In Memoriam: Gordon Allison

Gordon Allison  of Newcastle-upon-Tyne was in the King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles and was killed in action on 8th June 1919 in India (now Pakistan), aged 20 years.

He was born in 1898 and attended Bootham School from 1914 to 1916.

Gordon played a lot of cricket at Bootham.  The school magazine, “Bootham”, of December 1914 tells us that in the 1914 cricket season he played in the Second XI, and he was a bowler.  For example, on 11th July, against St. Thomas’, he took five wickets for 36 runs.


Bowlers.           Overs.   Maidens.       Runs.     Wickets.         Average.

Allison                12             2                       36             5                       7’20          “

Gordon also played football.  “Bootham” of March 1915 gives Football Results:


Nov. 4, v. EDWARD VII. SCHOOL, at Home. Won, 6—2.

“…during the second half our forwards had matters very much their own way, scoring several times. Radley was responsible for three of our goals, Allison, Hart and Wilson also scoring.” “

The next issue of “Bootham” , June 1915, contains Football Notes (By the Captain):

“ALLISON, G.—Is a very clever forward on a dry ground, dribbling well and passing effectively. On our ground, which is so often wet and heavy, he is too light. Even so he is rather too easily discouraged, and does not know how to “get in” properly.”

By 1915, Gordon had progressed to the cricket First XI.  For example, “Bootham” of December 1915 tells us:

“Cricket Season 1915


June 16, v. BRIDLINGTON G.S., Home. Won, 180—103.

Allison took four wickets for 6 runs.

July 13, v. ST. PETER’S, Away. Won, 167—68.

Allison made 55, skilfully hitting a lob bowler to leg.”

“Bootham” of March 1916 contains the football report of the season 1915-16 and has Notes on the Team by the Captain:

“ALLISON, G., has increased greatly in general effectiveness since last season. With added weight and determination he has been able to exercise his clever dribbling to good purpose. Nor does he forget to pass, but feeds his neighbours well. But he will be remembered for his heading, which he has developed into an art.”

Also in the issue, the Eighty-Second Annual Report of Bootham School Natural History, Literary & Polytechnic Society January, 1916. in the Workshop Report we read:

“The show has this year exhibited a great deal of careful work by many competitors. …… The forge has also done well, two firescreens by J. L. Pumphrey and J. Hamilton being shown. A plant-stand by G. Allison and some lathe-tools were also made.”

Gordon won a Workshop prize for Bent Ironwork.

 “Bootham” of July 1916 contains the report of the school  Athletics competition.  Gordon did well in his races and the report tells us that “Smith also ran well, and Allison’s Quarter and Half were excellent performances.”  The results include:


440 Yards:           1. G. Allison        58 2/5 sec

880 Yards:           1. G. Allison        2 min. 15 4/5 sec”

This issue also contains the report of the Football Bedroom competition. Gordon played for Bedroom XI:

“No. XI. showed themselves easily masters of VI. and won with plenty to spare. Graham worked hard, but could not kick far enough to keep out his assailants. Hamilton scored twice, but his play was too clumsy, whilst Allison’s skilled footwork made him the best man on the field.

The Final, between XI. and XII., took place in an abundance of mud, but it was a delightfully clean game nevertheless, and as keen as mustard. Though some of those on the winning side were thoroughly clumsy, there was nothing approaching a foul. Allison’s judgment was excellent and his footwork extremely clever, whilst Hamilton took all the advantage of his opportunities, and has never done better. ….. It was a splendid game and a richly deserved victory.

Bedroom XI won the match and Gordon Allison (Capt.) scored 3 goals. “

We see in the October 1916 issue of “Bootham” that Gordon was still playing cricket:

“ST. PETER’S, May 27, Away. Won, 234 for 9 (declared)—50. Rarely have we batted to such advantage. ……. Smith got four for 25 and Allison five for 18.”

“Notes on The Team, By the Captain.

ALLISON, G.—Has come on well in bowling in course of season, and batting improved too; more sting in his bowling, and more straightness and power in his strokes, but still inclined to slice, and to draw away, and swipe wildly at leg stump balls. A good field in the slips.”

This issue also contains Gordon’s “Bene Decessit” entry:

“G. ALLISON was a clever and tricky athlete. At football he obtained his 1st Masters’ colours, and his wonderful headwork may be classed as an art. At cricket he was a clever bowler and steady batsman, winning his 1st Masters’ colours two seasons ago. He served on both Games Committees, played an excellent game of fives, and was a supple gymnast. In athletics he did some brilliant times at the quarter and half mile races. In academic work he passed the London Matriculation with Honours. Allison leaves from the Upper Senior.”


“Examination Results. Midsummer, 1916.

Senior School Examination. Matriculation Standard. Honours.

Allison, a., e., g

(a= Distinction in English, b in Mathematics, c in Chemistry, e in French, g in History.)”

After Bootham, Gordon went on to Armstrong College, Newcastle upon Tyne.  He returned to school in 1917 to play cricket for the Old Boys against the school team.

In “Bootham” of December 1917, we read, in the “Across the Months” section:

“GORDON ALLISON (1914-16) is at the Cadet College, Madras.”

The May 1918 issue of “Bootham” lists Gordon under “Old York Scholars serving in the Navy and Army.”:

“Allison, G., Cadet College, Madras.”

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

“GORDON ALLISON (1914-16) writes from India acknowledging the 1917 card. As assistant adjutant he trains recruits and plays soccer with Gurkhas, who show keenness and lack of funk, especially when tackling big officers.”

We next hear of Gordon in “Bootham” of December 1918:

“GORDON ALLISON (1914-16) is at present at Fort Sandeman, Baluchistan, training Gurhka regiments. They have had ” flu ” badly, 600 out of the battalion down with it.”

Then in “Bootham” August 1919, under “Deaths” we read:

“ALLISON.—On the 8th June, 1919, killed in action in India, Gordon Allison (1914-16), of Newcastle-on-Tyne, aged 20 years.”

Lieutenant Gordon Allison of the st King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles is buried at the Political Agent’s Garden, Fort Sandeman, Baluchistan in modern-day Pakistan.

His name is engraved on the Delhi Memorial (India Gate) in New Delhi.

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: Denys Armstrong

Photograph of Denys Armstrong in uniform.
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.

In Memoriam: Kenneth Mallorie Priestman

Photograph of Kenneth Mallorie Priestman in uniform.
Kenneth Mallorie 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.”

First World War : Flying over France.

Thomas Smith Impey was born in 1880 and was a student at Bootham School from 1893 to 1896.  During the First World War he served in the Royal Flying Corps, becoming a Captain and later a Major.

Photograph of Thomas Smith Impey in Bootham School Gym Team, 1894
Thomas Smith Impey in Bootham School Gym Team, 1894

In the March 1916 edition of “Bootham” magazine he writes about his experiences flying over France:

“T. S. IMPEY joined the R.F.C. in February 1915, ” three months late, owing to an accident that kept me from doing anything at all for many weeks. I am now almost the oldest pilot flying, many of the senior officers being years younger than me. . . . I took my pilot certificates in about six weeks, and passed the final examination qualifying me as a flying officer in July. . . . After some delay with my engine at Folkestone, I crossed the Channel at about 8,000 ft. . . . From 8,000 ft. the N.W. corner of France looks like a map, Calais and Boulogne seeming only a hand’s-breadth apart, the hills and valleys being quite indistinguishable. . . . I was flying at 8,000 ft. looking for gun flashes over the line, when three or four came up— bang ! bang ! pong ! ping !—all around me, and little round puffs of smoke flashed away behind me;  and I confess I turned round and flew out of range in zig-zags as quickly as I could, which was at about 80 miles an hour. Of course, I had to go back again when I had a few minutes to think it over, and now, though I don’t like ‘ Archie,’ I have learned to fly through him like everyone else, and do my work regardless. . . . It is awfully cold sometimes at 10,000 ft., which is a height we often fly at; and without proper protection in the winter frostbite is more than likely.””

T. S. Impey survived the war and was granted a permanent commission in the R.A.F. He retired in 1922.

First World War: Charles Albert Wood awarded Military Cross

Photograph of Charles Albert Wood.
Charles Albert Wood

Charles Albert Wood attended Bootham School from 1901 to 1903.  He received the Military Cross in France, listed in Fourth Supplement to the London Gazette, 14th January 1916:

“Captain Charles Albert Wood, M.B., Indian Medical Service”

A report in the March 1916 issue of “Bootham” magazine tells us the story:

“C. A. WOOD (Captain, I.M.S.) has been at the Front since 1914. He was attached to some of the Gurkhas. When in charge of a temporary hospital the house was shelled and the chimney came down. None of his patients was touched, but he received a severe blow and was reported wounded, but remained on duty. After that he was in charge of the Convalescent Hospital for Indian troops in France. He was then sent to Alexandria, and may be in Mesopotamia now. He was awarded the Military Cross in January, 1916.”

There is further description of Captain Wood’s action in “The Indian Corps in France” by Lt-Col J.W.B. Merewether and Sir Frank Smith:

“All through the battle, the work of the medical officers and their subordinates had been beyond praise. Captain C. A. Wood, I.M.S., 1/4th Gurkhas, gained the Military Cross by his bravery and unceasing energy in collecting the wounded, even after he had himself been hit, and in arranging for their safety after his first-aid post had become a target for the enemy’s artillery. Throughout the campaign this officer had shown himself to be utterly regardless of danger in the performance of his duty.”

First World War: The Belgian Bazaar

Photograph of Gymnastics display at the Belgian Bazaar.
Gymnastics display at the Belgian Bazaar

In the First World War, many thousands of Belgian refugees came to Britain and relief committees were established to help them. Quakers in York played an important role; several families were housed at the garden village of New Earswick, founded by the York philanthropist Joseph Rowntree, and money was raised both to support them and towards Belgian Relief Funds. It has already been mentioned in earlier blog posts that Bootham school supported a Belgian refugee family See previous posts from September 1914 and January 1915.

By Spring 1916, Bootham School was involved in further fundraising for Belgian relief. From the Annual Report:

“For many weeks the School worked hard in preparation for the Belgian Bazaar. Things were made in the workshop, knitting became popular, voluntary gymnastic classes were held, dramatic scenes were rehearsed, and friends all over the country were importuned to contribute goods and money. ”

The report for Spring Term Jan and Feb 1916, in Bootham magazine tells us:

“THE exceedingly mild weather of January and the prospects of some novel excitement in the shape of a Zeppelin raid have served to reconcile us to some extent to the deficiencies of the average Spring Term, and the work that we are doing in preparation for the great Belgian show has not allowed much time to hang idly on our hands. The knitting operations, in fact, and the generally busy atmosphere of the workshop and other such places, are a constant reminder to us of the determined way in which everybody is setting to work to make this event an unprecedented success.”

The event was a huge success. Bootham magazine reported afterwards:

“On the 25th (March) our great event took place, when the major part of the leisure-hour work of the term found its culmination in the long-awaited Belgian Bazaar. We anticipated an unprecedented success, but even more, if such is possible, was the case. Practically speaking, there was nothing left on the stalls; everyone was at his best, and not a hitch occurred throughout. From the stall-keepers dispensing of their wares to the extra singing-class masquerading as a “wall” all played their parts nobly, and the results exceeded our most sanguine hopes. A sum of well over sixty pounds was realised and has been divided, at the discretion of the Finance Committee, amongst the several Belgian Relief Funds in which we are interested.”