In Memoriam: Arnold Simkin Jennings

Arnold Simkin Jennings

Arnold Simkin Jennings of Bulmer, North Yorkshire, was with the Royal Army Medical Corps and died of pneumonia on the 21st December 1918, in Salonika, aged 25 years.

Arnold was born in Jarrow-on-Tyne in 1893 and attended Bootham School from 1907 to 19011.

At school, Arnold was interested in Botany. The February 1909 issue of the school magazine, “Bootham” contains the Seventy-fifth Annual Report of Bootham School (York) Natural History, Literary & Polytechnic Society. January, 1909.  The section on Botany tells us:

“A. S. Jennings has got about 150 species. He has also done good work, and has found Astragalus danicus and Geranium phoeum.”

He won a prizes for Botany and Natural History Diaries in the Christmas Show, 1908.

In 1909 he became a Curator of Botany in the school Natural History Club.

“Bootham” of March 1910, in the report of the Natural History Club contains the following:

“At the beginning of the Autumn Term an Exhibition of Holiday Work was held in the Art Room. The Plants of A. W . Graveson, A. S. Jennings, J. M. Goodbody and E. A. Seale, ……… all deserve special mention.”

and in the Botany section:

“A. S. Jennings has doubled his collection, and has about 300 species. He has found Villarsia nymphceoides and Deadly Nightshade (Atropa Belladonna).”

“…..the very neat and painstaking work of Jennings is very praiseworthy.”

In the report on Natural History Diaries we read:

“Besides the volumes of competitors for the Old Scholars’ Exhibition, no fewer than 15 boys have sent in diaries this year, making the task of the judge by no means an easy one.

Taking both the quality and quantity of the work accomplished into consideration, there is no doubt that the three best books are by Jennings, A. A. Smee and Woods.

Jennings has produced two very readable volumes on plants, with interesting remarks on most of the species found by him during the year. His study of individual plants in the spring, and his comparative studies of pollen under the microscope, should be followed up next year, when his collection should occupy less of his time.”

The season 1909-10, Arnold was playing Second Boys XI Football.

“Bootham” of October 1910 has the report of the Summer Term:

“Another characteristic of the term has been the uniform excellence of the Plant Stand, on which we heartily congratulate Graveson and Jennings.”

In 1910, Arnold was a Registrar of the school Natural History Club.

“Bootham” of March 1911 tells us:

“At the beginning of the Autumn Term an exhibition of Holiday Work was held in the Art Room. The Plants of A. W. Graveson, A. S. Jennings, and J. M. Goodbody…….all deserve special mention”

In the Botany section of the Natural History Report in the same issue we read:

“The “Floral Calendar” competitions in the Spring and Summer Terms stimulated the study of botany considerably; the three chief enthusiasts were A. S. Jennings, J. B. Hume and E. F. Payne. In the spring term A. S. Jennings was successful, whilst in the summer term E. F. Payne came first after a very keen struggle. A.S. Jennings has increased his neat collection to about 370 species, and has found Linum perenne and several other rarities.

Three enthusiastic botanists, A. W. Graveson, J. B. Hume and A. S. Jennings paid a flying visit to Rievaulx during the Summer Term, and found many rare plants, including Actcea spicatai Primula farinosa, and Ophrys muscifera.”

In the Autumn term of 1910, Arnold was made a Reeve (similar to Prefect). He also joined the committee of the school Football club.  He was still playing Second XI boys football. In the Football captain’s notes on the team, in “Bootham” of May 1911, we read:

“JENNINGS, A. S.—Playing a fairly good game without undue bustle. He will cause the opposing forwards considerable inconvenience in a good-natured sort of way.”

In the same issue:

“SENIOR ESSAY SOCIETY. This term has been as prosperous for the Essay Society as was the Autumn one, although fewer meetings have been held. The outstanding essays were written by Mr. Alexander, A. S. Jennings, J. B. Hume, B. A. Townson, and G. S. 320 BOOT HAM. Gregory.”

By the 1910-11 Football season, Arnold was playing First XI Football and in 1911 he was President of the school Natural History Club.

“Bootham” of November 1911 has Arnold’s “Bene Decessit” entry:

“A. S. JENNINGS has been a reeve since last September. He played for the ist boys’ XI. at football, and as a botanist was second only to Graveson. He was a good speaker and essayist. He leaves from the College Class, intending to enter the Civil Service.”

The Seventy-eighth Annual Report of Bootham School Natural History, Literary & Polytechnic Society. January, 1912 notes that:

“We have further to regret the loss of A. S. Jennings, E. F. Payne, and J. B. Hume, all of whom showed themselves enthusiastic and successful flower hunters.”

The next we hear of Arnold is in the March 1916 issue of “Bootham”, under Bootham School War Lists,

“Under Military Discipline :— [Those whose rank is not stated may or may not be privates.]

Jennings, A. S., R.A.M.C.”

In May 1916, Arnold wrote to Old York Scholars’ Association Whitsuntide Meeting:

“A letter from Arnold S. Jennings, dated Salonika, May 23rd, 1916, covering subscriptions to BOOTHAM and the O.Y.S.A., had contained the following: “I hope this will reach you in time for Whitsuntide. I am sure all Old Scholars will be thinking of the old school and its associations at this time, and I hope that those who are lucky enough to be at the Gathering this year will have a happy time, though it is sad to know that some Old Scholars will never again be present. . . .

“I have heard from Hamish Davidson two or three times. He appears to be getting on well.

“By the way, what a happy hunting-ground this would be for the Natural History Society; flowers in profusion which would gladden Graveson’s heart and make Adair jump for joy. Snakes, lizards, tortoises, huge dragon-flies, large beetles, ants of all kinds, some glorious butterflies, and a wonderful variety of shells (not the projectile). Birds are numerous, including storks, eagles, vultures, hawks, and others I do not know. Why not let the annual excursions come out here?

“Oh! to be in Good Old York,

Now that Whitsun’s here.

“Greetings and sincerest wishes for a happy and successful Whitsuntide to all Old Scholars. “”

The October 1916 issue of “Bootham”, in “Bootham Oversea” records:

“ARNOLD S. JENNINGS (1907-1911), R.A.M.C., writes from * * * * * : ” I was awfully pleased to get the post card with numerous old scholars’ good wishes and signatures, and the picture of the dear old science school—and should like to thank each one for his message : it was most kind, and I appreciated being remembered out here more than I can say. Am glad to know O. S. had a good time, and perhaps next year, if this miserable war is over, I shall put in an appearance. . . . I’ve not come across any O. S. out here—most seem to be either in France or Egypt; anyhow, they’re lucky in not having struck this awful hole. There is nothing doing. . . . It’s frantically hot and you stream in perspiration even when you’re doing nothing, which is not often. We’re very busy in hospital. . . . I’ve unearthed P. N. Whitley (pacifist son of the Deputy-Speaker, who is doing Y.M.C.A. work there— R.K.C.) and we had quite a nice chat together. . . . He is an optimist and expects us all to eat our Christmas dinner in Blighty—good luck to him! … . Now I’ve just got two parcels from home and I’m itching to see what’s what and wonder if they’ve put some decent tobacco in. “”

“Bootham” of June 1917 contains a note from Archibald Carmichael (Bootham 1906-8) which contains the following:

“A few days ago I had a note from A. S. Jennings; he is in General Hospital at Salonika.”

In “Bootham Oversea” in “Bootham” of May 1918, we read the following:

“ARNOLD S. JENNINGS (1907-11) writes most interestingly from Salonika, where he has at last been run to earth after many and devious postal pursuits. He refers to this epistolary game of Hare and Hounds as follows: ” The idea of invoking the aid of ‘ The Hielan Laddie ‘ [the ‘ H. L.’ is ARCHIE CARMICHAEL (1906-9)] was fine, and you see it has proved successful. He visited me some months ago and I had a very pleasant hour with him. But from the time I saw him clamber upon a W.D. motor lorry and begin his bumpy journey to town I have neither seen nor heard of him. Wher e has he vanished to? I rather think he must be in England. “This surmise is correct. A. CARMICHAEL is at present training for a Commission in the R.F.A., near Exeter. “I have always thought,” continues A. S. J., “that the O.Y.S.A. was a fine thing, but having been abroad for two years I have appreciated it more and more. Many an O.S. must have been thankful for the comradeship extended to him through the O.S. . . . I know I can manage a useful grin when ‘ BOOTHAM ‘ comes, and am happy for days after, reading of old faces and old places, and going over in my mind old times and incidents. You ask me what I look like now. Well, that’s rather a startler; I’m afraid I haven’t had much time for a close personal study of my appearance other than when I shave in the morning, but I have often been hailed with remarks upon my looks—and ancestry—by various folk, chiefly Sergeant-Majors, since joining the Army. .. . If you can imagine me slightly thinner, slightly taller, a little more tanned, and a few years older, then you have me! “Going on to speak of his experiences, he says: “We have had a terribly hot summer—much worse than last year-—and in consequence have been pretty busy in hospital. Large numbers of sick have been through our hands, mostly suffering from malaria and dysentry, enteric, and various other fevers. It’s an awful place for Englishmen, especially when conditions or living are not of the best, and I do not recommend it to you for your holidays! Besides, as you may have read, more than half the town has been burnt out, and whereas it never did look a particularly inviting place, it now looks the very picture of dreariness and desolation. However, the fire may turn out to be a saving grace, for there is an excellent chance now to rebuild the place upon more modern lines: the one blessing is that numerous insanitary and ramshackle buildings have been properly fumigated; they are no more, and the air does smell sweeter! . . . The only excitement we get is in the way of air raids, and these have been few and far between lately, though earlier in the year they were daily occurrences. You knew you’d have bacon for breakfast and an aerial display afterwards, and the taubes came as regularly as the man for the rent. “In conclusion, JENNINGS speaks of some oldtime castles in the air. “Folk can say as much as they like about the glamour of the East, “he says, “they can write reams about the beauties of the Orient, but from my experience of this portion of the globe give me England, and the grey North of England, too ! There is no finer country the world over. I remember I used to have deep yearnings for travel. I was keen on taking up sailoring, etc., but years have added wisdom, and I want nothing more than a peaceful habitation in the old country, with a congenial task and books and friends about me. When we’ve had sugar in our tea, or in some other way have eaten more than is usual, I dream of such future times, and I imagine I must look the picture of content in those dreams. Ah, me, what a life! “”

The same issue contains the O.Y.S. War-time Service Lists.

“Old York Scholars serving in the Navy and Army

Jennings, A. S., R.A.M.C.”

In “Bootham” of July 1918, Arnold writes from Salonika:

“JENNINGS, having “just turfed your letter of last September out of my kit,” proceeds to philosophise interestingly of things in general and of himself in particular. He seems mightily contented, the only fly whose presence in the ointment he is willing to admit being “that 5.30 is a beastly time to rise every morning. “”

In the December 1918 issue of “Bootham”, in “Across the Months”, we read:

“ARNOLD S. JENNINGS (1907-11) was the happiest man in Macedonia the day that BOOTHAM arrived. Every page of it made glorious reading for him. ” On the rare occasions when I take a walk I invariably bless the old N.H. Club, for to those who have had no such training a promenade out here is bereft of a good deal of its entertainment, while I can find pleasure in every step.””

However, “Bootham” of August 1919, includes the Headmaster, Arthur Rowntree’s address to the Old York Scholars’ Association. Whit Monday Meeting , June 9th, 1919, which includes:

“I want for a moment or two to refer to one boy, Jennings, who before he came to the school had no connection at all with Bootham, and his family had no connection with it. His friend wrote from Salonica to the parents to tell them that their son had died from pneumonia, and spoke with great affection of him. “His sleeping place is on a cliff above the sea, beautifully kept, where he will lie, lulled to sleep by the music of the sea which he loved.”

The same issue of “Bootham” contains his “In Memoriam” entry as follows:

“ARNOLD SIMKIN JENNINGS (1907-11). He finished his school career with a reeveship for a year. He was a member of the football team, a steady halfback; he was known as a good speaker and essayist and a great botanist, “second only to Graveson” we said when he left us. During the war he spent more than three years with the R.A.M.C. in Salonika: it has been my privilege to hear from him from time to time. Here are some sentences from his letter dated July 15th, 1918:

“I was delighted some few days ago to receive the card of greetings from the O.Y.S.A., and felt I must respond to its invitation and report myself to you.

“I should like to thank each one for his (and her) kind thought: such messages from the Old School are so welcome; coming as a breath of good fresh air. They build up anew one’s flagging spirits, brighten the future and make one ready and eager to carry on.

“My lucky star was still in the ascendant three or four days later when BOOTHAM arrived, and I was the happiest lad in Macedonia that day. This number of BOOTHAM is great. The news of O.S., though sad in the case of many, is especially interesting; the details of the N.H. Club’s work, the general news of the School and everything from cover to cover make glorious reading. Of the many excellent photographs, I think my vote goes to ‘ the men who tanned the hide of us,’ my only regret in connection with it being that I am not back for some more tanning by the same men.

“On the rare occasions when I take a walk, I invariably bless the old N.H. Club, for to those who have not had such training, a promenade out here is bereft of a good deal of its entertainment, while I can find pleasure at every step. A little while ago an enterprising person here conceived the idea of obtaining a collection of the flora of this country by offering prizes for collections made by soldiers, the whole ‘ issue ‘ finally being sent to the British Museum. I began such a collection but I found myself unable to continue through lack of time and opportunity, both to get the specimens and to prepare them. I was sorry to have to give it up. I am enclosing a rather ancient copy of the Balkan News—the standard journal of Macedon— which may be of interest.

“Yesterday was a great day here—the French fête day. Salonika was very gay and festive: Alexander of Greece was in the town and Frenchmen and Greeks alike were in a state of intense happiness and, incidentally, of equally intense intoxication. As is usual on such occasions, there was a fire in the town: Salonika would not enjoy itself without some such spectacle, and, of course, there were a few arguments which were settled in the usual manner—the most alert and decisive gesticulating contestant losing his temper and his pocket-knife (an implement of useful length, strength and ‘ edge ‘), the former flying to the winds of Heaven, the latter to his opponent’s throat. The slowest Greek always’ gets it in the neck ‘ on these occasions, and the 28th General Hospital always gets the Greek! When Greek meets Greek on a fête day in Salonika, no one should miss the sport: it’s better than bull-baiting in Spain or broncho-busting in Yankee-land. The preliminaries are exciting, interesting and funny, while the climax is deliriously fatal.

“But I must not try your patience further.””

In the same issue, under “Deaths”:

“JENNINGS.—On the 21st December, 1918, of pneumonia, at Salonika, Arnold Simkin Jennings (1907-11), of Malton, aged 26 years.”

Corporal Arnold Simkin Jennings is buried at Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria.

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