They Were More Than Just Names The Reigate Grammar School WW1 Memorial
By John Rowlands Edited by Tony Morgan
We would like to take this space to acknowledge and thank key individuals and important organisations that have supported this research and given their permission to reproduce original material: The National Archives, for their census material, letters, medal and service records, and much more. The Surrey Mirror Publications, for their obituaries and reports on the dead. Surrey History Centre, for their records of the county and its inhabitants during World War One. Mr Peter Burgess, Reigate Grammar School Archivist, for providing for us the admissions records and old photographs of the school, as well as old copies of The Pilgrim magazine from the period. Chris Bakerâ€™s extensively detailed website, â€œThe Long, Long Trail: the British Army in the Great Warâ€? (http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/), which helped massively with finding the actions of individual units throughout the war. And finally, a big thank you to our Reigatian Community, for reading this booklet and learning a little more about the lives of these brave former pupils who gave their lives for their school and country in its time of need.
With the recent 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War having passed last year, this booklet is the result of many years of interest in the “Great War” and its huge impact on our Nation’s history, and society as we now know it. Our Forefathers aptly summarised their view of the conflict with the wording on the Victory medal presented after the conflict:
“The War for Civilisation” In reality, so much changed as a result of the “war to end all wars” that its impact was to fundamentally change British society forever. The Centenary has resulted in numerous new books to add to the already existing mass of published material on WW1. Coverage on television and specific initiatives encouraged by the government have recently resulted in increased awareness and interest. There are a number of WW1 memorials in the Reigate area, amongst them significant examples in St. Mary’s, St. Matthew’s and St. Mark’s Churches. The Reigate Borough, in line with all parts of the country, gave a huge number of men to the war, and to research them all in detail would be a mammoth task. The official Reigate memorial including names is found within the Reigate Borough headquarters at Castlefield Road, and incorporates over 600 names. However, I attended Reigate Grammar School from 1966-1973, and coincidentally joined the school at the time of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. I remember well the elegant WW1 memorial on the main staircase just outside what was then the Headmaster’s Office.
Back in 1966 I do not recall much commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Somme; probably the World Cup win took most column inches! In the 60s and 70s much revisionist military analysis was moving towards the view that the sacrifice of life was the result of “Lions being led by Donkeys.” Recently I felt that it would be a suitable anniversary tribute to research these Old Reigatians who made the ultimate sacrifice. My fears have always been that in the burst of interest in the anniversary that the “big picture” – and with it the much repeated horrendous images and statistics - might mask the true impact on a personal level. These heroes were sons, brothers, fathers and husbands and should never be forgotten. As you peruse these summaries you may soon get a true picture of these men and their role in the local community. You may find that they lived in your road, or even in your house. Whilst there are only 55 names, they do represent a good cross section of the Borough’s wider sacrifice, being the sons of bakers, brokers, gardeners, mayors, and more.
I have made every effort to ensure accuracy in the details presented, but apologise for any errors and omissions. I am also aware that there may well still be relatives still resident in the area and I hope that if this is the case that they will understand the aims of this heartfelt tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In the course of this research, I have gathered a significant amount of other material relating to those who were lost, and will happily respond to any further enquiries from any relatives. Likewise, if anyone has additional material or recognises any errors, please feel free to contact me.
John Rowlands, OR 1966-73 Reigate, 2015 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lest We Forget
RGS WW1 Memorial, located outside the Library
RGS IN THE PAST The Reigate Grammar School of pre-1918 was in some ways very similar to the current school we all know now, and yet also different.
Reigate Grammar School in 1910
The school was fee-paying, with entry decided by passing the entrance exam, as it is now. Scholarships were widely available too, ranging from County Major and State scholarships, Foundation scholarships, and more. Indeed, many of the boys that sadly feature in this work would not have been able to attend RGS without the help of a scholarship.
The School Building The school itself was as you see it in the photograph above. The main school building had been enlarged in 1907, and the Headmaster’s house is just in shot to the left – now the support staff offices. You may notice the lack of the long wing that would hide the Headmaster’s house from view from the playground; this would be the “New Wing”, and was built later in 1927. The newly enlarged building could accommodate up to 200 boys, and included a number of new rooms that may be recognisable to you. There was now a large hall, 60 ft. by 30 ft., which could be used as an Assembly Hall and Gymnasium (seen right, in use as the Gymnasium). This is now the current Library.
Gymnasium in 1910
The new building also included eight new large Classrooms, Science Laboratories, an Art Room, Library (now the Staff Room), Workshop, Armoury and Common Room, amongst others.
The Pupils RGS accepted boys between the ages of 10 to 19, and according to the 1910 prospectus, gave them “a sound general training – moral, mental and physical – and such education as will thoroughly prepare them for a professional, commercial, or scientific career.”
Unlike modern schools, a boy did not automatically progress to the next year by age; instead, they had to obtain satisfactory marks in both ordinary school work and the Midsummer Examinations to be “promoted.” Therefore it was not unusual for different year groups to have boys of different ages in it.
School Photo from 1908
Above is the school photo from 1908 – there were around 120 pupils in the school at this time. Indeed, a few present in this school photo would sadly die in the war, and are included in this work.
features in this work, as he left RGS at the start of the war to fight for his country. Sports was an important part of RGS life too, as it is now. However unlike today, the main winter sport for the boys was not rugby, but football. The school team played familiar rivals in those days, with the likes of RGS Guildford, Caterham and Battersea Grammar School, as well as having the yearly tradition of playing the “Old Boys XI.”
RGS excelled in producing a well-rounded pupil, as it does now; and this was in no small part due to the fullness of its extra-curricular activities and support. An Officer’s Training Corps (OTC) was set up under the Headmastership of Mr Ragg in 1907, thanks to a £50 donation from a Major Coats MP, and this developed to become a very active part of school life.
Cricket was still the mainstay sport of the summer term, again playing these familiar teams. The boys all competed intermurally as well, with the school Houses playing each other in football, cricket, athletics, and shooting.
Mr N H Wade was the CO of the school OTC, with William English, the school Caretaker, as the Sergeant Major. William
House System Now the school has recently returned to using a House System, some may be interesting in its beginnings.
However, this only lasted for two years, as eight Houses for a mere 120-odd boys was too many to be competitive. Instead, they were re-organised into four larger Houses, named after large estates in the area – Priory, Doods, Redstone, and Wray, and all competed for the “Calistri Cup”, named after Mr Calistri.
The first Houses were founded in around 1910, and rather than being called Bird, Hodgson, Williamson and Cranston (as they are now), were named after the schoolmasters who oversaw them – Howarth’s, Hall’s, Wade’s, Eade’s, Calistri’s, Dawson’s, Ward’s, and Dann’s.
Many of the boys that follow played each other in the House sporting events, and were involved in all areas of the school – be it sport, music, theatre, the OTC, and more. They were all true Reigatians.
There are now significant resources available to research those who served. In recent years some of this research has become easier to conduct, due to the huge expansion in digitisation of records on the web. There are however significant amounts of records including, original documents, which are only accessible by personal visits to the National Archives at Kew and other archives, such as Regimental Museums and the Surrey History centre. In addition visits to a range of Western Front locations have proved a moving exercise in locating the final resting place of many of those included in this booklet. To avoid a mammoth-sized booklet, we have decided to omit displaying the original sources for each entry of Old Reigatian. Instead, I have included a few samples of the kind of documents I have found whilst researching their lives, to give you a taste of how we were able to document each Old Reigatian. As mentioned before, I have data like this for most men, and would be happy to share them with members of the deceasedâ€™s families if requested.
Census Records The 10 year censusâ€™s give much family detail, addresses, fathers occupation etc. For the purposes of this research it was mostly the 1891, 1901, and 1911 censuses that are most relevant. Census for 1901 for the Worley Family of Park Lane
Reigate Grammar School Archives and Entry Records Whilst not a full record, the original school entry records provide useful date information as well as address and other family info of pupils of the school. School Entry Record for Frank Barnard
Commonwealth War Graves This amazingly comprehensive database gives details on dates, rank, regiment and sometimes next of kin. It also records place of grave or commemoration and sometimes next of kin.
Commonwealth War graves record for David Ive
Surrey Mirror Newspapers There are a significant number of detailed obituaries in the historic copies of the Surrey Mirror over the 191418 period, and these have been a huge source for research.
National Archives Significant original material exists though not for all of those researched. About 60% of the WW1 service records were destroyed by bombing in the Second World War. Nonetheless there are many items still in existence; many the most poignant imaginable. They include copies of Telegram telegrams informing relatives reporting the of their loss as well as personal loss of Herbert Bidlake letters from relatives and war diaries.
Letters sent by the families of the deceased to the War Office are kept by the National Archives, and are often very poignant and in keeping with the time; expressing their thanks to the Secretary of War, and that it is a comfort to hear their son died for his King and Country.
Letter from Mr Holder enquiring if the return of his son Charlesâ€™ identity discs meant his body had now been located; sadly it didnâ€™t.
Most individuals Medal Record cards survive and give additional info on theatres of war, dates and sometimes relatives and addresses.
Cyril Raynerâ€™s medal card
Attestation form of Francis Mott
Attestation forms are another great find â€“ these are the forms filled out when a man went to an enlistment office to join up, and gives his address, occupation, height and distinguishing features, past military experience, and more.
The Pilgrim Magazine The magazines include much useful reference material for the 1914-1919 period. These contain OTC notes, match reports, school anecdotes, and all sorts of interesting details about life at RGS at the time. Additionally, Peter Burgess of the RGS Archives has kindly uploaded the editions from 1913-1919 onto the internet, and can be found at http://www.worldwar1schoolarchives.org/reigate-grammar-school/.
October 1914 edition of The Pilgrim Magazine
Editor’s Note The following entries of the Old Reigatians that gave their lives in World War One are set in the order that they were killed, rather than alphabetically as the War Memorial next to the Library is laid out. This is to give a level of historical continuity and avoid the confusion that may be caused by jumping backwards and forwards in time. Additionally, this quick note will get some of the more technical parts out of the way, to give you as the reader a clearer understanding of the roles these men played in the military. To begin with, there is some talk of Brigades, Divisions, and Battalions when we have described the military activity of these Reigatians. In an attempt to make this a bit clearer, let me try and explain the basic structure of the British Army at the time. Each soldier was part of a Battalion of around 1,000 men, which was divided into four Companies. To use David Ive (the first Reigatian to be killed) as an example, he was part of “D” Company, of the 2nd Battalion of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. Each Battalion was then part of a Brigade, which was made of several different Battalions, as well as support units like Mortar Teams, Machine Gun Companies, and Medical Corps units. This all came to around 5,000 men. The final unit we have dealt with is the Division, which was made up of several Brigades, and came to around 20,000 men. This then goes on into Corps and then Armies, however we have not referred to these in this work so I won’t add them to the mix. Therefore, using David Ive as our example, he was in “D” Company of the 2nd Battalion of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, which was part of 22nd Brigade, which was in turn part of 7th Division. To add slight confusion, another unit was a Regiment. This was an administrative unit that encompassed the Battalions. Each Battalion was part of a Regiment, and were generally geographically-based. David Ive’s Regiment for example, the Royal West Surreys, had 18 Battalions during WW1, all recruited from the Surrey area. However these Battalions did not fight together, but were spread out across the different Divisions of the army. Some of the following men were part of the Machine Gun Corps during the war, which was another type of unit invented in 1915. This “Corps” was made by taking all specialised Vickers machine-gunners from their Battalions and forming them into a “Company” for each Brigade. Thus, men like William Price Farrington, who was originally in the 7th Battalion, London Regiment, was moved to the 140th Machine Gun Company within the same 47th (2nd London) Division of his original Battalion.
Tony Morgan, OR 2004-11 Reigate, 2015 12
Outbreak of War
Many of you may be familiar with the beginning of World War One, whether it is from school history lessons or from later personal interest, but we shall give you a little context of its beginnings and how the news was taken in the local area of RGS. The causes for the outbreak of war are still slightly complex – one short-term cause was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by Serbian activists, however tensions had been growing on the Continent for some time due to differences of foreign policy between a number of different countries. This had led to the creation of two alliance systems – the Central Powers, made up of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey; and the Triple Entente (or “Allies”) of France, the British Empire, and Russia. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914 acted as a flashpoint for the simmering problems, and led to the different members of the alliances declaring war on each other, beginning the Great War. The reaction back home in Britain was one of national fervour. Many joined up immediately to serve their country – the November 1914 edition of The Pilgrim magazine records over 50 Old Boys to have joined the forces in the two and a half months since the war had been declared. No one had experienced such a war before, and many saw it as a “great game.” The subsequent school magazines are full of light-hearted exclamations – “Oh, that Kaiser!” – regarding the war, and the OTC notes were proud to list the ORs who were currently serving in HM Forces in each edition, many as commissioned officers due to their excellent training. One humorous story is recorded in the November 1914 The Pilgrim of how the “night guards” of the school happened upon a suspicious character wandering the corridors early one morning – who else but a German spy intending to destroy or steal the rifles held in the armoury! It turned out to be none other than the milkman, lost on his way to see the caretaker. A number of the Old Reigatians of the school had been part of the Territorial Army before the war, due to a recruitment drive held in Reigate by The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment a few years before, and were some of the first to be put on active service. This regiment was one of the most subscribed units from our Old Reigatians, due to the close connection with the county. The various London Regiment battalions were also popular, as many of the Old Reigatians were originally from London, or had moved there after they left school. The ORs who were in the Territorial Army were some of the first to be sent across to France and Belgium, and unfortunately amongst the first to be killed during this terrible period. 13
David Ive Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1894 1902-1912 23 October 1914, Aged 20 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment 2nd Lieutenant
David Ive was the first Old Reigatian on the Reigate Grammar School memorial to have died in WW1. He died at the First battle of Ypres on 23 October 1914, only 10 weeks after the war started. He was born in West Kensington in 1894. His father was a Civil Engineer for the London County Council and in 1911 his family lived at "The Hermitage", which was a house at the top of Cronks Hill, Reigate. David had at least two younger brothers.
did not sail until 6 October when they proceeded to Zeebrugge. Following a few days in the Bruges area he was moved to Zonnebeke, a short distance east of Ypres, where he helped face the first assault of the Germans as they sought to take Ypres and then move onto the channel ports.
Unlike many of the OR’s who succumbed he was already in the army when war was declared and died at the age of 20. He had left school in 1912 and joined the Royal West Surrey Regiment 3rd Battalion early in 1913. He was therefore part of the “Old Contemptibles” of the original British Expeditionary Force. He was transferred to the 2nd Battalion when they returned from service in South Africa on 23 September 1914 and then benefitted from a single day’s leave on 25 September 1914 prior to embarkation for the front.
We know from the battalion war diary that he was killed by a shell on the West of the railway between the station and the level crossing near Zonnebeke. A tragic but not unusual story, a last day at home with friends at the end of Sept 1914, but then sadly dead within a month and only 18 days after arriving in Belgium. His frontline service less than a week. David was to be the first of over 50 Old Reigatians to make the ultimate sacrifice. He has no known grave, but is remembered on the Menin Gate in Ypres, as well as his on his grandparents’ gravestone in St Oswald’s, Guiseley, near Leeds. He is also commemorated on a family plot in St. Mary’s graveyard, Reigate.
On Sunday 4 October the 2nd Battalion, which was training at Lyndhurst, Hampshire, was ordered to march to Southampton and from there David’s “D” Company boarded the troop ship SS Turkoman on 4 October, but 14
Hugh McNeil Fraser Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1893 1904-1909 3 February 1915, Aged 21 1/14th Battalion, London Regiment (London Scottish) Private
Hugh Fraser was the second Old Reigatian to die in the Great War, and the first of eight to die in 1915. He died of a tetanus infection from a wound he had received in the line of duty. Hugh was the second eldest of four children born to John Alexander Fraser and Gertrude McNeil, and was their only son. His father John was a Solicitor. They were originally from Wimbledon, but by 1911 the family had moved to 130 London Road, Redhill, during the time Hugh was at RGS.
It seems likely that Hugh was already a member of the Territorials prior to the war, due to his entering service as quickly as feasible after the outbreak of war, i.e. around six weeks later. In the weeks before Hugh succumbed to his infection, his regiment was engaged in fighting around Givenchy-lĂ¨s-la-BassĂŠe and Cuinchy, so it is possible he received his wounds during this period.
Whilst at school, Hugh was a member of the OTC, as well as the football and cricket teams. He can be seen below in the 1908-9 school football team, and is sitting on the far left of the second row. Another member of the team, Walter Hewitt (second from right, back row), was killed later in the war.
Hugh was taken back to the Duchess of Westminster Hospital, La Touquet-ParisPlage, where sadly he soon died of infection on 3 February 1915. He is buried in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage Communal Cemetery.
Upon outbreak of war, Hugh joined the 1/14th Battalion of the London Regiment, known as the London Scottish Battalion. We can tell from his medal records that he entered the theatre of war of Belgium/France on 15 September 1914, landing at Le Havre.
RGS Soccer Team 1908/09. Hugh is the first on the left, second row. Walter Hewitt, another OR to die, is pictured second from right on the back row. The boy holding the ball, W. D. Malcomson, is the brother of Thomas Stuart Malcomson, who was shot down over Flanders in 1917.
Frank Malcolm Gill Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1879 1890-1891 26 May 1915, Aged 36 24th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (The Queen’s) Captain
William H. S. Morrison Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1889 1901-1902 26 May 1915, Aged 26 24th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (The Queen’s) Lieutenant
booklet, sadly dying in March 1917, having reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Both of these ORs were professional soldiers in the service before the war broke out.
Captain Gill’s father Hudswell had been on Surrey County Council, and both families were prominent in the borough. Gill had married Miss Evelyn Todd and lived in Earlswood, Redhill, whilst Morrison’s family lived at “Stonifers” on Reigate Hill. Gill left behind a young son.
They died on the same day in May 2015 at a battle at Festubert, in France. This was the first real offensive planned by the allies after the early battles of 1914 at places like Mons and Ypres had settled down. They battle was not a great success, and in post-analysis much criticism was given to the government, as it came to light that there was a shortage of shells available to the allies, with those that were available having a high “dud” rate.
At the time of their deaths, both had been part of the Battalion’s “A” Company, with Gill being in command as the Senior Captain of the Regiment. The company included a number of local men from Reigate and Redhill, formerly of the 1st Reigate Company of the Boy’s Brigade.
Both men were active members of the Presbyterian Church still found at Shaw’s Corner, Redhill, and had been staunch friends for years. Another OR and member of the church, Captain Donald Figg, was also in their regiment, and took charge of Gill’s company upon his death. Figg has an entry later in this
Both Gill and Morrison died in a successful assault of a German trench with their company. Through the letters sent home describing the day and recorded in the Surrey Mirror, an order of events can be surmised of the assault. 16
No. 1 Platoon under Morrison was the first over the top, with the other platoons following close behind. Morrison was killed running down the length of the enemy trench with an armful of hand grenades, throwing them as he went along. In the words of a fellow officer, Captain Millner, “his was a hero’s death – practically attacking a German trench singlehanded.” He was officially mentioned in dispatches for his actions.
the Germans, and it was at this point Gill was killed. He was directing his company in the captured trench, and was last seen firing his revolver at the Germans a few yards away, when he was shot through the head and died instantly. The Colonel wrote to Gill’s widow saying that he “could not exaggerate the feeling of loss we all feel. He was such a charming fellow. The only thing I can say is that he died with great gallantry.”
The Colonel of the Regiment said in his letter to the Morrison family that “the last time I saw your son was just as I ordered his platoon forward. He was carrying a rifle with fixed bayonet, and looked more delighted than I have ever seen him look, and the thought of action evidently roused him in the highest degree.”
Captain Harley, from Redhill, wrote home saying “Willie Morrison and Frank Gill were heroes. They died like English officers. No one could wish for a better fate. They have brought the greatest credit to the regiment and we are proud of them.” Whilst the Colonel wrote to both parents saying that their bodies had been recovered and buried, both of these brave men have no known grave; they are instead commemorated on the Le Touret Monument in France.
The trench was cleared of the enemy, and hurriedly converted to face the other way. The men beat off three counter attacks from
Ronald James Dempster Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1895 1904-1908 30 July 1915, Aged 19 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade Sergeant
Ronald was the first OR to be killed after answering the call to join up following the declaration of war. Ronald was the son of Dr John Henry Dempster and Grace Shaw Watson Dempster. His father, Dr John Dempster, was a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) and lived and practiced at 81 Station Road, Redhill. He was also the Medical Officer for the Philanthropic Farm School at Redhill.
arms and ammunition. As part of the 14th (Light) Division, this Battalion was stationed at Hooge in Belgium around the time Ronald was killed. This area was the scene of intense fighting throughout most of the war, as it was one of the eastern-most parts of the Ypres Salient (an area of trench that projects out from the rest of the line into enemy territory), and thus open to attack from three sides by the Germans.
Sadly, his father predeceased Ronald, and following this Ronald and his mother lived at various properties in the Buckland and Leigh area, including Charman Farm, Leigh, and “The Harvesters”, Lawrence Lane, Buckland. The Harvesters address was the home of Grace at the time of Ronald’s death in July 1915. By 1931 she had moved to the School House on Buckland Green.
On 30 July 1915, the Germans managed to take control of Hooge, and it was in this action Ronald Dempster lost his life. This date is significant as the first time the German Army utilised the flamethrower in open battle, and Ronald’s division had the unfortunate honour of being the first to experience this. The Germans used it to flush the British out of their trenches and into the open, where they were cut down by withering rifle and machine gun fire.
Ronald’s Statement of Service record shows that he attested (joined up) on 1 September 1914, and was posted just 3 days later. He clearly volunteered at the earliest opportunity, as the UK declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, just under a month before. He was rapidly promoted to Corporal three weeks later, and again to Sergeant three months after that. This rapid promotion may in part be thanks to his membership of the school OTC. Ronald is pictured in his OTC uniform above, aged around 13.
Ronald was declared missing on 31 July following this action, but after further enquiries his commanding officer declared him as killed in action on 30 July 1915. Ronald Dempster has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres.
His unit, the 8th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, landed at Boulogne in May 1915 after their deployment had been delayed due to lack of 18
Robin James Worley Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1890 1903-1906 28 August 1915, Aged 25 Wellington Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force Private
Robin was the first of two Grammar School brothers who were lost during the war - his older brother Bertram died in 1917. The Worley family suffered terribly during the war, as will be seen later in Bertram’s entry. Robin was one of several Old Reigatians who, having moved to far flung areas of the Empire, felt the need to respond to the Mother Country in its hour of need.
Eiffelton, Ashburton. He was farming there when war broke out. He was not legally obliged to join up, however he felt it was his duty to. Writing home in December 1914, he said:
Robin was a native of Reigate, having been born here and educated first at the now nonexistent British School, Reigate, and Reigate Grammar School. He exhibited a love of animals and farming during his time at school, and went on to study agriculture at Althorne, Essex, followed by a course of instruction at the Essex Agricultural College at Chelmsford.
“I have decided to give up my all here, for the Expeditionary Force, and they cannot get enough. I am just the fellow they want, so I think it is my duty to go. It is more my duty than some of the Colonials. The majority of them have never been out of the country, and many of them have no even remote - relatives at home, but I have a home that is more or less in danger, so I cannot leave it to Colonial born fellows to look after it.”
In February 1912, Robin left England to try his fortune in New Zealand, and, after two years, managed to obtain a farm for himself in
Robin joined the Wellington Infantry and was soon transferred to Egypt as part of the ANZAC Force. From there, he became part of the now-infamous Gallipoli Campaign and landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Private Robin Worley was wounded in action on the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 8th of August 1915, as part of the New Zealand assault on Chunuk Bair during the August Offensive. He was removed to the Military Hospital at St Elmo, Malta, where sadly he passed away on the 28th of the same month. He was buried with full military honours at Pieta Cemetery in Malta. 19
George Edward Garton Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1893 1904-1911 13 October 1915, Aged 22 6th Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent) Regiment Lance Corporal
George Garton had achieved much by the time his life was sadly cut short, having both trained as a teacher and a missionary of the Church. The Garton family lived above their newsagents shop at 11 Holmesdale Road, Reigate, whilst George was at school, with his father George Charles Garton listed as a “Stationer, Bookseller and Newsvendor” in the 1911 census. This premises still exists today, and is still associated with the newsagents’ trade at street-level, though it is currently closed at the time of print.
“one of the best Cadet NCO’s I ever had under me, and was specially commended in camp by regular officers on more than one occasion.” After leaving school, George taught for some time at Betchworth School, St John’s School Redhill, and at Godstone, but his desire to take part in missionary work abroad took hold and he went off to St Augustine’s College, Canterbury, to study. It was during this study that war broke out, and George joined up as soon as he could, enlisting at Canterbury and joining The Buffs. His OTC background held him in good stead for the training, and he was put in one of the earliest battalions to cross to France.
George had always been involved with the Church, having been a boy chorister at St. Mary’s Church, Reigate, and always attending their reunions if possible, and being very involved in the St. Mary’s Club. He was entered for a Foundation Scholarship at Reigate Grammar School at aged 11 – he did not think he would get it, having had no coaching other than normal schooling, but rather thought to use it as practice for a future attempt at the exams – and managed to gain the second of three scholarships into the school.
On 25 September 1915 George’s battalion moved up to the frontline at Loos to take part in the Action of the Hohenzollern Redoubt. This redoubt was renowned as the strongest part of the German line, and it was in this assault that George fell on 13 October. The 6th Battalion advanced with the rest of the line, but was caught in the open by a previously unseen (and therefore unshelled) German trench and cut to pieces, barely advancing 100m before having to halt. The Battalion lost 409 men, including 18 Officers, with the Official British History of the war stating “The fighting from 13-14th Oct had not improved the situation in any way and had bought nothing but useless slaughter of the infantry.”
During his career at RGS he was a frequent prize-winner; he achieved distinction in arithmetic in 1907, and again in 1908 with arithmetic and French. He played football for the school, and gained Colours in 1910-11. On the military side, George was an active member of the OTC, being promoted to Lance Corporal in February 1907, Corporal in September 1908, and Sergeant in July 1911. He also won the Hall Challenge Cup in shooting in 1911. Captain N H Wade of the RGS OTC wrote to George’s parents saying that he was
George has no known grave, but commemorated on the Loos Memorial. 20
Basil Leonard Bilcliffe Born: RGS: Died: Regiment:
1888 1905-1907 14 October 1915, Aged 27 1/15th Battalion, London Regiment (Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles) Private
Basil Bilcliffe was in the same area as George Garton at the time of his death, however Basil died in his trench, shot by a sniper whilst offering a cigarette to a comrade.
When war broke out, the school was on its holidays, so Basil joined up straight away with several of his friends, entering the Civil Service Rifles Battalion of the London Regiment. The Battalion was trained at Watford before crossing over to France on 14 March 1915. From there it took part in a number of engagements, with Basil managing to pull through unwounded, until the fatal shot that took him on 14 October at Loos.
Basil was born in 1888 in Redhill, and was the only son of Benjamin and Emma Bilcliffe of Linkfield Street, Redhill. The family had always been in the area, with his father Benjamin hailing from Nutfield, and Emma a local of Redhill. He received his first education at St. Matthew’s School Redhill, before moving on to Reigate Grammar School. Like so many others who gave their lives during the war, he was a member of the school OTC, reaching the rank of Sergeant.
His division, the 47th (2nd London), took part in a number of attacks during the battle, but during the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt where George Garton fell, it was part of the reserve force that followed up and occupied the captured German trenches. It was after this that Basil was killed, shot by a sniper whilst offering a cigarette to a comrade whilst in his trench. His friend, H H Richardson of Merstham, had joined up with him, and was with him in his last moments. According to the Surrey Mirror report on his death, the German sniper was killed by the British the following day.
Following the Grammar, he moved on to St. Mark’s College and King’s College London, eventually entering the teaching profession under the London County Council. He was teaching at Rockingham Street School in London when he joined up, with all the staff and students sending a letter to his parents upon hearing his death, as well as hanging a framed picture of Basil in the School Hall. Unfortunately, the school does not exist anymore, having been bombed in 1944 during WW2 and later demolished. Basil was also a keen organist, taking lessons at St. Matthew’s Church in Redhill and being organist for Chipstead Parish Church before college, and up until joining up he was the organist for Chaldon Parish Church.
Basil is commemorated on the Loos Memorial. 21
Geoffrey Ethelbert Cragg Born: RGS: Died: Regiment:
1888 1899-1904 17 October 1915, Aged 37 1/5th Battalion, The Queens (Royal West Surrey Regiment), attached to 2nd Battalion Norfolk Regiment Corporal
Geoffrey Cragg is another OR to have died a considerable distance from home, dying from disease in modern-day Iraq as part of the Mesopotamia Campaign.
(Royal West Surrey) with a number of other Old Boys, and reaching the rank of Sergeant. He was undergoing training with this company when war broke out. His battalion was quickly put to service, being transported to India.
Geoffrey was an eminent member of Reigate Grammar School in his time, having been Captain of the School and a Martin Exhibitioner, as well as Captain of the Cricket First XI. He was very much involved in the Old Boys Club upon leaving as well, having at one time been Chairman of the Club and was Honorary Secretary at the time of his death.
When in India a call was made for men of the 5th Battalion to join the 2nd Battalion, Norfolk Regiment to make up numbers for their operations in the Persian Gulf. Geoffrey was one of those to volunteer, was even willing to revert to the rank of Corporal to “do his duty.”
At the time of joining up he was living with his widowed mother on Eversfield Road, in a house called “Warliegh”, his father having died a few years previously.
The Norfolk Regiment landed in the Persian Gulf at Fao in mid-November 1914, and quickly advanced with the rest of the British Forces on Basra. They succeeded in taking Basra on 22 November, and from there secured the surrounding area with the goal of protecting the oil fields in the region from the Ottomans.
After his education at the Grammar, Geoffrey embarked on a professional career as a solicitor, joining the local firm of Messrs Morrison and Nightingale (still in existence as Morrisons Solicitors). At once he proved himself as an advocate of no little ability, practicing at the local police courts and Redhill County Court. In 1912, Mr F J Nightingale of Geoffrey’s firm was made County Coroner, which led to Geoffrey being made Deputy Coroner at the age of just 23, probably one of the youngest in the country.
In April 1915, the Ottomans sent a large force to try and retake Basra, however in the subsequent battle, called the Battle of Shaiba, the British came out victorious. This surprising victory led the British to change their plans for the campaign, and they advanced up the Tigris with the intent of taking Kut or even Baghdad. It was during this advance that Geoffrey Cragg sadly succumbed to disease near Kut, a death unfortunately not uncommon during the campaign. He is buried at the Kut War Cemetery in Iraq.
Geoffrey was also a member of the Territorials before the war, as part of “A” Company of the 5th Battalion, The Queens 22
Bernard Bradly Gough Born: RGS: Died: Regiment:
1873 1884-1887 17 February 1916, Aged 42 Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to 8th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment Lieutenant
Dr Bernard Bradly Gough was one of several RGS medical men who gave the final sacrifice for their country. He was born in Stockwell on 14 September 1873 to Henry and Mary Gough, who shortly moved to Redhill where Henry was a barrister. Bernard attended RGS whilst in Redhill, and from there went to St. Andrews Caterham for a short time, and finally Guy’s Hospital in Southwark in 1892 to study medicine. He graduated in 1897 and was admitted MRCS and LRCP.
Bernard was called forward to act as temporary medical officer to the 8th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, as theirs had fallen ill and been taken to hospital. On 17 February he was attending to the wounded in a dug-out when it took a direct hit from German artillery. Bernard and the nine wounded men he had been attending were killed instantly.
Bernard then held appointments at Burton on Trent, Wolverhampton and Great Grimsby, the latter where he met his wife Annie Longstaffe in 1900, who was matron of Great Grimsby Hospital at the time. In 1902 he acquired a general practice position at Compton Martin, Somerset, and lived there until the war broke out.
He was found by Lieutenant F G Faby, who said he found him still holding his scissors in one hand and a surgical dressing in the other. He went on to say “I still have those scissors, and they will always remind me of a nobleman who died at his post. I saw a great deal of him during those terrible days, and was struck by his devotion to the poor wounded.”
Like so many others, Bernard felt the need to serve his country, and so in June 1915 he obtained a commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and moved to Lahore British General Military Hospital in Calais. He was sent to the front in early February 1916, and it was then that Bernard gave his life.
Lieutenant Bernard Gough is buried at the Woods Cemetery near Ypres. He left behind a widow and a daughter.
A touching obituary was written for Bernard Gough in the British Medical Journal by an old friend of his, Staff Surgeon W Kenneth Wills, MB, RNVR:
“To have known Gough for a period of nearly twenty years is to have had a twenty year-long privilege. Few may have pierced his peculiar reserve, but to those who did there was a different character beneath than that was suggested on the surface. He was at his best with children in the open. A lover of wild things he had the rare gift of opening the eyes of others to the beauty of the world around, and knew where Pan hid his treasures from the curious. But with adults he was particularly diffident, and one might have easily missed that kindliness, of which many a poor patient will tell today with tears, and that sterling character of which his intimates had ever and anon fresh revelations’. Gough or “B. B.” as he will ever be to his old Guy’s friends, could never force himself forward, and when he volunteered for the war no one can gauge what it cost him. He was ever governed by high principles and loyalty to the loftiest motives always found its response in his life and conduct. When he heard the call of duty he never wavered, but gave his all cheerfully. I was privileged to see him on his way through a south coast town to the front, and though he said nothing of his distaste for the employment of war, I could appreciate to some extent the sacrifice of himself it had been to offer for war service. The sacrifice offered has been accepted to the full. The old days at Guy’s and the more recent days in his country practice in the picturesque Mendip village of Compton Martin are over, and I feel that one of the beloved characters of Life’s Book has gone out of the story and that much of the charm has gone too.”
George Wisden Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Ranks:
1895 1908-1911 26 February 1916, Aged 20 South Africa Infantry, 3rd Regiment Sergeant
Not a lot has been found on George Wisden, however we know he was born in Bletchingley, and was the son of William and Fanny Wisden. In 1911 the family was living on Rabies Heath Road in Bletchingley, in a nine room house. George was the oldest of William and Fanny’s three children, however it would seem that Fanny had been married before, as there were another three children living in the house as William’s step-children.
Logically then, George may have either joined the regiment in South Africa, which suggests he emigrated there between 1911 and 1914, or he may have joined whilst the regiment was stationed at Bordon for two months. Regardless, George accompanied his regiment to Egypt, where they joined the Western Frontier Force. He died at the Battle of Agagia in Egypt on 26 February 1916, as part of the Senussi Campaign. This campaign is so named due to the Senussi Tribe, armed by the Ottomans and led by Gaffer Pasha, who threatened British-occupied Egypt from the west, in an attempt to divert British forces from the Suez Canal before an Ottoman raid from Palestine.
George was a Sergeant of the South African Infantry, 3rd Regiment, which raises the question of how he joined such a regiment. This regiment was raised from the Transvaal and Rhodesia, and was also known as “The Transvaal Regiment.” This regiment was part of the South African Brigade, and all units were recruited in South Africa or Rhodesia before August 1915. The Brigade was in England for two months in November to December 1915, with the infantry stationed at Bordon, Hampshire for training, before being shipped off to Alexandria to take part in the defence of Egypt.
George is remembered on the Alexandria (Hadra) Monument in Egypt.
Charles Wilton Kenyon Born: RGS: Died: Regiment:
1893 1903-1906 16 March 1916, Aged 22 10th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, attached to 47th T. M. Battery 2nd Lieutenant
The sad fate of Charles Kenyon was found from a letter written by his father to the War Office following his death. Charles was originally a native of Yorkshire, being born in Hooton Pagnell in 1893 to George and Ann Kenyon. By the 1911 census, the Kenyons had moved to 26 Rusper Road, Horsham, however it is conceivable that they had moved there before 1903, when Charles first started at RGS.
of Charles’ men - Sergeant Cosby - had written to him, we are able to see how he was killed. It seems Charles was in his dug-out with a number of others, when it suffered a direct hit from a German shell. Sergeant Cosby and Captain Rees of Charles’ Battery managed to survive the hit and climb their way out of the dug-out, but when they realised Charles had not gotten out, they went back in to find him.
Charles’ father George was a medical practitioner in Hooton Pagnell, and was still practicing medicine when Charles’ medals were dispatched to his parents in 1922 after the war.
It was this point two more shells hit, seriously wounding Captain Rees and knocking Cosby “silly”, to use his own expression. Charles was ultimately found and brought out by other men, and found to have received a fatal shrapnel wound to the head.
Charles joined the army on 8 September 1914, another Old Boy to join up soon after hostilities commenced. He was recorded as 5 ft. 7½, and was 20 at his last birthday. He was initially sent to the 10th (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment for training, however this unit was solely a training battalion, being stationed permanently in England. Charles was soon attached to the 47th Trench Mortar Battery, which was part of an Irish Division, the 16th (Irish). The division moved across to France in December 1915, concentrating around the Béthune area.
George Kenyon’s letter is very in keeping with the period. In it, he says it is a “great consolation to know that [Charles] died fighting for his ‘King and Country’,” as well as conveying his thanks to Lord Kitchener for his sympathy. He ends asking to be excused for the length of the letter he has written, even though he is talking about the death of his son, in a moving example of British “stiff upper-lip”.
Unfortunately, Charles was killed in midMarch of the next year, just three months after arriving. In a touching letter from his father to the War Office, explaining how one
Charles is buried at the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery at Souchez.
Walter Hewett Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1893 1907-1911 20 March 1916, Aged 22 20th Battalion, London Regiment (Territorial) Lance Sergeant
Walter is buried two rows away from Charles Kenyon at Souchez. He was born in Redhill in 1893 to Edward and Margaret Hewett, of Buckland and Norfolk respectively. The Hewetts were a large family, having ten children, and they lived at 34 St. Mary’s Road, Reigate. Whilst at RGS, Walter represented the school as part of both the football and cricket teams – he is also present in the picture of the football team on Hugh Fraser’s page; second from the left on the back row.
badly dug and poorly maintained, with very few strongpoints and many unburied bodies. It was around this time that Walter was killed in action, on 20 March 1916. We do not have the particulars of how he was killed, but he is buried at the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery at Souchez.
He went on to attend Goldsmiths College in London, where he studied to be a teacher. Walter’s grave register records that he was part of the Territorials before the war, so like many other ORs he was called up swiftly when war broke out, joining the 20th Battalion of the London Regiment (Blackheath and Woolwich). This battalion was housed at Hollyhedge House in Blackheath for training, just down the road from Goldsmiths, and crossed over to France on 10 March 1915, landing at Le Havre. The 20th were attached to the 47th (2nd London) Division, and so was present in a number of engagements throughout 1915, including the Battle of Loos where fellow ORs George Garton and Basil Bilcliffe fell. In early March 1916, the 47th Division took over part of the French line running from Loos to Ransart, with Walter’s battalion stationed around Carency, just behind the Vimy Ridge. The trenches here were in a terrible state –
Edward Griffith Francis Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1897 1906-1914 21 May 1916, Aged 19 8th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) 2nd Lieutenant
Edward was born in Woodford in Essex, and was the younger of two children of Edward and Annie Francis. Edward Snr. was a clerk for the Civil Service. Whilst Edward attended RGS the Francis family were living at 39 West Street in Reigate, presently next door to the Cranleigh Hotel – down the road from the Blue Anchor pub.
Walter Hewett’s battalion, and was stationed around Berthonval farm, near Carency. On 21 May 1916, the Germans made a large attack on Vimy Ridge, directly at the section of line Edward’s battalion was defending. German artillery bombardment around the Berthonval sector intensified at 5am that morning, and continued through to 11am, where it paused until 3pm. At this time, a large-scale shelling began on the front line where Edward’s battalion was located. It was in this phase of the attack that Edward was killed by shell-fire.
Edward was in the Football Team at RGS, first as the goalkeeper, and in his final year transferring to left-half. The match report of one memorable 8-7 loss to Battersea where Edward was goalkeeper describes how one Battersea player scored a remarkable goal with a shot at “an incredible angle which few people saw – certainly Francis didn’t.” He can be seen below in the team photo for 19121913; he is sitting on the floor on the left, in the all-white shirt.
The German shelling ceased at 7.45pm, and the infantry began their advance. They managed to take land deep into the British line, capturing large numbers of Edward’s battalion whilst they were still in their dugouts. Following this, the Germans dug in and secured their newly-captured land, and fought off the counter-attacks of the British in the following days. A larger counter-attack was planned to retake the lost land, however British High Command decided the resources it would take up would be better utilised at the coming Battle of the Somme planned for later that year.
Edward briefly attended the University of London, but was part of the senior branch of the OTC at the university, reaching the rank of Cadet Lance Corporal, so joined up in mid1915 and was given the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on 21 July 1915 within the Post Office Rifles.
Edward Francis’ body was not recovered following this attack as the German line had advanced beyond the point at which he died, and so he has no known grave. He is remembered on the Arras Memorial in the Faubourg-d'Amiens Cemetery.
This battalion was also in the 47th (2nd London) Division, and so Edward was again present for some of the battles other ORs lost their lives in. By March 1916 his battalion had moved up to take over the French part of the line with 28
Archibald Ernest Hood Born: RGS: Died: Regiment:
1894 1905-1907 28 June 1916, Aged 22 16th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen's Westminster Rifles) Rifleman
Archibald Hood was a local of South Park, Reigate, and lived in what was the Post Office on Allingham Road, now situated between the Reigate Subud Hall and the Co-op.
Germans used flamethrowers for the first time to take the château, and where OR Ronald Dempster died on 30 July 1915. The division undertook a counter-attack on 9 August 1915, retaking the château and surrounding area from the Germans.
Archibald’s father William was the postmaster for the area, as well as a draper, and Archibald helped his father in the business as a draper’s assistant. He was the middle of three children, having an older brother Robert, and a younger sister Hilda.
In early February 1916, the Queen’s Westminster Rifles were moved to the newly re-formed 56th (1st London) Division, so Archibald moved from fighting in Flanders to France.
Archibald seems to have joined up early on in the war, as his medal records show he received the 1914 Star, a medal awarded for serving in France/Belgium between 5 August – 22 November 1914, and it also states he entered field operations in early November.
Unfortunately, Archibald Hood was wounded in the trenches in mid-June 1916, and subsequently died of his wounds on 28 June 1916. He is buried at Couin British Cemetery, between Arras and Amiens.
He was a Rifleman in the 16th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles), who were stationed on the front for most of 1915, as part of 6th Division. They were present at Hooge at the time the
Ernest Charles Lambert Born: RGS: Died: Regiment:
1875 1886-1893 30 June 1916, Aged 40 Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to the 12th Battalion (Bermondsey), East Surrey Regiment Lieutenant
Dr Ernest Lambert was another of RGS’ medical men to answer to the call. At the age of 40, he was also among the oldest of the Old Reigatians to give his life in the war.
dining room of the Officers Mess was hit by a High Explosive shell. Ernest was in the dining room dressing the wounds of a comrade at the time, and was severely wounded. He was taken to the base hospital, but sadly he died of his wounds on 30 June 1916.
Ernest was originally from Redhill, and his parents still lived there at the time of his death. After attending Reigate Grammar School, Ernest enrolled at Westminster Hospital to study medicine. He took the diplomas of MRCS and LRCP in 1898, and also the MD Brussels in 1903. Before the war, Ernest filled the post of assistant medical officer of Wandsworth Workhouse.
His orderly, Corporal Southall, wrote of Ernest’s death: “The doctor was one of the nicest men I have ever met. I still remember before our departure for France being introduced to his wife who had come down to Aldershot for a last visit and being asked by her to look after the doctor in France. Alas! No human agency could have protected him from the shell that wounded him so severely at Ploegsteert that he subsequently died from his injuries. He had 35 wounds of various sizes, and, although none was actually fatal, the shock must have made him succumb, and he died at the base hospital. I missed him terribly, as he proved a great friend to me during the early days of my life with the 12th.”
In November 1915, Ernest applied for a temporary commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was commissioned as a Lieutenant and attached to the 12th Battalion (Bermondsey), East Surrey Regiment as their medical officer. This battalion was stationed at Aldershot until they moved across to France on 2 May 1916. They quickly moved into position at Ploegsteert in Belgium, with Battalion H.Q. set up at Soyer Farm, to the south-west of Ploegsteert. The battalion was taken off the line on 17 June 1916, and pulled back to recover around Soyer Farm. Unfortunately, the area was still well within range of German artillery, and it was during this rest period that Ernest was killed.
Ernest Lambert left a wife and two children, and is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.
On 23 June between 8-9pm, Soyer Farm was shelled by German artillery. During this, the
Harold Charles Barker Born: RGS: Died: Regiment:
1897 1912-1913 1 July 1916, Aged 19 16th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen's Westminster Rifles) Rifleman
Harold Barker died at the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916, and was one among almost 20,000 British deaths on the first day of the battle. This was the worst day in British military history, with a total of 60,000 dead, wounded or missing. Harold was the only son of Charles and Clara Sarah Anne Barker, with two sisters. His father was a superintendent for Prudential Assurance, and they lived on St. Mary’s Road, Reigate whilst Harold was at Reigate Grammar School.
On 1 July 1916, at 7.30am, the signal for the Big Push to begin was given. At Gommecourt, the British troops advanced swiftly, and managed to take the first three German trenches in quick succession. However, over the course of the afternoon German counter-attacks, co-ordinated with targeted bombing attacks, managed to regain each captured position. At the end of the first day at Gommecourt, no real difference to positions had been made, with massive casualties on the British side. The 56th Division alone had sustained 4,313 casualties, with Harold Barker being one of them.
Like many of the other Old Boys who served during the war, he was a member of RGS’ OTC unit, and was also a chorister at St. Mary’s Church for a number of years. Harold enlisted on 13 November 1915, and following his training was moved to France on 2 May 1916 to join the Queen's Westminster Rifles, the same battalion of the London Regiment that Archibald Hood was in.
Harold was declared missing after the disastrous attack, with his body never found. He has no known grave, but is remembered on the Thiepval Monument, dedicated to The Missing of the Somme.
As preparation for the Battle of the Somme, the 56th (1st London) Division – the division his battalion was a part of – moved up to Gommecourt to take part in a diversionary attack to the northern flank of the German line, in order to stop German troops being moved south to reinforce the rest of the line, where the main offensive would happen.
John Walter Pym Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1894 1905 7 July 1916, Aged 21 7th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment 2nd Lieutenant
John Pym’s family was a well-established one in Reigate during this period – his father John Morrison Pym had been born in Reigate in 1849, and another branch of the Pyms had supplied a mayor of the town in 1879-1881. John’s family lived in a house called “Deseronto” on Doods Park Road, which still stands. He was baptised at St. Mary’s Church, as were John’s siblings, and there is currently a memorial plaque dedicated to John in the Church.
area. This may suggest he was wounded at the front and brought back to be treated, where he then unfortunately died. In a letter to John’s parents, a fellow officer in his company said even though he had been with the battalion for only a short time, he “was very popular with both men and officers. We all expected great things of him as a soldier, as he seemed to thoroughly enjoy trench life, and did not know what fear was. I was talking to him a few hours before he was shot, and he was extremely cheerful and happy. I am sure it will be a great comfort to you to know that he felt no pain whatever.”
John attended RGS for one year after passing the 11+, but left to go to Sutton Valence School near Maidstone to finish the rest of his education. His younger brother Philip also attended RGS, and stayed here for the duration. Upon completing his education, he began training as a chartered surveyor at an office in London, however he decided this was not for him and instead left for New Zealand in 1911, where he became a sheep farmer.
John’s medals have been donated to the Imperial War Museum by his niece, and include the British War Medal, the Victory Medal, and also the Medallion Plaque, issued to all the next of kin of men who had died in the war. The wartime records of the Pym siblings have also been donated, with papers about John, his brother Philip, and their sisters Eileen and Alice, as well as an undated photograph of John and Alice.
In 1915, after war broke out, he returned to England to enlist and serve his country. He spent a number of months training with the Inns of Court Training Corps, and gained a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Battalion of the London Regiment. He was drafted to France In May 1916, and joined his regiment whilst they were stationed around Vimy. Unfortunately, John Pym died on 7 July 1916, whilst his battalion was still stationed around Vimy. He is buried at the Bois de Noulette Cemetery near Arras, which was a graveyard used by the Field Ambulances at work in the 32
Stephen Frederick Weeks Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1887 1902-1904 10 July 1916, Aged 28 130th Field Company, Royal Engineers Lieutenant
Stephen Weeks was another OR to move overseas to the far reaches of the British Empire, moving to British Columbia on the west coast of Canada to be a surveyor.
The 25th Division crossed to France on 25-30 September 1915, and was posted to the front around Vimy. They were present at Vimy on 21 May 1916, where Edward Griffith died during the German assault on the ridge, and were soon moved back to the area behind the Somme front to act as part of the reserve force for the beginning of the Battle of the Somme in July.
Stephen was originally born in Bromley, Kent to Frederick and Martha Weeks, and attended Reigate Grammar School for his last two years of secondary education. He went on to study for a BSc in Surveying at the University of London, and then moved to B.C. to ply his trade as a surveyor.
On 10 July 1916, the 75th Brigade of Stephen’s division made an attack on the village of Ovillers, and presumably his company of Royal Engineers accompanied the attack to aid in the fortification of the new front line, as Stephen was declared killed in action the same day.
Upon outbreak of war, Stephen came back to England to enlist, with his military record stating he enlisted on 9 September 1914 into the Royal Engineers, due to his skill as a surveyor. He was assigned to 130th Field Company, which was allotted to the 25th Division of Kitchener’s Third New Army.
By the time of his death, Stephen had been promoted to Lieutenant of the Royal Engineers. He is believed to have been buried at Ovillers British Military Cemetery, however the actual grave is unknown.
Stephen’s unit stayed in England for most of 1915 for training, and during this period he was promoted first to Lance Corporal in March, 2nd Corporal (a now-redundant rank unique to the Royal Engineers between Lance Corporal and Corporal) in early May, and in mid-June was gazetted Temporary 2nd Lieutenant.
He left the sizeable sums of £2112 to his sister and £400 to his father in his will.
Albert Vistor Lewis Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1889 1902-1903 20 July 1916, Aged 28 2/8th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment Private
Albert Lewis was another OR to lose his life during the costly Battle of the Somme, dying at the Battle of Fromelles, having only been in France for less than a month. He was born in Kingston in 1889, and was the youngest of three children. His father is listed in the 1891 census as a “dealer of toys and games.”
1917. It was in this battle that Albert lost his life. Poor planning and the untested state of the British and Australian forces meant that the Germans outnumbered them 2:1 at the start of the battle. The attack commenced at 5.30pm on 19 July, with Albert’s battalion on the right flank of the fighting line. His battalion sustained huge amounts of casualties leaving their trench, as their sally-ports were covered by German machine-gun fire and many were cut down as they climbed out of their trenches, however they were more successful than most of the other attackers, managing to briefly take the first German trench.
By the time of Albert’s death in 1916, it seems his father had already died, and his mother was living at Malvern Villa on Cockshot Road, Reigate. It is feasible to suggest that Albert was living here during his time at RGS, or at least had moved to somewhere in the nearby area rather than Kingston. We have been unable to find when exactly Albert joined up, however it is almost certain he was with his battalion when they crossed over to France on 21 May 1916, as part of the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division. By 13 June they were on the Front.
The attack was called off early next morning, after the Germans pushed out the British from their trenches, and further British and Australian attacks failed to make any ground.
This incredibly inexperienced division was called to make a diversionary attack on 19 July 1916 with the 5th Australian Division - another untested division – to coincide with a large attack at the Somme. This attack - known as the Battle of Fromelles - was an overwhelming failure, and resulted in the one of the largest losses of Australian life in 24 hours, as well as Albert’s division being so understrength that it was only used to garrison trench lines until
Albert was declared killed in action on 20 July 1916, killed in the early morning of the second day whilst being forced back across No Man’s Land by the Germans. He is buried at Aubers Ridge Cemetery, to the south-west of where he died.
Francis Stanley Mott Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1896 1909 23 July 1916, Aged 20 24th (2nd Sportsman’s) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers 2nd Lieutenant
The research for Francis Mott’s story has been a confusing one, as on the war memorial he is recorded as F. L. Mott, and furthermore the copies of The Pilgrim Magazine from the time all record F. L. Mott. However, there is no record of an F. L. Mott at school or in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but rather an F. S. Mott. Further research leaves us in no doubt that the F. L. Mott of the war memorial is this Francis Stanley Mott.
a crack shot, so he fitted well with the men of the 24th.
Francis was born in Horley in 1896 to Frank and Alice Mott, and went to Burstow Primary School before taking up his secondary education at Cranleigh, with a single year at RGS at age 13. Following his scholarly education he went on to become an engineer, and spent a year in Germany studying at a steelworks, where he learnt the language.
He joined up as a Private, but in May 1915 he gained a commission from the ranks to 2nd Lieutenant. According to the Surrey Mirror press release following his death, Francis possessed a noble spirit and was imbued with lofty ideals. The quality of his character is shown in a letter he sent home to his parents in April 1916 –
Upon declaration of war, Francis joined up almost immediately on 19 August 1914 – only 15 days after the official declaration. He was quickly sent to Flanders in September to help the RAMC in treating the wounded German soldiers that had been captured, due to his command of the German language.
“I hope they will let us go over the top and give the Huns “What Ho” and then let the war be at an end. I am sure it would be a blessing if we could get into open fighting again as when we started. I am now sitting on the veranda behind the firing line writing this letter and enjoying glorious sunshine.”
Francis soon decided that his job could be done by older men, and so requested a transfer to a fighting post. He managed to obtain a spot in a Sportsman’s Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, named because it was made up of men who had made their names in cricket, football, golf and the like. Francis was known as a skilled cricketer and swimmer, as well as
Unfortunately, Francis Mott was wounded in the trenches only three months after penning this in mid-July, and sadly died at a Casualty Clearing Station at Lapugnoy on 23 July 1916. He lies in Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, just down the road from Béthune.
Charles Vincent Holder Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1885 1893-1900 24 August 1916, Aged 31 5th Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry 2nd Lieutenant
Charles was training as an artist when he joined up, following in the footsteps of his renowned father. His father, Edward Henry Holder, was a wellknown painter from Yorkshire, specialising in the painting of landscapes. He exhibited from 1864-1893 at Suffolk Street also at the Royal Academy (1872-1873). His works were mostly of coastal views in Yorkshire, but the family moved to Reigate in 1871 where he painted a number of views in Surrey and Sussex. He also made a trip to South Africa where he painted Victoria Falls, amongst other scenes, which were exhibited at the Royal Academy upon his return.
It was later part of the Battle of Delville Wood, as part of the greater Battle of the Somme, between July and September 1916. It was in this battle that Charles fell. The battle was plagued by bad weather and ammunition shortages on both sides, which frequently reduced it to small piecemeal attacks across thick muddy battlefields, and costly in lives. The 14th Division relieved another division on 12 August, and took over the eastern side of the wood.
Charles Holder was born in Reigate in 1885, and the family lived on Holmesdale Road whilst he was at school at Reigate Grammar. He exhibited a flair for painting like his father, and following school he enrolled at the Royal Academy School to train as an artist. He was still at the Royal Academy training when war broke out in 1914, and he joined up, entering the 5th Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.
A large attack was made on 24 August with the intent to take the entire wood from the Germans. The division managed to advance the line significantly, taking a number of prisoners and machine-guns from the Germans, sadly however during this advance Charles Holder fell. No word of his remains was given to his family until March the following year, when his father received a letter enclosing his identity disk. In his reply, his father asked if this meant his body was found, but unfortunately it did not. He has no known grave, but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.
The battalion undertook training at Aldershot and Chiddingford, before making the crossing to France in May 1915. As part of the 14th (Light) Division, Charles’ battalion saw action at Hooge in May 1915, where Ronald Dempster was killed during the German attack with flamethrowers.
Harold William Budden Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1894 1907-11 14 September 1916, Aged 25 12th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers 2nd Lieutenant
Harold Budden was among a number of men to travel to Macedonia to defend Serbia, and sadly did not return. Harold was another local boy, born in Redhill and living at 61 Ladbroke Road in Redhill whilst at school. He was one of the five children of Newton and Harriet Budden, and his father was a Loss Adjuster for Commercial Assurance.
by Bulgaria. Therefore, Harold probably spent most of the first half of 1916 digging trenches and setting barbed wire around the city. In the summer of 1916, the Bulgarians attempted an invasion of Greece. This invasion was repulsed by the British forces at Lake Dorian in July, and in response the British mounted a counter-offensive attack north.
Harold had managed to gain a scholarship place to Reigate Grammar School when he applied, and was a member of the school OTC whilst he was here. After leaving school he attended Wye Agricultural College to study agriculture. He had just finished his course at Wye when the war broke out.
As part of this counter-offensive, Harold’s battalion – along with a battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment – stormed the village of Machukovo (now known as Evzonoi) on 13-14 September 1916. The village was a border town within Greece, bordering what was then occupied Serbia, and garrisoned by a German force. The two British battalions managed to take the village, but it was too exposed to German artillery fire so they were forced to retreat on the second day.
Harold’s enlistment papers show he enlisted in Westminster on 15 September 1914, just four weeks after the declaration. He trained for a few months with the Universities and Public Schools Corps, before gaining a commission as 2nd Lieutenant with the 12th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. The battalion went across to France with the rest of its division in September 1915, but almost immediately it was put on a train down to Marseilles to be sent to the Macedonian Front, arriving in Salonika (now Thessaloniki) in November.
It was on this second day that Harold Budden was killed in action. In the March 1917 edition of The Pilgrim, another Old Boy C. M. Duncan writes that he was commanding an artillery battery supporting the raid, and saw Harold hit after the position was taken. Duncan took solace in believing they “made [the Germans] pay three times over for every man they hit.”
The original objective for the troops being sent to Macedonia was to aid the Serbians against Bulgaria, however by the time they arrived in Salonika the Serbs had already been defeated. Instead, the army dug in around Salonika to be prepared for any other attacks
He has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Dorian Memorial on the south-east shore of Lake Dorian. 37
William Price Farrington Born: RGS: Died: Regiment:
1882 1895 16 September 1916, Aged 34 140th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry); formerly of the 7th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment Corporal
William Farrington was from another well-established Reigate family; the Farringtons had owned the Lime Works on Reigate Hill for over 100 years, the business first being established by Benjamin Farrington in the early 1800s.
However, he was soon wounded again, and returned to England. He subsequently joined the Machine Gun Corps on his second return to England, becoming part of the 140th Company; this unit was in the same division as his old one, the 47th (2nd London) Division.
William was the son of Frederick and Ann Farrington, and had eight siblings. At the time of the 1911 census, William was still living with his parents, as were two of his brothers and a sister – Ernest, Arthur, and Alice.
William’s final action was seen at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette beginning on 15 September 1916, when his division managed to take High Wood after a two-month long struggle to wrestle it from the Germans. This was the first battle to feature the newly-invented tank, however during the attack on High Wood the majority of the tanks broke down or became stuck in shell-holes.
Frederick was an Alderman of Reigate, and the family lived at the Lime Works, found behind the Yew Tree Pub on Reigate Hill. Frederick operated the Lime Works until his death in 1927, when it was closed. William was an engineer by trade, and at the time he joined up he was articled to a Mr Prescott, who had been the Surveyor and Engineer to the Borough of Reigate, before moving to the Borough of Tottenham and taking William with him. He had just passed the exam of the Institute of Engineers when he joined up, and had every prospect of a successful career had he lived.
During the battle the 47th Division sustained over 4,500 casualties, and unfortunately William was one of them, killed on 16 September. One of his officers, 2nd Lt. Norman Galloway, wrote to Frederick Farrington saying: “I deeply regret to have to inform you that your son Cpl. Farrington has been killed in action while gallantly carrying out his duty under heavy artillery and machine gun fire. He was to have been made Sergeant, and was loved both by his officers and men. Always a keen soldier and willing worker, I as his officer, can pay him no greater compliment than to say he was a splendid fellow. We miss him intensely. Pray accept on behalf of myself and section our heartfelt sympathy.”
He joined the 7th Battalion of the London Regiment in August 1914, and spent the winter training in Watford. They moved over to France in March 1915. William fought in the Battle of Festubert in May 1915 (where Gill and Morrison were killed), where he was among the 128 wounded of his battalion over the course of the battle. He was sent back to England to recuperate, before returning to France later that year.
William’s body was not found, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. 38
Edward Arthur Vowell Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1891 1903-1907 17 September 1916, Aged 25 3rd Canadian Pioneer Battalion (48th Canadians) Corporal
Edward was the second of our Old Reigatians to give his life after moving to Canada following school; Stephen Weeks having done the same and dying earlier in 1916. Edward and his family had lived for many years in South Park in Reigate, and was the only son of Jane and Arthur Vowell. He was a member of the OTC whilst at school, and was known by his schoolmates for his high spirits and general good nature.
division sustained heavy casualties from a German assault on their position, including the death of their commanding officer MajorGeneral Malcolm Mercer. Following this battle, the 3rd Canadian Division was moved down to the Somme, and participated in the Battle of Flers– Courcelette, where William Farrington also died. Edward’s battalion was positioned on the left flank of the attack, at the northernmost part of the line. The attack began on 15 September, and they made considerable ground on the first day, advancing 2km and taking the village of Courcelette.
After leaving the Grammar School, Edward followed in the footsteps of his father and trained as a civil engineer, finding work at the Park Royal Electrical Power Station in London. However, soon after he moved to British Columbia to take up a position as a surveyor and draughtsman on the Canadian Pacific Railway, a post he held until the start of the war.
Over the next few days, the Canadians had to face German counter-attacks that tried to clear them from the village, and it seems during this period of fighting Edward was sadly killed, dying on 16 September 1916. He is buried at the Pozieres British Cemetery, just down the road from Courcelette.
Rather than returning to England to join up, as Stephen Weeks had, Edward joined up in Victoria, B.C., as part of the 48th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry. Before shipping out, this battalion was redesignated as a pioneer battalion, and named the 3rd Canadian Pioneer Battalion (48th Canadians). A pioneer battalion had a dual role as semi-skilled labourers for the Engineers, as well as being standard infantry, and presumably Edward’s battalion was made into a pioneer unit due to the large numbers of railway workers joining it.
According to the Surrey Mirror Edward was soon to have obtained a commission as an officer into the Royal Engineers, had he not been killed, due to his training as a civil engineer. He was esteemed by both men and officers for his courage and bravery under fire, as noted by his awarding of the Military Cross, gazetted 27 October 1916.
Edward was shipped off to France, and by December 1915 his battalion had formed as part of the 3rd Canadian Division. His first major engagement was at the Battle of Mount Sorrel between 2-14 June 1916, where his 39
George William Tully Ballard Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1881 1893-1895 21 February 1917, Aged 35 16th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment (Public Schools) Private
George Ballard was the first OR casualty of 1917, sadly dying in late February whilst in the trenches of the Somme, just before the Germans fell back to the Hindenburg Line the following month. George was the son of George and Mary Ann Ballard, and the family lived at 26 High Street in Reigate, above what is now Santander. George Senior worked as a groom.
numbers were volunteers.
Not much has been obtained about George from his time at school, however he did possess a fine baritone voice, and was a member of a number of choirs including the choir of St. John’s Church in Redhill. Those who knew him described him as “unassuming and of a quiet disposition”, as well as “a good friend”. He was also well known as a charitable person, always singing at concerts not only in the Borough, but throughout the county.
The battalion crossed to France in April 1916, and was soon participating in the Somme Offensive in July. George managed to survive the most brutal battles of the Somme in 1916, particularly the first day where his battalion attacked Beaumont Hamel, and sustained 522 casualties over the course of a few hours. Unfortunately in late February 1917, his sister received a letter from a nurse of a hospital near Meaulte, saying that George had been shot in the chest, thigh and abdomen and was admitted to the hospital on 20 February. He had given the nurse the address of his sister, but was too weak to send any message. During the night, he passed away peacefully in his sleep.
After leaving school, George became a solicitor’s clerk at Messrs. Mole, Rosling and Vernon, and worked there for 20 years before joining the army during the war. By this point, George had moved into his own house at 42 High Street in Redhill, which has since presumably been demolished for the large building that houses Frankie and Benny’s.
Once word had reached home of George’s passing, his old choir at St. John’s Church sang his favourite anthem the following Sunday in remembrance.
George joined the 16th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, which was a “Public School Battalion”. This was a type of Pals Battalion originally made up of ex-public schoolboys and university students, but eventually due to the shortage of men the
George Ballard is buried at Grove Town Cemetery in Meaulte.
Cyril Hood Rayner Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1892 1904-1911 24 February 1917, Aged 25 18th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers 2nd Lieutenant
Cyril Rayner’s death came as a heavy blow to the school and the Old Reigatian community, as he was very much involved in all aspects of the school, both whilst attending and after. Cyril was born in Reigate, and whilst attending RGS his family lived at 17 Chart Lane, Reigate. His father was the District Manager of Commercial Assurance based in Redhill, where Harold Budden’s father also worked.
quickly sent to India. Whilst his fellow OR Geoffrey Cragg transferred to the 2nd Norfolks for the Mesopotamia Campaign, Cyril applied for a commission, and was soon assigned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He returned to England for training, and was soon sent off to France with his men.
He joined RGS with a Foundation scholarship in 1904, later gaining a Major scholarship for his final year in 1911. Whilst at school, Cyril was a prefect, member of both the football and cricket teams - the latter of which he was captain of – as well as prominent in drama. He was also a member of the OTC, reaching the rank of Sergeant and winning the Challenge Shield several times in succession.
He served through the Somme as a Lewis Gun Officer, and was often given some of the most dangerous tasks to perform during assaults, which he did admirably. He earned a commendation of the Division General from his actions, and according to the Surrey Mirror a fellow officer said that he was so beloved by his men that they would follow him anywhere.
Upon leaving, he joined the West End branch of the Alliance Assurance Company, and following a recruitment drive in Reigate joined the 5th Queens’ Territorials with fellow OR Geoffrey Cragg, who died in Mesopotamia in 1916.
Sadly, Cyril Rayner died during a bombardment on his trench by gas and explosive shells on 24 February 1917, which occurred at between 7.45-8.30pm according to the battalion war diary. The bombardment killed Cyril and five “other ranks.”
Cyril’s involvement with the school did not end after he left; he was a prominent committee member in the Old Boys Club, heading the Old Boys Dramatic Society and helping produce Twelfth Night, amongst other plays, as well as captaining the Old Boys football team in June 1914 against the school XI team.
Amongst the touching memorials for Cyril is one at the beginning of the March 1917 issue of The Pilgrim magazine, which comments on his character as “keen, energetic, upright, and reliable; Cyril Rayner was one of the best type of good fellows which a school like this can produce.”
Cyril was with his territorial battalion at a training camp as war broke out, and they were
He is one of 10 men who lie in Rosieres Communal Cemetery, just east of Amiens. 41
Herbert Cooper Keith Bidlake Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1896 1905-1912 25 February 1917, Aged 20 9th (Service) Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment Captain
Herbert Bidlake served in Mesopotamia, and was another OR to be commended for outstanding bravery in the line of duty. Herbert had been born in Southport, Lancashire in 1896, and in order to attend Reigate Grammar School he boarded with one of the teachers, Mr Samuel Eade. His father, Mr H Bidlake, was a Director of a company called Malt Products Ltd. By the time of Herbert’s death, his family had moved down to Reigate, living in a house called “Ivyhurst” on Ringley Park Road. According to an account of Herbert in the Surrey Mirror, he joined his battalion, the 9th of the Worcestershire Regiment, in Mesopotamia in September 1916. The battalion had previously been at Gallipoli, where the division it was in (the 13th (Western) Division) lost over 6,000 men to death, injury or missing out of its original strength of 10,500. Once the Gallipoli Campaign was abandoned, the division was moved to Egypt, and from there down to Mesopotamia to try and lift the siege on British-occupied Kut. Unfortunately, they were unable to break the siege, and the garrison surrendered to the Turks on 29 April 1916. For the rest of the summer, the division rested to refit and replenish its severely reduced battalions before moving on to take Baghdad, and this is when Herbert arrived into the 9th Worcestershires. He quickly gained the respect of the veteran members of the battalion as a brave and gallant officer, working as a Lewis Gun Officer. In his first action on 15 December, he took his Lewis Gun and assaulted an entrenched position until “both he and his gun were out of action.” 42
He took a bullet to the arm in this action, but stayed in service for two days after, and only stayed at the hospital for as short a period as possible so he could re-join his comrades in the field. He was discharged from hospital on 20 January 1917 and by the next day, he was given command of a company; such was his ability. Unfortunately on 25 February he was sitting in a trench with his battalion Major when he was shot. The Major explained that the trench was so shallow that they had to expose themselves to see the enemy. “It was while doing this that he was hit. The bullet entered close to the ear and passed out in the neck on the other side, cutting the artery. He fell without a sound right across my feet as I sat there. From the first moment I knew he could not possibly live […]. Death was very quick, and I am sure completely painless. There was no look of pain upon his face, which was quite peaceful.” The Major managed to get a stretcher team to Herbert the next morning, and he was buried in a short length of trench they had dug for him. He is buried about halfway between Kut and Azizie, and commemorated on the Basra Memorial. If he had not died, Herbert’s heroic actions during his short tour would have singled him out for reward – he was mentioned in a despatch by Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Maude, the commanding officer of all Allied forces in Mesopotamia, and had caught the eye of many other high ranking officers. It may be because of this that whilst his death certificate records his rank as a 2nd Lieutenant, he is recorded on the Basra Memorial as Captain Herbert Bidlake.
Donald Whitley Figg Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1886 1898-1899 5 March 1917, Aged 31 24th Battalion, London Regiment, later Royal Fusiliers Lieutenant Colonel, D.S.O
Lieutenant Colonel Donald Figg was the most decorated of the Reigatians to give their lives in the war, receiving the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) and made a Chevalier of the French Legion d’Honneur.
When war broke out he was one of the first to enlist, re-joining his old battalion and coming under the command of Capt. Frank Gill as a Lieutenant. In the Battle of Festubert on 26 May 1915 where both Gill and Morrison died, Donald was awarded the DSO; an impressive feat as these are usually given out to Captains or above. Donald led a platoon of bombers to assault the German trench in the same way Morrison did, and upon the death of Gill he took command of the company to beat off the German counter-attacks for four hours.
Donald was born in Redhill, and his family lived in a house called “Garlands” there, that still stands. His father William was a Tea Broker, and Donald worked as a broker’s clerk at the Baltic Exchange. He had seven siblings, and at least one of them served in the war too. As mentioned in the earlier entry for Frank Gill and William Morrison, Donald and his family were active at their local church on Shaw’s Corner, to the extent that Donald has both a memorial plaque and a memorial window in the church now, with the school’s crest on one of the panes of the window.
This action secured his promotion to Captain in Gill’s place, and was subsequently awarded the Legion d’Honneur by France, a rare honour for a British soldier. For the rest of 1915-16, Donald fought in several major battles with his battalion, including the Battle of Loos in late 1915, and a number of actions within the Battle of the Somme in 1916. During this time Donald was promoted first to Major, and by Christmas 1916 to Lieutenant Colonel.
Whilst at RGS Donald did not join the OTC, but he had been an officer for a number of years in the Reigate Boys Brigade, and took command of 2nd Company upon the retirement of Capt. Gordon Gill (Frank Gill’s brother).
He was given command of the 20th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers after promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, and managed to secure home leave to Redhill for Christmas.
After leaving RGS, Donald joined the 24th County of London Regiment as a Lieutenant, serving with many of his old school friends – Gill and Morrison included. He was able to leave the army after a number of years for good service to the army to pursue his career at the Baltic Exchange.
Sadly, he was only with his new battalion for a short time when he was shot and killed by a sniper in the trenches. Donald Figg died at Clery-sur-Somme on 5 March 1917. He is buried at Hem Farm Military Cemetery, HemMonacu, and has a memorial plaque dedicated to him in the church on Shaw’s Corner. 43
Herbert Marshall Headley Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1897 1911-1913 11 March 1917, Aged 19 18th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps 2nd Lieutenant
Herbert Headley was one of several Old Reigatians to transfer to the newlyformed Royal Flying Corps during WW1, to take to the air in the dangerous yet exhilarating new flying machines.
On 11 March 1917, Herbert took off in a FE2b (pictured below) acting as a Navigator/Gunner under his pilot, Sergeant H P Burgess. They were escorting a photographic patrol that was to take pictures of the enemy trenches around Baupaume. They were met by a German squadron of planes, and in the following engagement Herbert’s plane was hit at 8,000 ft. and went down behind enemy lines.
Herbert was born in Merstham in 1897 to Edwin and Eleanor Headley as their only child, and christened at St. Katherine’s Church. His family moved a number of times, living in various addresses around Horley and Redhill. At the time of attending RGS, Herbert lived on Linkfield Street in Redhill. He first joined the 9th Lancers when war broke out at the age of just 17, but quickly obtained a commission in the Field Artillery instead and moved to France in January 1916 following training in England. In May 1916 he volunteered to join a trench mortar battery, and stayed with them until 18 December 1916. Herbert is pictured above in his RFA uniform.
He was declared missing after the return of the surviving planes of his squadron, and efforts were made by the War Office to see if he had been taken prisoner. However, once the British line had advanced over the next few months, a soldier who had seen the notice in the Surrey Mirror declaring Herbert missing happened upon a grave with the inscription: “Hier ruht der Englander 1st Leutn H M Headley 18th Squadron 22 w RFC 11.3.17”
On 18 December, Herbert transferred to the Royal Flying Corps – a brave move, with half of pilots dying in training; the planes they were flying, invented barely 10 years previously, were made of just wood and canvas.
Herbert Headley had lasted just over three months in the Royal Flying Corps, and had actually qualified as a Pilot Officer the day before his fateful last flight, even though he had flown it as a Navigator/Gunner. In mid-August 1917, a letter was received by his family from the War Office that said that his identity disks had been returned by the German Government via a neutral embassy. He is now buried in the Mory Abbey Military Cemetery, near Baupaume. 44
Charles Pakeman Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1895 1909 19 March 1917, Aged 22 “B” Battery, 153rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery Gunner
Charles Pakeman had an eventful military career during the war, which included being discharged as unfit for service early on but showing the determination to fight for his country and re-joining as an artilleryman.
“July 1st found him on the Somme in the Great Push: he had then been signalling for some time and formed one of a trio laying wires up with the advance. About 2 o’clock on that day, in a sunken road in ‘No Man’s Land’ he was asked by his officer to take a message to headquarters. While the officer was writing the despatch he was struck down by shrapnel. Pakeman with the help of his comrades removed him a distance and was then left with him whilst his comrade went for help, and they finally got him to a dressing station at six o’clock the following morning, for which deed he received ten days special leave, and came home the last week in Oct, which proved to be his last visit to home.”
Charles made the most of his time at RGS, taking part in the OTC, as well as representing the school in both football and cricket. He was also a contributing member to the Old Boys Club upon leaving school. After leaving RGS in 1909, Charles managed to secure an apprenticeship for himself in the ironmongery business with Messrs T S Marriage and Co. – their shop was located on Bell Street, in the building now occupied by Bill’s Restaurant. He did well for himself during his apprenticeship, and gained a full job working at Marriage and Co. as an ironmonger. Charles was still working here when war broke out with Germany in 1914. Charles immediately joined up, joining the Royal Marines Artillery. He spent three months at Eastney in Portsmouth, the RMA’s barracks, before being discharged as unfit for military service. He returned to civilian life for a while, but clearly worked towards the aim of re-joining the army as on 7 June 1915, he joined the Royal Field Artillery.
Sadly, a letter reached his family in Gatton on 13 March 1917 that Charles had been grievously wounded after a High Explosive shell had exploded near him. The explosion caused much damage to his legs and feet, and Charles was forced to have both feet amputated.
He moved across to France in November of that year, following a few months of training in England, and was in front line service by February 1916.
In the letter home, both his Major and the Chaplain said he was a cheerful and bright young man, and that he bore his affliction well. However, his condition deteriorated soon after losing both his feet, and Charles passed away on 19 March 1917.
Charles was present on the first day of the Somme, and the Surrey Mirror documents this:
Charles Pakeman is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension in France, near the Belgian border. 45
William Harold Streeter Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1896 1910-1913 10 April 1917, Aged 20 9th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) Private
William Streeter fought in the first major Allied offensive of 1917 – The Battle of Arras – and was present in the first movement of the battle, the First Battle of the Scarpe beginning on 9 April 1917. It was in this engagement that he gave his life.
Stephen was killed in the attack to take Ovillers itself. The battalion moved around to other parts of the line for the rest of the Battle of the Somme, and took part in a number of other actions at Pozieres and Le Transloy, before being taken out of the line for a much needed rest in December; their first since June.
William was originally from Croydon, having been born there to George and Hagar Streeter, and was the youngest of eight children – six older brothers and one older sister.
In early 1917 the Allies decided to mount a new offensive at Arras, and on 9 April this began with the First Battle of the Scarpe. The Allied artillery had been bombarding German positions since 3 April, and on 9 April the infantry began to advance under a creeping barrage – where the artillery increased their range by 100 yards at a time, with the infantry following in its wake. William took part in this advance.
The Streeter family soon moved to Horne, in a cottage called “Brandford”, and William was baptised in Horne Church. William attended RGS on a scholarship, and also had a job as a milkman during his time at school, according to the 1911 census. It seems William left in 1913 after 5th Form, after passing his Junior School Examinations – even receiving distinction in his arithmetic exam.
The Allied advance was very successful, taking most of their objectives by the evening of 10 April. The line had advanced by some 4000 yards, with William’s division losing 2018 casualties. Unfortunately, William was amongst them, having been killed on the second day of the battle around near Wancourt.
William joined the Royal Fusiliers in the war, and was heavily involved in fighting for most of 1916. In the Battle of the Somme, the 9th Battalion was part of the reserve force that took over the line at Ovillers after the first day of the Somme on 1 July, and mounted a successful attack on 7 July that captured the spur of land the village of Ovillers was on. They were relieved by the division Stephen Weeks was in on 9 July, and the next day
He now lies in Feuchy Chapel British Cemetery, in Wancourt.
Charles Maxwell Smith Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1897 1903-1912 3 May 1917, Aged 20 3/7th Battalion Essex Regiment, attached to Middlesex Regiment 2nd Lieutenant
Unfortunately not much information has been found on Charles Smith, however we do know that he was the son of Frank and Caroline Smith, and that they lived in a house called “Hazelbank” on Beech Road in Reigate. According to the copies of The Pilgrim from the time, it seems Charles joined the 3/7th Battalion of the Essex Regiment, which was formed as a reserve battalion during the war.
regiment. This seems to have been the case with Charles, as even though he was part of the Essex Regiment, he seems to have been sent to serve in the Middlesex Regiment in France upon completing his training.
When conscription was announced in 1916, the influx of recruits was too much for the previous system of reserve battalions for each regiment to cope, so a centralised system was put in place, where reserve battalions were grouped together rather than staying with their parent regiments.
We have not been able to find which battalion of the Middlesex Regiment he was attached to, which means we are unable to know exactly where he had been during the course of the war. We do know however that Charles was declared missing, and later killed in action, in the area around Arras on 3 May 1917.
This had the effect of sending trained recruits to wherever there was a shortage of men in any area of the army, rather than their actual
He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to those with no known grave.
Group photo of the officers of the Essex Regiment – Charles is the man on the far right of the middle row, where the arrow is aimed.
Arthur Reynolds Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1895 1908-1911 14 June 1917, Aged 21 10th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Lance Corporal
Arthur Reynolds was another native of Redhill, living in a house at 107 Station Road with his parents Alfred and Mary Reynolds – the house has since been pulled down for the AXA Assistance building. Arthur was heavily involved in the sporting side of school at RGS, and was described as an “all-round athlete and charming companion” by an unknown source in the Surrey Mirror. He was also a member of the school OTC.
German lines around St. Eloi. Over the course of the next 12 hours, the Allied forces managed to take all of their objectives, taking German trenches from the scattered defenders following the mine detonations.
Upon leaving Reigate Grammar School, Arthur was apprenticed to the local chemists under Mr William Henry Fowler in Redhill. He seems to have still been working here when he enlisted into the army on 21 June 1915.
Arthur himself received a commendation from the Major General commanding the 41st Division, saying “I wish to place on record my appreciation of your gallantry during the attack on St. Eloi trenches. You with your Lewis gun team fought under heavy shell fire, inflicting losses on the enemy.”
He was assigned to the 10th Battalion in the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, which was officially raised two weeks prior to his enlistment in Battersea. After a number of months of training, Arthur moved across to France with his battalion in early May 1916, and fought in a number of actions as part of the Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916, including the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, where Edward Vowell was killed.
Unfortunately, Arthur was wounded in the subsequent actions at Messines, being severely wounded in the legs from shellfire on 14 June. He was taken back to a dressing station to have his wounds treated, but sadly succumbed that day.
In June 1917, Arthur’s battalion had a prominent role in the Battle of Messines. The battle began on 7 June, with the detonation of a number of mines that had been dug underneath the German trenches at 3.10am – ranked as one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history.
His commanding officer wrote to Arthur’s parents expressing his sympathy, and said that he “showed the most splendid courage” whilst being treated. He also enclosed the card from the Division commander, saying “you should prize the card very very much. It means almost as much as a medal. I am glad to send it to you.”
Immediately following the explosions, Arthur’s battalion advanced with the rest of its division - the 41st Division - towards the
Arthur is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, near the dressing station he was taken to. 48
William Roger Charlwood Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1898 1908-1916 18 July 1917, Aged 19 6th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment 2nd Lieutenant
William Charlwood was still at school when the war began – he would have moved into Sixth Form in September 1914 – and upon finishing his time at RGS immediately joined up. mention in dispatches and the thanks of the Brigadier-General. The Surrey Mirror records that he led his company on two attacks on a German bombing sap at 4.30am:
William’s father was also a William Charlwood, who was a well-known baker in the area – he was the owner of Charlwood & Sons Bakery on West Street; now Ripples bathroom shop.
“In his first attack he personally killed three Germans with his revolver and obtained nine prisoners, and in his second attack he steadied his men so well that he was able to hold on to the German post, thereby enabling us to regain what ground was lost by another battalion.”
Whilst William was at school, he was a prominent member of both the school and Redstone House cricket teams; in the last edition of The Pilgrim magazine before he left (July 1916), he is described as a character, and possessing “a sturdy, though unlovely defence, and proceeds to stab and chop and do all sorts of things with the best that is served up to him.”
Unfortunately, William was killed only the next day at around 7.30am. He was being recommended for the Military Cross by his Commanding Officer, which would have been heartily supported by the Brigadier-General. The CO wrote to William’s mother in condolences, and said that:
He was also a member of the OTC, and upon leaving continued his military career by joining an Officer Cadet Battalion with a view to gain a commission in the army. His attestation papers state that he stood at 5 ft. 7, which was the average height for British soldiers during WW1.
“His men speak most highly of him and his pleasant manner, even under fire, had a splendid effect on his men. If he had lived promotion for him would have been very rapid.”
William was soon through his training, and gained a commission in the 6th Battalion of the Queen’s Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant. He went across the Channel on 17 July 1917, and joined up with his battalion on 1 July.
His family received a letter after the war from the War Office, saying that his remains were being moved from their original resting place to a more centralised location. He now lies in the Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery in Haucourt.
The battalion was moved up from Arras to the Front Line immediately after William joined them, and on 17 July he participated in an assault on the German line that earned him a 49
Bertram Edward Worley Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1884 1898-1900 6 August 1917, Aged 33 7th Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent) Regiment Private
Bertram Worley was the second of two brothers to give his life for King and Country; his brother Robin having died in 1915 after fighting at Gallipoli. However, he was the fourth member of the extended Worley clan to die, a terrible sacrifice for a single family to give.
The manor itself, which stood on Croydon Road, was eventually demolished, with the building materials used to make new houses on Croydon and Reigate Road. Indeed, the editor of this work’s house is made up of parts of the manor’s chapel.
The sister of Bertram – Eleanor - had married Captain Charles Saunders in early in 1914 before the war had commenced, however he was killed in April 1915 at Hill 60 near Ypres. At the time of his death she was about to give birth to a son, Charles Francis Saunders.
Some Old Reigatians may also remember that Doods was the namesake of Doods House as part of the old House System.
Both Eleanor and Charles lived till relatively recently and served as a bridge to those tragic times. Eleanor died aged 100 in 1988 having been a widow for 73 years and her son Charles died in 2004 at the age of 89 having never known his father. Both are commemorated in St. Mary’s Church Yard.
Bertram had worked at the Guilford Branch of the London County and Westminster Bank for 16 years before the war, and had been granted release from the bank in order to join up. He joined the Volunteer Training Corps and proved himself a dedicated marksman, qualifying as such upon finishing his training.
Another blow to the family came in 1915 with the death of Private Henry Turner, the fiancée of another of Bertram’s sisters Evelyn, in France. This was followed by Robin’s death in the same year, making 1915 a terrible year for the Worleys.
He moved to France in November 1916, and fought in a number of actions. He received a slight wound when a piece of shrapnel ricocheted into his shoulder a few months later, but was back in the trenches after just three weeks – a testament to his strong will and character.
The Worleys were in Reigate in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Bertram and Robin’s father, Charles, purchased Great Doods Manor in 1907, and was involved in the development of the grounds into what is now the residential area of Deerings and Eversfield Roads. The last remaining part of the original grounds is the small grassy area on the corner of Croydon Road and Reigate Road.
Unfortunately, another blow was struck to the Worley family on 6 August 1917, when Bertram was killed in the trenches around Ypres, during the early phases of the Third Battle of Ypres. Bertram Worley now lies in Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world in terms of graves. 50
Nelson Mackrow Hooton Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1898 1908-1912 16 August 1917, Aged 20 17th Battalion, London Regiment (Poplar and Stepney Rifles) 2nd Lieutenant
Nelson Hooton’s family moved to Reigate after he had been born, and lived just down the road from the school. Nelson’s parents, Frank and Florence Hooton, were originally from Poplar in East London, with Nelson himself being born in nearby Leytonstone.
There are no service or pension records on file to provide further detail of Nelson’s short military career, but we do know that he was killed during the Third Battle of Ypres like Bertram Worley. He has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Menin Gate.
By the time Nelson had joined RGS, the Hootons had moved to within sight of the school on Deerings Road, living at number 80 – on the road just opposite the Church Walk entrance to school.
The December 1917 edition of The Pilgrim magazine records that Nelson was killed by a shell during the battle, and his family received many letters of condolence from his fellow officers from his unit which all mention his pluck, endurance, and thoughtfulness for his men.
From Nelson’s medal card, we have found that he joined up in February 1917 some six months before his death. It is interesting to note the battalion he joined, with his parents both hailing from Poplar.
Alec Radford Ball Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1897 17 August 1917, aged 20 5th Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment 2nd Lieutenant
Alec Ball was not at RGS for a long time – moving on to Northcliffe House School in Margate and then to Weymouth College – however he is still an Old Reigatian and honoured on our memorial. Alec was born in Redhill, and lived at Grovehill Road whilst in the area. His parents, Charles and Mary Ball, still lived at that address when they received the sad news of Alec’s death in 1917.
Alec had been taken to Mendinghem Casualty Clearing Station to be treated. Mendinghem was a joke name made by the British soldiers for the clearing station – ‘mending-him’ – other places included Bandaghem (bandagehim) and Dozinghem (dosing-him).
He first attended Radnor House School for Boys on Elm Road in Redhill – now a house – and at some point attended Reigate Grammar School, as well as Northcliffe House and Weymouth College. At Weymouth, Alec demonstrated his skill as a swimmer, winning the Aquatic Champion Gold Medal in 1914.
According to Alec’s casualty report, the explosion fractured his left leg, but must have caused more damage that was unrecorded as his parents received another telegram three days later saying that unfortunately Alec had not survived his ordeal, passing away on 17 August.
Weymouth, like RGS, had an active OTC unit, and Alec was a member. In June 1915, he was gazetted a 2nd Lieutenant in the Dorsetshire Regiment, and moved across to France in April 1916 after training with the 3rd Battalion – a unit that remained in England as a training battalion.
A further sad twist to this story is that Alec’s brother Harold was also a 2nd Lieutenant in the same regiment, and that he left had for France not three hours before the telegram was received with the news of Alec’s death.
Alec was wounded soon after reaching the Front, being injured by a rifle grenade on 23 June, and was sent back to England for treatment and recovery. He recovered quickly, and by 15 October he was back in France with the 5th Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment.
Writing later to Alec’s parents, the Medical Officer of the regiment said “I can assure you that our Commanding Officer and all his brother officers were greatly attached to your son, and admired him for his bravery and courage in the field. His men will miss him a great deal as he was always so good and kind to them all.”
All was well with Alec until his parents received a telegram saying that he had been wounded by a shell on 17 August 1917, during the Battle of Langemark – part of the greater Third Battle of Ypres – and that his condition was very serious.
Alec is buried at Mendinghem Military Cemetery, near Ypres. 52
Horace Walter Hardy Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1886 20 September 1917, Aged 31 2/7th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment Lance Corporal
Horace Hardy is another man that has proved to be elusive for records, however according to the Commonwealth Graves Commission data he was in the 2/7th Battalion of the London Regiment, so it is possible to track some of the places he may have been.
This battle at Bullecourt was meant to create a breakthrough in the Hindenburg Line, but after the attack was called off on 17 May many of the objectives had failed to be taken, and it reverted to a stalemate between the two sides.
Horace was the son of William and Clara Hardy of 41 St. Mary’s Grove, Chiswick. In The Pilgrim magazines of this period, they record Horace as being a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, however there is no record of any Lt. H W Hardy, RN, in the CWGC database. Instead, there is a Horace Walter Hardy with the details above.
The 58th Division was moved to Ypres after this, and on 20 September they took part in the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge. The battle was a success for the Allies, and meant that much ground could be retaken from the Germans in Flanders.
The 2/7th crossed to Le Havre at the end of January 1917, and joined the rest of the 58th (2/1st London) Division around Lucheux at the beginning of February.
Unfortunately, it seems Horace was one of the 3,148 Allied soldiers killed during the battle, dying on the first day when his battalion made their attack on Gravenstafel.
Horace’s unit was part of the Allied force that followed and then engaged the German army as it retreated back to the Hindenburg Line from March onwards. They subsequently fought in some of the engagements as part of the Battle of Arras, namely the Second Battle of Bullecourt on 3 May – 17 May 1917.
Horace Hardy is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres for his part in the war.
James Oliver Whiting Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1897 1909 22 September 1917, Aged 20 60th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps Lieutenant
James Whiting was another OR to take to the skies during the war, and benefited from the new developments in aeroplane design by flying the SE5a aircraft, pictured above.
Cassel to help in the Third Battle of Ypres. The squadron were given the additional duties of flying low over the battlefield to fire at troops on the ground. They were also equipped with twenty-five pound Cooper bombs to drop on suitable targets.
James was born in Reigate, and lived in a few different locations around the town due to his father’s job. His father – also a James Whiting - was a gardener, and kept the gardens for a number of residences in Reigate. In 1901 the census data records him working for a stockbroker named Alfred Keen who lived at Broadfield House on Reigate Road – the same Broadfield that was later purchased by the school, meaning he must have maintained Broadfield lawn as part of his duties.
On the morning of 22 September, at 9.25am, James took off with his squadron for an offensive patrol over Zonnnebeke. They met a squadron of German aircraft, and engaged them. Unfortunately around 10.20am, after being in the air for 55 minutes, James was seen to be shot down by a German Albatros fighter plane. After this engagement James was declared missing, with nothing further heard until his father happened to meet a Mr I Macgregor in 1918, who had flown with James the day he was shot down. Macgregor said that when last he had seen James that morning, he seemed to be in control of his machine.
By 1911 the Whitings were living on Colley Lane, as James’ father was then the gardener for Colley Manor. James was part of the 60th Squadron in the Royal Flying Corps, and whilst we do not know when exactly he joined the squadron, we do know some other details of the duties James had as part of the 60th – flying “offensive patrols” against German aircraft, and battlefield reconnaissance.
By 1920, his father had heard nothing more about James, and wrote to the War Office on 4 July asking for James to be included in the Official Casualties List for the War. Lieutenant James Whiting is remembered on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.
In September of 1917, his squadron was moved to the Marie Capelle aerodrome near
Joseph Leonard Perren Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1886 1896-1903 9 October 1917, Aged 30 3rd Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company Lance Corporal
Joseph’s story is one of great loyalty to King and Country; his successful banking career had pursued him to relocate to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, an adventurous move for the time, and he had returned to England to serve his country in its time of need. Joseph was given two weeks leave in midAugust 1917 and returned home, but was back in the trenches by 17 September. Unfortunately, whilst leading his company during an attack on 9 October, he was hit by a sniper. One of his friends, a fellow Lance Corporal, wrote to his parents with details of his death:
Joseph was the son of Joseph and Catherine Perren, and lived in a house called “Hatchlea” on Millway, just off Reigate Road. At RGS he excelled both academically and in sports, being a Prefect and the Captain of the Football team in his final years at school. After leaving Joseph entered the banking sector, working for the Capital and Counties Bank at its headquarters in London. He had been working there for nine years when he was offered a job working for the Brazilian Bank, which he accepted. A few months later Joseph left for Rio de Janeiro.
“Perren took No. 11 section into action, having a few days previously taken over its command from me on my being transferred to the Quartermaster’s department. It appears that whilst attending to one of his section whose rifle had become jammed he was hit by a sniper in the head. The only consolation is that he could not have suffered any pain as the end was instantaneous. I can only express my sympathy to Mr Perren and yourself. For myself I have lost one of the best and truest friends I ever had. He helped me more than anyone else. His loss will be much felt in the platoon .He was universally popular, and – what I think is more important - respected.”
When war broke out, he expressed his wish several times to be released from his service at the bank to return to his home country and enlist, however he was barred from doing so by his seniors. Eventually though he was allowed, and in September 1916 Joseph returned home to England to join up. Joseph enlisted into the Honourable Artillery Company – the second oldest military organisation in the world, after the Vatican’s Swiss Guard – and was sent to France a month after arriving in October as part of 2nd Battalion.
A sad development of Joseph’s death was covered by the Surrey Mirror in its report of him – had the war not broken out, he would have married a young lady in Rio de Janeiro who was waiting for him.
Over the next year Joseph fought in the front lines with his battalion in the Arras Offensive and the early battles of the Third Battle of Ypres, but was plagued with illness, being taken to hospital twice with “frozen feet and hands.”
He is buried in Tyne Cot cemetery. 55
Thomas Stuart Malcomson Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1888 1901-1904 10 December 1917, Aged 28 15th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps Captain
Thomas Malcomson was the oldest son of the Mayor of Reigate at the time, Thomas Malcomson JP, and his wife Jeanie. He was also married to Violet Malcomson, and they lived in Streatham Common at the time of his death. Flying Corps. This was granted, and he joined 15th Squadron in France by the end of 1917.
Like many other Old Reigatians at the time, Thomas had been a part of the Territorials before the war, but had left before the war had started. He had been a Private in the 1st London VRC (City of London Volunteer Rifle Brigade) but had left in March 1908.
Thomas’ unit had a mostly reconnaissance role, supporting the army in battles by taking pictures of the German lines, as well as occasionally flying bombing missions. The unit flew R.E.8s, a two seater biplane (pictured below).
When war broke out, he gained a commission into the Royal Field Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant, and was sent off to Gallipoli. He was also recommended for the rank of Captain in January 1915, which he was given. Unfortunately, Thomas contracted dysentery whilst in Gallipoli according to a medical report dated May 1916, which was also made worse by jaundice, and was out of service for around three months. He was sent back to Egypt to recover.
Thomas’ role was as an observer gunner, accompanying the pilot Lieutenant L. V. Desborough. On 10 December 1917, Thomas and his pilot took off at 12.30pm for an artillery spotting mission in support of the Battle of Cambrai. The flight records for the squadron record that Thomas and Lt. Desborough shot down one German plane, before disappearing. Both were reported missing, with Thomas’ parents being notified four days before Christmas Eve.
It was during this period of recovery that Thomas requested a transfer to the Royal
Enquiries were still being made about what had happened to them in 1919, but nothing was heard of them. Thomas is remembered on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.
Ronald Eric Burr Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1899 1911-12 20 February 1918, Aged 18 10th Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service Flight Sub-Lieutenant
Ronald Burr was another OR to gain his wings in WW1, but unlike the other men he joined the Royal Naval Air Service, the other flying unit of the British Forces. This was to be combined with the Royal Flying Corps to form the RAF in 1918.
The Squadron diary states:
Ronald was originally born in Finchley, North London to Herbert and Emma Burr, but moved to Elm Road in Redhill soon afterwards.
“An intake of new pilots arrived at the squadron on the 29th Jan, FSL l Jones, FSL G T Steeves, Flt W G R Hinchcliffe, FSL H A Patey, FSL L P Coombes and FSL R E Burr. These pilots were all put to work making practice flights. Of the new pilots Jones, Hinchcliffe, Patey and Coombes would develop into significant figures within the squadron.”
He attended Radnor House Prep School on his road, before moving to RGS for a short time. He then went off to Bishop Stortford College in Hertfordshire where he specialised in mathematics and science. From there Ronald joined the County and Guilds of London Institute, Finsbury Technical College for a course in civil and mechanical engineering in which he duly obtained full college certificates. All this was achieved by the young age of 17.
Sadly Ronald hadn’t a chance to become a “significant figure” in the regiment, as 18 days later he was to be shot down and die of wounds two days later. His total active combat service was under three weeks. On 18 February 1917, Ronald took part in an offensive patrol with nine other planes at 8.55am, encountering five German Albatros Scouts over Menin at 9.50am. They engaged the Scouts, with FSLs Hall and Manuel claiming kills. Unfortunately Ronald was shot down, crashing on the Allied side of the lines. He survived the crash, but was taken to the nearest hospital with severe injuries, sadly dying of these wounds.
As early as February 1917, Ronald had been applying to join the RNAS, and just after his 18th birthday in June 1917 he was selected by the Admiralty for a commission. He was officially commissioned on 1 July 1917, and immediately sent off to Crystal Palace to commence his training, before moving to Eastbourne a month later, and finally to the RNAS training centre at Manston in Kent.
An interesting point about Ronald’s death was uncovered later – he was shot down by Ernst Udet, who was Baron von Richthoven’s secondin-command in his “Flying Circus”, and later Hermann Goering’s second-in-command during WW2, and whom Goering blamed the failure of the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain on. Udet stated in his war diary that he initiated the dogfight on 18 February 1917 by firing upon Ronald from below, shooting him down.
Just after Christmas 1917, Ronald received his first posting – after only six months of training he was sent to Dunkirk for two weeks of acclimatisation, followed by four days with 12th Squadron. He went fully operational with 10th Squadron on 30 January 1918, and flew the most well-known of WW1 planes, the Sopwith Camel. 57
William Albert Perry Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1893 1905-1911 28 March 1918, Aged 24 “C” Company, 4th Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade Lance Corporal
Another Old Reigatian to move overseas was William Perry, moving to New Zealand to become a teacher after leaving RGS. He answered the call of his home country and joined up in the New Zealand forces in a similar way to Robin Worley. William was born in Reigate on 30 March 1893, and was christened at St. Mary’s Church at just under two months old on 21 May of the same year. He was born to George and Mahala Perry, with his father working as a gardener.
In 1918 the Germans began their new Spring Offensive over a line of 50 miles, which quickly pushed back the British Third and Fifth Armies and created a gap between them through which the Germans were able to push through. William’s battalion, as part of the New Zealand Division, was ordered forward to plug the gap.
William went to Chipstead Primary School until 1905, when he obtained a scholarship to RGS – perhaps coincidentally, William’s mother died in 1904 aged 40, which may have led to his scholarship for the school.
They took up their positions on 26 March on the site of the Battle of the Somme to defend against the German advance. Initially, they had to defend without artillery support, as the infantry were able to move up to the front faster than their support could.
Whilst at RGS he was a member of the school OTC, and is pictured above in his OTC uniform in 1908, aged 15. Sometime between his leaving of RGS in 1911 and the beginning of the war in 1914 William immigrated to New Zealand. His enlistment address was at Huntley School in Marton, New Zealand, which would suggest he was working there, potentially as a teacher.
On 28 March, the 4th Battalion attacked the German lines, with the intent of pushing back the Germans through the gap. William’s “C” company was in the centre of the attack, with “B” company on the right and “A” on the left, with “D” in reserve.
William joined up soon after war broke out, and after training with the New Zealand Rifles for a few months embarked for Suez, and from there to France, arriving on 26 March 1915, four days before his 23rd birthday.
The attack went well, with ground being regained, even if the gap was not yet filled. Unfortunately, William was one of a number of his company to be killed in the attack. Later, the artillery was able to join the infantry, and more progress was made, with the New Zealanders pushing the Germans back.
Over the next few years, William and his battalion came through many of the large battles of the war, including the Somme, Messines, and Passchendaele.
William Perry is buried down the road from where the attack was made, in Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps. 58
William English Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1874 1908-1914, as Caretaker and OTC Sergeant 9 May 1918, Aged 44 7th Battalion, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Company Sergeant Major
William English is the oldest man to be commemorated on the war memorial, and also the only man not to have attended RGS – instead, William was a committed member of staff, being both Caretaker to the school and the Sergeant of the OTC.
recruits in his experienced capacity as an OTC Sergeant. By July 1915 he was in France taking part in the fighting, as The Pilgrim magazine for that month records a letter sent by him to Mr Wade of the school OTC that he was “spoiling for the fight”; and that “Should it ever happen that the Sergt. finds himself face to face and alone with a Hun, there will be some wicked work done, my masters! The last state of that Hun will be decidedly worse than the first!”
He was born in Blenchingley in 1874 to Gordon English, a chimneysweep. William went on to join the Oxford Light Infantry in 1892 at the age of 18, initially serving in the UK for two years. In 1895 his unit was posted to India, where he served for ten years. For his service, he was awarded the India Medal (1895) with two campaign clasps – for the Punjab Frontier 1897-8, and the Tirah Campaign 1897-8.
He returned home on leave some time before November 1915, to which The Pilgrim records that during the night of his return he expressed “his contempt” for the German Zeppelins by leaving his outside light on, leading to Mr Orme - the Headmaster - being woken up at 3.00am and “heavily censured” for William’s defiance.
William retired from the army in 1906 after 12 years of service, and returned to England. After he returned, he married Catherine Dagnall, with their union being blessed with two daughters born in 1907 and 1909. He also took up the post of Caretaker at RGS, living in the caretaker’s house on-site. In addition to that, William took up an active role in running the school OTC as Sergeant, with his experience of 12 years in the army helping massively.
At some point in early 1918 William was wounded in the foot in the course of duty, and was not able to reach his lines. Instead, he was taken prisoner by the Germans, and taken to a German hospital to recover. Unfortunately, he did not recover from his wounds in German care, and died on 9 May 1918.
Once war broke out, William received blessing to leave his post as Caretaker to rejoin the army, and left on 22 August 1914, only 18 days after the declaration. He joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, initially sent to Purfleet to help train new
William English is buried in the Niederzwehren Cemetery in Germany. A fund was set up for his widow and two daughters after the school heard the news, and looked after by the Old Boys Club. 59
Francis Brooke Sewell Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1899 1915-1916 15 May 1918, Aged 19 126th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery 2nd Lieutenant
Francis Sewell was still at school during the outbreak of war, and was in fact in the same year as William Charlwood, both being members of the cricket and football teams. Francis was born on 11 January 1899 in the area around Meadowbank in Dorking, near Dorking Football Club. His parents were Ernest (a stockbroker) and Margaret Ellis.
to the effectiveness of the others. He is, however, rather expensive, on account of the large number of loose balls he sends down.” Francis left RGS in the summer of 1916 with the intention of gaining a cadetship with the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich, which he achieved.
We have not found much on Francis’ early days, but there is a good record of his short time at RGS in the copies of The Pilgrim magazine. Francis joined for the last year of education in 1915, and quickly demonstrated his skill at both football and cricket – playing for both Priory House and School.
Francis spent the next few months being taught at the academy, and upon passing out was assigned to the Royal Garrison Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant.
His evaluation in The Pilgrim as centre-back for the football team was rather flattering – “This player has undoubtedly proved a ‘find.’ He has an excellent knowledge of the game, and applies it extremely well. He is always where his presence is most needed, and he feeds his forwards excellently. He has thoroughly earned the colours which were given him before the cup final.”
He joined his battery, the 126th Heavy Battery on 11 May 1918. Heavy Batteries were generally equipped with 60 pounder (5-inch) guns, and were charged with neutralising enemy artillery, or laying down fire on strategic places such as railways, strongpoints and stores behind enemy lines. Francis was only with his new battery for just four days however, being killed on 15 May.
His cricket review was slightly less so, but still promising, saying he was a “useful all-rounder” as he has a “beautifully fine style” of batting even if he tries to hit everything, whilst being an “excellent brainy steady slow bowler, with a "fast straight one" which adds considerably
He is buried in Hedauville Communal Cemetery Extension.
Edward Norman Penfold Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1897 1909-1912 20 May 1918, Aged 22 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, attached 2nd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment Lieutenant
Edward Penfold was born in Reigate and was the only son of Edward and Lillian Penfold of 13 Beaufort Road, Reigate. His father was a prominent architect in the area, and came from a line of masons and architects, all of whom went to RGS.
gazetted in January 1916 and sent to Officer Training School. Edward joined the Leicestershire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant. He subsequently completed a course with the Machine Gun Corps at Clipstone, and was sent to the Lincolnshire Regiment, but attached to the Leicestershire Regiment, who were currently fighting in Mesopotamia.
It seems Penfold Snr. was involved in the building of the new school building in 1907, according to a contemporary “Who’s Who” of architects, so it may well be that the current main school was designed by Edward’s father, an Old Reigatian himself. Below is a drawing of the school Penfold Snr. made in 1910, perhaps as a record of his work.
His Service Record details that he travelled to Bombay and from there to Basra, arriving on 3 November 1917, and joining his unit in the field on 24 November. From early January 1918, his battalion moved from Mesopotamia to Palestine, and enjoyed a few days leave in Port Said whilst this was being organised. It seemed Edward enjoyed his stay there, as there is a letter saying that he bought two silk pyjama suits, two vests and collars, amongst other things, on 28 January and 2 February from A. Neechamall Bros. Merchants of Port Said, but that the cheques he used were never approved.
The younger Edward was raised in Reigate, first attending Holmesdale School on Alma Road, and then Reigate Grammar School. Edward joined the army as soon as he could in 1914 - even going so far as to join underage, at the age of 17½ on 15 August 1914 in Guildford. He joined the Royal West Surreys in the ranks, and after training was sent to France.
Unfortunately Edward never paid the merchants, as a few months later he was killed in action on 20 May 1918 in Palestine, and buried in Ramleh War Cemetery, in Ramla, Israel. Another letter concerning Edward has been found, which was from the father of a Miss Emily Mowforth, who had been in regularly correspondence with him since he left for India. Her father was writing to the War Office asking what had happened to Edward, and presumably the sad news was passed on to poor Emily.
After nearly five months of fighting in the trenches, Edward was wounded at the Battle of Hohenzollern Redoubt in May 1915, and was sent to the General Hospital at Etratet. However soon after, he was evacuated to England, with his record card stating he was suffering from shell shock. Whilst in England he was recommended for a commission, and after recovering was 61
Richard Arthur Pooley Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1898 1910-1915 18 August 1918, Aged 19 1/15th Battalion, London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles) Private
Richard Pooley was another of the youngest generation of Old Boys to lose their life in the war, having left school in only 1915. He was the middle of three children, and the son of John and Mary Pooley. His father John was a watchmaker by trade, and operated out of their house at 5 Lesbourne Road in Reigate.
After joining his unit in France, the Germans began their Spring Offensive, and Richard was involved in much fighting to defend the Allied positions. In response to the German offensive, the Allies launched a counteroffensive in July 1918 at Amiens.
Richard was a gifted singer, being a member of the Reigate Parish Church Choir for seven years as a child, and was still heavily involved with them after leaving – acting as the boys swimming and gymnastics instructor. He was also involved with the Parish Sunday School, where he was a teacher for several years.
Richard’s battalion fought on the northern part of the line near Albert, supporting a large contingent of Australian and Canadian forces. The subsequent Battle of Amiens between 812 August was a resounding success, as it not only pushed the Germans back a substantial distance, it severely demoralised the German troops and began their retreat to the Hindenburg Line. This marked the end of trench warfare for the rest of the war, with fighting becoming more mobile again.
Richard made many friends whilst at RGS, one of whom was sadly killed a few days following Richard’s death, and is this book’s next entry. Richard was described by The Pilgrim magazine as a “splendid all-round athlete”, playing in the school football and cricket teams, as well as the Redstone House teams with his older brother John. He was also a Corporal in the OTC, and wrote 5th Form section in the 1915 editions of The Pilgrim. He was clearly a very active member of the school community.
Unfortunately in the following days it seems Richard was killed as the Allies advanced in the wake of the retreating Germans, in the beginning of the “Hundred Days Offensive” as the last part of the war. He was killed on 18 August 1918, and is buried at Bonnay Communal Cemetery, just outside Amiens.
Richard left school in 1915 to join the River Plate Trust Loan and Agency Company in London for a short time, joined up after his 18th birthday in February 1917. Whilst in England he served as a musketry instructor for his battalion, before crossing over to France in March 1918.
William Archibald Bennett Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1898 1911-1916 2 September 1918, Aged 19 “C” Company, 62nd Battalion, Machine Gun Corps Private
William Bennett was a close friend of Richard Pooley, and died just 24 days after him. He was probably unaware of his friend’s death at the time of his own. William’s parents were originally from Ledbury in Hertfordshire, but had moved to Reigate before he was born. He was one of two children, having an elder sister - Edith.
against the German Spring Offensive, and was taking part in the Hundred Days Offensive to push the Germans back to the Hindenburg Line when he was killed.
The 1911 census data shows the Bennetts as living at 6 Springcopse Road, with his father William John Bennett working as a solicitor’s clerk, and his sister Edith already in work as a dressmaker’s apprentice.
His Lieutenant wrote to William’s parents with the sad news:
He lived just up the hill from his friend Richard– on Lesbourne Road – and both were members of the Reigate Parish Church Choir, as well as both going to RGS.
“It is with deep regret that I write to you on the subject of the death of your son, Pte William Bennett 122465. He was very seriously wounded by a shell causing him to become unconscious. I at once had him taken to the dressing station and have since been informed that he passed away soon after. He was my range-finder, and he knew his work well: he was always very willing and very cool under shell fire. His death caused a great loss to the Section.”
Like Richard, William wrote excerpts for The Pilgrim, this time writing of their experiences of Fourth Form and Lower Sixth. He also seems to have been a talented athlete, winning the half-mile run at Sports Day in July 1915. William joined the Cornhill office of the Union of London and Smith’s Bank after leaving school, but only for a short time – he decided to don the khaki with Richard and joined the Civil Service Rifles with him at the same time in February 1917.
William was buried at Gomiecourt South Cemetery. In remembrance of William Bennett and Richard Pooley, the Reigate Parish Church Choir sang “O Rest in the Lord” at the end of their evening service on Sunday 8 September 1918, the Sunday after the Surrey Mirror reported their deaths.
However, William left the battalion in October to transfer to the Machine Gun Corps, and left for France in the middle of December 1917. He was a part of the defence
Harry Ewart Little Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1897 1908-1912 18 September 1918, Aged 21 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment 2nd Lieutenant
Harry Little was another Old Boy to die during the advance of the Hundred Days Offensive, and the news of his death aroused great sorrow in the community, as he had been involved in a large number of public works in the borough. Harry was the only son of Mr and Mrs H Little of 84 Station Road, Redhill. He had his primary school education at St. John’s School in Redhill, and managed to secure a scholarship to continue his education at Reigate Grammar School.
Harry was awarded his commission, and was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant into the Royal Sussex Regiment. He moved to Newham and then Tunbridge Wells for training, before returning to France; this time with the Royal Sussex Regiment.
He was very active in many public projects around the borough, having founded the Redhill branch of the Junior Imperial League (an early form of the Young Conservatives), and sat on their committee, as well as being the secretary for the Reigate and Redhill Hospital Working Men’s Committee.
His battalion was part of the main attacking force during the Hundred Days Offensive, and he was involved heavily in the fighting from late August 1918 onwards. His battalion fought in the Battle of Drocourt-Quéant Line, where a combined Anglo-Canadian force attacked a series of German defences in the early morning of 5 September. Harry’s battalion attacked the southern part of the line, and, together with the Canadians to the north, succeeded in forcing the Germans to retreat to the Hindenburg Line.
Also musically talented, Harry was selected from a number of competitors to perform on a musical talent show organised by the Evening News newspaper, where he received a certificate of merit for his performance.
Harry’s battalion moved to the south-east from there, and next took part in the Battle of Épehy on 18 September. From the battalion war diary from that day, we can see he was stationed to the south of Épehy, in the vicinity around the villages of Berthaucourt and Pontruet. Unfortunately, the war diary also records that he was amongst the dead for that day’s fighting, with four other officers and 21 other ranks killed.
Harry went into the Civil Service when he left RGS, joining the Department of Crown Agents for the Colonies in Whitehall. He stayed working for this governmental department for three years, before he decided he wanted to join up, whereupon he enlisted and joined the Army Ordnance Corps. He left for France in mid-1915, and quickly demonstrated his worth, being promoted rapidly to Corporal. He was being recommended for his third stripe when he requested permission to return to England in March 1916 to qualify for a commission as an officer.
Harry’s parents were notified of his death on 26 September by a wire from the War Office. He is remembered as a man with a bright and cheery disposition, and was popular in any circle in which he moved. 64
Herbert William Carpenter Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1885 29 September 1918, Aged 33 7th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Lance Corporal
Like several others on the school memorial, not a lot of information has been found on Herbert Carpenter. We do know he was born in 1885 and was living in Abinger, between Dorking and Guildford at the time of his death. He was the son of Albert and Mary Carpenter, and one of six children.
second appeal was denied and he was put into service. We know he was assigned to the 7th Battalion of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), and was killed on 29 September 1918. This coincided with the Battle of the St. Quentin Canal, where Herbert’s battalion was present.
The 1911 census records Herbert as living at 8 Oxford Avenue in Merton with his parents and three of his siblings, aged 26. This would suggest that he may have attended RGS anytime between 1895-1903, when he was aged between 11-18.
This battle was a significant one, as it achieved the first major breach into the Hindenburg Line, and along with other major attacks in other locations along the line, convinced the German High Command that there was little hope of an ultimate German victory.
However, a more likely theory about Herbert was that rather than being a pupil at RGS, he had spent some time here as a trainee teacher. As a former member of staff, he was included on the memorial in the same way William English, the caretaker, had been. This theory is backed both by his lack of attendance records in the archives, and that in the census he was listed as an elementary schoolmaster.
Unfortunately Herbert did not survive the first day of the battle, being killed in one of the initial attacks that ultimately broke through the line on 29 September. He is buried in the nearby Unicorn Cemetery in Vendhuile, which was captured first by the Americans on 29 September and then cleared out completely by men of Herbert’s division the next day.
By the time of his death in 1918, Herbert had married Mary Ellen Carpenter, had a child named Herbert Colin Carpenter, and moved to the Schoolhouse on Abinger Common, where he was a schoolmaster of the Abinger Council School – later Abinger Common School, which merged with Westcott School in 2010 to become Surrey Hills C of E Primary School.
A sad twist to this story is the fate of Herbert’s only son. Left fatherless by WW1, Herbert Colin Carpenter was ultimately killed in WW2. He had gone on to study at Christ’s College Cambridge, before joining his father’s regiment as a Lieutenant. He then transferred to the RAF as a Flight Officer, before being shot down on 30 May 1942. His grave rests in Abinger St. James Graveyard, and he is remembered alongside his father on the war memorial there.
Recent research into Herbert’s military service sheds more light onto the man; it seems he was conscripted into service in 1915-16, and appealed against this twice. The first time he was given a deferral, however his 65
Cecil Arnold Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1899 1911-1914 30 September 1918, Aged 19 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment Private
Cecil Arnold is the only Old Reigatian on the war memorial to be buried in England during the war – the final entry in this book is also buried in England, but there is an unusual story to that, as we will see.
“fresh complexion”, and had blue eyes and brown hair. He qualified as a signaller during his training in the UK, meaning he would have been able to operate the telephone lines in the trenches, and was posted to the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. Cecil joined them in France on 1 September 1918.
Whilst at school, Cecil lived with his family in the village of Horne, near Horley, in a cottage directly opposite the church. His parents were called George and Mary Arnold, and he had a brother and sister. In the 1911 census George Arnold’s occupation is listed as a “builder’s labourer.”
Unfortunately, he was only on frontline service with his regiment for seven days. On 7 September, he was caught in a gas attack in the trenches, and severely injured. He was evacuated back to England on the Hospital Ship SS. Guildford Castle on 20 September. His medical record shows a range of medical issues he had due to the gassing, including severe bronchitis and peritonitis.
Cecil left RGS in 1914; The Pilgrim of October that year records this, saying “Arnold and Wallis, being horticulturists, have gone ‘back to the land.’ This will, doubtless, mightily please those politicians who advocate that policy.” Being a horticulturist, he managed to get a job as a gardener at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden at Wisley once he left RGS, complete with his own cottage on-site. He was still working and living at Wisley when he joined up on 19 March 1917 in Guildford.
Cecil was quickly sent to Reading War Hospital for treatment, however he sadly passed away ten days later on 30 September 1918. His family was present at his passing. Cecil Arnold is buried in the graveyard of St. Mary’s Church in Horne, just across the road from his family home. He is one of two WW1 war graves in the graveyard.
Whilst we don’t have a picture of Cecil himself, we can imagine what he looked like up to a point, as on his enlistment papers he was 5 ft. 2 ½ inches tall with a 31 inch chest, of a
Charles Nelson Nightingale Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1896 1904-1910 17 October 1918, Aged 21 1/1st County of London Yeomanry (Middlesex, Duke of Cambridge's Hussars) Private
Charles Nightingale is unique in being the only Old Reigatian on the war memorial to have been a cavalryman during the Great War, being part of the County of London Yeomanry, also known as the Middlesex Hussars.
Campaign. However, when the campaign was called off, they were sent back to Egypt in December 1915 and remounted. From there, they were shipped to Salonika in November 1916 to fight there, before again returning to Egypt in June 1917.
He is also technically the last Old Reigatian to die fighting in World War 1, as the next entry died in the Third Anglo-Afghan War a year later, and the final entry is another story entirely.
The third front Charles fought on was in Palestine from July 1917 onwards, fighting in the Battle of Gaza and fighting off counterattacks from the Turks following the Capture of Jerusalem in November-December 1917.
Charles was the son of Charles and Bertha Nightingale, and was born in Reigate in 1896. He was one of two children, having a younger sister called Muriel. His father had sadly predeceased him, and his mother Bertha had remarried to a Mr Walter, becoming Bertha Walter.
In September 1918, the Allies launched their final offensive on the Palestinian front with the Battle of Megiddo. The forces of the Arab Revolt, famously aided by T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), attacked the Turks at Daraa to disrupt the railway lines they used, which distracted them enough for an Allied assault on Sharon to create a breakthrough in the enemy line. Charles and the cavalry rode through this gap and almost entirely surrounded the Turkish forces in the area.
The 1911 census shows Charles living at Glovers Lodge on Lesbourne Road in Reigate, but by the time of his death he was living in Croydon with his mother, on Saint Peterâ€™s Road. Charles left RGS in 1910, and briefly attended Ardingly College. Charles served in the yeomanry during the war, which was the cavalry arm of the Territorial Force. The editions of The Pilgrim from the start of the war have him down as being in first the Surrey Yeomanry and then Middlesex Yeomanry, which suggest he either joined up straight away, or was already a part of the Territorials before the war.
The Allies soon captured Damascus on 1 October, when the Desert Mounted Corps surrounded the city. However, malaria and Spanish Flu reached epidemic levels in the wake of the Capture of Damascus, and quickly spread through the army. We are unaware how Charles died, be it through this sickness or in action, but he was reported dead on 17 October 1918, 13 days before the Armistice of Mudros was signed on 30 October.
The 1/1st Middlesex Hussars were used on a number of foreign fronts throughout the war, as the Western Front was unsuitable for cavalry due to trench warfare. Charles was initially shipped to Egypt, where they were dismounted and used in the Gallipoli
He is buried in the Alexandria (Hadra) Memorial Cemetery. 67
Brian Hartford Morrison Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1898 1911-1913 9 June 1919, Aged 20 22nd Punjabis, British Indian Army Lieutenant
Brian Morrison died after the November Armistice of 1918, however the war did not properly end until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919. He was killed in the Third Anglo-Afghan War, dying from his wounds in Pakistan in 1919. Brian was born in Reigate in 1898, and baptised in St. Mary’s Church on 11 November 1898. His father was Gerald Donald Morrison, who was a Bailiff with offices on Bell Street in Reigate. The Morrison family lived in a house called “Roxwell” on Blackborough Road.
September 1917, he was transferred to the RFC proper as an observer in no. 9 Squadron. In 1918, Brian finished his service to the RFC and joined the British Indian Army, first assigned to the 124th Duchess of Connaught's Own Baluchistan Infantry Regiment, and more permanently to the 22nd Punjabis in September 1918. Both of these regiments were involved in first the Mesopotamia Campaign, and then the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, so Brian fought in these theatres of war during the latter stages of the war.
Brian was a noted cricketer whilst at RGS, with The Pilgrim describing him as a “Character of the Team” – Morrison “Is perhaps, the best bat in the team. With more height and reach he would score heavily; as it is his scores would be much larger if he could hit harder. He can stop in for any length of time. He fields very well.”
The latter campaign ended when the Ottomans signed the armistice at Mudros on 30 October 1918, and Brian’s regiment returned to India.
He was also in the same year as a number of the boys on the memorial, including Richard Pooley and William Bennett.
In 1915 he is recorded as being part of the Inns of Court OTC at Lincoln’s Inn, and officially enlisted on 29 November 1915. His enlistment form records him standing at 5 ft. 5 inches, 119lbs and a chest size of 35 inches, but it is noted that he was still growing!
However, rather than being demobilised, Brian’s regiment was put to work in the Third Anglo-Afghan War that had begun on the Indian border. They were based in Quetta in modern-day Pakistan, and on 29 May 1919 launched an attack on Spin Boldak in Afghanistan. Whilst the ensuing siege was successful, Brian was severely wounded, and brought back to Quetta for treatment. He sadly succumbed to his wounds a week later on 9 May 1919.
Brian served in the British Indian Army after completing his training, but was first attached to the Royal Flying Corps. He flew in the Kite Balloon Service branch of the RFC, first in no. 13 Company and then no. 17 Company. In
The area Brian was wounded in is still a wartorn part of the world, being part of modern Kandahar Province where up until very recently the modern British Army has been bravely serving.
Brian left RGS in 1913, much to the lament of the cricket coach and head of Wray House, and went to Haileybury School in Hertford to finish his education.
Frank Sargeant Barnard Born: RGS: Died: Regiment: Rank:
1897 1910-1913 Believed to be 1973 Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Private
Frank Sargeant Barnard is a mysterious figure on the war memorial, in that he has no known record within the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. When one reads the official opening of the memorial and those that contributed to the cost it is apparent that the Barnards, unlike most parents, did not attend the opening or contribute to the cost. This is of course entirely consistent with the fact that they had sadly already died prior to the war.
Frank was born in Halstead, Essex, on 5 December 1897, to William and Caroline Barnard, and according to The Pilgrim died aged 19 sometime before the prior to the July 1916 issue. On conducting further research the following information came to light that might explain the mystery!
The Police Archives confirm that Frank’s father William joined Essex Constabulary in 1872 and married Caroline who was shown as “an assistant shopkeeper to a dressmaker” in the 1891 census. He is shown as dying at the Rank of Superintendent at Saffron Walden on 4 March 1909. All this is consistent with the findings.
In 1911 Frank was residing at the Police Provincial Orphanage in Redhill, and presumably attending the Grammar School from there. Frank’s father, William Barnard, was shown in the 1901 census as living with his wife Caroline and working as an Inspector of Police. It would appear that they must have died sometime between 1901 and 1911 putting Frank into the orphanage.
The Police Orphanage records show Frank and his sister Ida being admitted in June 1909 aged 12 and 9. This again is consistent with the recorded death of his father in March of that year.
On further investigation in the National Archives there is a Frank Sargeant Barnard listed with the correct birth date and shown as in the RNVR Division (London). Too much of a coincidence not to be Frank’s record.
Finally I have found records showing a Frank Sergeant Barnard passing away in 1973 at the age of 75 in Preston, Lancashire. With the unusual name combination and the matching birth date it seems certain that this was the Frank remembered on the RGS memorial, and that he did not actually die in the First World War.
Franks record shows him as having been a bookkeeper at the time of enlisting in December 1915 and lists a series of ships and shore bases in which he served. However he survives the war and is demobilised in April 1919.
At the time of the start of the 1914 school year, Reigate Grammar School was shown to have 142 pupils. The total number of Old Reigatians who had served in World War One was over twice the size of the school, coming to 306, including members of staff who joined up. Out of those 306, 54 were killed – not including Frank Barnard. This represents a loss of 18% of serving Old Reigatians during the war. This is comparable to other grammar and public schools of the time; Rugby School lost 21% of their serving men, and Sevenoaks lost 10%. On the whole, schools like ours lost higher than average numbers of men – the percentage of all those who died from the total of men served is 13%. A main reason for this was the number of Old Boys who became junior officers thanks to their outstanding OTC training, and the education given to them by the school. A junior officer was usually the first over the top with his men, and the last to leave. A 2nd Lieutenant had an average life expectancy of just six weeks on the front. Out of the 54 that died, 27 were officers, of which 23 were either a Lieutenant of 2nd Lieutenant, many of whom died not long after arriving on the Front. Speaking before the war broke out in 1914, a visiting officer spoke to the school OTC during an inspection. He said how a boy’s first duty was to be a credit to his school, and his country. Loyalty to their school was important in building their character and confidence, and they would always be a part of the Reigatian community. These Old Reigatians who fought and died for their school and country were certainly a credit to both, and are remembered for their great sacrifice.
Final Thought Reigate Grammar School has been changing lives since 1675 and continues to do so to this day – educating a diverse mix of talented young children from all backgrounds. We are proud of our alumni community, past and present. We remember. Everyone has a story to tell and a journey that started at Reigate Grammar School. Help us change the lives of future RGS pupils. What will your footprint be?
Sean Davey Development Director
â€œAs a community we desire to foster and encourage - in every way we can - the prosperity of the old school, from which we have ourselves received so much benefit, and to ensure that those who follow in our footsteps receive equal, and it might be, greater benefits.â€?
Geoffrey E Cragg, OR 1899-1904 Chairman of the Old Boys Club Died 17 October 1915, aged 37
The Foundation Office exists to support the development of Reigate Grammar School and to foster the friendship and support of all Reigatians. The Reigatian community includes current and former pupils, parent, staff, governors and friends of the school â€“ all, in fact, for whom the school is, or has been, an important part of their lives. Our future success depends upon the benevolence of the whole Reigatian community and we invite you to contribute with them and help to shape the future of our great School and its pupils. Registered Charity number 1081898
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