Tag Archives: Ypres

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: Arnold Pumphrey

Photograph of Arnold Pumphrey

Arnold Pumphrey

Arnold Pumphrey was killed in action in Belgium on 21st September 1917, aged 26 years.

He was born at Sunderland  in 1891 and attended Bootham School from 1904 to 1908.

Arnold did very well in his studies at school and by the summer term of 1907 had passed the University of London School Leaving Examination, Matric. Standard, Second Division.  By the autumn term he was in the College Class (equivalent to 6th form) and had been made a Reeve (similar to Prefect).

He played football at school, first in the Second XI and later the First XI. The school magazine “Bootham” contains a football report for autumn term 1907 which tells us:

“of the boys, Pumphrey was the best half, and Green the best full back”.

 The June 1908 issue of “Bootham” has several mentions of Arnold, as he left Bootham School:

 “Arnold Pumphrey passed the Matric. last summer and joined the College Class in the autumn.  He was a good right half-back, and excelled in that position during the two terms that he played with the 1st XI.  He was a Reeve; he leaves to study French on the Continent.”

 “A large number of Senior Boys passed the University Extension Examination in Modern History :- Burford, Blomfield, ……., Pickard and Wilson, while Corder, H. L. Green, Holdsworth, and A. Pumphrey passed with distinction.”

 and in notes from the Football Captain:

 “PUMPHREY, A. – A strong tackler, and a reliable half-back, who has often put in sterling work against odds; defending well and passing well.  He seemed to plan his battle so that it was good to play in front of him.”

 Arnold’s hobbies also included riding, sailing and rowing.

The November 1913 issue of “Bootham” magazine tells us:

“ARNOLD PUMPHREY (1904-8) has passed the Solicitor’s Final Examination of the Law Society.”

 Arnold Pumphrey enlisted shortly after the outbreak of war, in September 1914.   The March 1915 issue of “Bootham” has lists of those Old Scholars involved in the War.  In the list of those Under Military Discipline is:

“PUMPHREY, A., 5th City of London (London Rifle Brigade).”

 The March 1916 issue of “Bootham” has under Bootham School War Lists:

“Pumphrey, Arnold, Lieut., 20th Durham Light Infantry.”

 The October 1916 issue of “Bootham” reports that:

“CAPT. ARNOLD PUMPHREY has been slightly wounded in the July advance, and is able to return to his duties.”

 Then the June 1917 issue of “Bootham” tells us that:

 “CAPT. A. PUMPHREY mentioned in despatches, got the D.S.O. at the beginning of June.”

 But in December 1917, “Bootham” magazine tells us that Arnold was killed in action on the 21st September 1917, aged 26 years.

The May 1918 issue of “Bootham” includes a piece “In Memoriam” about him, as follows:

In Memoriam.  ARNOLD PUMPHREY.  A schoolfellow writes:

Arnold Pumphrey will be remembered by those who were of his year as an unusually clever boy, one of those who succeed without apparent effort, and after much less work than others undertake for a smaller result. That his career as a soldier should have been brilliant can have been no surprise to those who knew him.

When he became a Reeve in September, 1907, his cheerful presence added much to the liveliness of the studies. I remember his delight in rolling a five-shilling piece down the study corridor, a pastime much affected by the Olympians at that time. His nickname “Bunny” was a term of affection.

He was one of the four who enjoyed the fuller freedom afforded by visits thrice weekly to Leeds University to attend Economics lectures, and it was on these occasions that I learned to appreciate his cheerful and witty disposition.

Captain A. Pumphrey, D.S.O., enlisted in the London Rifle Brigade at the outbreak of war. He was in the second battle of Ypres, and in 1915 was gazetted to a commission as second lieutenant in the Durhams. He was promoted captain, went through the battle of the Somme, was mentioned in despatches, and later awarded the D.S.O., which was presented to him at Buckingham Palace by the King last June 30th.

P. C. “

 Captain Arnold Pumphrey D.S.O. is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial near Ypres, Belgium.


In Memoriam: Leonard Percy I’Anson

LP IAnson lr

Photograph from ‘Bootham’ magazine, June 1915, photographer unknown.

L. P. I’Anson, Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, was killed at St. Julien, near Ypres, on April 25th, 1915.

He was born in 1878 in Saltburn, and attended Bootham between 1893 and 1895. He was a solicitor, and was engaged to be married when he died.

He is included on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.