/roll_honour.html

I can't seem to find one for the Duke of York school, although A Cockerill also has a Duke of York school page and was very helpful when I contacted him about Royal Hibs records.

http://www.achart.ca/duke-of-york.htm

Dick Flory, who has a thread on the forum 'British School Registers and rolls of honour', does I understand, have a list of the dead from the Duke of York Military school

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=7900&hl=%2Bbritish+%2Bschool+%2Bregisters

Caryl

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Parker's book includes a photograph of a Eton house soccer XI taken in 1913, so directly comparable with this rowing 8.

Ten of the 11 served, six of whom were killed in action.

My vague recollection is that the school with the greatest pro rata loss was Westminster.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Anyone seen it yet?

I pre-ordered my copy on Amazon on Oct 10 and the site now says 'temporarily out of stock'.

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No sign of it, not dispatched according to my Amazon account

Michelle

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Prep schools are not mentioned in any of this. We have evidence that people like Julian Grenfell, Billy Congreve, and others formed their fighting spirit before they went to Eton and other public schools. The Dilberoglues were Summerfieldians as well. In those days (and still) important moral values were instilled before public school and the officer in them was firmly imbedded by the age if 13!

Public schools merely reinforced in these chaps the officer ethos.

Chris

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Anyone seen it yet?

I pre-ordered my copy on Amazon on Oct 10 and the site now says 'temporarily out of stock'.

Still no sign of it!

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I had an email two days ago from Amazon to say it has been despatched, so hopefully it will arrive on Monday.

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Mine was waiting for me when I got in last night. Looks very interesting

Michelle

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I haven't managed to see a copy yet. Is Bury Grammar School mentioned? I did reply to the authors' questionnaires. They kindly invited me to the launch last week but unfortunately I couldn't go.

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Mark

I received my copy yesterday.

Bury GS is mentioned and you are credited for replying to the questionnaire.

Separately, I noted this entry which will be in a book I am editing for publication next year. The first part is the updated obituary from Wisden 1918, and the second part is my additional information:

LT JOHN ERNEST HARTINGTON (Lancs Fusiliers), died of wounds, July 13, aged 21. Bury Grammar School. Captain of the Eleven. Won Military Cross.

[He was awarded the MC on November 16, 1916, for gallantry in the field by continuously passing through enemy bombardments to supervise the efficient working of field guns; he was decorated by the King at Buckingham Palace the week before his death, from wounds of the abdomen. In 2004, the school captain, Will Webster, laid a wreath on his grave at Lijssenthoekon; he also placed on the headstone the same school captain’s medallion worn by John Hartington when he held that position 90 years earlier at Bury GS.]

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Thanks. The ultimate source of the additional information is me-the then School Captain laid the wreath on John Hartington's grave during our 10th anniversary school battlefields tour in 2004. We shall visit his grave again next year on the 20th anniversary tour. John Hartington was one of two BGS captains to die in the war, the other being the 1914/15 captain, John Maddox, who was killed by a sniper in Delville Wood.

I can supply a lot more info on John Hartington if required.

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Mark

Thank you personally for the 2004 information which I picked up on.

I would be interested in more on Hartington, if you could please send by PM.

Maddox did not get a Wisden obituary.

Andrew

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