First World War: School News March 1916

From Bootham magazine, March 1916

Natural History

“The interest in natural history seems at present less in amount than in previous years, though those who are working at the various subjects are keen, and the work reaches a pretty high standard. Ambulance work, house matches, and the bath are mentioned by various members of the committee as matters which occupy some of the leisure at one time given to natural history. There has also been considerable difficulty in arranging excursions owing to increased train fares. Walks to Askham, Hobmoor, and Wart-hill have to a certain extent replaced longer journeys. It is worth pointing out in this connection, however, that quite good natural history work can be done without going far.”

Air Raid Preparations

“The frequent and successful air raids that have been carried out in this country so recently have made the possibility of their arrival over York a very real one, and we are accordingly making preparations to receive them. Weekly air raid practices have been instituted, which comprise a general rush downstairs with whatever clothing can be laid hands on, but the prospect of any prolonged stay in the box-room during the night is not a very pleasant or a comforting one.

On February 19th about twenty of those who had gained First Aid certificates underwent a very novel experience, when they offered themselves as subjects for the air raid practice held by the St. John Ambulance Association in York. About ten o’clock at night they were asked to place themselves in various parts of the city, bearing labels telling them of their injuries, and there they waited until the ambulance found them, bandaged them, and then motored them back to the hospital for proper medical treatment. Luckily for the success of the test the moon was at its best and the night clear, and no great difficulties had to be met with, while the experience was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us who underwent it.”

First World War: S. Faraday’s experience of the evacuation of Suvla Bay, Gallipoli.

From Bootham magazine, March 1916

“S. FARADAY [Bootham: 1908-10] : “December 13th.—We received orders re the evacuation of Suvla Bay, and I was sent to make a map of the route we should follow when we retired. This I did. The walk was very interesting, and one had a tremendously good panorama of the whole firing line as far as Anzac on our right. I retired at 8p.m., after dinner, and was just going off to sleep when I heard a tremendous row close to my head. I tumbled out of my sleeping-bag and found that a shell had dropped a few feet from my dug-out, but, fortunately, did not explode. December 18th.—’ The Day ‘—our evacuation. The South Lancashires to take over our lines this afternoon. We were to leave 5.45 p.m., and all lights were to be left burning, just as if we were still there. We marched down and embarked on the SS. Rowan safely off South Pier—thank goodness! December 19th.—Had a real good sleep on board and arrived this morning in Mudros harbour. December 25th.— The weather perfect; sun really quite hot. In the afternoon I climbed the highest hill on the island and had a most magnificent view. I saw Asia Minor, Gallipoli, entrance to the Narrows, Mount Athos, Greece, and the whole island of Lemnos laid out like a model map—a truly wonderful view. January 10th.—I refereed in a Soccer match this afternoon. It seems that we are full of Soccer just at present. Still, the men thoroughly enjoy it, and it is something interesting to do, as it is very monotonous here.” Further news says that on January 20th they left Lemnos for Alexandria.”

First World War: News from Old Scholars December 1915

From Bootham magazine, December 1915

“A. BUTTERWORTH (Captain) [Bootham: 1910] remembered on the Peninsula last December how he used to look forward to the School Christmas holidays. ” How well I can see it all again, the old Minster from the Art Room windows…. The only thing I can’t see is the new swimming bath; here one has hard work to get water for a shave”; so he sends a donation to
the bath from “somewhere in Gallipoli.””

“J. C. S. MACGREGOR [Bootham: 1910-14] sent F.A.U. greetings from the most un-Christmaslike surroundings and the most deplorable weather.”

“E. RUSSELL SANDERS [Bootham: 1903] served in France for fifteen months with the Northumberland Hussars (Imperial Yeomanry). He was somewhere in Flanders when he wrote in December. He has evidently learned amidst the discomfort of feet wet and cold for weeks “a great patience, and that if you only wait the worst is bound to pass.” He is captivated by the beauty of some of the nights and early dawns. And if he feels a bit blue and fed up, there’s the grand old song, ” Goals for the eager and fights for the fearless.” “

First World War: Anti-war campaign in Australia

From ‘Bootham Overseas’, Bootham magazine, December 1915

“THOMAS BINNS ROBSON (1858-1860) writes from near Adelaide of the recent experiences of JOHN F. HILLS (1882-1884, Master 1886-1889), who “has been making quite a stir lately owing to his anti-military propaganda, which he has been actively carrying on ever since our ‘Boy Conscription Act’ came into force. The military authorities have looked upon him as opposing enlistment, and have tried to stop him from speaking in Victoria Square on Friday evenings and the park on Sunday afternoons, as has been his custom. The first attempt was a charge of treason, changed to breaking a bye-law for chalking on the roadway where he advertised his meetings and quoted portions of the Sermon on the Mount. This failed, because the bye-law only referred to the footpaths and not the roadway. Then he was brought up before the police court charged with telling the young men not to recruit at a meeting held some two months previously. His lawyer got the case dismissed on the plea that the regulation under which he was charged went beyond the War Precautions Act and was ultra vires…. Probably J. F. Hills will be again charged and have to fight it out on its merits. He says he did not use the expression he is accused of, but after so long a time it will be hard to prove, especially against the military. The last two or three times he has appeared in public he has been mobbed by an organised lot of young fellows in khaki, who joined the mob against the police who were protecting J. F. H. to a place of safety; and the last time the police started the row by setting on to Hills to make him go away before he had done anything. . .   The war spirit is rampant and seems to override all other considerations.”


William Fryer Harvey

Thanks to Kate, one of the volunteers in the archive, for researching and writing this post.

Photograph of William Fryer Harvey at school.
William Fryer Harvey

William Fryer Harvey was at Bootham from 1898 to 1901. He was born in 1885 into a prosperous West Yorkshire Quaker family. His father and brothers were also at Bootham and his sister a pupil at The Mount. Having studied at Balliol College Oxford, William then took a degree in medicine at Leeds. He joined the Friends Ambulance unit in 1914 and served until 1916. In 1918 whilst serving in the Royal Navy as a surgeon-lieutenant, he was involved in a rescue from the boiler room on board ship. For his bravery he was awarded the Albert Medal for Lifesaving and the full citation can be read in Bootham magazine, Summer 1918. Sadly this incident damaged his lungs and he never again regained full health, dying at the early age of 57. Amongst his many achievements the one for which he was probably most well known during his lifetime was as the published author of  “supernatural tales”. One of the most famous was “The Beast with Five Fingers” and this was made into a film with Peter Lorre in 1946.

Photographs of letters.

The archives contain a number of items written by him during his years at school. The collection includes letters to parents and his brothers both from school and whilst on holiday and a beautifully bound exhibition piece entitled “A collection of leaves”. There is also a volume of natural history observations and a two-volume diary of 1899. The handwriting is easy to read and there a number of very good pencil sketches and coloured illustrations of leaves, flowers, plants and the various churches and houses he visited. Reading through these it is interesting to ponder what hints there are in the schoolboy writings for the direction his life took after leaving Bootham. Certainly there is mention of many medical issues – scarlet fever, measles, colds etc are mentioned and in one letter he relates how a fellow scholar “ fell down in a fit during science going black in the face”. Happily after medical assistance, the boy recovered quickly enough to be playing football later in the day! He exhorts one of his brothers, studying in France, not to “catch smallpox from books” there and when his sister is taken ill, he writes to his brother that “her mind has given way probably from her studious habits” and says they should take this as an example “not to overwork themselves for fear of a similar fate befalling us”. However it is obvious that he has not taken this to heart, as prolonged study would have been needed to gain his medical qualifications.

From reading of his later life, his love of church architecture and the natural sciences seem to have been lifelong interests and I hope he kept the enquiring mind, which is illustrated, in the following extracts from the diary, written when he would have been around 13 years old.

Diagram of experiment from W F Harvey's diary.
Diagram of experiment from W F Harvey’s diary.

“June 26th. I performed the following experiment to show that flowers on respiring produce carbon di oxide; by respiring I mean the taking in of oxygen. I took a number of common garden flowers such as marigold, blue corncockle, rose and placed them in a flask, being kept in position by a plug of cotton wool. I placed the flask in an inverted retort stand and placed a cork in the neck of the flask through which a glass was put open at both ends; one end of glass tube dipped in mercury on the top of which floated a solution of potassium hydrate. This solution absorbed the carbon di oxide given out by the flowers and the mercury rose about half an inch and a half.

I took some petals of a red rose and boiled in water; after some minutes the petals completely lost their colour and the water was coloured green and still possessed to a slight degree the scent of the rose.

 July 1st – 6th. When removing the flask containing the flowers used in the experiment, a drop of acid happened to touch the blue flower of the corncockle and at once it turned a bright crimson red. I tried putting some more of the acid (sulphuric) on the flowers again and in each case obtained the same result. I then took some red GERANIUM and blue CRANESBILL and placed a few drops of ammonium hydrate on the red geranium and some dilute acid on the blue cranesbill. The colours of the flowers were reversed, the geranium becoming a bright blue though the change was not so quickly accomplished as in the case of the cranesbill.

It appears that certain flowers have the property of acting as an indicator of acids and bases in the same manner as litmus.

When the coloured petals were boiled in water until colourless, the water was slightly coloured blue and red.

On one drop of acid and ammonia being added to each, the colours changed and when acid and ammonia were added in the reverse order, the coloured water went back to its original colour.

The flower of a FUCHIA I examined had two sorts of petals; -the outer being red, the inner purple. But where the base of the inner purple petals touched the red ones, it was streaked with red. These purple and red petals acted in the way as those of the geranium and cranesbill. Perhaps the nearness and greater acidity of the red petals had something to do with the reddening of the base of the purple petals”

Painting of Fuchsia flower from diary of W F Harvey.
Painting of Fuchsia flower from diary of W F Harvey.