In Memoriam: Ralph Vipont Brown

Photograph of Ralph Vipont Brown
Ralph Vipont Brown

Ralph Vipont Brown of Manchester was with the Friends War Victims Relief Committee and died of pneumonia following influenza on the 1st March 1919 in Calais, aged 20 years.

Ralph was born in Manchester in 1898 and attended Bootham School from 1912 to 1916.

He joined Bootham in the Autumn term 1912.  In the Christmas Show of 1912, Ralph won a Workshop prize for Bed Table.

The school magazine, “Bootham”, of March 1914 contains the report of The Eightieth Annual Report of Bootham School Natural History, Literary & Polytechnic Society.  In it we read, under Gardens:

“Considerable interest has been taken in the gardens during the year, and they have flourished accordingly. Several new arbours have been made, that of C. R. and R. V. Brown deserving special mention.”

and under Photography:

“LANTERN SLIDES.—The best lantern slides were those entered by R. V. Brown, who shows a uniformly good series.”

He won a Workshop prize for his Book Trough.

The March 1915 issue of Bootham tells us that in the School Photography competition:

“Several interesting enlargements were sent in, of which much the best is Ellis’s view of the Swimming Bath. R. V. Brown’s picture of a Hay-wain is placed second. It would be improved by the removal of some of the foreground.”


“Only two sets of lantern slides were sent in, of which O. B. Ellis’s take the first place and R. V. Brown’s second. The chief criticism the judges have to make in this section is that slides should be spotted so as to show the way in which they are to go into the lantern.”

Ralph played football at school.  The June 1915 issue of “Bootham” tells us, in “Football Notes (By the Captain)”:

“BROWN, R.V.—Is a dogged half or full-back, who dashes in with vigour, and always does his best.”

The December 1915 issue of “Bootham” reports that Ralph passed the University Of London, Senior School : Matriculation Standard Examination, with a distinction in French.  He also took the Silver Medallion (Award of Merit) of the Royal Life Saving Society Awards.

The March 1916 issue of “Bootham” has a report on the Football season 1915-16, with Notes on the Team (By the Captain):

“BROWN, R. V., is a stalwart defender of the second line, who comes dashing in with weight and power, causing any tricky dribbler to look lively. In grim determination he makes up anything he lacks in skill.”

Ralph left Bootham in summer 1916.  His Bene Decessit entry in “Bootham” of October 1916 is as follows:

“R. V. BROWN leaves from the College Class. Last year he matriculated, and this year obtained his first M.B.—the first from Bootham. He was an exceedingly hard worker, and ploughed along through thick and thin. At football he obtained his 1st eleven colours, and took an interest in tennis, on which committee he served. He was a member of the Photographic and Gardens Committees, and of the Fire Brigade. He was a reeve.” *

*A reeve is equivalent to a prefect, at Bootham School.

The same issue has Examination Results for Midsummer 1916:

“University of London, First Examination for Medical Degrees.

R. V. Brown.

R. I. A. Hickes.”

The same issue also contains the following, in “Bootham Oversea”:

“The work of the same committee in France, Holland, and Corsica progresses satisfactorily, and in all sections O.Y.S. are at work, the two most recent O.Y.S. to join the work in France being STANLEY W. DAVIES (1908-1912) and RALPH VIPONT BROWN (1912-1916).”

while “Across the Months” in the same issue tells us:

“R. V. BROWN and J. CUTHBERTSON are in training at Jordans for F.A.U. and F.W.V.R. work.”

 The March 1917 issue of “Bootham”, in “Across the Months” tells us that:

“R. V. BROWN is doing War Victims’ Relief Work near Sermaize.”


“EARLY in February we were glad to welcome some Old Boys from the Glenart Castle. The boat was in dock, so they were able to tell us about work in the Near East and in the Channel. V. W. ALEXANDER was accompanied by A. L. WILSON , R. BROWN, and E. RANSOME. They showed a fine set of slides representing F.A.U. work to the School and to the orderlies.”

“Bootham” of June 1917 contains the Report of Old York Scholars’ Association Whitsuntide Meeting, 1917:

“Messages were then read from Old Bootham Boys serving abroad, and cordial greetings from the Association were returned to these:

” To Bootham School, York, Angleterre.

” Meilleurs salutations de deux war victims and deux F.A.U., se trouvant dans la meme ville.





In the December 1917 issue of “Bootham” we read in “Bootham Oversea”:

“R. VIPONT BROWN (1912-16), speaking of the “War Victims” (of which he is one), says : ” . . . As I expect you know, we are all divided up into different departments— Building, Construction, Transport, Medical, Relief, and Agricultural Sections. When I came out here last January I was in the Medical Section a t **** * Hospital. Please do not picture to yourself a large establishment fitted with electric light and hot water. No ; we have no Haxby Road accommodation at * * * * * ” Obedient to the call of duty elsewhere, the writer continues : “Here I spent most of my time carrying armfuls of babies from the ward to the garden and back again. I also did … a good deal of motor driving. Of the two—i.e., cars and babies—I think I infinitely prefer looking after cars. The relief work has changed considerably of late from the distribution of necessities to the promotion of co-operative industry in the form of ‘Broderie.’ Building has, like the former relief work, practically ceased, and has removed to other districts.

“.. . The Agricultural Section, which, in my opinion, forms a very important part indeed of the work of reconstruction . . . consists chiefly of the provision, repair, and staffing of agricultural machinery, and requires a considerable degree of tact in dealing with the farming population in the villages in which we work. “”


“A. H. PUMPHREV (1905-10) sends names of O.Y.S. serving with him under the “War Victims’ Committee” : N. E. BROOKS, S. W. DAVIES, W. SHEWELL, E. G. WEST , R. V. BROWN. He says : ” We have been helping the civil authorities in a large town right up near the lines, first of all by evacuating the civil hospital. .. . It seems such a privilege to be able to do something to help those fine people who have been through such a trying three years. The work has its thrills. . . . The night before I came away we had two shells on the building over our heads while we were sleeping in the cellar! “”

“Bootham” of May 1918 contains O.Y.S. War-time Service Lists.

“Old York Scholars serving with the Friends’ War Victims Relief Committee.

Brown, R. Vipont, France.”

The July 1918 issue of “Bootham” contains the report of the Old York Scholars’ Association Whitsuntide Meeting, 1918: Jordans. Saturday, May 25th, 1918.

“Messages received by letter and telegram from Old Boys abroad were then read:—

” Boot Ham (sic) School, York, Angl.

” Meilleurs salutations a York School de War Victims dans Marne et Meuse. “




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

“RALPH VIPONT BROWN (1912-16) is said to be “wielding an immense camion, dashing along these eternal roads at the feverish rate of 12 m.p.h. His load may consist of anything from potatoes to mattresses, with one or two unfortunate équipe housekeepers packed inside, after a day’s shopping in the metropolis. All F.W.V.R. men in his section are busy preparing schemes for reconstruction in the new Verdun area allotted them.”

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

“BROWN.—On the 1st March, 1919, while serving with the F.W.V.R. in France, Ralph Vipont Brown (1912-16), of Manchester, aged 21 years.”

In the same issue is his “In Memoriam” piece:

“RALPH VIPONT BROWN (1912-16). Ralph Vipont Brown came to Bootham in the autumn of 1912, when he was nearly 14 years of age, and was a scholar there for four years. After leaving York he went for a few months to work in the F.W.V.R. warehouse in London, and at the beginning of 1917 left for work in France. From that date until his death, he was working for the “Mission,” spending himself as we who loved him knew how he would, in the service of others. At first he was occupied with orderly work at Chalons, but later at Sermaize, where the work was either stores or garage or driving—mostly motor work. He had been home on leave for Christmas of last year, and in the joy of the family reunion they had talked over the future, and Ralph had spoken with bright hopes of his medical studies after leaving the F.W.V.R. But the latter was ever uppermost in his mind, and he did not know how he would tear himself away from it. Early in the year he returned to France, and at the end of February was at Calais awaiting the arrival of some motor lorries from England. While there, however, he fell ill of influenza which speedily developed into pneumonia, and in less than a week he passed away. The end came on Saturday, March 1st.

I feel that anything I can say of his life will be altogether inadequate. Those of us who knew him at school soon learnt to love the open-hearted loving personality, ever ready for fun, yet with a deep current of seriousness flowing beneath the surface, and with such a broad and comprehensive outlook on life. I never once remember hearing him grumble or speak disparagingly of another. Patient and hard-working, both in and out of school, his radiant personality predominated over everything, and his bright face and cheery laugh were loved by all who knew him. He could enter into the trouble of others ; I remember now the cloud that came over him when the old man, Keir Hardie, died. It was the people and those who strove for them whom Ralph loved.

And so we are not surprised as we read the testimony of those who worked with him in France. The same loving, helpful disposition, transforming “daily monotonous tasks into a great work for Peace, and the brotherhood of humanity.” “Life with him was always different from when he was not there.” ” He had too, a wonderful power of getting to know the French people and fully entering into their joys and sorrows.” One feels that such a life as his is the only way of reaching down to the hearts of men, of laying the foundations of that city of God, where all men shall be as brothers.

One who knew and loved him wrote of his work in France :

“I can truly testify that he gave his all in that spirit for which we all so long. Rather than grieve at his loss may we rejoice in that we knew him and saw in him a reflection of the Great Spirit, which will help us, too, to live and serve as we should.”

Our hearts go out in deepest sympathy to his loved ones; but with them we can rejoice, knowing assuredly that to such as Ralph there is no death, but a passing into fuller service beyond :

Then was he made aware, by soul or ear,

Of somewhat pure and holy bending o’er him,

And of a voice like that of her who bore him,

Tender and most compassionate : ” Never fear !

For heaven is love, as God Himself is love,

Thy work below shall be thy work above.”


Ralph Vipont Brown is buried at Les Baraques Military Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.

In Memoriam: Aubyn Harrisson Pumphrey

Photograph of Aubyn Harrisson Pumphrey in uniform.
Aubyn Harrisson Pumphrey

Aubyn Harrisson Pumphrey, of Stockton-on-Tees, died of pneumonia following influenza in Paris on the 23rd October, 1918, aged 26 years.

He was born in 1892 and attended Bootham School from 1905 to 1910. He was keen on Natural History at school.

The School magazine, “Bootham”, of February 1907, in the report of The Seventy-third Annual Report of Bootham School (York) Natural History, Literary & Polytechnic Society, January, 1907 tells us that in the Christmas Exhibition, in Entomology:

“A. H. Pumphrey has made a few microscopic preparations of various parts of insects.”


“A. H. Pumphrey shows 9 microscopic slides very neatly prepared, but rather disconnected in idea.”

Aubyn won the prize for Microscopy. He also won the Workshop prize for Book Shelves.

In 1907 he became an assistant Secretary for the school Natural History Club, and also a curator of Zoology.

“Bootham” of February 1908 has The Seventy-fourth Annual Report of Bootham School (York) Natural Hlstory, Literary & Polytechnic Society January, 1908.  It contains, in the section on Natural History Diaries:

“A. H. Pumphrey has not written so much, but he has some successful photos, of nests and young birds. Both he and Levin would do better to spend more time on preparing photographic illustrations, which are more valuable than copies of bird pictures, or even of stuffed birds.”

The Workshop report in this issue contains the following:

“The year 1907 has not shown such a large output of work as sometimes : the quality, however, has been good, and things were busier in the Summer term than usual. ……… Some improvement has been shown in wood-turning. There has been less boxmaking and a greater variety in the way of picture frames, serviette rings, tool handles and candlesticks. Holmes and A. H. Pumphrey are the two best in this line.”

Aubyn won prizes for Natural History Diaries and Workshop Turning. In 1908 he additionally became a curator of Microscopy for the Natural History Society.

The February 1909 issue of “Bootham” contains The Seventy-fifth Annual Report of Bootham School (York) Natural History, Literary & Polytechnic Society. January, 1909. It shows that Aubyn had by now joined the committee of the Society and was a Registrar. The report tells us:

“During the Spring Term six meetings were held : all full of interest, and showing evidence of good work. On one occasion A. H. Pumphrey gave a very good account of the birds which he had seen at Bamborough during the Christmas holidays. The value of the paper was considerably increased by a number of excellent blackboard diagrams.”


“At the beginning of the Autumn Term an Exhibition of Holiday Work was held in the Art Room. ……. the Diaries of H . G. Burford, R. B. Graham, D. Eliott, A. B. Cohen, D. Gray and A. H. Pumphrey showed what good use had been made of spare moments during the vacation.”


“Many excellent reports dealing with the holiday activities already referred to were read at the various meetings held throughout the Term. In addition to these, several members contributed papers giving the results of their observations in the neighbourhood of York. …… Special reference ought to be made to A. H. Pumphrey’s lantern slides of “Bird Life” at Skipwith and other places. Those of the gull’s nests are worthy of Mr. Lazenby.”

and in the report of the Christmas Exhibition of 1908:

“The other feature of the Show is A. H. Pumphrey’s set of lantern slides of Natural History subjects, which, in the judges opinion, is one of the best pieces of work ever exhibited.“

They awarded the 1st Prize to Aubyn, three of whose slides—the view of the Minster and the two views of birds’ nests with eggs—were especially commended.”

Aubyn also won Workshop prizes for Tables, and Turning.

Aubyn joined the committee of the Photographic Club at school and the football committee for 3rd and 4th teams.

In December 1908, Aubyn passed the Cambridge Extension Lectures exam.

In the Autumn of 1909, Aubyn was the President of the school Natural History Society. “Bootham” of March 1910 tells us, in The Seventy-sixth Annual Report of Bootham School (York) Natural History, Literary & Polytechnic Society. January, 1910, that:

“During the Spring Term four meetings were held, all full of interest, and showing evidence of good work. On one occasion A. H. Pumphrey gave a very good account of the birds which he had seen at Bamborough during the Christmas holidays.”


“the Diaries of A. H. Pumphrey, A. B. Cohen, R. Darby and C. Holden showed what good use had been made of spare moments during the vacation.”

In the report of the Photographic Club in this same issue, we read:

“The exhibits, as a whole, were good, and consisted of lantern slides, prints and enlargements. Of the lantern slides those of A. H. Pumphrey were undoubtedly the best” and “In some of the exhibits—especially those of A. H. Pumphrey— careful choice of subject is combined with a neatness of printing and mounting, which the judges warmly commended.”

Aubyn received further praise for his photographic entries in the Christmas Show 1909:

“In the Pickard Instantaneous Competition the judges at last found a photograph undeniably instantaneous—the photograph by A. H. Pumphrey of the Delagrange aeroplane in full flight at Doncaster.”


“The photographs entered for the Pickard Time Exposure Prize received special commendation from the judges, A. H. Pumphrey’s picture of crocuses, “Signs of Coming Spring,” being described as one of the best photographs ever entered by a member of the School.”

This same issue of “Bootham” contains the Report of Committee For Awarding the Old Scholars’ Natural History Exhibition:

“For this year’s Exhibition there is only one competitor, Aubyn H. Pumphrey. He has sent in a diary of observations of birds, illustrated with many excellent photographs of nests. From most of these he has made lantern slides. His work is patient and painstaking, and neatly set out; he has made some study of flight, and the construction of feathers, and also of protective colouring. He has done good work in the Natural History Club, and some of his blackboard drawings illustrative of his lectures are reproduced on a well-known postcard. The judges were very much pleased with his use of the loose leaf system for his diary, a method which has also to some extent been adopted by Graveson. This system needs to be used with discretion, but for some purposes it is an invaluable way of arranging records of observations. We award Aubyn H. Pumphrey the sum of five pounds.”

In the Autumn Term 1909, Aubyn was playing in the 2nd XI Football team:

“Nov. 20, v. ACKWORTH. Won, 7—1. Won in spite of the absence of three prominent forwards. A. H. Pumphrey (3) was the principal scorer”

In the Spring Term, 1910, Aubyn became a Reeve at school. (A Reeve is similar to a prefect.)

The October 1910 issue of “Bootham” contains Aubyn’s “Bene Deccessit” entry:

“A. H. PUMPHREY has been in the School for five years, and was made a reeve last January. He has been a prominent member of the Natural History Club, and gained the Old Scholars’ award last year for his ornithology and photographs of birds. He played for the second football XI last season.”

The Natural History report for the year after Aubyn left Bootham notes his absence:

“A. H. Pumphrey and R. B. Graham, our two most accomplished ornithologists, both left us last summer, and we badly miss Pumphrey’s diary in the Show this year.”

After he left school he was an Apprentice Sugar Miller.

At the Thirty-Sixth Annual Meeting of the Old York Scholars’ Association, Whit-Monday, June 1st, 1914, Aubyn was elected to serve three years on the O.Y.S.A. Committee.

It is reported in the March 1915 issue of “Bootham” that Aubyn H Pumphrey was working under the Friends War Victims’ Relief Committee. He had volunteered in 1914 for their work in France. He undertook engineering work, and helped evacuate invalids and refugees.

The next we hear of Aubyn is in the June 1917 issue of “Bootham”, which contains the report of the Old York Scholars’ Association Meeting. Whitsuntide, 1917. It contains a letter as follows:

“ Chalons sur Marne, ” 28th May, 1917.

 To Bootham School, York, Angleterre.

Meilleurs salutations de deux war victims and deux F.A.U., se trouvant dans la meme ville.


At the Meeting it was proposed and accepted that Aubyn H. Pumphrey be reappointed to remain on the committee “for the period of the war.”.

In “Bootham” of July 1918 we read:

“AUBYN H. PUMPHREY (1905-I0), FRANCIS GlBBINS (1903-7), and LONGSTRETH THOMPSON (1904-6) send news of their work in the F.W.V.R. ” I am now at N , ” writes A. H. P., ” running- a small saw-mill belonging to the American Red Cross. .. . I am the only F.W.V.R. here, but I am fortunate in having a nice little room a t the A.R.C. depot. ” He meets a number of interesting people, mainly Americans, but finds it somewhat lonely being’ separated from the rest of the F.W.V.R. men.”


“ALEXANDER S. HAMILTON (1910-15) is with a convoy, F.A.U., and has had a very hot time during the recent retreat. One dark evening he was driving downhill into a town that was being bombed. A car came alongside with Aubyn Pumphrey on board. They had just time to hail one another—ships that pass in the night.”

Then “Bootham” of December 1918 reports, in “Bootham Oversea”:

“Once again we have to close this article upon a note not unmixed with sadness. Most readers will have heard by this time of the death from pneumonia of AUBYN PUMPHREY (1905-10). His four years’ work in France with the F.W.V.R.C. has been of a most devoted character, and when he fell ill his “leave” had voluntarily been long delayed. T. EDMUND HARVEY speaks of PUMPHREY’S chivalry,” and those of us who knew him well recognise how apt is the term. We shall cherish the memory of his unselfish work for humanity. “

And in “Deaths”:

“PUMPHREY.—On 23rd October, 1918, at Paris, of pneumonia, while serving with the F.W.V.R., Aubyn Harrisson Pumphrey, of Stockton-on-Tees (1905-10), aged 26.”

His “In Memoriam” is in the April 1919 issue of “Bootham”, as follows:

“AUBYN HARRISSON PUMPHREY (1905-10) volunteered in 1914 for the work of the Friends’ War Victims’ Relief Committee in France, working at hut building in Sermaize, then in the agricultural and in the motor departments, being one of those who helped amid the gas shells in evacuating invalids and refugees from Rheims. In 1917 the Mission undertook reconstruction work in the Somme area, and he was asked to take charge of a saw mill near Noyon, which was to prepare timber for the adjoining department of the Oise; this he set up himself, and ran with the help of a scratch team of French workmen, sometimes snatching a few hours at week-ends to join on his motor cycle the neighbouring Mission Equipe at Ham, though often he stayed to repair machinery which was at work all the week. When the German advance came, in March, 1918, he was busy day and night helping the civilians to evacuate, falling back with the American Red Cross to Compile, and working without rest, having to drive his car for days together in a gas mask. He was later asked to take charge of the motors of a mobile hospital near the front, looking forward to return when the pressure was less to the purely civilian work of the F. W. V. R. C. as soon as he was needed there. More than once he was urged to take his overdue leave, but he steadily refused; he could not go, he said, while the need was so great. Worn out thus, he came up to Paris in October with the influenza fever upon him; he had not strength to resist the pneumonia that developed, and passed away in the British hospital on October 23rd, 1918. Keen on his work and the ideals beyond it, unsparing of himself, and withal so chivalrous, courteous and modest, his memory shines bright in the hearts of his friends.      T. E. H.”

Another tribute to Aubyn is given in the diary 1917-19 of William Bell, a fellow worker in the F. W. V. R. C., and entitled “A Scavenger in France”, as follows:

“23 OCTOBER. Aubyn Pumphrey passed away to-day, as a result of pneumonia following upon an attack of “Spanish Influenza,” according to the doctor who attended him. Pumphrey was one of the group who worked at Ham all last winter; and was in charge of a saw-mill at Noyon most of the time his engineering knowledge being thus made use of. He was a tireless worker; anxious at all times to give of his best; and one of the most lovable of men. I feel that he has died at his post through sticking to it too long when he was very ill. But, like all true soldiers who fall on the field of battle, he did his duty to the very last and “How can man die better?”

Aubyn Harrisson Pumphrey is buried in the cemetery of St. Cloud, near Paris.

In Memoriam: Philip John Meyer

Photograph of Philip John Meyer
Philip John Meyer

Philip John Meyer, of York, died of pneumonia while serving in Paris on 16th October, 1918, aged 31 years.

He was born at Bramley near Leeds in 1887 and attended Bootham School from 1902 to 1906.  He did well at school.  He was a Reeve and was an asset to the school Band.

Philip was active in the Natural History Club at school, and in the school Christmas Exhibition of 1903 he won prizes, along with his brother Sebastian Burtt, for Entomology and Coleoptera.  The Natural History Report for that year includes the following (from the school magazine “Bootham” of March 1904):

“ENTOMOLOGY . Perhaps the chief work in this branch has been done by the brothers Meyer, who show upwards of 80 specimens of Lepidoptera collected during the year, including Large Tortoiseshells from the New Forest, and a number of butterflies from Normandy ; they also show a few Coleoptera, including a Longicorn Beetle from the New Forest.”

The May 1904 issue of “Bootham” tells us, in the Athletics Report, that Philip won the Gym event.

The Natural History Club Report of 1904, printed in “Bootham” of February 1905, shows that in the Christmas Exhibition, Philip won second prize for his Natural History Diary.  The Entomology Report tells us:

“P. J. and S. B. Meyer secured amongst other butterflies and moths, White Admiral, Female Silver Washed Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Painted Lady, Drinker and Hummingbird Hawk, in the New Forest.  They also found Eyed Hawk, Goat, and Vapourer Moth caterpillars in Hampshire.”


“P. J. and S. B. Meyer had considerably improved their collection of butterflies and moths, and took second prize; and their collection of beetles also received a prize.”

“Bootham” of  February 1906 includes the Natural History Report for 1905.  The Entomology Report contains the following:

“P. J. and S. B. Meyer have added some twenty-two new species to their butterflies, most of which were collected in Southern France and the Balearic Isles. The most noteworthy finds are four specimens of Papilio machaon, two of Vanessa c-album, Colias edusa and Saturnia pavonia.   Their collection of beetles has also been increased by about twenty new species, of which may be mentioned Osmoderma emerita, Sisyphus schaefferi and Ocypus cyaneus.”


“The brothers P . J. and S. B. Meyer have considerably improved on last year’s entomology, and they now possess a valuable collection—neatly and carefully arranged.”

The report of the Christmas Show for 1905 includes the following:

“Three collections of crystals are on view. R. K. Wilson, who shows 22 species in various stages of their growth and also a notebook, is well ahead of W. A. Wilson with 19 species, and A. A. Pollard with 2, though the last has some beautiful specimens. On the same lines are a collection of compounds of lead, and two excellent notebooks, by P. J. Meyer.”

In 1905, Philip was a curator of Meteorology in the Natural History Club.

The report of the Autumn Term 1905 includes the following:

“On the 8th and 9th morning school was partially given up in order that Mr. Theodore Nield might talk to us about “The Effect of Alcohol on the Brain”; notes were taken, and essays afterwards sent in for a prize, which was won by P . J. Meyer.”

On the last night of Autumn term 1905, a grand concert took place at school, which was organised by Philip.  There were solos on piano, violin and singing by members of staff at school, “whilst instrumental music in duets, quartettes, a septette, and in full orchestra was rendered by various members of the band.”

Philip was a member of the Football Second XI in 1905.  He was also a member of the Senior Essay Club, and in the Spring term of 1906, “It was also felt to be an excellent precedent, when P. J. Meyer gave us a short lecturette, with lantern slides, on the Mediterranean.”

The September 1906 issue of “Bootham”, in the report of the School Summer Term tells us:

“Towards the end of the month, P. J. Meyer tried for a scholarship at Dalton Hall, but as he only decided to enter four days beforehand, he did not expect to be successful.”

Philip left school in 1906, and the September 1906 issue of “Bootham” contains his “Bene Decessit” entry:

“P. J. MEYER came to School in September, 1902, and when already in the Upper Senior a slight breakdown in 1905 caused his removal for two terms. Since his return he has done well, especially at mathematics, but indecision spoilt his chances of passing his exams. Undecided still as to his future, he is at present going to Dalton Hall to study science. He has interested himself in the Natural History club, making a good collection of butterflies (in the holidays), and recording the weather; he has done his duty as a Reeve; and been good in goal at times. But his services have been really great to the School band.”

The February 1907 issue on “Bootham” tells us:

“PHILIP J. MEYER (1902—6), has passed the Matriculation Examination Victoria Universities Joint Board.”

And then in the October 1908 issue we are told that Philip passed the Chemistry Examination for his Bachelor Degree from Manchester University.

We don’t hear of Philip for some years, and them in the July 1918 issue of “Bootham” we read, in “Across the Months”:

“PHILIP J. MEYER (1902-6) has for some time been Financial Secretary to the F.W.V.R. Committee in Paris. Lately he has been supervising the settling, in Southern France, of refugees from the newly-invaded areas.”

And then in the December 1918 issue, under “Deaths”:

“MEYER.—On 16th October, 1918, at Paris, of pneumonia, while serving with the F.W.V.R., Philip John Meyer, of York (1902-5), aged 31.”

Philip was with the Friends’ War Victims’ Relief Committee during the war. He died of pneumonia following influenza while working with them in Paris.

The April 1919 issue of “Bootham” has an “In Memoriam” piece for him, written by his brother:

“”PHILIP JOHN MEYER (1902-6) was born at Bramley, near Leeds, in 1887, and was at Bootham from 1902 to 1906.

Leaving school as a Reeve, with a musical and gymnastic record, he studied at Manchester University, during part of which time he was in residence at Dalton Hall. Both at school and college his health frequently interfered with his work, but he entered business in Leeds with the indomitable energy which to the last concealed his limitation of strength. His knowledge of French and German stood him in good stead in his commercial relations with foreign firms, and he was an extensive traveller, visiting at various times most of the countries in Europe. At home he was well known in the philaletic world.

In 1917 he became attached to the London office of the War Victims’ Relief Committee, and worked there for three months, after which he proceeded to Paris as Accountant to the Mission. His duties in France took him to many of the field “équipes,” where, as everywhere, his skill as a pianist was in great request. As acting Treasurer to the Mission he remained in Paris during the greater part of 1918, succumbing to pneumonia following influenza in October of that year. His grave lies in the little cemetery of St. Cloud, only a few feet from those of his cousin, Sadie Henwood, and of his school-fellow, Aubyn Pumphrey.                   S. B. M”

There is also mention of Philip in the publication “A Scavenger in France, Being Extracts from the Diary of an Architect, 1917-19”, by William Bell *, as follows:


15 OCTOBER. The first member of the Unit to fall a victim to La Grippe passed away to-night in the person of our worthy accountant on the Paris staff, Philip Meyer. He was the gentlest of souls, a thorough master of his work, and a musician to the finger-tips; and his cheerful presence will form a sad blank in the lives of those of us who were privileged to call him our friend. “

Philip John Meyer is buried in the cemetery of St. Cloud, near Paris.

(* See p.262 )


First World War: News from the Ambulance Unit and Relief Party, June 1915

“All the sackcloth and ashes of Jerusalem would hardly serve to cover the sub-editorial shame. We promised original accounts of the great work of the Relief Party and Ambulance Unit; neither is forthcoming. The Editor of Bootham has been much too busy in Belgium to write any news, and no one in France had any time to spare either…

The Ambulance Unit has, we fear, been slightly disorganised for a short time by the advance towards Ypres, but the members are continuing their work wherever possible in spite of difficulty and danger, and look forward to wider activity in the near future. We were all very sorry to learn that two members of the party, Donald Allen being one of them, had been rather badly wounded, but the latest reports are good.

The Relief Party has been building veritable cities of huts, in which many homeless folk have been able to take refuge.

It is a great thing to know that our fellow Old Scholars are doing such fine work. We can only trust that the time will soon come when they will be able to continue their labour without the constant knowledge that for every human being saved or work created dozens of lives are being deliberately ended and works destroyed.”

From Bootham Magazine, June 1915

First World War: Old Scholars’ Association AGM 1915

The Old Scholars’ Association met for their AGM on Saturday May 22nd 1915. T. Edmund Harvey, chairing the meeting, started off by saying:  “If we had been gathering together for a social function I think we should all have felt that it would be better that the Old York Scholars’ Association should not have met at all at such a time, but I think all of us feel, and we are glad to feel, that our annual gathering is something infinitely more than a social function; it is a time of inspiration and of fellowship, where friends meet together to help each other, to share in the sense of comradeship and of unity and to get inspiration from the ideals that have been lit for us in our youth in the two schools. And so all the more because of the great cloud that is upon us do we feel that it is worth while making an effort to be gathered together to feel the strength that this comradeship gives.” He went on to pay tribute to the Old Scholars who were giving service in many different ways: “There are very many who have gone forth to different services : to the wonderful service of the Ambulance Unit, to help the war victims, to what seems much simpler work at home, and there are a great many who have felt it their duty to stick to what is perhaps the hardest task of all, the service which they have been doing or which lies ready to hand where they are and that does not involve any apparent act of great sacrifice, and yet is essential to the true well-being of the country, and is, it may be, the highest fulfilling of duty.”

Ivy Weston then talked about her work with Belgian refugees at Folkestone, where a local War Refugee Committee was formed. She talked about how they fed as many as five thousand people in a day at the harbour, meeting the boats as they arrived.

Florence Barlow talked about the work of the Emergency Committee for the assistance of distressed Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians in Great Britain, and how she had visited two camps on the Isle of Man.

Philip Baker discussed the Friends Ambulance Unit, and the motives which brought the unit together.

T. Edmund Harvey mentioned the Friends War Victims Relief Committee work, including medical, agricultural and other relief work, such as building shelters and temporary housing for the populations of areas affected by the conflict.

A summary from the AGM report in ‘Bootham’ magazine, December 1915. Both Bootham and Mount Old Scholars were at the meeting. Longer excerpts from the accounts of the various types of work done will follow in later posts.