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News > Archives > Oakham School Remembers

Oakham School Remembers

Every year, Oakham School remembers 70 Old Boys and Masters who fell in the First World War and 81 who died in the Second World War.
7 Nov 2023
Written by Charlotte Woodward
Archives

At a time before the expansion of the School, most of the pupils were local (Rutland and Leicestershire), and most strikingly, a lot of the soldiers were in the same Sports teams, Debating teams, and Houses.

In this feature, our archivist, Aurore Guillomot-Bonneford, focuses on some of the most extraordinary stories of family bonds and friendship.

Bank House, 1911. Five boys fought and lost their lives in France. 

 

The Atter family lived in Melton Mowbray. They lost their two sons in the war. The older, James, enlisted on the day the war against Germany was declared. His younger brother, Christopher, enlisted aged 16 and chose not to come back to Oakham School after Form 5.

James Edward Atter, Oakham School Achievements: Debating Society (1912-1914); Rugby 1st XV (1912-1913); Cricket 1st XI (1913-1914).

Christopher Francis Atter, Oakham School Achievements: Form 3 Latin and English prizes (Speech Day 1912); Rugby 1st XV (1912-1913); Cricket 1st XI (1914); won U15 220 yards handicap (Sports Day 1912).

The Albrecht family lived in Stamford. They lost John and his older brother Charles in the war. Charles fought with the South Lancashire Regiment and landed in France as part of the Bristish Expeditionary Force, under the command of Sir French. Charles is the first Old Boy to have been killed in the conflict.

John Ernest North Albrecht, Oakham School Achievements: Rugby U12 XV (Captain 1909); Rugby 1st XV (1914); Cricket 2nd XI (Captain 1915); third in U15 220 yards handicap (Sports Day 1913).

John Bromhead lived with his family on West Road, Oakham. His name is well known amongst Oakhamians for two reasons: it appears on the Head Prefects’ board in the Barraclough, and it is carved on the Thiepval Memorial, visited every year by Form 3 pupils.

John Paul Bromhead, Oakham School Achievements: Prefect (1909-1911); Head Prefect (1911-1912); History prize (Speech Day 1907); Dr Wood’s Latin Composition & Dr Adams’ Divinity prizes (Speech Day 1909 & 1911 & 1912); Form 6 History prize (Speech Day 1910); Debating Society (1910-1912); ColonelSergeant in the OTC (1911); Rugby 1st XV (1908-1911, and Captain 1911); Cricket 1st XI (1911- 1912, and Captain 1912); won The Mile, Quarter Mile, and 100 yards races (Sports Day 1911).

Arthur Taverner’s father was Reverend of St John’s Rectory, Stamford, then of Wing Rectory, Oakham. Arthur attended RMC Sandhurst as soon as he left School. He landed in France in April 1916, and he was killed by a German machine gun only four months later.

Arthur Frederick Traverner, Oakham School Achievements: Prefect (1915); Head Musician (1915); Assistant Editor of the Oakham School Magazine (1915); Debating Society (1915); Rugby 1st XV (1914); Cricket 1st XI (1915); third in the Steeplechase (Sports Day 1914); Fives (1914).

 

Family Members

Oakham School has a strong tradition of welcoming siblings, family members and children of Old Oakhamians. In the First World War, Oakham School and local families lost brothers – James and Christopher Atter, Charles and John Albrecht, Donald and Malcolm Neilson.

 

The Sills family mourned the loss of two cousins, Charles who was killed in the First World War, and Frederick who fought in the Second World War. Martha Reid Gough lost her husband Harry at the Battle of the Somme (1918), and her son Henry in Malta (1942).

Charles Caldwell Sills, Oakham School achievements: Prefect (1911-1912); Form 4 History and Geography prizes & Trustees’ Prize (1908); Cricket 1st XI (1908-1912 and Captain 1911 & 1912); Rugby 1st XV (1910- 1911); won Senior Fives Cup (1911-1912, and Captain 1912); won High Jump (Sports Day 1910).

The Neilson family lived in Lyddington at the turn of the century, and their older son Donald attended Oakham School for only a year as a Day Boy (Form 1). His younger brother, Malcolm, spent five years at Oakham School as a boarder in School House. Malcolm was studying at Ontario Agricultural College when the war broke out. He enlisted with the Canadian Army and landed in France in January 1915. Malcolm is well remembered by current pupils who visited Vimy Ridge, where he was killed by a shell, at the age of 22.

Malcolm Arthur Neilson, Oakham School achievements: Prefect (1911-1912); Debating Society (1910-1912); Choir (1910-1912); Cricket 1st XI (1910-1912); Rugby 1st XV (1911); won Senior Fives Cup (1912); Lance Corporal in the OTC (1911).

The turn of the century saw the Sills brothers and cousins studying at Oakham School. Three of them fought in the First World War, two survived. Charles was one of the first Oakhamian casualties. His cousin Frederick attended Oakham School between 1915 and 1922. He was a boarder in Junior House and School House. Frederick served with The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in France in 1940, and was sent to North Africa. He was killed at El-Alamein, aged 34. His two sons, Charles and Richard, attended Oakham School.

Harry Gough started working at Oakham School as a Science teacher in 1911. Before he enlisted in 1915, he had also fulfilled the roles of Master of Rugby, Commanding Officer of the OTC and teacher in charge of the Debating Society. Harry was injured by shell splinters on 13 April 1918 during the German Spring Offensive, and he died of his wounds nine days later. His son Henry Hugh Gough was only 16 months old. He received a War Scholarship to attend Oakham School. After School, Henry went to RMC Sandhurst and joined The Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was killed in a bomb raid over Valetta, Malta on 15 February 1942.

Harry Gough, Oakham School achievements: Science Teacher (1911-1915); Commanding Officer of the OTC (1914-1915); Master of Rugby (1914); Debating Society (1912).

Henry Hugh Gough, Oakham School achievements: Prefect (1933-1935); Form 4 Trustees’ Prize (Speech Day 1930); Lower Form 5 Latin and Science prizes (Speech Day 1933); gained Certificate ‘A’ (1933) and promoted to CSM in the OTC (1934); Boxing middle-weight (1933); Rugby 1st XV (1933-1934); Cricket 1st XI (1935); Athletics (Captain 1935); Shooting (Captain 1933-1935) and won Fenwick Cup (1933)

 

School Teachers

On the panels of the War Memorial Chapel are carved four names of Oakham School Masters, alongside pupils they may have taught.

 

Harry Percy Bright Gough was a Science teacher at Oakham School for four years (1911-1915).

Edward George Langdale was Commanding Officer in the OTC between 1912 and 1914. He received his commission with the Leicestershire Regiment on the day the war was declared and he landed in France in February 1915. Edward was promoted to Captain of 5th Leicestershire Regiment B Company in July 1915. The B Company was at the time made up of former Oakham Territorials. After eight months on the front, Edward and the Leicester Regiment fought at the Battle of Loos. On 13 October 1915, Edward was killed at the Hohenzollern Redoubt, alongside four Old Boys. All five Oakhamians are remembered at the Loos Memorial, visited by Form 3 pupils every year: Edward George Langdale, Gordon Sanderson, Edward Cartwright Franks, William Inglis Johnson, Basil Fullelove West Mogridge.

John Bertram Partington taught Classics for three years (1910-1913). He was also involved in the Debating Society, and was Second Lieutenant in the OTC. In 1911, he was the Commanding Officer of Basil Mogridge, Charles Sills and John Paul Bromhead. During the War, John fought in Lahore, Pakistan. He escorted German prisoners to Australia, then was posted in Mesopotamia with the Devonshire Regiment. He was killed in a shell explosion at Kut-el-Amarrah, at the age of 32.

David Sturge Crichton was a Physical Training (now P.E.) teacher at Oakham School between 1936 and 1939. He was appointed just as the new Gymnasium was completed. During his three years at School, David also joined the Scouts as Instructor in 1937, then the O.T.C. contingent as their new N.C.O. He regularly featured in the Masters’ Cricket team against the School’s 1st XI every summer and was a member of Oakham Cricket Club as well. When the war broke out, David joined the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders as Lieutenant and was sent to France with the B.E.F. He fought in Normandy in June 1940, where his battalion was captured. David died of cancer in a military hospital in Friesburg, Germany as a Prisoner of war on 29th August 1941.

 

Rugby 1st XV, 1914

As seen on the Bank House photograph, Old Boys who fell in the First World War were in the same houses, teams and societies. The impact of the conflict and loss suffered by local families is felt even more strongly when looking at the Rugby 1st XV 1914.

 

Eight of the players and Master were killed only a few years after the photograph was taken. However, the friendship and camaraderie were not limited to the rugby pitch. All players would have been boarders in School House for at least one year together.

Herbert Wait and Leonard Kingham were from the same city, both were boarders in Junior House, and they both joined The Royal Berkshire Regiment. Leonard, Herbert and John Albrecht all died at the Third Battle of Ypres. William Hill, Jack Dewar and Arthur Taverner showed their acting talent in The Frogs, part of the Easter Entertainment in 1914, and both Jack and Arthur fought at the Somme.

The Mogridge family lived in Melton Mowbray, where Basil’s father was the Reverend of Scalford Vicarage. As a boarder in School House (1910-1914), Basil showed abilities on the rugby pitch, on stage, and in the classroom. He was also in the School’s OTC contingent for three years. Basil had won an open scholarship at St John’s College, Cambridge to read Classics in September 1914. However, he never attended and enlisted in The Leicestershire Regiment. After about one year on the front, Basil and the 1st/4th Leicester Regiment fought at the Battle of Loos. On 13 October 1915, Basil was killed at the Hohenzollern Redoubt, alongside three Old Boys and a former Master. All five Oakhamians are remembered at the Loos Memorial, visited by Form 3 pupils every year: Edward George Langdale, Gordon Sanderson, Edward Cartwright Franks, William Inglis Johnson, Basil Fullelove West Mogridge.

John Albrecht was a boarder in School House from 1908 to 1915. He was a keen rugby player, captaining the junior team in 1909, playing in the U14 XV for two years (1911-1912) and in the 1st XV in 1914. When he left Oakham School, John went to RMA Woolwich and joined The Royal Field Artillery in February 1916. His battalion fought in the third Battle of Ypres in Belgium where John died on 2 August 1917, at the age of 19. The Albrecht family mourned the death of John, three years after the loss of his brother Christopher.

Harry Gough started working at Oakham School as a Science teacher in 1911. Before he enlisted in 1915, he had also fulfilled the roles of Master of Rugby, Commanding Officer of the OTC and teacher in charge of the Debating Society. Harry left School in Spring term 1915 to join the 17th Welsh Regiment. He was sent to France in June 1916. He fought at Welsh Ridge, Bourlon Wood where he was injured by shell splinters on 13 April 1918 during the German Spring Offensive, and he died of his wounds nine days later at a Casualty Clearing Station at the age of 38.

Harry was awarded the Military Cross (with Bar) in February 1918 for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. 

Herbert Wait was a boarder in Junior House (Lower School), then in School House (Middle and Upper School). He played rugby alongside John Albrecht in the U14 XV in 1912, and in the 1st XV in 1914. He also played in the Cricket 1st XI for two years, played Fives as a pair with Christopher Atter in 1914, and took part in various events on Sports Day, winning the U15 220 yards handicap in 1913, the U16 long jump and Quarter-Mile in 1914, and finally the 100 yards and long jump in 1915. He was involved in the Debating Society for three years, and gained Higher Certificates at Oxford and Cambridge School Examination board in his last term. Herbert went to RMC Sandhurst and joined the 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s) in 1915. His battalion fought in Belgium and Herbert was killed at the third Battle of Ypres on 2 December 1917 at the age of 19.

The Kingham and Wait families both lived in Reading. Leonard joined Junior House in 1910, where Herbert was already a boarder, then went to School House until 1915. Leonard played as a forward in the Rugby 1st XV in 1913 (as a substitute) and 1914, and he was also a player in the Cricket 2nd XI in 1914 and later in the Cricket 1st XI in 1915, captained by Jack Dewar. In his last year, Leonard was a School prefect, alongside Herbert Wait. Leonard went to RMC Sandhurst and joined the 1st/6th Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1915. His battalion fought in Belgium and Leonard was killed at the third Battle of Ypres on 10 August 1917 at the age of 20.

William Hill attended Oakham School for three years (1911-1914). He was in the Cricket 1st XI, first as a substitute in 1912, then as a stalwart in 1913 and 1914. He was also a key player of the Rugby 1st XV for three seasons (1912 to 1914). William was seen on stage in the production of Aristophanes’ The Frogs in 1914, and served the School as Prefect in his last year. William showed great promise in the classroom as well, as he gained a Senior County Scholarship in 1913, Higher Certificates at the Oxford and Cambridge Examination board and an Open Exhibition at Corpus Christi, Cambridge in 1914. However, William never attended and joined The Durham Light Infantry shortly after the war broke out. He served in France for three years and he was captured on the Chemin des Dames on 27 May 1918, whilst in the 8th Battalion. William died of wounded as a Prisoner of War in Germany on 6 November 1918 at the age of 22. 

Jack Dewar’s father was the Reverend of Holy Trinity Vicarage, Loughborough. He was a boarder in School House for four years between 1911 and 1915. In his time at Oakham School, Jack took part in the Debating Society, performed on stage with William Hill in the production of Aristophanes’ The Frogs, and appeared in Fives competitions between 1912 and 1914. He was a stalwart in the Cricket 1st XI from 1913 and Captain the side in 1915. On the rugby pitch, he played in the 1st XV as a three-quarter for four years, captaining the side during his last term in Winter 1915. Jack also represented his house in the swimming inter-house in 1914 and won the six-length race. He was awarded the English Composition and Form 6 History prizes at Speech Day 1915. Jack was a Prefect in his last year, and Head Prefect in Winter 1915. When he left School in December 1915, Jack joined The Royal Marin Light Infantry. His Battalion landed in France on 8 July 1916 and fought in the Battle of the Somme, at Beaucourt-sur-L’Ancre, where Jack died of wounds in no man’s land at the age of 20 (less than a year after leaving School). 

Every year, Form 3 pupils hold a memorial service in the Ancre British Cemetery and lay a wreath on Jack’s grave. After the war, Jack’s parents asked the School to award each year a prize in honour of their son. The Jack Dewar prize has been awarded to Form 7 all-rounders ever since. 

The Dewar family lost two sons in the war; Jack’s brother, Sonny, was killed in action in France.

The Taverner family lived in Stamford, and then moved to Oakham when Arthur’s father became Reverend of Wing Rectory. Arthur was a boarder in Junior House and Bank House from 1909 to 1915. He played in the Rugby 1sy XV as a full-back in 1914 and was in the Cricket 1st XV in 1915, captained by Jack Dewar. He was a keen runner, competing in the U15 220 yards in 1912, and in the Cross Country Steeplechase in 1914 and 1915. Alongside William Hill and Jack Dewar, Arthur also performed in the production of The Frogs in 1914. Arthur was a Prefect and Head Musician in his last year, and gained Higher Certificates at the Oxford and Cambridge Examination board in 1915. When he left School, Arthur attended RMC Sandhurst. He landed in France in April 1916, and he was killed by a German machine gun only four months later on 12 October 1916, whilst in charge of a night working party.

 

Cricket 1st XI 1911

When looking at the photograph of the Cricket 1st XI 1911, one cannot help but feel the impact of the First World War on the small School community. Six of the players, including the Captain, were killed only a few years after the photograph was taken. However, the friendship and camaraderie were not limited to the cricket field.

 

The Pickering-Clarke family lived in Leicester and their two sons, John and Eric, were boarders in School House. Over his four years at School, John played rugby in the U14 XV (1907) and the 1st XV (1909), and he was in the Cricket 1st XI (1910-1911). John served in the 10th Leicestershire Regiment and arrived in France on 7 July 1916. He was killed only one week later at the Battle of Bazentin (Somme) at the age of 22. His name is carved on the Thiepval Memorial, visited every year by Form 3 pupils. John’s older brother, Eric, fought in the war and enjoyed a 31-year long career at Oakham School (1919-1950) as teacher of Form 4, Master in charge of Cricket and Rugby, Housemaster of Junior House, and Second Master (Senior Deputy Head).

John Paul Bromhead lived with his family on West Road, Oakham. He spent eight years at Oakham School, boarding in Bank House and School House. John was a keen sportsman. He played in the Cricket 1st XI in 1911 and 1912, in the Rugby U14 XV in 1906 and 1907, and in the 1st XV from 1908, captaining the side in 1911. John represented his house on Sports Day and won the Mile, the Quarter-Mile and the 110 yards races in 1911. He was part of the School’s OTC contingent commanded by John Partington in 1911, alongside Eric Mitchell, Basil Mogridge, Charles Sills and Donald Ryan. John Paul was awarded several Speech Day prizes, including the Latin Composition and the Divinity prizes in 1909, 1911 and 1912, and the English Composition prize in 1910, 1911 and 1912. John served the School as a Prefect for two years (1909-1911), and as Head Prefect in his last year. John Paul gained Higher Certificate at the Oxford and Cambridge Examination board with Distinction in Scriptures and History in Summer 1912. John had gained a BA in the Classical Tripos at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge when the war broke out. He joined the 8th Royal Fusiliers (City of London) and fought from 1 July 1916 at the Somme. He was killed near Pozières on 3 August 1916 at the age of 22. His name is carved on the Thiepval Memorial, visited every by Form 3 pupils.

Donald Ryan came to Oakham School as a boarder in School in 1904. Over his eight years at School, he took part in the Debating Society (1910-1912), in the choir (1909-1912), and in the OTC. Donald played Fives in Junior and Senior competitions and was paired with Malcolm Neilson in 1910. He played in the Rugby 1st XV for three years and was named Captain in 1912. He played in both the Cricket 2nd XI (1909 and 1910) and Cricket 1st XI (1911 and 1912). Donald was also seen running on Sports Day, winning the Quarter-Mile and Quarter-Mile handicap in 1912. Donald joined the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment and landed in France in November 1914. He was killed in action in Flanders, Belgium, on 9 May 1915 at the age of 20.

Charles Sills attended Oakham School for seven years (1905-1912). He was a stalwart of the Cricket 1st XI for five seasons, and captained the team in 1911 and 1912. He also played in the Rugby 1st XV in 1910 and 1911. He took part in Fives Junior and Senior competitions from 1908, and won the Senior Cup with Malcolm Neilson in 1912. On Sports Day, he proved himself a specialist high jumper, winning the U15 event in 1907, and the senior event in 1910, finishing second in 1911 and 1912. Charles was a School Prefect in his last year. After School, Charles went to RMC Sandhurst and joined The South Wales Borderers in 1913. When the war broke out, he was sent to France as part of the 1st Division of the B.E.F. and fought at Mons and the Marne. He was killed on 26 September 1914 at the Aisne.

Malcolm Neilson spent five years at Oakham School, as a boarder in School House. He was a keen Fives player, played in the Cricket 1st XI for three seasons (1910-1912) and played as a centre three-quarter in the Rugby 1st Xv in 1911. Malcolm also took part in the Debating Society from 1910 to 1912, he sang in the choir for two years (1910-1912) and served the School as Prefect in his last year. Malcolm was studying at Ontario Agricultural College when the war broke out. He enlisted with the Canadian Army and landed in France in January 1915. Malcolm is well remembered by current pupils who visited Vimy Ridge, where he was killed by a shell, at the age of 22.

Eric Mitchell’s family lived in Gosport, Hampshire and his father had been rector of Wing Vicarage, Oakham. Eric was a boarder in School House between 1908 and 1912. He sang in the choir throughout his four years at School. He played at half-back or three-quarter in the Rugby 1st XV for three seasons (1910-1912), won the Fives Senior competition in 1912 and played in the Cricket 1st XI in 1911 and 1912. Eric also served the School as Prefect in 1912. He was in the OTC contingent, and was promoted to Sergeant in his last year. Eric went to RMC Sandhurst and joined the 2nd Prince of Wales’s Volunteers South Lancashire Regiment. He landed in France with the B.E.F. on 14 August 1914 and fought at the Aisne. Eric was killed at Neuve Chapelle two months after his teammate Charles Sills on 27 October 1914 at the age of 19.

 

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