March 21st 1917

Lieut.-Col Stuart Taylor (West Yorks) has written to the Editor of our magazine formally to ask us to address the question of how we commemorate those Old Dragons who have laid down their lives.

Various Public Schools are already raising money for their Old Boys. Indeed last week we read that Eton has raised £101,000 for a Memorial, and in order to educate the sons of fallen Old Etonians at Eton. 750 of the 5,200 Etonians serving have been killed.

A letter in the Daily Telegraph yesterday (on page 9) invites Old Rugbeians to attend a meeting with the same aim in mind. Other Public Schools are sure to follow this example.

They are, of course, considerably larger schools with many parents of considerably greater means than ours.  Nonetheless, at present we have about 350 Old Dragons serving, of whom 39 have lost their lives and it is right that we now give consideration to this question.

Fluff Taylor’s letter is very timely.

 

A War Memorial

BEF, France.

March 14th 1917.

To the Editor of the Draconian,

11 Charlbury Road, Oxford.

Dear Sir,

I would like to suggest that the time has now arrived for the consideration of a memorial to the gallant Dragons who have given and who may be called upon to give their lives for their country in this great war.

The School is without a Chapel, and I can think of no more appropriate permanent memorial than a Chapel, which will be a lasting tribute to those who have died and a continual reminder of their heroic deaths to those who come after.

I will give £50 to start the fund for the building of the Chapel, and I am sure Old Boys and Parents will subscribe if the proposition is placed before them.

Yours,

Stuart C Taylor (OD), KOYLI (Lieut.-Col., 15th West Yorks R.)

 

We shall be glad to receive any correspondence on the matter.

 

March 6th 1917

We have a mumps epidemic and thus have been obliged to have our Sunday services at School. We have therefore had Old Boys on leave preaching – or rather talking (the word preaching, except in the case of a minister of religion, has an annoying meaning).

This week Lieut.-Col Stuart Taylor (West Yorks), ‘Fluff,’ gave the boys a capital talk:

Stuart Taylor 2“You see, in the Parks, the Drill Sergeant drilling the soldiers. Perhaps you wonder why it is necessary to be so particular that the soldiers should turn their heads and eyes to the right on the words ‘eyes right,’ why they should spring smartly to attention at the word of command, or why they must stand absolutely still and steady in the ranks. Why is it?

Why shouldn’t 1,000,000 men each be given a rifle, taught how to fire it, and be sent out to kill Germans? Simply because they will have, in the course of their work, to face unusual situations, sudden dangers, where steadiness, coolness and level-headedness are necessary.

You cannot trust a man or boy’s instinct to prompt him to do the right thing. It will make him do the natural thing. The natural thing is to avoid danger, to run away from it. Instinct will prompt this. But habit, which is the child of discipline, will make a man or boy face the danger and act rightly in an emergency…

The soldier is taught to keep his buttons bright, his hair brushed and short, his clothes clean and smart, not because these things in themselves are of great importance, but because they all tend to make him punctual, clean, smart, cheerful and tidy in mind and body throughout his life.

A smart, well turned out, well-disciplined regiment always fights much better than a dirty, ill-disciplined one. There is no doubt whatever about that…

If a bomb dropped in the street and damaged some people, the natural inclination of a man or boy is to avoid the danger and ugliness of pain and suffering, but the habit of your training, to command yourself and your natural instinct, will teach you to go and succour those who are injured and prevent others coming into danger…

And the outward and visible sign of your habit, of your discipline, is the Dragon which you wear on your cap…

That Dragon represents to you and to all who know you and your famous badge, the desire and determination to live a helpful, kind, courageous and unselfish life; to be true not only to others, but to yourself’. There is nothing so sad as the man or boy who succeeds in deceiving himself. It is far worse than deceiving others, because before successfully deceiving one’s own self, all self-respect must have disappeared.

That Dragon of yours stands to you and me as a symbol of courage, truth, unselfishness and kindliness.

I have met men who wore that badge in all parts of the world, in the North West Frontier of India, Mauritius, South and West Africa, Malta, Crete, Egypt and during the present war, in France; and everyone who knows it, loves it and respects it.”

 

November 1st 1916

Our old friend ‘Fluff,’ Lieut. – Col. Stuart Taylor (West Yorks) has recovered from his wounds. He returned to command his battalion on September 16th and, although he cannot say as much, I think it highly likely he is somewhere in the region of the Somme.

We are most grateful that he has found the time to write to the boys:

Stuart Taylor 2“We are living in stirring times now and there is much doing. I wish I could tell you all about it, but the censor rules are very strict.

There are one or two things I hate in the trenches worse than the Boches – rats and cats.

The rats are enormous grey shiny looking things with great fat tails, and they come out in swarms at night and eat up all the horrid things they can.

You would think the cats would eat the rats, but they do not, I regret to say. They are kittens which have been born since the war, in the desolated and ruined villages and towns of Northern France, and they are rapidly forming a new species of wild cat, living in old disused trenches or holes in the ground and coming out at night.

There is so much to eat lying about that they do not kill the rats or mice.”

 

This is not the way of nature, but it is to be supposed that war is bound to have some sort of effect on all who partake in it – even cats and rats, it now seems.

 

July 20th 1916

DW Brown 2The length of the lists of those who have become casualties in the newspaper this morning is truly horrifying, and now we have heard that Capt. David Brown (Leics Regiment) has been reported as “wounded and missing” since July 14th.

His father understands that David went out with a sergeant to reconnoitre prior to an attack. The sergeant was subsequently found dead but there was no sign of David.

Further information is awaited.

* * * * * * *

One of the hardest hit regiments on July 1st was the Leeds Pals Battalion (West Yorks). Their commanding officer, Lieut. Col. Stuart Taylor, was not with them as he is recovering from wounds he received in an earlier encounter with the enemy in May.

He has written from the Queen Alexandra’s Hospital in London to the Yorkshire Evening Post:

Stuart Taylor 2“I mourn the loss of tried comrades and dear friends with whom I have been closely associated day and night, in sunshine and storm, for the past fourteen months. But with my sorrow is mingled an immense pride, a great gladness, as I hear from all sources of the magnificent bearing and heroic conduct of our dear lads, who have cheerfully given their lives for their King and country.

The tidings of their gallant conduct and courageous deeds causes me no surprise, as I well knew how splendidly they would stand the test when the supreme call was made upon them.

To those who are left behind to mourn their loss, may God grant consolation in the sure knowledge of their dear ones’ valiant deaths. For the wounded I pray earnestly for a speedy return to health and strength.

For myself, my only wish is that I had been able to be with the battalion in their great and glorious attack.”

On July 1st, 233 of his men lost their lives. In addition, 15 of his 24 officers were killed (and the rest were wounded).

July 4th 1916

Somme map

The Anglo-French Offensive

The Push has indeed started, but we have little news as yet.

The report (as it appeared in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph) was general in scope, but positive in tone. However, the German statement quoted on page 10 suggests that the Germans were well prepared for this and that we suffered “very heavy casualties.”

Today’s paper (page 9) does mention that the West Yorks Regiment were involved in an attack on Fricourt and that they “went across toppingly.” Whilst we know that its Commanding Officer, Lieut. Col. Stuart Taylor is not involved (he is recovering from wounds received earlier in May in Princess Alexandra’s Hospital for Officers in London), Capt. Jack Ruttledge is a West Yorks man and may well be in the thick of it.

Lieut. Robert Gibson, whose letter we received only a few days ago, may well now be in action, as the Bedfordshires are also mentioned as taking part in this offensive.

We most earnestly hope that our dear Old Boys all come though unscathed, but meanwhile their parents are condemned to live in continual fear of the post boy with a telegram for the duration of this great battle.

We must all be brave.

 

 

 

 

March 4th 1916

Lt. Col. Stuart Taylor (West Yorks) is currently with 93rd Brigade, 31st Division in Egypt. He is of course known to us all at the OPS as ‘Fluff’ and is the most loyal of Old Boys. He has contributed on numerous occasions to the pages of the Draconian on his time in the South African War, on horseback in Crete and in Northern Nigeria.

On leave in 1897, Fluff acted briefly as our swimming instructor and clearly his interest in matters aquatic continues unabated!

Stuart Taylor 2“We saved 1000 gallons of water in the last week out of our water allowance and yesterday, Sunday, we celebrated the close kinship of cleanliness to godliness by letting every man indulge in a bath! They made nice oval holes in the sand, spread their mackintosh sheets over the holes and pressed well down into them; and then poured in their hard-saved water – and then, the joy of it! It reminded me of days when I watched seals at the Zoo revelling in their plunges in and out of their various water ponds. Soap, sunshine, splash and singing, it made up a wonderful picture and how they all enjoyed it.

These men of mine are passionately fond of soap and water and the absence of these things worries them more than short rations or sleepless nights…”

Fluff has paid us two visits since this war started. On the first occasion, last April, he was – for reasons unexplained – escorting a Turkish prisoner along Charlbury Road and dropped in. Last term, before he went out to Egypt, he came and demanded of me two ‘extra halves’ and two ‘no preps’ – the biggest yet – and this of course was met with great enthusiasm by the boys, so that I could hardly refuse.