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: Richard Herbert Sikes

Photograph of Richard Herbert Sikes

Richard Herbert Sikes

Richard Herbert Sikes was killed in action in France on 24th April 1917, aged 44 years.

He was born in Cork, Ireland in 1873 and attended Bootham School from 1887 to 1889.

In 1914 he joined the Royal Fusiliers and spent a winter in the trenches.  He was transferred to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and was in command of a company in the Howe Battalion.

Sub Lieutenant Richard Herbert Sikes is remembered on the Arras Memorial in France and the War Memorial in St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork.


In Memoriam: Harold Green

Photograph of Harold Green

Harold Green

Harold Green was killed in action in France on 28th February 1917, aged 24 years.

He was born at Lurgan in Northern Ireland in 1892 and attended Bootham School from 1905 to 1909.

Harold was keen on sports at school.  He was in the Cricket 1st XI (Captain) and Football 1st XI’s at school. He won 2nd prize for Gymnastics in the 1906 Athletics Open competitions at Bootham. In 1907, he won the Junior Two length and One length races in the Aquatics competiton .  He was Captain of Fives and was winner of the Fives championship at school in 1908.

“Bootham” magazine of May 1909 includes football notes by the Captain: “GREEN, H.—Has developed into a tower of strength, and even shows considerable speed.  Always in the way of an enterprising forward.  His kicking is precise, calm, and very well judged.”

Harold was also on the committees of the school Photographic Club and the Reading and Discussion Society.

“Bootham” of May 1909 reported that: “HAROLD GREEN (1905- ) has passed the Matriculation Examination, 2nd Division, of the University of London.”  The October 1909 edition reported that Harold Green had won the school Economics prize.

As he left Bootham, the magazine reported:

“HAROLD GREEN leaves from the College Class, having passed Matric. Winner of Economics Prize. Captain of cricket eleven, full-back on 1st football XL, fives captain, was two years a reeve.”  (A Reeve is equivalent to Prefect.)

By March 1916, “Bootham” magazine reports in School War Lists: “Green, H., Despatch Rider, Mechanical Transport, A.S.C.”

Then in March 1917, “Bootham” magazine tells us that H Green fell in action on 28th Feb 1917.

In June 1917, “Bootham” reports:

GREEN.—On the 28th February, 1917 (killed in action in France), Harold Green (1905-9). Aged 24 years.


“H. GREEN (1905-09). His relatives have kindly allowed us to see the following :

A fellow officer came across him after they had gone over the parapet, and writes :

I was speaking to him for a long time and we were looking around getting our bearings when I turned my head to look to the side for a few seconds. When I looked back I noticed Green down and got down immediately. I had never seen death before, yet I knew that he was dead when I looked a t him. . . . I found after that he had been hit through the heart; there was no doubt he had died instantaneously. . . . You should be very proud of your son as he had seen a lot of fighting with his battalion and was a favourite and very respected by everyone.

Some of those who knew him in harness at Bessbrook before the war have written :

I want to express on behalf of all in the Mill down to the youngest child our sympathy with you. We were all fond of Harold. I never knew him do a dishonourable act and we were closely associated. He was a credit to his father and mother. In the passing he has taken with him the greatest asset, a noble character.

Another wrote :

Having worked alongside Harold in the Mill, I can truly say that every workman would have done anything for him, for his genial manner and good nature left their work and influence on Bessbrook, which will bear and has borne fruit. I am sorry this cold paper will not express what I would like to say, but if you had been in Bessbrook yesterday, and seen the tears shed for Harold that I saw, then you would understand how Bessbrook is taking the loss of one of her best citizens.”

Harold Green is remembered on the Thiepval memorial in France and also on the Bessbrook War Memorial, County Armagh.

In Memoriam: John Maclellan Mowat

Photograph of John Maclellan Mowat in uniform.

John Maclellan Mowat

John Maclellan Mowat was killed in a flying accident at Cramlington, Northumberland on 5th January 1917, aged 20 years.

He was born at Busby, near Glasgow, in 1896 and attended Bootham School from 1911 to 1913.  He was in the Cricket and Football XI’s at school.  In the 1913 school Athletics competition he won the 100 yards (11⅘ sec) and the Kick (53 yds 0 ft).

The November 1913 issue of “Bootham” magazine reports:

“J. M. MOWAT leaves from the Lower Senior after two years at Bootham. He served the School well in games, as goalkeeper, batsman, and bowler, and his kicking in the Sports was very good.”

The March 1916 issue of “Bootham” magazine lists, under Bootham School War Lists, Under Military Discipline:

MOWAT, J. M., Second Lieut., 3rd Bn. Prince of Wales’s North Staffordshire Regt.”

In March 1917, “Bootham”, in the Across the Months section reports that:

“WE have heard with great regret of the deaths of four more Old Boys. J. G. MOWAT (sic) was killed on January 5th in an aeroplane accident. His generation remembers him as a good goalkeeper.”

This was followed in the June 1917 issue by a letter from a schoolfellow who knew him well:

“It was with great regret that we heard of the death of another old scholar, John M. Mowat, whilst flying at Cramlington, Northumberland, on January 5th, 1917.

He joined the Glasgow University O.T.C. in September, 1914, and was gazetted to the North Staffords on April 29th, 1915.

He thought he would go on active service sooner if he was in the Royal Flying Corps, so he applied for a transfer, and it came through in September, 1916, just as he was starting for Mesopotamia. He finished his observer’s course at Oxford in the end of October, and then did the first part of the pilot’s course at Turnhouse, and was very nearly qualified for his “wings” when he met with his accident.

Very little is known about the accident. He was flying alone in a difficult machine, and a letter that reached home the day after he was killed speaks of “very bad flying weather.”

I quote the words of his CO. : ” His death is a loss to the R.F.C. Both his instructors and I felt sure he was going to become a good pilot. He was keen in all his work, and liked by all who knew him.”

All who were at school with him will remember him for his unselfish disposition and his willingness to help others.

The School has lost a gallant Old Boy, and those who knew him have lost a good and true friend.

He was buried at his home, Kilmacolm. His funeral took place on a most perfect day, and Mowat went to his long last rest with Nature’s blessing.

All that life contains of torture, toil and treason,

Shame, dishonour, death to h’m were but a name.

Here, a boy, he dwelt through all the singing season,

And ‘ere the day of sorrow departed as he came.”

Lieut, J. M. Mowatt, R.F.C. was buried at Kilmacolm Cemetery near Glasgow.



In Memoriam: Charles Frederick Burley

Photograph of Charles Frederick Burley

Charles Frederick Burley

Charles Frederick Burley was killed in action on the Somme on 18th November 1916, aged 18.

He was born in Luton and attended Bootham School from 1911 to 1914.

Charles Frederick was a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and served in France, receiving the 1914-1915 Star Medal.  He was reported missing, believed killed, and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.


In Memoriam: George Gillies

Photograph of George Gillies

George Gillies

George Gillies died on active service, aged 30, on 15 November 1916.

He was born in Selby in 1887 and attended Bootham School from 1903 to 1905.  George was a Reeve at Bootham (equivalent to a prefect).  His hobby at school was Natural History.  He was a very keen member of the Natural History Society at Bootham and went on to be its President.  There are many mentions of his natural history work in “Bootham” school magazine, including wins in the school Christmas Exhibitions.  He won the Inter-School Diary Competition for Natural History in 1904 and was awarded the Old Scholars Natural History Exhibition prize of £10.  He decided to use part of this working as a student at a marine biological station on the Clyde.

An entry in “Bootham” magazine of July 1916 reports that G. Gillies has joined General Smuts’s force in East Africa.  Later, in March 1917, “Bootham” magazine writes:

“G. GILLIES was serving in German East Africa, and died of dysentery on November 15th. On November 1st he wrote a letter to his grandmother at home. The following sentences reveal the same observant Gillies that we knew at School :—

” However, you will have some idea of the kind of land we are in when I say that hippo, crocodiles, and lions have all been seen or shot not far away. Elephants do come here, too, as I have seen their spoor in a swamp near here; but now, of course, I expect the coming of the troops and noise of the guns have frightened them away. The natives here wear kilts made of grass, and the better class dress more like Arabs— usually in white with a red fez as headgear. Each village seems to have one or more huts built rather better than the usual mud-and-grass affair, and these, I suppose, are the headmen’s dwellings. Some of the doorposts and lintels are of wood and are carved roughly, the same kind of carving being found on wooden utensils. I do not know whether this is due to Arab influence, but at one time, I believe, this was a great slave-trading country, and doubtless they owe much of their religion and habits to them …..Letters come along at intervals, and newspapers; we get tobacco as a ration and matches, and few could think us far removed from civilisation, although I’ve not seen a white woman for over five months, and that one a hospital nurse…… I am in hospital in a large grass hut (Bandar) just recovering from dysentery, and the Bobajee (Indian cook) has just brought in lunch. This, for light diets, consists of a chapattie (flour scone) and soup, with rice as dessert. The Indian Medical Service look well after us; in fact, we have a Battery doctor of our own as well, and I know from my own experience that a lot of the thing’s in the African papers about blunders re quinine, etc., were all rubbish as far as we were concerned. We have always had plenty, and I am thankful to say I have never required much.” “

 The Royal British Legion “Every Man Remembered” website, , tells us that Gunner G Gillies of the South African Field Artillery is buried in the Morogoro Cemetery in Tanzania.



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.

First World War: Some thoughts from Meetings of the Old York Scholars’ Association

Each Whitsuntide saw the annual meeting in York of the Old York Scholars’ Association, and these meetings are reported in the school magazine “Bootham”.

In 1915 however, the meeting could not be held in York. Instead the Old Scholars met in London.  In “Bootham”, Robert O. Mennell (B. 1897-1900) wrote:

“Whitsuntide 1915. KEW, Richmond-on-Thames, Westminster Bridge, and Croydon are strange place names to associate with the Old York Scholars’ Whitsuntide Gathering. Yet so it was; and the memory of the coloured loveliness of Kew and the silent beauty of the Thames in twilight will long be treasured by those who were there. But the London gathering will be remembered not so much for these or any other outward impressions as for the spirit that pervaded the meeting at Richmond—the sense of appalling need and the imperative call to render peace service in the midst of war.

T. Edmund Harvey and Philip J. Baker had come straight from the battle zones of France and Flanders, one from the devastated villages of the Marne, the other from the shattered city of Ypres, and their outline sketches of the relief work going forward under their direction seemed to bring the tragedy home as nothing less personal could have done. Other aspects of war’s cruel battering of humanity were portrayed by Ivy Weston in her picture of Folkestone Harbour invaded daily by crowds of ravenous refugees, and by Florence Barrow in her descriptions of the plight of “enemy-aliens” in this country.

In all the work of succour described—work undertaken in the spirit of a common humanity and with the single aim of healing and of reconciliation— the challenge of fine example lent point to the call made to us to render “special service in this time of supreme needs.”

Another form of service, less looked for perhaps from the Old Scholars of a Friends’ School, but undertaken in response to the stern call of duty and with entire disregard of personal interest or personal risk, was brought vividly before us by the khaki uniforms of some of our members, by a letter read from an Old Scholar in the trenches, and with peculiar force by the Head Master’s mention of those whose offer of the supreme sacrifice had already been accepted.

For every reason this annual meeting of the Associations must remain one of historic significance. The run down the river to Westminster Bridge, in the fading light, made a fitting close to the day.”

Photograph of Robert O. Mennell in Senior Class at Bootham in 1900

Robert O. Mennell in Senior Class at Bootham, 1900.

In 1916, the Whitsuntide meeting returned to York. In “Bootham”, Robert O. Mennell wrote again:

“Whitsuntide, 1916. To be back at York again for Old Scholars was to realise how much we all had lost by meeting- away from the Schools last year. But familiar surroundings were not sufficient to dispel a feeling of unfamiliarity, if not unreality, in all the proceedings. It must have seemed to many that we had come back to York only to find that the heart of things was not there, but in the ends of the earth—anywhere but at York. The explanation was simple. Where your comrades are, there will your heart be also. Our men were out in all parts of the world “on service,” and our thoughts inevitably were much more with them than in the business before us. Throughout the week-end each occasion and each fresh face encountered seemed to send our minds bounding off in search of an absentee, and wondering what particular duty was holding him fast, and what his particular “somewhere” was meaning for him.

In no previous year probably have Old Yorkists been so widely separated geographically or in thought; and yet never, perhaps, has the sense of our school motto, “Membra sumus corporis magni,” been so consciously or so fully realised. We know now that neither distances nor differences can injure our abiding sense of unity in the Bootham fellowship and in our common Bootham heritage—the tradition of cleanness of life and conduct, of honesty and of unostentatious obedience to duty.

It has been given to our generation by a tragic fate to know what war really is. Though borne down by a sense of its immeasurable tragedy, we may allow ourselves some gratification in the thought that the great tradition has been upheld. The call of duty has made a different demand of every individual of us and taken us into widely different spheres of service. When it is all over we shall come back welded by our ordeals and experiences into a closer fellowship than ever, with a still greater duty before us, to take our part in helping to mould the future, inspired, as our Headmaster put it, by a staunch faith in spiritual forces, in the power of loving kindness and courageous endurance. Work performed in that spirit in the interest of civilisation will not fail to bear fruit.”

At the 1916 meeting, Helen Baynes, President of the Mount Old Scholars’ Association, spoke about how valuable and helpful the Schools’ mottoes were, especially in the current times:

“” I have been thinking,” the speaker continued, ” how extremely valuable and helpful just now the School’s mottoes are—’ Membra sumus corporis magni ‘ and ‘ Ad omnia paratus.’ They seem to have been made specially for this year, for these times in which we are living-. We are all members of a great body, whether we regard ourselves as members of schools or members of a religious society, of the nation or of the Empire, and we may even go so far as to think of ourselves as members of a common humanity. As such we have, of course, great privileges, but as such also we have great responsibilities. I think it must be a matter of great happiness to all of us who are older members of this Association to see how finely prepared for everything many of our younger Old Scholars have been: those who are now working maybe with the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, possibly with the refugees in Corsica, Holland, France, or in England, alleviating the distress of aliens and others, or upholding the freedom that has been our priceless possession for so long, by their sufferings for conscience’ sake. It seems that into whatever service our members have entered they have, in most cases, been prepared for almost everything.

” We all hope and believe—do we not?—that a new and beautiful future is going to be born from this terrible turmoil —that a new heaven and a new earth will be built on the ruins of the old. But this will only come about if each one is prepared for whatever may come, if we are making ourselves prepared for this future that we hope is to be so much happier for humanity. Those who are now at school have a glorious future before them, I believe; and now is the very opportunity for choosing what they will do and for preparing themselves thoroughly for that future. There are opportunities of training now that have never been open in the past; there are opportunities for work that have never been open before.””

Photograph of Haymaking in 1916

Haymaking, 1916

James Edmund Clark recalled the meeting at Richmond last year, when the desire to render service during this war time had materialised in the suggestion to raise a fund in the hope that it would reach £2,000 or £2,500 in aid of the various causes in which Friends were specially engaged.

“In the appeal which was sent out it was suggested that Old Scholars who wished to do so should indicate to what special activity they would like their money applied. The five objects were: The training of women and men; equipment and maintenance; the War Victims’ Relief Committee work; the Friends’ Ambulance Unit; and the Emergency Committee for the assistance of distressed Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians in this country.

It was pleasing to be able to report that the original purpose had been more than accomplished, a little over £2,800 having been promised or subscribed. Grants amounting to £1,755 had been made as under:

Training       … … … … …£225

Equipment … … … … … £100

F.W.V.R        … … … … …£650

F.A.U             … … … … …£550

Emergency Committee … £230

Bootham stood behind the Mount in the matter of the number of contributors, with only 160 against 230. Contributions to correct this state of affairs, and to bring the total to £3,000, would still be cordially welcomed.

There had been one or two donations of particular interest: £7 as the result of the work that some of the boys at Bootham had done in the harvest fields last summer (with a prospect of a further contribution from harvesting and fruit picking in the coming season)*.”

(* August 8. Cheque for over £25 has already come for work done during last term.)”


In Memoriam: Kenneth Mallorie Priestman

K. M. Priestman

K. M. Priestman

Kenneth Mallorie Priestman (B. 1904-08) of Ilkley, Second-Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, was killed in action on the Somme, near Ancre, in France on 31st August 1916 whilst on reconnaissance work.  He was 25 years old.  He had been home on short leave less than a fortnight before his death.

Before receiving his commission in the Royal Engineers, in the summer of 1915, he served for some months as a voluntary motor driver in the Friends’ Ambulance Unit at the front in Flanders.

The following are extracts from letters, received from fellow officers:

“August 31st, 1916.  I have to tell you very sad news.  This morning your son was killed instantaneously in action whilst on reconnaissance work with his Major.  A large fragment of shell must have hit and broken his spine, and he died immediately.  Major ____ was very badly hit at the time, also another Officer of the Pioneers.  We are only three left to carry on . . . .  Your son was a particular friend of mine, and has always shewed a good grasp of the situation in very awkward corners . . . .  We have lost a well beloved comrade and one of the best Officers we ever had.”

“September 2nd, 1916.  Your son was killed in the advanced front line, and we had great difficulty in bringing his body in.  He had to be carried over a shell swept zone, over the top, in full view of the enemy.  He was buried in the cemetery just near where we are now.  All the Officers of our Company attended – now reduced to three.  Our parson conducted the service and men from his section acted as bearers.  I am having a cross made and a frame to mark out his grave.”

The June 1917 issue of “Bootham” magazine quotes a letter from another Bootham Old Scholar. Captain J. C. Procter writes:—

“Lieutenant Priestman’s grave is well kept and has a large white cross of wood painted with his name in black letters. It is the largest cross of its sort in the cemetery, which is perhaps why I saw it. . . . The cemetery is in a little valley, ” Blighty Valley,” and will be very pretty one day. . . . It has steep wooded sides and at present is full of batteries and a little tramway runs up past the graveyard.”

Maternity leave

I’m heading off on maternity leave after today!

We will still be providing a limited enquiry service. Please contact 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)