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Remembered Today:

4th Officer Cadet Battalion (OCB) Oxford - C Company (Keble College) - 7th Course - April 1918


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Good Evening Everyone


After a conversation on the GWF with Charles @Charles Fair about the recently rediscovered trenches at Wytham Woods in Oxford (the thread "Practice trenches in Wytham Woods, Oxford" by @J T Gray & @Moonraker ), I thought that I would kick off another thread around the info I have on the 4th Officer Cadet Battalion (OCB) Oxford - C Company (Keble College).


My grandfather (George McLaren - 12/2419 - 3rd (Auckland) Company, 1st Auckland Infantry Battalion - NZEF) obtained his Officers Commission here ... and thus I have information to share. I am slowly transcribing George's WW1 diary ... and doing research on that and also the photo's he left behind.


A very quick background on George's service. He entered the NZ Army in 1915 as a Corporal, landed on Gallipoli with the 5th reinforcements on the 8th of August 1915 just in time for Chunuk Bair (wounded back to Egypt and then back to the Peninsular in November), was evacuated with the ANZAC's to Egypt, shipped to France early 1916, spent his time in the Armentieres "nursery" sector, got a GSW in Flers in the Battle of the Somme September 1916, got another stripe just after the Battle of Messines June 1917, was put in reserve during Passchendaele and then spent the winter of 1917/18 in the Ypres salient. It was in early 1918 that he was recommended for a Commission.


Here are the selected diary entries that relate to his ramping up to attend Officer Cadet Battalion (OCB).


19/2/18 Tuesday  - Walkers Camp - Dickebusch Belgium -  Went up on a fatigue to the supports. Got back about 2.30pm. Had to sign articles today to go up for a commission. Wrote to Charlie.

21/2/18 Thursday    Went & got examined or interviewed by General Russel today. Battalion had given him a great character about me. “Excellent Character” “Excellent Bomber”. “Splendid Leader of Men”. etc Etc. Got letter from Mrs Davidson.  

15/3/18 Friday   - Ebblinghem France - Left today for Hazebrocke. Invite to Blighty for OTC. My old platoon No 3 were giving me a farewell in the billet. Plenty of Shampaign & beer. I’ve had a good time. I feel sorry to leave the boys now. Old Fritz will have to hurry now if he wants to get me. Jack Subritzky from the old 5th is going with me to the OTC also. Very nice to have an old mate with me. Got to details camp Hazebrocke about 11am. No train today for Calais. Jack & I went back to our battalion to get acquaintance rolls & got back to camp about 6pm. 

6/4/18 Saturday - Oxford England -  Here we are at the Keble College in Oxford. Two men to a room. Jack & I are together. We have been getting our gear and our names & etc etc taken all day today. Seems a pretty place this. We all dine in one big dinning room.


So George was to attend the 4th Officer Cadet Battalion (OCB) Oxford - C Company (Keble College) - 7th Course - April 1918. It was this photo below of George and his fellow NZ students in this particular class at Oxford that got me digging into his time at OCB.



That's my grandfather sitting on the left on the bottom step. The only other chaps I could identify were his good mate Jack Subritski (12/2480) standing up the back row on the left ... and Noel Le Noel (12/581) sitting on arm rail, second row, far left.


So I wrote to Keble College to see if they had any supporting information and amazingly, they had the full roll of his class. The Archivist there (Ms Faye McLeod) was SUPER helpful. Here is the full list of all students for this particular class ....





So the NZ'ers in the list are:



With further research using the excellent Auckland On-Line Centotaph https://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph  ... and also asking for help from Iain  @pukman from the Unknown Warriors of the NZEF Facebook site (https://www.facebook.com/Unknown-Warriors-of-the-NZEF-1629775073978020/) I have been able to identify the following ...

Back Row - ?, John Subritzky, William Dixon, ?,Donald McLeod,?,?,Robert Angus
Middle Row - Le Noel, ?,?,?,David Jenkins,?,?,?
Front Row - ?, McLaren, ?, Hugh Limmer,?,?, Archibald Glen ?, Chirnside,?


So I still have more work to do.


Faye at Keble also shared a couple of random pages from the Bound Standing Orders as an example of the other general info they keep. Makes for interesting reading.




I hope this has been of interest and feel free to contribute to the thread or ask any questions. I have other photo's from George's time at Keble that will try and post some time soon.. 


Cheers and all the best to you. 



Edited by smclaren
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Steve - many thanks.  I'll respond in detail later.  Meanwhile, please see attached your grandfathers exam results!  This is from the Bodleian Library, file ref OT/1/5.


Also his registration form from the box of 1,000 or so registration forms for C Company.  Bodleian file ref OT/1/2/3 'C' Coy M-Z.


I have yet to analyse these and integrate the registration forms with the C Coy records from Keble.




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Lovely documents and photos though of course there's a typo (in one of the original documents!) Haling Island where he attends a musketry course is of course Hayling Island (its the next island east of Portsmouth on the south coast)

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How funny - I was thinking of the thread mentioned above when I dropped in here (never have identified Tolkein's trenches on Port Meadow, though I have my suspicions), and lo! a notation popped up!


AFAIK the photo is taken in the quad of Keble College - it was notorious as the first brick-built Oxford college, there is just a hint of it's distinctive daiper work visible above the right-hand arch. He wasn't kidding about the big dining hall - supposedly the largest in Oxford, laid out in the style of a medieval hall with a dais at one  end for the great and the good. 

Both the dining hall and the location of your pic above can be seen here: https://discoveroxfordshire.com/things-to-do/keble-college/







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Thanks for posting that magnificent group photo.  You have done well to have identified so many of them. Here is Subritzky's registration form.  I will have them for all the other members of his platoon.

I also found Fay at the Keble archives most helpful. I photographed the blue book when I was there on my only visit.  I need to rephotograph it better so that I can OCR it to save copy typing the whole thing.  Once its in a database I will then add in the data from the exam results (only available from the 7th course) and from the registration forms. I'm looking to analyse by occupation, education, social class, prior service experience etc. etc.


The Keble archives contain the full Part 1 and Part 2 orders, 1916-19.  The stack of volumes is about 12" high. The Part 1 orders give lots of useful administrative stuff such as the exams. The Part 2 orders give details of who was being posted into and out of the battalion, sickness/hospitalistion, details of detachments, such as the week-long musketry camps near Warwick, details of men being backsquadded.  I only had a chance to look at part of the volumes, but I really need to copy the whole lot.  She was somewhat reluctant to let me do that, but I will work on that for my next visit. I'll probably write an article for Keble.


Your grandfather's diary sounds amazing: I'd love to see his record of the OCB if I may.  I'll comment on the excerpts re the rowing you posted a few weeks ago on another thread.



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In terms of the exam results I posted above, you might find this thread useful.  Its about a roll book for a platoon in No 12 OCB for cadets who started there c. July 1918.  Its the only other set of exam results I have found, but I think are only the Sept/Oct 1918 'mid-term' exams.


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Great research there, Charles .... well done on the detail.


I will absolutely flick you a copy of George's full diary when I finish ... I am still in 1918 so a little more to go.


And thanks for George's test results ... he does mention that he felt he had done poorly and may not have passed. He also mentions that he couldn't care less if he didn't pass. I note that he and Subritzski got into many dressing downs by the authorities at Keble ... or going "On the Mat" as he called it.  Almost got RTU'ed as well (Retuned to Unit) ... the ultimate disgrace. 


Thanks again ... and I hope to have you the diaries asap.




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