19-25 October 1915: Battersea Grammar School

October saw the publication of the Michaelmas Term edition of the Battersea Grammar School magazine. The magazine contains the usual mix of school and Old Boy news, demonstrating that some aspects of life carried on unchanged by the war, whilst others were more affected.

The Headmaster’s notes make clear some of the things which had changed:

…a large proportion of our Sixth Form boys, instead of spending about two years longer with us, have either joined the army, or taken up work in which their scientific and other knowledge could be turned to immediate use. We congratulate them on their patriotism, and are thankful that, notwithstanding this depletion, the total number of boys in the School has been well-maintained.

He also refers to a former Captain of the school who had recently obtained a commission in the Second 5th Yorkshires and to a large number of others who had joined the army – there were plans to publish a list in the next edition. A former master – A C Martin – had also gained a commission in the Royal Field Artillery.

The House Notes section of the magazine shows areas which were less affected – mainly the reports of sporting achievement. Bolingbroke house felt that they’d had a good cricket season, despite their Juniors losing all their matches, as the Senior team beat both St John’s and Trinity. St John’s did not feel they’d done so well in the cricket, although did note that they had been Champion House at the athletic sports this year and that they had put forward the largest number of entries in the Swimming Sports. It had obviously been a good year for Spencer – they did not lose a match in either cricket or football all year, and came top in the Swimming Sports as well. Trinity house had unexpectedly lost both their Captain and Vice-Captain at the time of the magazine, presumably some of those who had joined up rather than stay on at school, as the report refers to their late Captain, W G Game, having got his commission in the Yorkshire Regiment following training in the London University Officers Training Corps. The losses made it difficult for them to record how cricket and football had gone, but they could report on reasonable success in Swimming, coming second in the team race.

W Game makes a further appearance later in the magazine, writing about his experiences of an OTC training camp with the London University OTC. It’s a fairly light-hearted account, including reference to making “the acquaintance of a few interesting NCO’s who, among other things, will introduce you to a new feature of military life, viz, its phraseology” and an account of the perils of kit inspection and the difficulties of getting buttons to shine as they should. His is not the only account of life in the Forces, two other old Boys had also written back to the school to update them on their experiences. Captain Henry Inman had spent some years with the Civil Service on leaving school, then returned to the UK and immediately joined up, his letters refer to his experiences in the Dardanelles – although by the time the magazine was published he had been invalided home, possibly suffering from shell-shock. There were also extracts from letters written by Robert H Maddocks, in France with the 15th London Regiment, including notes on using a table found in a ruined house and finishing “our rum, into which I put some café au lait”.

 

Battersea Grammar School magazines, ref: S21/2/12/5

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1-7 June 1915: Battersea Grammar School

The Summer Term edition of the Battersea Grammar School Magazine carried several articles relating to the war.  First was a list of additions to the roll of honour, showing those who had joined since the publication of the first list.  34 more old boys had joined up a range of regiments, including two old boys listed in the Karachi Artillery Volunteers, another listed as “Australian Contingent” and one who was a Sapper in the London Electrical Engineers Searchlight Corps.  There was also an old boy listed as in the Royal Naval Air Service, which was still in its early days, as well as the usual range of regiments.

The termly reports on how each House was faring in sports were much the same as usual, with the addition to the Trinity report of “mingled feelings of sadness and pride” as they recorded the death of former member Rayner somewhere near Ypres, where he had been serving with the 23rd County of London regiment.  Otherwise, Trinity reported that their sports success was less than in previous years – they were second or third place in the House championship but hoped to return to the glory of previous years and victory soon.

It was the end of the BGS Cadet Corps’ first year of enrolment, so the magazine carried a report from them on how it had gone.  They had yet to be officially inspected due to the war, but had been recognised and their first appearance as a recognised Cadet Corps had taken place on 15h May, where all the Cadet Corps in the London area had come together and marched past the King at Buckingham Palace, then Sir Francis Lloyd in Hyde Park.  Over the year there had been a number of changes in personnel, as officers of the Cadet Corps had gone on to the Armed Forces.  There was a reminder that it was hoped that all members of the Corps would go on to join the Territorial Forces when they reached the correct age.

Battersea Grammar School magazine, ref: S21/2/12/5

6-12 October 1914: Rifle Ranges and Recruits

Wandsworth Borough Council met on 7 October. It was recorded that sixty-six members of Council staff had either joined up or been called up, and the Council confirmed the decision made in September to grant all those men a leave of absence and to make up the difference in their salaries so they were not out of pocket.

At a previous meeting the Council had decided to allow the Wandsworth Rifle club to open their ranges on Sundays. At this meeting the Club had applied for permission to drill at Garratt Park, where the range was, for about an hour on Sunday mornings and permission was duly granted. Other Rifle Clubs were following suit – Streatham Rifle Club asked for permission to set up a range on Lonesome Shoot, Greyhound Lane to open between 9am and 11.30pm. Again, permission was granted on the condition that firing ceased at 11pm. Balham and Southern Rifle Club granted permission to the Balham and Wandsworth Branch of the Home Defence League to use their range at the Borough Engineer’s office on Balham High Road and the Council agreed to keep the range open for the same hours as Lonesome Shoot.

Other institutions in the borough were also losing staff to the Forces – several members of Battersea Grammar School staff had joined up, as had over 90 Old Boys by the time the Michaelmas term magazine was written. Several of those pupils were named in the write up of each house, although perhaps L Backlake would prefer not to have been immortalised in his school magazine as a “bit of a slacker at times” who had joined the Queen’s Westminster. Of the ninety plus former pupils in the Forces, ten were in the 23rd County of London, based just down the hill from Battersea Grammar School and the territorial force mentioned a few weeks ago. A School Cadet Corps had been formed and encouraged all pupils to join up, the magazine points out that many boys were almost old enough to join the Territorial force of the New Army and that others would also be before the war was over. Presumably by the time the magazine was published they had realised it wouldn’t “be over by Christmas”.

Wandsworth Borough Council minutes 1914, ref: MBW/1/14

Battersea Grammar School magazine, ref: S21/2/12/5