February 12th 1917

Capt. Rupert Lee (Worcesters) was a most welcome visitor and the boys much enjoyed the exhibition of conjuring he gave. He had learnt his tricks from a native in India.

Rupert gave us some excellent photographs, looted from the German Consulate (!) and has written an article for the next edition of our magazine on his time in Mesopotamia, of which this is a part:

busra-minaret

The Minaret at Busra

“An extraordinary affair occurred in our Mess in Busra just before I left; we all had native servants and it was customary to put the most reliable in charge of the whole; this man incurred the lasting hatred of one of the other servants (of another religion) through accusing him of the theft of a tin of stewed fruit.

So one day, when the butler went out to the town to see some of his friends, this other man came to me and asked to be allowed out. On my giving him permission, he proceeded to steal a bottle of whisky: and fortified by it, took one of our revolvers and sallied forth intent on the slaughter of his enemy.

He explained to me afterwards that a natural delicacy forbade him carrying out this business in our quarters, where he could have met him any day.

We captured him after all his ammunition (about 20 rounds) was expended and he was locked up. His subsequent examination was really very amusing, if one could forget the tragic side; he explained the whole thing in detail, regretting that these men were killed, but of course that was their fault for getting in the way.

What he was really most sorry about was that he failed to kill the butler and made a petition that he might be allowed to do so before being hanged.

I tried to get a plea of insanity brought forward, but the man himself would not hear of it and from his behaviour after the event it would never have gone through.

Things like this brought before us very vividly the fact that we were living on the edge of a precipice.”

 

January 31st 1916

It has been brought to our notice that The London Gazette earlier this month listed two more of our Old Boys who have been awarded the DSO: Major George Stack (RE) and Major Frederick St J Tyrwhitt (1st Worcs).

George was mentioned in despatches on January 1st 1916 and has now been awarded the DSO “for consistently good work in the front line during the past six months. This officer has proved himself quite above the average in his powers of organising work and seeing it pushed through. He has been indefatigable in his exertions and never spares himself. All day and every day and most nights he is at work in and behind the front line. He is absolutely fearless. He gets all work entrusted to him done with the minimum of friction to all concerned.”

We were delighted to get a letter from George last month:

GH Stack

Major George Stack

“I never forget that I am an OD… I’m afraid I don’t shine as a scribe and a magazine article would be quite beyond my powers.”

George was only at the OPS for a year, during which time he gained a Scholarship to Westminster School, chiefly for his Mathematics.  Even if an article is beyond him (which I doubt) there is nothing wrong with his letter-writing!

He is now heading for the East:

“We are now about to be transferred to another sphere of activity, though I don’t know for certain which. Everyone here is full of beans and confidence – the nearer you are to the front line trenches, the more cheerful you find everybody.”

We do not as yet know the circumstances in which Major Frederick Tyrwhitt* won his DSO, but we can at least record it as the fifth won thus far, in addition to Jack Smyth‘s VC.

(* brother of Major Nathaniel Tyrwhitt, whose death we reported in December, and a cousin of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt)