In Memoriam: Harold Edward Jackson

Photograph of Harold Edward Jackson

Harold Edward Jackson

Harold Edward Jackson was reported missing, later presumed killed, in France on 12th June 1917, aged 20.

He was born in York in 1896 and attended Bootham School from 1913 to 1915.  At school, he was interested in archaeology, entomology and photography and played pianoforte.  He was a curator of entomology. When he left school, “Bootham” magazine said:

“H. E. JACKSON has spent eleven terms at Bootham, and leaves from the Upper Senior. He occasionally played for the 2nd XI.  at both football and cricket. He also did much admirable work as entomologist and photographer.”

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

“Jackson, H. E., Leeds University O.T.C.”

In 1917, Harold was serving at the Front.  He was able to attend the Whitsuntide meeting of the Old York Scholars’ Association in York, having “just arrived from the trenches”.

The December 1917 issue of “Bootham” Magazine reported the following:

“HAROLD E, JACKSON (1909-12), Second Lieut., W. Yorks, has been missing since June, when it was reported that the success of a movement was mainly due to his splendid example and leadership. Any further news of him would be most thankfully received.”

By the following year it was clear that Harold had been lost.  “Bootham” reported in the May 1918 issue:

“HAROLD E. JACKSON. ” British Official.—Last night, in the —— Sector, our troops carried out a successful raid. “

It was on such a raid as this that Harold Jackson took part in June last year. At the time of this raid I was on trench duty in another part of the battalion front. Shortly after the raiders had left our lines I was walking along the grids to the point of exit when I heard a man coming running towards me. Hurriedly he told me that the raiders had encountered heavy opposition, and that stretcher-bearers were urgently needed.

It was not until morning that I heard that Jackson had never returned, and that he was last seen chasing several Germans back towards their support line. One of his officers wrote :

The success of the operation was due to a great extent to the splendid example and leadership of Jackson. I could always rely on him carrying out thoroughly everything he had to do.”

Harold Edward Jackson is remembered on the Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.


In Memoriam: John Stephen White

John Stephen White was born at West Hartlepool in 1899 and attended Bootham School from 1913 to 1915.  He died on 12th June 1917, aged 18 years.

When he left Bootham, the school magazine of June 1915 said:

“J. S. WHITE, who leaves from the Upper Schoolroom, was a member of the committee for that class. On the 3rd football eleven he was a promising forward, and took great interest in tennis and fives. His hobby was carpentry, at which he did much creditable work.”

He joined the Friends Ambulance Unit on 26th September 1916. In October of that year the Home Service Section of the F.A.U. posted him to Haxby Road Hospital in York, which had opened in 1915.

“Bootham” magazine of June 1917 reported:

“We were glad to renew friendship with J. S. White last October when he joined the Haxby Road Hospital (F.A.U.). In February he became too ill to continue the work, in which he had proved himself keen and capable. It was with deep regret that we heard of his death at Gateshead on June 8th.”

John Stephen White’s F.A.U service record, including a photograph, may be viewed online at .  (viewed 6th July 2017.)

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:


“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)

Oliver Bernard Ellis – Part 2 (Natural History)

Oliver Bernard Ellis – Part 3 (Railway Buildings)

Oliver Bernard Ellis – Part 4 (“A letter from Alexandria”)

Oliver Bernard Ellis – Part 5 (R.N.A.S.)


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.