WTC Fallen is the story of former students of Winchester Training College who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War. These 60 men all trained to be teachers at the college and their names are recorded, carved in the college chapel memorial rail. Their life stories are here unfolded so that they may be to us more than names.
Introduction and Acknowledgements
Peter Lidgitt (1972-75)
Main subject Physical Education, Project Co-ordinator
Little did we know that, when I proposed this project, it would take over our daily routines.
Shortly after our Honorary Degree Ceremony in 2015, I came up with the idea of creating a Facebook group for the years we spent at College. I knew I could not do this alone, so I co-opted my great friend “Boris” Westwood, who is far more adept on the computer than I am; and so was born the King Alfred’s College 1970-1978 Facebook Group. Today we number nearly 400 members, sharing some 2500+ photographs and articles.
Annually, the College (now Winchester University) holds an Alumni Weekend which former members of the College and University attend. Unfortunately, Boris was unable to attend fully the 2017 reunion due to a health scare.
Whilst at college, neither of us were great attendees at the New or Old Chapel. However, we knew of the existence of the Chapel Rail, commemorating the names of the boys who gave their lives in the “War to End All Wars”.
In order to keep Boris’s mind from his health issues, I suggested we research the names on the Chapel Rail in the hope that we could produce something for the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice in 2018. Thus, the idea was born, but we both realised that the project could be enormous and that we might need additional help.
A call to arms was posted by Boris on the Facebook page. We realised one good volunteer was worth 3 pressed men: and so it was born, and a small team developed to understand who these names really were.
It is to those people that I am eternally grateful, for without them this would not have got off the ground, nor succeeded.
Dee Sayers (1974-78), main subject History, was the first to step forward. Dee undertook the visits back to Winchester to trace the archives; to the County Records Office and the Regimental Museums. Her dogged determination at uncovering the history of the fallen proved invaluable.
John Vickers (1974-77), main subject Physical Science, became the gem. His understanding of the internet and the various websites led to further revelations. John wrote to Museums and County Records Offices throughout the UK, contacted family members of the fallen and put real meaning to the project.
John ‘Boris’ Westwood (1972-75), main subject Geography, whose great hobby of photography enabled him to enhance old photographs and bring to life the past. In addition, he helped Dee and John to tell the stories of the Fallen.
From Cornwall came Pat Naylor (1972-74 – January entry), main subject Geography. Pat took all the photos of the cemeteries, graves and memorial plaques to the dead in France and Belgium.
Thanks too to Clare Hadwell, (1977-81), main subject Educational Studies, who painstakingly worked through the narratives to ensure mistakes were removed. Being a member of The Western Front Association, she was able to bring a wealth of knowledge to bear. Hours of reading by Clare enabled us to declare the narratives ‘Clared’!
Through a longstanding friend, I located Michaela Farr (2012-15), main subject Media Production at the University of Winchester. Michaela’s understanding of web-building enabled the narratives to tell a stirring story of our alumni.
There was only one person who could produce our foreword (see below): Martial Rose, Principal of King Alfred’s College Winchester, 1967-84, an academic whose understanding of KAC and its history is unrivalled. Even at the tender age of 95 he still maintains more faculties than we will ever have.
Unknown to us when starting this project, John Hartley, who was at college in the 1960s, had begun a spreadsheet of the war dead. Without this list and the spreadsheet he produced, we would not have had such a good starting position. Unfortunately, much of his past work has been lost.
To these people I say thank you, for without them this project would still be stuck in the trenches.
It is not a history of WW1, but the story of 60 brave boys who gave their lives. We did, in passing, outline briefly the stories of The Somme, Ypres, and Egypt/Palestine; however, we explored in more detail the campaign in Mesopotamia where the Hampshires were badly beaten, in a military disaster not highly publicised by the government at the time, resulting in many of our boys losing their lives in battle or as PoWs.
Thanks to everybody who has partaken in this journey, both within college and outside.
It is hoped that after this is released we will put the story into book format, by which time possibly many of the families will have contacted us with further stories.
by Martial Rose, College Principal 1967 to 1984
The story that follows is of sixty former students of the Winchester Diocesan Training College for Teachers who died in the Great War, 1914-18. All students on leaving the College were called “Wintonians”, and that term has been kept by former members of King Alfred’s College and alumni of the University of Winchester. It is a small group of those later Wintonians who have written this story.
From early in its history the College had been accustomed to recruit from its members a Volunteer Company that in the event of war would readily be recruited to help in the country’s need. The Principal and staff would often form part of this group. On site was an armoury and a firing-range. A little after the start of the 20th century, with threats to the nation’s peace more palpable, the College’s Volunteer Company was transformed into ‘B’ Company of the 4th Territorial Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. When war was declared in August of 1914 and present students and former students were enlisted, each had already received a training which, in however preliminary a way, had prepared them for some of the ordeals that lay ahead.
The research team that has worked on this project is to be warmly praised for the cohesion achieved in their unravelling the family history of “The Fallen”, whether rural or urban, with schooling experienced in all its varieties in the progress, from pupil to pupil-teacher to training student to the fully qualified pedagogue. The road was hard; the regime demanded determination and staying power. The young men came mostly, from very large families struggling to make ends meet. Completing the Winchester teachers’ course successfully was a considerable achievement.
When war was declared and these Wintonians enlisted, some had left college a long time ago, and some joined the army immediately after their training. Many received no promotion; a few achieved officer rank. In the following account a record is given of each man’s service experience, zone of operation, and battle engagements.
A more general account is given of the battles of Ypres and the Somme, but a much fuller record is offered of the group that was sent to the war-zone in Mesopotamia. Here the campaign against the Turks was conducted under questionable leadership, with insufficient military equipment and gross lack of desperately needed, appropriate, medical supplies. The consequences were dire for the British contingent and a large force of the Indian army. The troops retreated from south of Baghdad and took up a defensive position in Kut-al-Amara, where they were besieged. Relief attempts were repeatedly beaten back. Starving and bedevilled by disease, the defending force of over 12,000 men surrendered. The photographs in this section are telling. There were many Wintonians in that forced march from Kut-al-Amara to Baghdad and beyond. From sickness, hunger, thirst and the cruelties inflicted on them by the Ottoman Turks and Arabs, many were left as they fell, to find their graves in the fly-blown sand.
A passage in Ecclesiasticus 44 reads
“Let us now praise famous men…
These men were honoured in their generations,
and were a glory of their days.
There be of them that have left a name behind them,
To declare their praises.
And some there be, which have no memorial;
Who are perished as though they had not been,
And are become as though they had not been born.”
What follows is an account of sixty men who fought and died in the Great War. And in this study, undertaken with zest, and sharpened with scholarship, these sixty men no longer have “no memorial”. But are here remembered and honoured: Wintonians by Wintonians.