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Public Schools and the Great War


Moonraker
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Just out of interest, how have the book's authors, Seldon and Walsh, defined 'public schools'?

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MBrockway wrote:

I doubt if every "public school" had a cadet corps? St. Paul's for example??

According to Record of War Service 1914-1918. Officers Training Corps (Junior Division), Public School Officers, and Other Members of the Staffs St. Paul's had a Junior Division OTC during the Great War. The are approximately 140 'public schools' listed in that book as having Junior Division Officers Training Corps.

Most issues of The Pauline during the Great War had a page titled 'Officers' Training Corps'. In 1916 there were two companies which used Wormwood Scrubbs as a training ground.

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Regarding casualty rates., as I've mentioned before I find the whole business of trying to compile a league table of 'who suffered the most' dubious on a number of counts. A bit like comparing British and German casualties which were recorded using different criteria, schools were not compiling the statistics of who served on anything like a consistent basis. Our school seems to have been very thorough in its roll of honour, including people who served in the Rhodesian Police, the Dock Harbour Board and some very esoteric outfits. Others may have been significantly more restrictive or merely haphazard in recording war service. Comparisons, as pointed out above, can only been drawn up with care.

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According to Record of War Service 1914-1918. Officers Training Corps (Junior Division), Public School Officers, and Other Members of the Staffs St. Paul's had a Junior Division OTC during the Great War. The are approximately 140 'public schools' listed in that book as having Junior Division Officers Training Corps.

Most issues of The Pauline during the Great War had a page titled 'Officers' Training Corps'. In 1916 there were two companies which used Wormwood Scrubbs as a training ground.

Dick,

I stand corrected. Many thanks!

I based my conjecture on not seeing St Paul's in the Junior Division OTC pages of Hart's 1910 Army List. The other 'usual suspects' are all there, including my own alma mater ;-)

EDIT: Just had another, more careful, look at the 1910 list and St Paul's are indeed there - 2 companies of infantry under Capt. C.H. Bicknell, TF unattached. Apologies for the error - Senior Moment ;-)

Mark

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You raise a good point regarding the definition of a Public School. I am using the rule of thumb that both membership of the HMC and those that possessed an OTC by 1914. This is based on a discussion I had with Prof Gary Sheffield when I enquired into the "list" famously referred to by R C Sheriff which the British Army used to decide who was officer material in 1914. I know this has it's issues and is not a perfect definition.

So far I have worked on Eton Harrow, Winchester, Rugby. Repton, Sherborne, Charterhouse, Shrewsbury and Haileybury. I am also trying to locate information on Wellington and Uppinham.

My theory is simple, It is an accepted piece of historiography that officer casualties were high I am simply asking why? Without being bombarded with the obvious response that junior led from the front etc, etc it is not that simple an answer.

My analysis is based on age rank, regiment and school. I am looking for any possible patterns and similarities in casualty rates beyond major offensives.

I am concentrating on the period August 1914 until March 1916 (when the army changed it's method of officer of selection from direct entry to that of prior service in the ranks followed by time at an OCB). The reason for this is that I am attempting to find the Lost Generation as referred to by Vera Brittain. I am looking for those those who used their schools and social connections to get to the front first.

As you put it I have been collecting the data for a couple of years and am now starting to tease out the information and I have been surprised by some of the findings. Twice I thought I had been pipped at the post (Lewis-Stemple's 6 Weeks and Moore-Bicks' Playing the Game) but neither - thankfully - really touched upon the information I am looking for.

I have many unanswered questions which has slowed my research down as I often find interesting poeces of information to follow up and find myself going down blind alleys but it is a work in progress and am thankfull somebody has thrown some interest my way.

With greater discussion I hope I may focus my work better

Thanks

Mark

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Quote: The other 'usual suspects' are all there, including my own alma mater.

Mine taught me to render non-English words and phrases such as alma mater thus, but then it was only a grammar school with a scout troop.

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Quote: The other 'usual suspects' are all there, including my own alma mater.

Mine taught me to render non-English words and phrases such as alma mater thus, but then it was only a grammar school with a scout troop.

As did mine, and I have in my earlier posts, e.g. #74, but I slipped here, fell and was detected! LOL!

Many of the schools in the OTC Junior Division Army List are grammar schools incidentally.

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I was contacted by the authors of the book and supplied some information to them. Bury Grammar School has never considered itself a Public School as such. This is evidenced by comments made by the Headmaster at the time of the Great War, W.H. Howlett who consciously tried to adopt elements of Public School practice, like a cadet corps and a house system, to improve an 'ordinary day school'. Bury had a cadet corps (later OTC) from 1892. Most of the other local Grammars, such as Manchester and Bolton, only set them up in the immediate pre-war period. Incidentally, following on from comments made in earlier post, over half of the old boys who died in the war were serving as the equivalents of privates or NCOs. This reflects the wide variety of socio-economic background from which pupils came to a school like Bury.

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..

.... It is an accepted piece of historiography that officer casualties were high

..

How is that a piece of historiography?

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I happily provided information to the authors about my school but admit to feeling uneasy about the emphasis on establishing a 'league table' of who lost the most old boys which was stressed in some of the publicity material in advance of publication.

I looked through the book - and several others - in Foyles the other. Was I correct in noticing that Wellington had a significantly lower percentage of fatalities than most other schools listed? I wondered why, especially as Wellington had/has a reputation as a school for potential future officers.

Moonraker

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I've transcribed the 162 schools/colleges listed under OTC from the 1915 Hart's Annual Army List (data correct to Dec 1914). I've also included four additional establishments (bracketed) not in the list, but who have "officers of the late VF doing duty with Cadet units." in another section of Hart's List ....

Apologies for my inevitable transcription errors.

Aldenham School, Elstree, Herts.

All Hallows School, Honiton, Devon

Ampleforth College, Oswaldkirk, nr. Gilling, Yorks.

Ardingly College, Hayward's Heath.

Beaumont College, Old Windsor.

Bedford Grammar School, Bedford.

Bedford Modern School, Bedford.

Berkhamsted School, Berkhamsted, Herts.

Bloxham School, Bloxham, Banbury.

Blundell's School, Tiverton, N. Devon.

Bournemouth School, Bournemouth,

Bradfield College, Bradfield, Reading.

Bridlington Grammar School, Bridlington, Yorkshire.

Brighton College, Brighton.

(Brighton Preparatory Schools Cadet Corps)

Bristol Grammar School, Bristol,

Bromsgrove School, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.

Buckland School, West Buckland, South Molton, N. Devon.

Bury Grammar School, Bury, Lancashire.

Cambridge and County School, Cambridge.

Campbell College, Belfast,

Charterhouse School, Godalming.

Cheltenham College, Cheltenham.

Chigwell School, Chigwell, Essex.

Christ's Hospital, West Horsham.

Churcher's College, Petersfield, Hants.

City of London School, Victoria Embankment, E.C.

Clifton College, Bristol.

Cork Grammar School.

Cranbrook School. Cranbrook, Kent.

Cranleigh School. Cranleigh, Surrey.

Dartford Grammar School, Dartford, Kent.

Dean Close School, Cheltenham.

Denstone College, Rocester, Staffs.

Derby School, Derby.

Dollar Institution, Dollar, Clacks.

Dorchester Grammar School, Dorchester.

Dover College, Dover.

Downside School, near Bath.

Dulwich College, Dulwich, S.E.

Eastbourne College. Eastbourne.

Edinburgh Academy. Edinburgh

Elizabeth College, Guernsey.

Ellesmere College. Ellesmere, Shropshire,

Elstow School. Bedford,

Emanuel School. Wandsworth Common, S.W.

Epsom College. Epsom.

Eton College. Eton.

Exeter School. Exeter,

Felstead School. Felstead, Essex.

Fettes College. Edinburgh

Forest School. Walthamstow, N.E.

Framlingham College. Framlingham, Suffolk,

George Heriot's School. Edinburgh.

George Watson's Boys' College, Edinburgh.

Giggleswick School. Settle, Yorks.

Glasgow Academy. Glasgow.

Glasgow High School. Glasgow.

Glenalmond College. Glenalmond

Gresham's School. Holt, Norfolk.

Grimsby Municipal College. Grimsby,

Haileybury College. Haileybury, Herts.

Handsworth Grammar School. Handsworth, Staffs.

Harrow School. Harrow-on-the-Hill.

Hereford Cathedral School. Hereford.

Hertford Grammar School, Hertford,

Highgate School, Highgate, N.

Hillhead High School, Glasgow.

Hurstpierpoint College. Hurstpierpoint, Sussex,

Hymers College. Hull.

Imperial Service College. Windsor,

Ipswich School. Ipswich,

Kelly College. Tavistock, Devon.

Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow,

King Alfred's School. Wantage, Berks,

King Edward VII. School. Sheffield,

King Edward's School. Bath.

King Edward's Grammar School, Bury St. Edmunds,

King Edward's School. Birmingham.

King William's College. Isle of Man.

King's College. Taunton,

King's College School. Wimbledon,

King's School. Bruton

King's School. Canterbury.

King's School. 54, High Street, Grantham.

King's School. Rochester.

King's School. Warwick.

King's School. Worcester.

Kirkcaldy High School. Kirkcaldy

Lancing College. Shoreham, Sussex.

Leeds Grammar School. Leeds.

Leys School. Cambridge.

Liverpool College. Liverpool,

Liverpool Institute, Liverpool.

Loretto School. Musselburgh

Louth School. Louth, Lincolnshire.

Maidstone Grammar School, Maidstone.

Malvern College. Malvern, Worcestershire.

Manchester Grammar School, Manchester.

Marlborough College, Marlborough, Wiltshire.

Merchant Taylors' School, Charterhouse Square, E.C.

Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh

Mill Hill School. Mill Hill, N.W.

Monkton Combe School, Near Bath,

Morrison's Academy. Crieff.

Newcastle-under-Lyme High School, Newcastle, Staffs.

North Eastern County School, Barnard Castle.

Nottingham High School, Nottingham.

Oakham School. Oakham.

Oratory School. Edgbaston.

Oundle School. Oundle.

Perse School. Cambridge.

Plymouth College, Plymouth,

Portsmouth Grammar School, Portsmouth,

Queen Mary's Grammar School, Walsall.

Radley College, Abingdon, Berks.

Reading School, Reading,

Reigate Grammar School, Reigate.

Repton School, Repton, Staffs.

Rossall School, Fleetwood, Lanes.

Royal Grammar School of King Edward VI, Guildford.

Royal Grammar School. Newcastle-on-Tyne.

Royal Grammar School. Worcester.

Royal Grammar School. High Wycornbe, Bucks.

Royal Grammar School. Lancaster.

Roysse's School, Abingdon.

Rugby School, Rugby.

St. Albans School, St. Albans, Herts.

St. Andrew's College, Dublin,

St. Bees School, St. Bees, Cumberland.

St. Columba's. College, Rathfarnam, Co. Dublin,

St. Dunstan's College, Catford, S.E.

St. Edward's School, Oxford.

St. John's School, Leatherhead'

St. Lawrence College, Ramsgate.

(St Leonard’s Collegiate School Cadets)

St. Paul's School, West Kensington, W.

St. Peter's School, York.

(Seaford College Cadets)

Sedbergh School, Sedbergh, Yorks.

Sherborne School, Sherborne, Dorset.

Shrewsbury School, Shrewsbury.

Sidcup Hall School, Sidcup, Kent.

Sir Roger Manwood's School, Sandwich, Kent.

Skinners' School, Tunbridge Wells.

Solihull Grammar School, Solihull, Warwickshire.

Stonyhurst College, Blackburn, Lanes.

Taunton School, Taunton.

Tonbridge School, Tonbridge.

Trent College, Long Eaton, Derbyshire.

University College School, Frognal, Hampstead, N.W.

(University School, Hastings, Cadet Company)

Uppingham School, Uppingham.

Victoria College, Jersey,

Wellingborough Grammar School, Wellingborough, Northants.

Wellington College. Berks.

Wellington College. Wellington, Salop.

Wellington School. Wellington, Somerset.

West Buckland School, West Buckland, South Molton,

Westminster School, Dean's Yard, Westminster, S.W.

Whitgift Grammar School, Croydon.

Wilson's School. Camberwell, S.E.

Winchester College, Winchester.

Wolverhampton Grammar School, Wolverhampton.

Woodbridge School. Woodbridge, Suffolk.

Worksop College. Worksop, Notts.

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I looked through the book - and several others - in Foyles the other. Was I correct in noticing that Wellington had a significantly lower percentage of fatalities than most other schools listed? I wondered why, especially as Wellington had/has a reputation as a school for potential future officers.

Wellington College (Crowthorne, Berkshire), which was arguably as much a military academy as a public school, suffered 707 fatalities in WW1 (at that time it had around 500 pupils at any one time). This compares with 1,157 fatalities from Eton, and 644 from Harrow [figures from the internet, not the new book].

William

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How is that a piece of historiography?

It may be my miss understanding of the term but as far as I know it is the study of history and established theories in this instance relating to the Great War. British casualties have been presented in many books and articles from the official publication on war statistics to individual work such as J M Winter's study of the demographic impact of the Great War. I am not arguing with previously stated statistics

Apologies if my understanding of the meaning is faulted.

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On 12/13/2013 at 11:55, Bom T said:

Just linked to this thread have been working on statistics for Public School casualties for couple of years in my spare time with the hope of producing a paper (PhD) Have read some of your posts with interest. Can any one help me out I think Mike (Perth Digger) may be on similar track to me. Willing to accept any knowledge and wisdom on subject.

Mark

Mark

It looks as if you are aware of the main publications covering the Public Schools in the Great War. In the remote chance you have not already done so, I would recommend reading "Promises of Greatness:The 1914-18 War" published in 1968. It does include the essay by R C Sherriff titled "The English Public Schools in the War" which includes the immortal line "I'm sorry....but that isn't a public school". Sherriff records* at the beginning of the essay:

 

"When my War play Journey's End was first performed, some people said there was too much of the English Public Schools about it. Some thought it glorified them without good reason others that it discredited them unfairly. It depended on the way they thought about these schools........I hardly ever met a public school boy until I joined the Army. As a junior officer I lived among them. Almost every young officer was a public school boy, and if I had cut them out of Journey's End there wouldn't have been a play at all."

 

 

He makes the point that it was only due to the 'prodigious losses of officers in France' that the authorities were forced to 'lower their sights and accept young men outside the exclusive circle of the public schools'.

 

You might also have a look at "The Lost Generation of 1914" by Reginald Pound published in 1965. Personally I think the expression 'Lost Generation' is an exaggeration perpetuated by the hero-romantic school. The hard numbers tells us that most junior officers actually survived despite equally exaggerated claims they only expected to survive 'Six Weeks'.

 

I note your interest is in Officer 'Casualties'. This is always a thorny subject and one needs to tread with extreme caution to prevent getting caught in a low-wire entanglement of definitions. By 'casualties' will you be including the non-fatal battle casualties - Prisoners of War and Wounded In Action? The reason I ask is that if you include the latter (and non-battle casualties) the task becomes significantly more difficult for the simple fact that the wounded were not recorded in a consistent manner and there is no central register as there is for the killed/died. To get the full picture the only way to do this is to wade through the War Diaries and histories of the BEF but you might want to consider the first six Kitchener Divisions as a study area as they will capture the spirit of the ex-public schoolboy junior Officer who volunteered in August 1914. They may provide a distillate of what you are looking for.

 

I have done some analysis of Infantry Officer casualties for the BEF in 1914-March 1915 and Gallipoli in April 1915 to Jan 1916. The War Diaries recorded Officer casualties in fine detail so it is possible to rebuild the lists. The BEF in 1914 will have a very high concentration of ex public school boys as it is a strong representative sample of the pre-war Guards and Line Infantry plus a few allegedly so-called 'elite' (read 'elitist' Territorial Force Infantry units sent in to plug the gaps). The Gallipoli campaign is a worthwhile study area for your cause as it captures three of the first six Kitchener Divisions to go to war, whose subalterns will all have gone through similar "which school? " interviews along with a fair amount of patronage. The casualty rates for Officers in both groups are staggeringly high. The 11th (Northern) Div in August 1915 suffered 98% Officer casualties at battalion level within 2 weeks - 13 battalions. According to the author of 'Six weeks' outside the Western Front things were 'decidedly less hazardous'. Really. This campaign also included 14 Yeomanry Regiments which had an exceptionally high concentrations of aristocrats and by extension public school educated Officers. Casualty rates in this group were significantly lower, although they were concentrated in one action where the leading units' officers suffered heavily.

 

You mention in later posts that you are interested in more that the 'leading from the front'. I would suggest it was this characteristic along with poor tactics that was primary driver for most of the high casualties. This is important because it was a tacit expectation of British Military doctrine. Junior Officers were expected to lead from the front. That the public schools produced thousands of young men indoctrinated with the right values to do this makes it difficult to determine whether it was the expectations of the Army, or the values set of the ex-public school boys that were the primary drivers of their high casualty rates....or a combination of both. One might argue that the values and expectations of the Army and the values and expectations of public schools were indistinguishable.

 

At Gallipoli as Officer casualties rapidly mounted, we see some very early records of Officers being forced to dress and arm themselves as ordinary soldiers so that they might blend in and not become targets - tactics later employed in France. We also see an early example (first example) in June 1915) of specific orders to leave a proportion of Officers (and men) in reserve during assaults so that units would not lose every officer. Despite this a few units did lose every Officer within a fortnight - 9th (Service) Bn Sherwood Foresters, 9th (Service) Bn Royal Warwickshires and 9th (Service) Bn Worcestershire Regt spring to mind - and when one reads in detail the circumstances of Officer casualties at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, it is impossible to get away from the fact that young Officers were reckless and had almost total disregard for personal safety. One went into action armed with nothing more than a cane. He survived. Officer casualties of 98% and Other ranks casualties of 68% tell you that Officers were likely taking disproportionate risks and it is an interesting area of study to try and understand why. In its most simple form I would suggest it came down to expectations of leadership or what some later authors called the 'loneliness of command'. High expectations from subordinates, peers, family, Regiment, and self; driven by an Edwardian society reinforced by the rigid value set of the 'cult' of the public schools.

 

Here is a statistic which illustrates how concentrated casualties were on some fronts: in the nine month campaign, over half of all British Regular Officer battle casualties happened in the month of August**, and within August the vast majority were inside two week period of 6th-21st August 1915. For this short period of time it was rather hazardous being a subaltern in a Kitchener battalion.

 

The personal diaries, narratives and later accounts are laden with the vocabulary of the Edwardian hero-romantic school: "Gallantry" and "coolness" seems to be the words most often used. There is plenty of material, including personal diaries and accounts of their experiences under fire. The 39 battalions in the three Kitchener Divisions at Gallipoli will provide a very well defined group and all three Divisions; 10th (Irish), 11th (Northern) and 13th (Western) kept meticulous records of all types of Officer casualties - especially the 11th (Northern) Div. Given they were largely destroyed within 14 days, it is a very concentrated study period and I think very representative of the type of young volunteer Officers from the class of August 1914. It also provides a very wide geographic range of units. There are some useful books written by junior officers from these units that provide a flavour of the. If you are really keen, you might contrast the Kitchener Divisions with the TF Divisions at Gallipoli - a completely different story.

 

I would recommend studying the other three of the first six Kitchener Divisions - 9th (Scottish), 12th (Eastern) and 14th (Light) Divisions whose young men were similarly destroyed in France in 1915. It will involve some hard yards wading through the diaries - and the Bde and Div war diaries too. At least you will capture the 2,000 or so of the first young volunteer Officers from Aug 1914.

 

* It is interesting to note that despite attending an ancient Grammar school and the fact that some (but not all) Grammar schools seem to appear on the later HMC lists, Sherriff's narrative seems pretty clear that he saw his grammar school and 'public schools' being distinctly different. I suspect being on the HMC list did not constitute being a public school in some minds. I have never met anyone who attended a Grammar school who would describe it as a public school (despite HMC membership) and I suspect the definitions in the minds of the selecting Officers in 1914 were equally subtle. One might also consider how the 'rules' were applied to different units. Becoming an Officer in the Grenadier Guards or the ASC might, in 1914 have had tacitly different entry requirements despite the 'list'.

 

** Calc: 1082 British Regular Army Officer fatalities in August 1915 of 2085 British Regular Army Officer fatalities. Source: Statistics 1914-1918.

MG

Edit: Much of the big data you will need is in the Official History of the War: Medical Services:

Edited by Guest
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I have nothing to add to the debate, not my field. Just wanted to say I've just thoroughly enjoyed reading the latest set of posts; it is what this forum is really good at.

Andrew

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Hello MG

Thanks for your reply.

I do have a copy of 'Promises of Greatness' it was the essay by R C Sheffield that started me on this research.

Totally aware of the problems relating to "officer casualties" and in my research have been amazed at who were included in the list of old boys lost on active service (which in some cases has are generals in their 60's who died at home in bed right in line with the old myth).

Casualties - or rather should I say killed /died on active service - amongst RFC/RAF officers include far more killed in accidents than in action. Also a year which throws up particular problems is 1918 where a significant number of "casualties" died from the Spanish Flu epidemic.

I also have found discrepancies between the numbers I have collected and those of "official" lists. E.g. I have been able to positively identify 595 Charterhouse casualties where the figures I have seen quoted in works such as Parker's The Old Lie put it at 686. True I have been unable to identify around 20 individuals (CWGC & Officers Died in Great War) but this is still well short.

As I put in my original post I am looking at the question why so many officers were killed. I am fully aware that in action officers led from the front in particular the junior officer and were exposed. However this cannot be the only reason or answer. Therefore I am considering other factors such as how the British army actually employed officers in the front line, attitude (public school ethos); training (or lack); dress, physical attributes such as height and duty/patriotism. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.

However, you raise some interesting points which deserve to be read through and digest fully.

Thanks

mark

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Mark,

What sort of correlation are you seeing in your data between an officer's height and probability of being killed? That's a very interesting angle. Presumably it requires height data to also be assembled for officers who did not become casualties. How are you filtering out casualties from disease, which presumably strikes down the long and the short and the tall indiscriminately?

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One regularly sees contemporary adverts in the magazines likely to read by the officer class for body armour/bulletproof vests. The drawing are always of officers modelling them.

post-20192-0-56258500-1387291398_thumb.jpost-20192-0-10056800-1387291416_thumb.j

It would be very interesting to know if these shields skew the officer casualties statistics.

Another fascinating line of research would be to investigate the socio-economic background of those officers who chose to wear them. Genuine pukka public school chaps would certainly disdain their use as "not cricket".

Officers with a background in trade would obviously take a more practical line, but could they afford the price tag after having splashed out on properly tailored service dress?

Where would the grammar schools boys sit on this issue?

I have a vague recollection of these shields coming up in Goodbye To All That.

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Hello MG

As I put in my original post I am looking at the question why so many officers were killed. I am fully aware that in action officers led from the front in particular the junior officer and were exposed. However this cannot be the only reason or answer. Therefore I am considering other factors such as how the British army actually employed officers in the front line, attitude (public school ethos); training (or lack); dress, physical attributes such as height and duty/patriotism. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.

However, you raise some interesting points which deserve to be read through and digest fully.

Thanks

mark

Mark - you have set yourself a very demanding task.

Higher death rates and leadership is not confined to junior Officers. I have crunched some big data in this area pursuing similar thematics. There is some evidence that junior NCOs and even Senior NCO casualty rates in the Line Infantry may have been higher than the average private soldiers' casualty rate. It is axiomatic that Junior leadership and higher death rates were correlated. Establishing causal factors is a far more difficult matter.

I can't imagine how you are going to isolate and measure some of these factors. Most are qualitative rather than quantitative. I recall reading that there is statistical evidence that Officers were (on average) taller than ORs*. If an Officer is taller than the average man and he is killed (or tens of thousands of tall officers are killed) is it because his height is a factor or because he is an Officer (doing a riskier job). To my mind I can't see how one can isolate the two unless you have a control group of ORs and the stats would take years to assemble. It would be simpler to analyse Bantam units. Similarly if officers in King's Company had higher death rates than average, is it because the are tall, or are Officers, or in the Grenadier Guards - a regiment which statistically had higher than average fatalities - or all three - or two? The are rhetorical questions that need no answers.

I think it will be extremely difficult to isolate these factors and prove causality. Personally I think the skewness in the distribution of the Junior Officers' data is simply that junior Officers did a more risky job as it required leadership. Having attended an approved public school was (in the early years) a pre-requisite for junior Officer applicants and by extension junior Officers and ex-public schoolboys were (for a period) essentially the same thing viz Sherriff's comment "Almost every young officer was a public school boy..." so it is definitively difficult to separate the two. More importantly we don't have a sufficiently large control group of non-public school educated junior Officers who ran the same gauntlet of 1914-1915. Sherriff and his like were the exception to the rule in the early days.

Put another way, statistically the Scots Guards saw higher fatal casualties rates than any other British infantry Regiment by a very long mark. It would be easy to claim they died because they were Scottish or that they were Guardsmen or because they were Scots Guardsmen but the reality may simply be that they were in the wrong (random) places at the wrong (random) times just too frequently in a period were death was a random event. Again, no answer required as it is sliding off topic.

I wish you well in your research. It will be a fascinating read. MG

* in one of the books mentioned on the thread. Or possibly in J M Winter's "The Great War and th British People" (an interesting read). MG

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Mark,

What sort of correlation are you seeing in your data between an officer's height and probability of being killed? That's a very interesting angle. Presumably it requires height data to also be assembled for officers who did not become casualties. How are you filtering out casualties from disease, which presumably strikes down the long and the short and the tall indiscriminately?

My reference to height was just one aspect I have had rolling around in my head and many of these ideas are a bit like catching fog in a net to pin down. As MG states how do you quantify height especially in a guards regiment. Although I do recall once seeing a photo of some officers of a Guards battalion in 1914 and one of them is significantly shorter than his colleagues.

Data would be available in the service records as it would record height hair and eye colour etc. However, it would require a sample core taken of those k.i.a or d.o.w. This would be a huge task and as my work is done in my spare time well beyond my abilities although it would be an interesting project.

As for how to filter down fatalities. I suppose my best approach would be to look at just death from direct enemy action i.e. k.i.a or d.o.w. This also presents some problems as one or two individuals succumb to their wounds after 1918 of the top of my head one as late as the 1920's. Gordon Corrigan in Mud Blood and Poppycock examines deaths other than by enemy action.

I like the scans of body armour.My impression from the reading I have done is that they were generally shunned by officers as not being the done thing. I think Greenwell makes reference to one officer wearing such a garment in An Infant in Arms and is frowned upon. Saying that they were obviously bought by some officers so must have been worn, However, in the conditions of the firing line they must have been a cumbersome item to wear and having worn body armour myself I can well imagine some of the problems.

MG makes some valid and interesting points about officers being reckless to the point of suicide, but was that an age thing? Many of the officers were 20 plus I can think of Asquith for example. I have yet to digest MG's post fully but he is closer to the mark of what I am trying to analyse.

What I can say is that 1915 was the turning point. My information shows that apart from Uppingham all the other schools I have looked at suffered their highest deaths in this year. Gallipoli was a meat grinder and known to be such. Roland Leighton or is it Edward Brittain makes such references in their letters to Vera Brittain. Interestingly deaths begin to fall as the war progresses for the more exclusive schools whilst the lesser (possibly not the right term) schools seem to take up the slack so to speak.

As for Lewis-Stemples' work 6 Weeks it is interesting to note that most of those he quotes survived for far longer than the period of the title. Also example he gives as a biography at the beginning is pure fiction.

These discussions are helping me form the approach to the data.

Thanks for the thought fodder

Mark

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Just noted that the Army list had no Welsh public school on there.

Christ College Brecon, was invited to be part of the OTC(junior) in 1908 on forming of the TF. They turned them down and the unit disbanded in 1910. I wonder how many other public schools also took this path?

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What a fascinating thread. I look forward to reading the further avenues which will be explored.

I wouldn't have the temerity to contribute beyond the observation that perhaps this is one those areas where in the end, due to the sheer number of imponderables, you might just have to go with the accepted wisdom, however clichéd - that junior officers from the upper echelons of society, driven by the Victorian public school ethos, suffered grievously, and largely without complaint, in horrendous circumstances.

David

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Just noted that the Army list had no Welsh public school on there.

Christ College Brecon, was invited to be part of the OTC(junior) in 1908 on forming of the TF. They turned them down and the unit disbanded in 1910. I wonder how many other public schools also took this path?

An interesting point as there were quite a number of Public Schools in Wales at that time and it would appear that non had an O.T.C. at the outset of WW1. Of course the University of Wales had an infantry corps at Aberystwyth University College and also a heavy artillery battery at Bangor University College, so presumably these would have supplied quite large numbers of officers during WW1.

It perhaps should also be remembered that quite large numbers of young Welshmen were educated at English Public Schools and Universities, the majority of whom had an O.T.C.

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Possibly the short list was limited to schools on the HMC list that also had OTCs. It would seem rather pointless having an OTC (typically run by a TF officer on the unattached list) if its graduates were barred. The May 1915 Army List also has all the schools under Officer Training Corps - Contingents of the Junior Division. Separately it lists schools with Cadet Companies - a subtle but important differentiation which may have provided the necessary guide for adjudicator that the likes of Sherriff had to face. MG

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Just noted that the Army list had no Welsh public school on there.

Christ College Brecon, was invited to be part of the OTC(junior) in 1908 on forming of the TF. They turned them down and the unit disbanded in 1910. I wonder how many other public schools also took this path?

The Scottish schools were all down as "N.B." (North Britain) - how times have changed ;-)

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