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In Memoriam: Alfred William Johnson

Photograph of Alfred William Johnson

Alfred William Johnson

Alfred William Johnson, of Victoria, B. C.,Canada, died of gas poisoning in France on 17th April, 1918, aged 44 years.

Alfred was born in Madagascar in 1874 and attended Bootham School from 1889 to 1890.

The February 1908 issue of “Bootham”, the school magazine, reports on the annual football match between the school and the Old Scholars.  Alfred was a member of the Old Scholars Team, which the report tells us was very strong. (The score was 19-1!)

The same issue of “Bootham” included, in the “Marriages” section:

 “JOHNSON—MACKENZIE.—On the 28th December, 1907, at Inverness, Scotland, Alfred William Johnson (1889—90), of Canada, to Mary Lillian Kyttie Mackenzie, of Inverness.”

The October 1909 issue of “Bootham” contained the following Birth announcement:

“JOHNSON.—On the 31st August, 1909, at Balquhidder, Kamloops, British Columbia, Mary Lilian Kythe, wife of Alfred William Johnson (1889-90), a son.”

His son was named Harry William Mackenzie.  The March 1912 issue announces another birth:

“JOHNSON.—On the 28th December, 1911, at Balquhiddar, Kamloops, B.C., Mary Kythi, wife of Alfred William Johnson (1889-90), a daughter, who was named Kythi Lucy.”

 By 1916, Alfred has joined the War.  “Bootham” reports under “War Lists”:

“Under Military Discipline :— Johnson, A. W., Second Lieut., Seaforth Highlanders.”

The “Across the Months” section of “Bootham”, June 1917 includes the following:

“LIEUT. A. M. JOHNSON, R.E., Forest Group, rose from Private in the Infantry by way of the Pioneers (Seaforth), into the R.E., and is now in charge of a group in the First Field Survey Company. He took to golf before the war, and says that it has beaten football and cricket to a “frazzle edge,” in fact to a “Fare ye well,” as the Yankees say.”

Then in 1918, the May edition of “Bootham” reports:

“Deaths

JOHNSON.—On the 17th April, 1918, of wounds received on the 9th, Alfred William Johnson (1889-90), of Victoria, British Columbia, aged 44 years.”

The July 1918 edition of “Bootham” includes the following “In Memoriam” piece:

“ALFRED WILLIAM JOHNSON (1889-90). We heard with deep regret of his death. One of his best friends sent these words: “One of the noblest souls I ever knew. Such devotion to duty! Three years as a Trooper in Strathcona’s in Africa and now the supreme offering for us made in France. “He was Captain in the Royal Engineers, Field Survey Department, and died from gas poisoning on April 17th.”

And then in the December 1918 issue of “Bootham”:

“In Memoriam:

ALFRED WILLIAM JOHNSON (1889-90) was born 1874. His parents were Wm. and Lucy Johnson, missionaries to Madagascar, who in 1895 were murdered in a riot there. He was at Ackworth, and afterwards at Bootham. In 1890 he went into business at Sheffield, but his disposition was quite unsuited to such a life, and in two years’ time he went out to Canada. He had a rough and varied experience there, sometimes prosperous, sometimes “down on his luck” for several years. At length he qualified as a surveyor and obtained a Government appointment on the N.W. survey. In 1899 he volunteered for service with Strathcona’s Horse and fought right through the South African War. In 1908 he married Mary L. K. Mackenzie, of Inverness, whom he had met in Canada. He settled in Kamloops, B.C., where he built a delightful home. Two children were born. In 1915 he came to England and, although over military age, persuaded the authorities to give him a commission in the Seaforth Highlanders. He was later transferred to the Pioneers and given a captaincy. He did very efficient work in range-finding and in mapping positions of enemy guns. He was killed by gas in the great German attack in April. After his death he was awarded the Military Cross.

He was as tough as whipcord. He never had a doctor. His character was just like his physique. He always knew his opinion and never minded stating it. He read widely, was a wonderfully graphic and humorous letter writer, never failed to make himself welcome in jovial company. On the deeper things of life he was very reserved, but he had a very real vein of poetry, which he sometimes failed to conceal. He was intensely British. Above all else he was loyal to old friends and associations. His home life was about as perfect as can be. J. H. D.”

 Captain Alfred William Johnson is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

 

 

In Memoriam: Donald Gordon Clark

Photograph of Donald Gordon Clark in uniform.

Donald Gordon Clark

Donald Gordon Clark of Aberdeenshire died of wounds received in France on 13th April 1918, aged 25 years.

Donald was born at Echt, Aberdeenshire in 1892 and attended Bootham School from 1905 to 1908.  He played in 2nd XI Football and Cricket teams, was school Librarian, and a member of the committee of the school Debating Society among others. He enjoyed carpentry and in the school Christmas Exhibition of 1907 he won the Workshop prize for his Garden Seat. He also won prizes in school tournaments for Aquatics, Fives and Athletics.

In 1908, his “Bene Decessit” entry in the school magazine, “Bootham”, read:

“DONALD G. CLARK leaves from the Upper Schoolroom to enter his father’s bank.”

He was a member of the Institute of Bankers in Scotland.

Donald joined the Army soon after the outbreak of War. “Bootham” of March 1915 reports:

“Bootham School War Lists.

(1) Under Military Discipline:—

CLARK, D. G., 6th Bn. Gordon Highlanders. Lieutenant. Wounded.”

A year later, “Bootham” of  March 1916 reports:

“Bootham School War Lists.

Under Military Discipline :—

Clark, D. G., Capt., 6th Bn. Gordon Highlanders.”

and in  “Across the Months”:

“D. G. CLARK, Gordon Highlanders, went to France in November, 1914. He was wounded at Neuve Chapelle (March 13th, 1915) on the head and thigh, and was in a London hospital for about a month. He was promoted Captain in September, 1915, and rejoined his regiment in France in October. Writing February 26th, he says he is in a ” soft pinch. ” “

“Bootham” of May 1918 reported that Donald was still with the Army:

“O.Y.S. War-time Service Lists.

Old York Scholars serving in the Navy and Army.

Clark D. G., Capt., Gordon Highlanders.”

However, this was followed in July 1918 issue of “Bootham” with the following:

“Bootham July 1918

Deaths

CLARK.—On the 13th April, 1918, killed in action in France, Donald Gordon Clark (1905-8), aged 26.”

 Donald Gordon Clark was awarded the D.S.O. and the Military Cross and Bar.

His entry in “Bootham” of  April 1919 reads as follows:

“In Memoriam

DONALD GORDON CLARK (1905-8),Capt. 6thBatt. the Gordon Highlanders (M.C. and Bar; D.S.O.), died of wounds received in action, April 13th, 1918.

Donald Clark’s contemporaries at Bootham have all heard with deep regret of his death, and looking back upon school days they will preserve a memory of him as a good comrade, manly, cheerful, loyal.

After leaving school he had settled down to prepare for his life’s calling, occupying leisure time with work in the Territorials, but in the fateful August of 1914 he put aside the prospects of a quiet life and entered the Army. Through his application and merit he was quickly promoted. Some of us who met him at Bootham two years ago are not likely to forget his quiet way as he told us of experiences and escapes.

Here are words of his commanding officers and of others associated with him in the last days: ” His fine leadership and disregard of danger ” . . . ” his men would go anywhere with him.”

” His absolute fearlessness, wonderful endurance and devotion to duty were beyond any words of praise of mine.” And this, too, from another officer: ” He understood the wants of his men, and attended to them before he minded his own. Many a time he has cheered on some lad with his mouth organ or a good story.”

To read of these lives and of their passing is to invest with fuller meaning the motto of our School, and to enrich the inheritance which is ours to hand on. “

Captain Donald Gordon Clark is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

In Memoriam: Christopher James Alexander

Photograph of Cchristopher James Alexander in uniform

Christopher James Alexander

Christopher James Alexander of Croydon, Surrey, died in Flanders on 5th October 1917, aged 30 years.

Christopher was born in 1887 and attended Bootham School from 1900 to 1904.  He took a keen interest in many aspects of Natural History while at school, was very observant of wildlife, and this interest lasted throughout his life.  As well as studying birds and plants, in 1902 the school magazine “Bootham” reported that he had won the school natural history prize winner for lepidoptera.  The Natural History Society report for Autumn 1902 as reported in “Bootham” tells us:

“Entomology Report, Lepidoptera:

“C. J. Alexander, the most prominent worker in this subject, spent a great deal of time last term over watching and drawing his insects during their development, and their changes from one stage to another. This term, he has spent a couple of hours every Saturday afternoon in weighing his crysalids and plotting a curve, showing their rate of decrease. He has also added largely to his collection, having reared an Alder Kitten from a caterpillar found just before it turned. He has taken Lesser Lutestrings at sugar and a Buff Arches as it was fluttering round an arc-lamp. These three were all obtained in Kent.”

Art section report:

“C. J. Alexander’s ” Moths,” coloured to perfection,” “

He won the Natural history prize for entomology.

In 1903 Christopher was curator of entomology, microscopy and zoology in the Natural History Society.

“Bootham” of  May 1903 reports that at a meeting of the Natural History Society on February 18th::

“C. J. Alexander followed with a very clear discourse on Fertilization of Orchids, illustrated by diagrams on the black board.”

And later:

“The last meeting of term was occupied by a debate. The motion, “That the collection of eggs involves no real cruelty,” was put before the meeting, in a joint paper, by Horan and C. Milner. C. J. Alexander followed with a good paper in opposition. “Do the birds have emotional and mental feelings and sufferings?”—in some cases probably; why not use Photography and careful observation, to obtain the same end as collecting? The motion was lost by 16 to 5.”

And then the October 1903 issue of “Bootham” tells us, in the Natural History report:

“At a later meeting C. J. Alexander had a good comparison of last year’s flowers with this. On the whole, flowers were earlier this year than last, a mid-April frost giving two distinct sets of flowers. C. J. A dealt in the same way with migrants, which were early this time, though they may not have been so much noticed owing to the cold stopping their singing.”

Moving on to the March 1904 issue of “Bootham”, we are told in the Natural History report:

“A new feature of our Meetings in the Autumn Term was a series of “10 minutes” talks on the various branches by the curators, arranged with the idea of increasing the general knowledge of the Club, whose members are perhaps rather too much inclined to exclusive study of one subject. The first of these short talks was given by C. J. Alexander, on Botany, an able lecture, with the usual fine blackboard drawings added thereto. A photograph of the same gentleman’s illustrations to an Ornithological “10 minutes” is reproduced in this number.

Photograph of blackboard with C J Alexander's drawings of birds

C J Alexander’s illustration of birds for ornithological lecture

By this time, Christopher had joined the committee of the Natural History Society.

In the Inter-Schools Diaries Competition of 1903, Christopher won first prize in the Natural History Section with his diary of Botany and Entomology. In the school Christmas Exhibition some of the diaries were commended, especially those of the brothers C. J. and H. G. Alexander in Natural History.

Also in “Bootham” of March 1904, the Ornithological section reports:

“C. J. Alexander has been making careful notes on the times birds sing. He has discovered that the Hedge Sparrow and Wren sing from October to mid November, and that the Thrush and Missel Thrush start about when they end, while the Robin sings all the time.”

The Art section reports:

“There has been more originality in the drawings this year than last. C. J. Alexander, G. Leckie and A. Hamilton being the chief. The best exhibit of original paintings was C. J. Alexander’s caterpillars, chrysalids and moths, which were coloured to perfection.”

and goes on to say:

“Quite the most beautiful coloured drawings were those of moths, butterflies, and chrysalids, and a spray of Blackberry, by C. J. Alexander. Very minute and exquisite in painting, they also showed accurate observation of form, and deserved careful mounting and naming.”

Selection of moth and caterpillar paintings by C J Alexander

Selection of moth and caterpillar paintings by C J Alexander

The report of the Old Scholars Natural History Exhibition tells us:

“The one competitor is C. J. Alexander, of Tunbridge Wells. He presents a voluminous and very careful diary illustrated with unusual ability and extending over three years; with great variety of observation, especially in the fields of Entomology, Ornithology, and Botany. …………..They have decided to award to C. J. Alexander an exhibition of £5, and to remind him that according to the rules they will be glad to give consideration to his future work at the end of July.”

Pictures of birds by C J Alexander, one in colout

Pictures of birds by C J Alexander

In 1904 Christopher was curator of botany, entomology, microscopy and zoology in the Natural History Society.

The Autumn Term report for the school tells us:

“The end of Term brought the customary “charades.” The turn this time was for “Vice Versa,” short, but immense fun throughout. The difficult parts of “Paul ” and “Dick Bultitude” were well sustained by C. J . and V. W. Alexander”

Christopher was doing well at school and the School Term report tells us:

“The Term closed with the reading out of places, showing C. J. Alexander to be top of the School.”

In “Bootham” of May 1904, we learn that in the Natural History Society:

“C. J. Alexander held the office of President for the Term”

And the Natural History Society report:

“During the holding of the Quarterly Meeting in York in January, a very interesting meeting of the Natural History Society took place……… Another most interesting feature of the meeting was the imitation of the songs of birds by C. J. Alexander, the winner of the Old Scholars’ Natural History Exhibition. The songs of several of our common wild birds were so faithfully reproduced that a thrush actually began to answer him from the playground.”

Christopher left Bootham School in July 1904 and his “Bene Decessit” entry reads:

“C. J. ALEXANDER, of Tunbridge Wells, entered the School in September, 1900, and is now top of the School and a Reeve. In December, 1903, he was awarded the Old Scholars’ Natural History Exhibition. In June, 1904, he obtained the London University School-Leaving Certificate with distinction in French. In July, 1904, he was placed first in the Upper Senior by the Examiners of the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds, and was awarded the Bootham Leaving Scholarship of £50. He goes to study Agriculture at Wye College, near Tunbridge Wells.”

In “Bootham” of February 1905, in the Annual Report of the Bootham School Natural History, Literary and Polytechnic Society, we read that:

“We are glad to learn that C. J. Alexander, last year’s winner, took and passed both the new Zoology Paper at the London Matriculation and also the Natural History Papers in the Victoria University Preliminary Examination, both examinations requiring, in addition to book work, a practical knowledge of field work.”

In this issue we also learn that:

“CHRISTOPHER J. ALEXANDER (1900—4) has been awarded a 1st class Entrance Scholarship in the South Eastern Agricultural College, Wye.”

“Bootham” of February 1909 reports:

“CHRISTOPHER J. ALEXANDER (1900-4) has passed the B.Sc. Examination, Faculty of Science (Agriculture), South-Eastern Agricultural College.”

Christopher J. Alexander became County Instructor for Insect and Fungoid Diseases under Berkshire Education Committee in 1910.  In 1911, he moved to Rome to be Rédacteur at the International Institute of Agriculture.

The March 1913 issue of “Bootham” contains the following:

“NORMAN D. RAE, Neuchatel (1907-1910) ……… was at home for Christmas, as was also C. J. ALEXANDER (1900-1904), who was reminded by the last BOOTHAM to send thanks for our “card from O.S., which, of course, I was delighted to get; it came several days later than I had expected, and I had a horrid fear that I had been forgotten. ” He also endorses Frith’s views given in the last number, and concludes with the suggestion that any O.Y.S. visiting Rome can find him at the International Institute of Agriculture, Villa Umberto I., any day between 8.30—3.00. [Does he finish work at 3.00? If so, we are envious.—Ed.”

The March 1914 issue of Bootham, in the Bootham Oversea section reports:

“C. J. ALEXANDER (1900-1904) now treats “Rome as if it were London and lives out at Albano; it necessitates leaving at 6.56 a.m., but I find I easily get used to that (we believe we are right in giving his hours at the Institute as 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) . I amuse myself in the train on the way down (Albano standing at 1,250 feet) by holding a thermometer out of the window. A short distance from Albano the line tunnels through to the inside of the crater, about half way up the slope above the lake, and keeps round inside (with one station) for some way; then out through another tunnel to Marino. Along the lake the temperature is markedly higher, no doubt owing to the lake water, which I think hardly goes below 50 deg. F. in winter; on the north slope at Marino it is much cooler again, but still a good deal higher than down on the more or less level Campagna. In the late autumn I several times got a difference of 14 deg. F. between the part above the lake and the minimum on the Campagna. “”

 By the December 917 issue of “Bootham” magazine, C. J. Alexander was serving in the War.  He had returned to England in 1916 to join the Army.  The “Across the Months” section reports:

“THE attention of Old Scholars is drawn to these two of our Dumber whose relatives are very anxious about them: CHRISTOPHER J. ALEXANDER (1900-04) was “pretty badly hit” —face, stomach, hand, and knee—in the Passchendaele fighting on October 4th. He was still conscious when put into an ambulance car, after which there is no trace of him. His name and number are Pte. C. J. Alexander, 24732, (Queen’s) Royal West Surreys. If any Old Scholar could give any further news of him it would be most thankfully received.”

It wasn’t to be good news.   The May 1918 issue of “Bootham” lists under “Deaths”:

“ALEXANDER.—On the 4th October (or soon after), of wounds, in Flanders, Christopher James Alexander, B.Sc. (1900-4), of the International Agricultural Institute, Rome, aged 30 years.”

This issue also contains an entry for Christopher in the “In Memoriam” section as follows:

“CHRISTOPHER J. ALEXANDER first came to Bootham at the time of the Scarborough exile, after the fire, and he left in 1904, having- won the N.H. Exhibition and the Leaving Scholarship. He played his part in all that was best in the life of the School, especially in the N.H. Club. He joined in the great exploration of “heaven” by No. 8 Bedroom, and was a perfect Mr. Bultitude in ‘ ‘ Vice Versa.” But perhaps his character was best revealed in a simple act of courage, freely criticised at the time. One of our American gym. Masters —kindest-hearted of men—had spent a year with us, and none of us treated him very well; Christopher, in making a presentation to him when he left, frankly confessed our fault. All through his life, shy and modest as he was, when the occasion came, both in speech and action he showed the same outspoken integrity.

At Wye Agricultural College, and for five years at the International Institute of Agriculture at Rome, he devoted himself to many kinds of scientific work, and especially found increasing delight, even to the last week of his life in Flanders, in observing birds. During his eighteen months in the Army he was able to give his best, that had before been hidden from most, to all the other men. They have written with real affection and concern since he was hit, on October 4th, but all they could tell us has only led us to the surmise, now at last confirmed by the War Office, that he must have been killed after he was put in the ambulance.

The only “Old Scholars” he ever got to was in 1914.  When by good fortune he got back to his old company in France last September, after having been in England with a broken leg, he wrote that it seemed quite like getting to York at Whitsuntide.  Like many more, he will not again be with us in the flesh, but we know that his spirit will be among us when we meet.”

The Bootham School Register records that Christopher was killed by a shell whilst being conveyed in an ambulance after being wounded.

An obituary for Christopher was published in the journal “Ibis”, the International Journal of Avian Science, in April 1918, see https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1918.tb00784.x .

Private Christopher James Alexander of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) is buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery, near Ypres, Belgium.

In Memoriam: Lawrence Edmund Rowntree

Photograph of Lawrence Edmund Rowntree

Lawrence Edmund Rowntree

Lawrence Edmund Rowntree of Scalby, Scarborough, was killed in action in Flanders on 25th November 1917, aged 22 years.

He was born at York in 1895 and was a grandson of Joseph Rowntree, the Quaker chocolate manufacturer and social reformer of York.  He attended Bootham School from 1907 to 1912.

Lawrence took part in many activities whilst at Bootham.  He was a member of the Junior Essay Society and gained mentions in Aquatics reports.  In the Conchology report of the Natural History Society report (“Bootham” magazine, February 1909):

“This subject has attracted no fewer than ten collectors during the year, and several of them have made really good collections. ………L. E. Rowntree’s collection contains 14 new species. Collectors have been very energetic over their work, diligently carrying shell-scoops on all excursions. Many places have been visited, amongst others Askham Bog, Castle Howard and the Foss.”

In the Archaeological Diaries report of the Natural History Society report (“Bootham”, March 1910):

“With two exceptions, there are no original photographs, and in most cases we should have liked to see more illustration, either in pen and ink sketches, or pencil drawings.

L. E. Rowntree’s mouldings are very effective. We think that all who take up archaeology ought to make a particular study of this branch of the subject, for mouldings are to a right understanding of the different periods what factors are to algebra—often the shortest and best clue to a difficult problem.We should like to encourage more of this in the diaries for another reason. Many of us are not artistic, and cannot “make a picture,” but we can copy a moulding fairly accurately, and can draw a section of a pillar or string course, so as to make a valuable addition to our diary.”

In 1911, Lawrence was a curator of Astronomy and a librarian for the school Natural History Society.

By The 1910-11 season, Lawrence was playing football in the school second XI and had joined the committee of the Senior Essay Society.

“Bootham” of November 1911 reported that Lawrence, amongst others from Bootham, had gained the bronze life saving medal at an examination at the St George’s Baths.

By 1912, Lawrence had become a Reeve at Bootham, equivalent to a prefect.

Lawrence joined the school fire brigade.  “Bootham” magazine of November 1912 reported that in the school term of summer 1912:

“A fine display was given by the School Fire Brigade under the captaincy of L. E. Rowntree.”

Photograph of Bootham School Fire Brigade, 1911.

Bootham School Fire Brigade, 1911.
L E Rowntree second from right.

 

Photograph of Bootham School Fire Brigade, 1911, including horse-drawn fire engine.

Bootham School Fire Brigade, 1911.
L E Rowntree standing on fire engine on left at back.

Lawrence Rowntree left Bootham School in July 1912.  “Bootham” magazine tells us:

“L. E. ROWNTREE leaves from the Upper Senior after passing the Cambridge Previous Examination. He was at Bootham five years and a reeve during his last year. He played for the ist Boys’ XL at football and was on the Tennis Committee. He was an efficient secretary to the Senior Essay Society and a member of the Natural History Club Committee. In aquatics he was prominent and won the Silver Medal of the Royal Life Saving Society. For his last term he was an able and energetic captain of the Fire Brigade.”

Photograph of Bootham School Reeves, 1912.

Bootham School Reeves, 1912.
L E Rowntree front row, far right.

After studying at Haverford Quaker College, Pennsylvania, near where father was buried, Lawrence became a medical student at King’s College, Cambridge in October 1913 but left in 1914 at the outbreak of the war to join the Friends Ambulance Unit.  He trained at Jordans, the Quaker Centre in Buckinghamshire, and on 31 October set off for France led by Philip Noel Baker (another Bootham Old Scholar).  Lawrence took his grandfather’s Daimler abroad with him, to his grandmother’s disapproval.  The December 1914 edition of “Bootham” has a report on the Anglo-Belgian Ambulance Unit and Lawrence is listed under a section entitled “Dressers, Orderlies, Ambulance Drivers, Stretcherbearers, etc.”  While in France and Belgium he wrote a diary, entitled ‘A Nightmare’.  The original is in the library at Friends’ House in London, and a copy in the Borthwick Institute, York University.

The December 1914 edition of “Bootham” also reported that:

“LAWRENCE EDMUND ROWNTREE (1907-12) has passed the First M.B. Examination, University of Cambridge.”

In March 1916, “Bootham” reported that:

“The following are, or have been, working with the Friends’ Ambulance Unit :— Rowntree, L. E., Clerical Staff, York.”

During 1916, Lawrence left the Friends’ Ambulance Unit and enlisted in the Army in the Motor Machine Gun Corps, “C” Company of the newly-formed Heavy Section, later known as the Tank Corps.  He was posted to the Somme in France. All the tanks in the British Army were at Ancre in the first ever tank battle.  Lawrence was injured and while home recuperating decided to apply for a commission. He was accepted and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 26th Army Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.  It was at the Battle of Passchendaele, the 3rd Battle of Ypres, that he was killed in action, on 25th November 1917.

“Bootham” of December 1917 reported:

“Deaths

ROWNTREE.—On 25th November, 1917, killed in action in Flanders, Lawrence Edmund Rowntree (1907-12), of Low Hall, Scalby, Yorks, aged 22 years.”

“Bootham” of May 1918 published an “In Memoriam” piece for Lawrence as follows:

Photograph of Lawrence Edmund Rowntree

L E Rowntree

“L. E. ROWNTREE.  His friends will perhaps remember Lawrence Rowntree best when he was at home.  No form of outdoor life came amiss, and he entered with equal zest into any of the many recreations he liked.  Motor-cycling was one of his great hobbies, but whatever the accident or however untoward the incident he always kept on smiling. Indeed, it was his unfailing cheerfulness, a fund of good stories, and his constant thought for others that made him such an excellent companion. -He was a Reeve during his last year at school, and, besides winning a much-contested place on the 1st Football XI., he took a prominent post in the Essay, Debating, and N.H. Societies. Many will remember the time and care he lavished on a hydroplane which he built in the workshop, but which, alas!, would not float.

Some will know John Drinkwater’s lines in “The God of Quiet ” : ” And the hate Of blood for blood, and bone for bone, can find No habitation in the quiet mind. . . . ” Probably all Old Boys have this quiet mind. Lawrence Rowntree certainly had it in a large degree, and as his friends are realising how much a part of their lives he was they are also realising how irreparable is their loss.

Died 25th November 1917.  Fell in action in Flanders.”

Second Lieutenant Lawrence Edmund Rowntree is buried in the Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, near Ypres.  His headstone bears the inscription, Only son of JW Rowntree, Scalby.  “I believe in the life everlasting.”

 

In Memoriam: Eric Busvine Butler

Photograph of Eric Busvine Butler in uniform.

Eric Busvine Butler

Eric Busvine Butler was killed in action near Ypres on 30th September 1917, aged 20 years.

He was born at Birmingham on 10th July 1897 and attended Bootham School from 1912 to 1914.

Eric did well at school.  He won the Edgard Pickard Prizes for Instantaneous and Time Photography.  In 1913, he played the part of Demetrius in the school production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. The December 1914 issue of the school magazine “Bootham” records:

“E. B. BUTLER leaves from the Upper Senior after a stay of two years at Bootham. He came here from Sidcot, and, like most old Sidcot scholars, he was an excellent photographer. His hobby was ornithology, and with the help of his camera he was able to show up a very creditable diary. He was a keen footballer, and was awarded his first Boys’ colours as outside left; at cricket, too, his steady batting secured him a permanent place  On the 2nd eleven. He was a steady longdistance swimmer, but owing to a visit to the Continent he was unable to stay for the Aquatics, and so lost his chance for the Cup. He leaves after passing Matric with honours.”

The same issue reports:

“ERIC BUSVINE BUTLER (1912-14) has passed the Senior School Examination (Matriculation), Distinction in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Mechanics (Honours), University of London.”

In September, 1915, Eric and another Bootham Old Scholar, John Lancelot Gibson (1910-13), obtained their commissions in the same Howitzer Brigade. The March 1916 edition of “Bootham” reports, under War Lists:

“Butler, E. B., Sub-Lieut., 4th Northumbrian Brigade, Howitzer R.F.A., Winchester. “

The December 1917 issue of “Bootham” reports::

“BUTLER.—On the 30th September, 1917, killed in action, Eric Busvine Butler (1912-14), of 57, Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, aged 20 years.”

In the following May, “Bootham” magazine printed the following “In Memoriam” piece:

“E. B. BUTLER (1912-14) may possibly be remembered by one or two still at school, amongst other things as a sportsman and one of considerable athletic ability. It was in the then new Swimming Bath that he especially distinguished himself.

At the declaration of war he was with his family in Switzerland, whence it seemed at first that the chances of return were small. Some nine months later, however, he was able to come home, and on reaching the age of eighteen at once joined the O.T.C. at Cambridge. After a month of training he obtained a Commission in the Northumbrian Brigade of Howitzer Field Artillery and went through a further course in England and at camp in Ireland. In March, 1917, he went out to France and was killed near Ypres on September 30th.

His father tells us that his letters home were always cheery, but that it was noticeable in him—as, indeed, it must be in many another who has come to live upon “hand-shake” terms with death that he felt himself to have come into close touch with the realities of life.

The extract which we append from his Battery Officer’s letter, explaining the circumstances of his death, shows his complete carelessness of danger, his thought for others, and his thoughtlessness for self. After a  very hot time” for three days in the most advanced gun position a shell dropped amongst the men of his battery, killing three and wounding seven.

“Butler,” the officer writes, “was in a dugout with me, and, although things were very bad at the time, he immediately went across to the men, and by his manner and example stopped all panic, and started binding up our wounded—the wounds were awful. He then arranged for the ambulance to come up, and helped to evacuate the wounded. He was simply splendid.

“We decided to send the men back then, as it was useless keeping them there any longer, but I wished to stay for a time, and Butler remained with me.

“The shelling had practically stopped, and as I came out of the dugout I noticed a fire in some old ammunition boxes. I remarked to Butler, ‘I hope that fire does not get into our dump.’

“I had hardly said the words when he ran straight over to the fire, jumped down into the gun-pit, and began throwing the burning boxes out. Two Australians came along shortly with buckets of water and managed to put it out. Butler was still in the gun-pit making sure that everything was all right, when I heard him shout, ‘ Look out! This ammunition is on fire,’ and almost instantly it went up.

“We shall miss him dreadfully, and my personal loss is great. He was most popular both with officers and men, and I hear the latter speak of him as ‘the bravest fellow they have ever seen.’

“At the time of the explosion I was blown 30 yards away, and have hardly any recollection of what took place afterwards; I can only say, your boy died the death’ of a very gallant man.”

C. E. H ., B. P .”

Second Lieutenant Eric Busvine Butler is remembered at the Tyne Cot Memorial near Ypres in Belgium.

 

In March 2016, a group of Bootham School History students visited the Tyne Cot Memorial.  Here they are pointing out E. B. Butler’s name on the Memorial:

Bootham students point out E. B. Butler's name on the Tyne Cot Memorial in 2016.

Bootham students point out E. B. Butler on Tyne Cot Memorial, 2016.

A photograph of E. B. Butler hangs in the History Department at Bootham School.  In 2014, the school’s Director of Music, Paul Feehan, was inspired to write a Requiem Mass, “Deeds of Angels”, in memory of him and others like him.” He said:

Photograph of Paul Feehan, Director of Music at Bootham School, with framed photograph of E. B. Butler.

Paul Feehan, Director of Music at Bootham School, with photograph of   E. B. Butler.

“Just recently we came upon a portrait of Eric Busvine Butler, one of our old scholars who was killed at the battle of Ypres. He was just 20 years old when he died – his young face looking out from this formal military portrait makes a deeply moving image. The requiem is for him and others like him, but it also remembers those who chose another path, that of conscientious objector.”

“Deeds of Angels” was premiered at a public performance on 14th September2014 at Bootham School.

In Memoriam: Oliver Bernard Ellis

Photograph of Oliver Bernard Ellis in uniform.

Oliver Bernard Ellis

Oliver Bernard Ellis was killed in active service over the German lines near Arleux on 19th May 1917, aged 18 years.

He was from Leicester and attended Bootham School from 1912 to 1916.  He was a keen sportsman at school, and also very interested in natural history and photography.

The March 1915 issue of Bootham Magazine tells us:

REPORT OF THE OLD SCHOLARS’ ASSOCIATION NATURAL HISTORY EXHIBITION COMMITTEE, 1914.

“After the absence of competitors last year we are pleased to welcome the work of three ornithologists. O. B. Ellis, of Leicester, shows an extensive series of observations, illustrated by photographs and lantern slides. These include an excellent series, starting with the cuckoo’s egg in the hedgesparrow’s nest, and showing the development of the cuckoo and the fate of the young hedge-sparrow. The black-headed gulls and other water-fowl at Skipwith have been studied and illustrated by a further series of creditable photographs. There were extensive fatalities among young gulls, but some suspicion cast upon owls seems to have been dispelled by careful examination of their pellets. A long essay on ‘ How Birds Protect their Eggs ‘ shows that O. B. Ellis has tried to arrange his observations and make them of value. We award him an exhibition of £7.”

Photograph of hedgesparrow, by O B Ellis

Hedgesparrow, photo by O B Ellis

Oliver had found the newly-hatched cuckoo fledgling in a nest on Strensall Common.  He made a unique photographic record if its growth by cycling to Strensall every other day.  To maintain the sequence, Oliver had on several occasions to break out of School before dawn, take the photographs when there was enough light, and then get back in time for “Silence”.

When he left, the school magazine, Bootham, wrote of him:

“O. B. ELLIS excelled in all forms of athletics. He was a brilliant and daring gymnast, weathering all hurts. He was an able goal-keeper, where he obtained his 1st Masters’ colours, and, later, played at outside right. At cricket he obtained his 1st eleven colours. Last year he obtained the Silver Medal of the Life-Saving Society and served on the Athletics and Football Committees. Last year he tied for the Senior Athletics Cup, and helped to command the Fire Brigade. He was a wonderful practical photographer, and was very patient over his ornithological excursions with the camera. He was a curator of ornithology and the N.H. [Natural History] rooms, and two years ago obtained the Old Scholars’ Prize. He leaves from the Upper Senior, and was a reeve [prefect].”

Oliver had a place at St John’s College, Cambridge and had hoped to take up his residence there in the autumn of 1916.  However, he joined that Royal Naval Air Service in June 1916.

He was trained at Redcar R.N.A.S. Station for three months.  In November he was transferred to Cranwell where he quickly qualified for his first class pilot’s certificate.  In March 1917 he was confirmed in the rank of Flight Sub-Lt.   He left England for Dunkirk, and shortly afterwards to the front in Flanders, and then to Squadron No 1 R.N.A.S., near Arras.  On May 20th he was notified as “missing” and enquiries found that he had gone down on May 19th in an engagement with a superior force over the German lines, “east of Arleux”.

In a letter received from Squadron Commander R. S. Dallas, R. N.:

“……I am afraid I was not actually leading the patrol you mention on the 19th May.  I was leading one patrol and was joined by another in which your son was.  We became engaged in a bit of a fight, and your son gave a very fine account of himself indeed.  He has already shot down one of his opponents when I say him attacked by another.  Your son was very tenacious and fought it out, and went down out of control through the clouds……. “

Squadron Commander Haskins writes:

“…. Although your son was not with more than a few weeks, I had formed a high opinion of him as an officer and a fighting pilot.  A cheery messmate, always trading for any work or play, he is a great loss to us ………. Your son has helped us to maintain our present superiority over theGerman air service, which is essential to winning this war, and that is a valuable service to our country…..”

The Headmaster wrote in “The Friend”:

“Oliver Ellis came to Bootham from Sidcot with a reputation for genial friendship and for holding the junior sports championship two years in succession.  He proved himself a fearless football player, a brilliant and daring gymnast.  He took a good position in class, and did excellently in his pilot’s examination a few months ago.  He was a keen ornithologist and a forceful reeve – full of the spirit of adventure when he left school less than a year ago.  His loss will be felt in a large circle of friends, for his has left behind him that worthier thing than tears, the love of friends without a single foe.”

The news of his death made a deep impression on the school.  One of his school-fellows says:

“We could scarcely believe that one who possessed his gifts had been taken so soon.  His energy and spirit, combined with remarkable thoroughness, made his a leader in every undertaking; and his open honesty made him the true friend of all who knew him.”

In a letter home, dated May 3rd 1917, Oliver had written  “….. thank God that I’ve got the safest job in this war. Don’t worry about me, I’m having the time of my life and am enjoying myself hugely, and the war can’t last for ever.”

Oliver Bernard Ellis is remembered on the Arras Flying Services Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

Oliver was the subject of a series of articles for Explore Your Archives week in 2014. More may be read about him here:

Oliver Bernard Ellis – Part 1 (Athletics) http://blogs.boothamschool.com/archives/?p=329

Oliver Bernard Ellis – Part 2 (Natural History) http://blogs.boothamschool.com/archives/?p=335

Oliver Bernard Ellis – Part 3 (Railway Buildings) http://blogs.boothamschool.com/archives/?p=344

Oliver Bernard Ellis – Part 4 (“A letter from Alexandria”) http://blogs.boothamschool.com/archives/?p=348

Oliver Bernard Ellis – Part 5 (R.N.A.S.) http://blogs.boothamschool.com/archives/?p=355

 

In Memoriam: Arthur Clifford Guy

Photograph of Arthur Clifford Guy

Arthur Clifford Guy

Arthur Clifford Guy was reported missing, later presumed killed, at Bullecourt, France on 3rd May 1917, aged 25.

He was born in Bradford in 1892 and attended Bootham School from 1906 to 1908.  He was in the 2nd XI cricket and 2nd XI football at school.

By May 1917, Clifford was a Rifleman with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.   The April 1919 issue of Bootham Magazine reports:

“A. CLFFORD GUY {1906-8) was reported missing on May 3rd, 1917, and about a year later he was assumed by the War Office to have been killed. It is thought that he was killed near Bullecourt by the bursting of a shell which destroyed practically the whole of his platoon.

He was at Bootham from September, 1906, to April, 1908, and his stay at the school was all too short. His reserved and quiet manner made the circle of his close friends small, but those who really got to know him found a kind sympathy and solid friendship. By these friends, as well as by all who knew him, his loss will be deeply felt.”

Arthur Clifford Guy is remembered on the Arras Memorial in France.

 

In Memoriam: Denys Armstrong

Denys Armstrong

Denys Armstrong

Denys Armstrong died on active service, aged 20, on 3rd October 1916.

He was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1895 and attended Bootham School from 1909 to 1912. He played 2nd XI cricket and as goal on the 1st XI football team.  He was awarded the bronze Life-saving medal.  After Bootham, he studied at Armstrong College.  At the outbreak of war he was serving an apprenticeship with Messrs. Swan, Hunter and Co. as a naval architect.

In June 1915, Denys joined the 5th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers and fought in France.  He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

Denys died on the third day of the Battle of Le Transloy on the advance to Le Sars as part of the final British offensive of the Battle of the Somme.

“Bootham” magazine on October 2016 records:

“DENYS ARMSTRONG, second lieutenant, fell in action on October 3rd. The day before he had been hit in the hand, but refused to go back, and led his men successfully across No Man’s Land. On the 3rd he was wounded by a shell, and a man was dressing his wound when a second shell came and killed both of them. Officers and men had grown very fond of “Snowball.” ” We could trust him absolutely, and he was so frank and warm-hearted that one could not but love him. He was just as greatly liked and admired by the cadets, and he wielded a remarkable influence for good amongst them.” ”

Denys is buried at the Warlencourt British Cemetery in France.

Maternity leave

I’m heading off on maternity leave after today!

We will still be providing a limited enquiry service. Please contact office@boothamschool.com or 01904 623261 in the first instance if you have an enquiry or would like to donate an item to the archive.

We will continue to add posts to the blog and twitter, and Lynne, the Honorary Assistant Archivist will be continuing the First World War project while I’m away, so there will still be new posts to look out for.

Jenny (Bootham School Archivist)