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DIED AUGUST 6, 1917 


A 2 


THE immeasurable tragedy of our time demands a treat- 
ment of our dear ones different from that which would have 
been right in past years, the years that seemed so change- 
less, when each generation looked proudly upon its band 
of brilliant youths a full and splendid company in spite 
of all the inroads of disease and accident. In this genera- 
tion the War has taken well-nigh all of our best, and future 
ages will know nothing of what they were and promised to 
be unless we give them the chance. It is a trust laid upon 
us alone no others can do the work to preserve a record 
of the young men of our day who, if we do not see to it, 
will be forgotten because they took the highest line and 
sacrificed everything they held dear, everything they 
hoped to achieve, nay, would have achieved. I know well 
that, while those who loved them are here, their memories 
will not only be secure but ripen with the passing years, 
losing something of the sadness but always gaining in 
glory as they stand out more and more distinctly against 
the background of history. But what of brothers and 
sisters too young to remember them ? What of the 
generations unborn ? 

There is comfort in the thought that a true picture, if we 
can only attain to it, will endure, and that death will then 
bring an undimmed remembrance rarely granted to life 

' He will not do the work on earth that we had hoped' were 
words spoken of Ronald a few weeks after his death by 
his dear friend William Temple in the Memorial Service 


at Oxford. But I trust that the story of what he was may, 
by its appeal, still accomplish or at least help to accom- 
plish some part of all that he hoped. ' He being dead yet 

The book has grown beyond the bounds I should have 
preferred to keep because I have felt constrained to 
represent Ronald as one with his family and one with his 
friends, above all those who have given their lives in the 
same great cause. Ronald would, I know his whole life 
proves it wish to be thought of with the glorious band 
which includes nearly all the intimate friends of his own 
age, and received Dick Dugdale, the dearest of all, only 
a few weeks before the armistice. 

It was originally intended to dedicate the volume to 
their memory I hope and believe that it will still be looked 
upon as a memorial of them to Dragon friends Martin 
Collier and Hugh Sidgwick ; Rugby friends C. Bushell, 
Dick Dugdale, H. F. Garrett, H. Podmore, comrades at 
the Rugby Boys' Club, Kenneth Powell who also preceded 
him as the chief athlete of the School, C. C. Watson who 
shared the football captaincy with him, ' Ruth ' Arbuthnot 
and Roby Gotch, companions on walking tours; Balliol 
friends Keith Rae and Stephen Reiss, co-workers in the 
Balliol Boys' Club ; Reading friends C. T. Waldy, Eric 
and Eustace Sutton who helped him in the Reading Boys' 
Club ; Athletic friends Tom Allen, J. G. Bussell, Kenneth 
Garnett, R. O. Lagden, F. N. Tarr, F. H. Turner, a few 
out of the great company mentioned in this book and in 
many another. 

The attempt to represent Ronald as one of a band of 
friends, the number of his letters and the extracts from his 
accounts of the years although but a small proportion of 
both these have compelled me to print in an appendix 
much that I had hoped to include in the sections into 
which the book is divided. Had I done so, the length of 


some of them would have too greatly delayed the onward 
movement of his life. The sequence in the appendix 
being the same as that of the sections, it is believed that 
there will be little difficulty in bringing the two together. 

Ronald's life will, I hope, gain in interest by an attempt, 
in the first section, to set forth his character and personality 
and to describe the conditions amid which he lived. 
Among these the influence of the family and the power of 
simple things are emphasized. Football and Boys' Clubs 
are dealt with in special sections, and an indication of the 
subjects and periods of the other sections will be found in 
the head-lines. 

Many who knew Ronald only as an athlete will, I think, 
be surprised at the variety and breadth of his interests. 
In showing their scope I am far from undervaluing the 
single one which absorbed almost the whole attention 
of the Press when writing of his death. His football 
career was, in the words of Major S. Harold Baker, 1 
' a mere fraction of his activity, and had he lived I am sure 
he would have been known for greater things than that ; 
even though the cleanness and sportsmanship and quick 
resolve shown upon the football field stand for much more 
than some people think '. 

C. W. Corbett Fisher, who at first knew Ronald only as 
a Rugby player but later on gained a wider knowledge of 
him, wrote nearly two years after his death that his loss as 
an athlete is ' nothing in comparison with that of his 
immense possibilities as a social force. Especially after 
this war, he might have brought us another century 

Another friend, Walter Dimbleby, saw in him the 
qualities ' we so urgently need in these difficult times of 
reconstruction. Apart from his noble character, his mind 

1 Gloucester Regt., killed March 23, 1918, after holding Redoubt 
thirty-six hours. 


was plastic and ever ready to learn and take in new 
thoughts and ideals. He had " vision ", a priceless gift in 
these days.' 

I trust that the story of Ronald's life may enable the 
reader to judge how far these opinions of his friends were 

The letters and extracts from Ronald's accounts of the 
years remain almost precisely as he wrote them, but a few 
obvious slips, due to hurried writing, have been corrected. 
It was not thought necessary or desirable to indicate these 
slight changes. 

The boundless sympathy and help I have received in 
writing this volume are gratefully acknowledged in its 
pages, but I must here also make special mention of all the 
time and pains freely given by Mr. C. P. Evers, Mr. P. 
Guedalla, my son Dr. E. P. Poulton, Mr. Frank Sidgwick, 
my son-in-law Dr. C. P. Symonds, and the Rev. William 
Temple, and by Mr. A. C. M. Croome in his valuable con- 
tribution to the two football sections. 

E. B. P. 

OXFORD : Sept. 29, 1919. 






II. CHILDHOOD: 1889-1897 32 


IV. RUGBY: 1903-1908 65 


1908 ........ 109 

VI. BALLIOL: 1908-1911 .... . 115 



A. C. M.CROOME 164 



X. READING: 1912-1913 244 

XI. THE READING BOYS' CLUB : 1912-1913 . . 267 

XII. MANCHESTER: 1913-1914 280 




INDEX . .401 


Ronald as Lieutenant in the Royal Berkshires. Photogravure by 

Emery Walker from a photograph by Army and Navy Auxiliary 

Co-operative Supply, Limited. Frontispiece 

The last game before the War, April 16, 1914. From a photograph by 

A. W. Wade of St. Helens, I. W. Title page 

Rather under four years old. From photographs by Hills & Saunders 

of Oxford, June 3, 1893. Facing p. 38 

Wall, built by Ronald and his father at St. Helens Cottage, Aug. 27, 

1900. From a photograph by A. W. Wade of St. Helens, I. W. 

Facing p. 58 
Rugby, in the Summer of 1907. From a photograph by Geo. A. Dean 

of Rugby. Facing p. 92 

Ronald and Bino Rae. An upset in the Thames backwaters. From 

a photograph by Edward Rae in the Summer Term of 1911. 

Facing p. 115 
By the Thames backwaters. From photographs by Edward Rae in 

the Summer Term of 1911. Facing p. 133 

Hilda as Hermione. From a photograph by Hills & Saunders of 

Oxford. Facing p. 134 

On the beach and judging in a tug-of-war at New Romney. From 

photographs by A. L. N. Russell, 1909, and the Rev. C. S. Donald, 

probably 1910. Facing p. 154 

The English and Irish Captains, Ronald and Dick Lloyd, in the season 

before the War. From a photograph by the late D. Cunningham, 

at West Derby, near Liverpool, March 1914. Facing p. 218 

' Grande ecole de Football : Poulton Directeur.' p. 225 

The last game before the War, at St. Helens, April 16, 1914. From 

a photograph by A. W. Wade of St. Helens, I. W. Facingp. 227 
The Anglo-French Match, April 13, 1914. Ronald swerving away 

from Andre. Facing p. 230 

With Janet at Miirren. Skiers picnicking in the snow. From 

a photograph by N. Whatley, Jan. 1912. Facing p. 244 

The Reading Boys' Club Camp at New Romney : June 1913. 

, Facing p. 267 

Menu of the New Romney Camp : June 1913. Facing p. 275 

The Reading Boys' Club Camp : June 1913 and July 1914. From 

photographs by W. Dimbleby. Facing p. 309 

The Grave in Ploegsteert Wood, Belgium. From a photograph by 

Lt. G. M. Gathorne-Hardy, in May 1915. Facing p. 368 

A triple embrace. Dick Dugdale, Claude Evers, and Ronald at New 

Romney. From a photograph by the Rev. C. S. Donald, probably 



He was always the same whenever I met him, absolutely natural, 
affectionate, and true. Lt.-Col. C. BUSHELL, V.C., D.S.O. (at Rugby 
and Oxford with Ronald), killed Aug. 8, 1918. 

BEFORE giving the history of Ronald's short but crowded 
life it is, I think, right first to try to show what he was, 
and also to say something about the conditions in which 
he grew up. I believe that each stage in his life will be 
better understood if read in the light of this first section. 

To understand Ronald's influence and the secret of all 
the strength and joy brought freely, and as it seemed 
unconsciously, to others of all ages, with all kinds of 
pursuits and interests, and especially to the young, to 
understand this is to explain the magic of personality. 
When all is said we come back to the central fact that he 
was himself, and under all changes of circumstance always 
true to himself, always the same. 

If we attempt to define the indefinable we may say that 
personality is the power of influencing others which the 
outer man contributes to the inner, a power which depends 
on the completeness with which the outer expresses the 
inner. What onomatopoeia is to verse, so, only far more, 
is personality to the man. 

It has been said with much truth that oratorical success 
resides in the audience ; and so with a great personality, 
all that memory has stored of experience and reputation, 
of joys given or victories gained, are woven into the im- 
pression received, are all summed up and, as it were, 
echoed and re-echoed while new joys are felt and victories 
renewed. So Ronald's friends have said that they smiled 
when they saw him. And as men go through the world 



and compare one experience with another they come to 
feel instinctively drawn towards a few rare beings who 
seem to express outwardly all that they most admire, so 
that without knowing, or knowing but little, they feel that 
they know intimately, and seem to be in the presence of 
a dearly loved friend. 

The mother of a Balliol friend has written of Ronald : 

' One evening in 1912 he came to dine with us. He sat 
next me at dinner, and I at once fell under the spell of his 
charming and lovable personality, and, although we only 
met on that one occasion, I had heard so much about him, 
that I have always thought of him as an intimate friend. 
He was so natural, and so transparently sincere, so 
courteous and gracious, that it was impossible not to be 
drawn to him, and I felt proud and thankful that my boy 
possessed such a friendship.' 

It was the same with many who had never met him at 
all, as in the following words written in kindly sympathy 
by a stranger : 

' My wife shed many tears when she heard of his death, 
and she had never met him, but we both realized what an 
irreparable loss the community had sustained. It is prob- 
ably difficult for you to realize how widespread was his 
reputation as being in all respects a pattern of what we 
would all wish our own children and brothers to be/ 

Many memories remain, and some of them will appear 
in later pages, of Ronald's personality as a leader in games 
and the way it impressed the players on his side. It was 
the same with onlookers, even those who had never spoken 
to him, who came to see him rather than the game itself. 

Out of many letters conveying this impression I select 
one written May 10, 1915, to my son-in-law, Capt. Ainley 
Walker, by Capt. Walter H. Moberly, D.S.O., Fellow ot 
Lincoln College, Oxford : 

' What one admired in him so much was always some- 
thing more than mere physical or athletic excellence, 
however great. It was that, in some way, his personality 


showed through, even to the spectator in the ring. And 
so for years he has been a sort of hero in our family, 
though we none of us knew him well in the ordinary way. 
We have followed all his successes very eagerly. We 
have taken a keen interest in Rugby football; but far 
more because it was the scene of his triumphs than for its 
own sake. 

' But though in a sense my knowledge of this side of him 
was second-hand, I can't help feeling as if I really knew 
him ; as if there was something in his personality which 
declared itself even to those who only looked on and 
admired from a distance. A man who was at Balliol with 
him said to me on Saturday, " There was something so 
radiant about his personality." And, looking back, I think 
that must be why I feel as if I had the sort of knowledge 
of what he was that a friend might have had, though 
I cannot claim anything but the most casual acquaintance.' 

One chief secret of Ronald's influence lay in the combina- 
tion of qualities that are in most people irreconcilable. The 
brightness and charm of the swift shallow stream cannot 
be united to all the depth and power of the mighty river, 
yet it was just such a union that his friends found in 
Ronald. He was a born leader without the faintest trace 
of arrogance or of an over-bearing manner, an extra- 
ordinary individualist who was the most unselfish of 
players. With him everything was for his team and 
nothing for himself, but he inspired others with the feeling 
that everything was for their captain and nothing for 

A Rugby friend, LI. A. Hugh-Jones, who can remember 
no positive incidents associated with Ronald, writes from 

1 More than once in talking of the war we have agreed 
that of all the losses among our friends he will be the one 
that we shall feel the most. Even though for years I have 
seen him hardly at all, I know that this is true.' 

Of Ronald's physical qualities it is sufficient to say that 
he was sft. n in. without boots, the legs and especially the 
thighs being long in proportion to his height, that he and 

B 2 


his youngest sister inherited their father's left-handedness 
and left-footedness. 

The following impressions of our dear eldest daughter 
Hilda (Mrs. Ainley Walker) were written, as well as others 
on later pages, in the spring of 1917, a few months before 
she went to him, leaving with us, as he did, the ever- 
growing comfort of happy memories : 

' How can I best give my picture of our beautiful fair- 
haired brother? His form and expression were the true 
index of his lovely spirit and he seemed to radiate bright- 
ness to all who were with him. I think that beyond his 
tall perfect figure and beautiful face the two things that 
struck me principally were his blue laughing eyes and the 
vivid yellow of his hair. 

'Of his nature, I think the most wonderful part of all 
was his absolute simplicity. Although I suppose he was 
one of the most popular men of his day he remained 
perfectly humble and unselfconscious and was never so 
happy as when at home ragging with his brother and 
sisters. It was in his nature to be simple and sweet, but 
I think that Margaret's influence on him helped to develop 
his stronger side, so that he soon overcame what was 
almost too great timidity and nervousness as a child/ 

These natural tendencies, which we all remember, were 
in the end so completely suppressed that few can have 
known of their existence. His intimate friend Dick Dugdale 1 
thought, however, that they explained the least successful 
element of Ronald's football in the early years, but in this 
he schooled himself with complete success and became an 
expert in the part of the game that more than any other 
demands resolution and courage. 

It was said of Ronald at the time of his death that ' he 
was the bravest of the brave ', and the tribute is all the 
truer because his courage was of the highest kind, being 
purely moral and intellectual and not in the least instinc- 

It will be seen that in his early years Ronald was highly 

1 The Rev. R. W. Dugdale, C.F., M.C., killed October 23, 1918, near 
Le Cateau. 


emotional, being very easily moved to laughter or tears. 
I well remember how inconsolable he was he was nearly 
nine at the time when his brother Edward caught a Small 
Tortoise-shell butterfly that he too was anxious to catch. 
' It was such a nice specimen ', he kept saying as he lay on 
the ground crying. 

The central feature in Ronald's character was what the 
Rev. William Temple has well called an 'understanding 
sympathy'. 1 One thing, one only, could extinguish his 
sympathy, and that was the want of sympathy, shown in 
disregard of the feelings of others. 

Alfred Ollivant remembers his saying ' You can't work 
alongside a man all day without getting to love him'. 
That, at any rate, was the gist of what he said. It was 
a beautiful and characteristic remark, so simple and yet 
meaning so much the end of all class jealousy and 
suspicion, the regeneration of society. 

His warm sympathy and the delicacy with which he 
showed it appear in the words of one much older than 
himself who had suffered : 

' I knew him, although not very intimately, but he wrote 
to me and asked, " May I come and stay with you for a day 
or two?" and he came. It was a sweet and gentle way 
of showing silent sympathy which no one else would have 
thought of. I shall always treasure the memory of it.' 

Of Ronald's power of friendship it is not necessary to 
say much here, as this book is full of it and of attempts to 
show what it meant to many lives. Some of his most 
intimate friends, like the Rev. William Temple, Capt. 
C. P. Evers, and the Rev. W. J. Carey, were much older 
than he, but it made no difference. As Capt. Evers says, 
' I don't suppose that he reflected on our peculiar intimacy 
and the way that it created a complete equality in spite of 
our ages any more than I did.' 

Ronald's pleasure in meeting an old friend is well 

1 In the sermon at the Memorial Service, St. Giles', Oxford, May 29, 
1915, p. 12. Macmillan & Co., London. 


described by Capt. W. T. Collier : ' The picture of him 
that will always remain clearest in my memory is his 

greeting of an old friend "Why, it's dear old ", 

generally followed by a hug or an embrace.' 

Beautiful and pathetic memories of Ronald as a friend 
were written by Lt.-Col. Hubert Podmore, D.S.O., of the 
Northamptons, on Nov. 24, 1917, only a few weeks before 
he was killed, on Dec. 31, by an explosion of ammunition. 
His words show the modesty and unconsciousness of his 
own greatness spoken of in the notice of his death in The 
Times of Jan. 10, 1918. A few words in a letter to Janet 
lead us to believe that he was more to Ronald than he 
knew. Col. Podmore wrote : 

'I was not one of Ronald's intimate friends. I loved 
and admired him as every one did, but in my absurd self- 
consciousness was always fearing to claim a share in the 
real friendship of a boy and man who numbered among 
his friends so many better men than I. I did not under- 
stand then, as I think I do now, the wonderful large- 
heartedness of him, who had room for all and, as William 
Temple said in his memorial address, seemed to have 
something special for each. That was Ronald's secret, as 
I suppose it is with all great masters of friendship : though 
I wonder if there was ever such a master as he. I remem- 
ber how often on walking tours in the Lakes a party of 
five or six perhaps he would quite unobtrusively and 
with no sense of giving a favour, separate himself from his 
particular friends and walk a stage with me : it was the 
same at Romney with the Mission Camp, the same at 
school and up here at Oxford: he was always ready to 
give, and I seemed to have nothing to give in exchange. 
But he always had that unique power of making one think 
better of oneself as well as him after even five minutes 
spent in his company. And there are few men indeed of 
whom one can truthfully say that.' 

Examples will be found in later pages of Ronald's power 
of bringing friendliness and peace into a heated atmosphere. 
And it was the same with his family ; his presence always 
acted like magic when there was any friction or irritation 
or depression. 


A dominant interest in serious things is apt to make 
a man rather overpowering to those with the same tastes, 
rather dull to those without them. Ronald had far too 
strong a sense of humour to be either the one or the other. 
Hilda remembered how he laughed when speaking of the 
Cavendish Club. Although it represented his own dearest 
hopes and ambitions, still he could not help seeing the 
humour of the unfathomable seriousness of it all little 
knots of men in all the corners each planning some new 
social scheme ! Thus he would laugh at himself as he did 
in his boyhood on an occasion well remembered by two 
members of the family. 

One who is to be a leader of men must, however gentle 
and sympathetic, have in reserve the power of unmistakable 
command. I was first surprised by a glimpse of the 
hidden fire in the autumn of icpi, 1 when Ronald was 
not quite twelve. We had walked over from St. Helens 
to Seaview to hear the Clifford Essex Pierrots and had 
taken our seats on some tree-trunks in an open space at 
the back of the Assembly Room. Two or three village boys 
were making themselves rather a nuisance in the dim light, 
tumbling over the trunks and now and then against Ronald. 
He bore it patiently for a time and then suddenly turned 
upon them fiercely and drove them off. There was some- 
thing in his tone and the flash of his eye which could not 
be mistaken, and they troubled us no more. It was a 
revelation of something new in him which arrested not only 
my attention but Hilda's as well, and we both found when 
we spoke of it fifteen years later, that it was perfectly dis- 
tinct in our memories. But there was a characteristic 
sequel. Ronald had no sooner driven them off than he 
burst into a roar of laughter. The abrupt transition from 
anger to laughter is very clear in my memory. It was 
certainly at himself that he was laughing. The fact that 
he should have spoken like that was too much for his keen 
sense of humour. 

1 Mr. Clifford Essex has courteously assisted me in recovering this 
date with precision. 


It is interesting to learn from this little incident that the 
characteristics of which his friend William Temple speaks 
were quite evident in early boyhood : 

' In everything that Ronald did or said there was a 
wonderful buoyancy and freedom from self-consciousness. 
Hardly anything was ever done without some mark of his 
own intense humour. Now I am in the habit of saying 
that nearly all boys who subsequently make any real mark 
are priggish at about the time of leaving school and for 
a good part of their University career, and Ronnie is the 
only one who seems to me a quite definite exception, for 
he was certainly going to make a very big mark, and he was 
certainly free from pnggishness at every moment.' 

He would make fun of members of the family, including 
his parents, always getting laughter out of any little per- 
sonal peculiarity, but getting it so that the one concerned 
joined in and was pleased to have been so keenly and yet 
so lovingly watched. 

He much enjoyed the humour of the words, ' The more 
I see of some people, the better I like my dog ', and he 
had them printed on a card in one of his rooms at Reading. 
But no one could have been less of a cynic than Ronald. 
Capt. C. P. Evers writes : 

1 1 can't remember ever hearing him say an unkind word 
about any one, and when he did criticize it was always 
done in the kindest and gentlest way. And he was equally 
appreciative of things as well as people. He had a wonder- 
ful capacity for enjoyment and for extracting innocent 
pleasure out of very simple things. He was never bored 
and he never grumbled since it never occurred to him to 

think of his own personal comfort or convenience.' 


Few young men can have crowded more work into the 
day and night than Ronald, but all the more because of it 
he loved to rush down to Oxford for a Commemoration 
ball, or a lawn-tennis tournament, or to take his boy and 
girl friends for a picnic on the Cherwell. 

Although Ronald always looked well he never wasted 
any time or interest on clothes, and one of the records he 


made was in speed of dressing. Once when I was playing 
golf with him and Edward at St. Helens I suddenly dis- 
covered that one stocking was inside the leg of my knicker- 
bockers while the other was outside. When Ronald had 
finished laughing he said, ' Oh, father, I hope I shall be like 
you when I'm older ! ' Such a hopeless height of uncon- 
ventionality of course transcends the ambition of the early 

Naturally associated with his simplicity was a dislike for 
display, as shown in the tone of his letter to his mother 
describing the reception of royalty at Rugby. 

He disliked anything which seemed to him in the least 
unnatural and affected. Thus he greatly preferred ' Boys' 
Club ' to ' Lads' Club ', and it was the same instinct which 
led him to decline the double name which the newspapers 
so constantly gave to him. The recognition of these 
qualities impelled one of his many clerical friends to write : 
' It occurs to me that you are one of the people marked out 
by Providence to preserve me from " clericalism ". If you 
ever detect its emergence, kindly lay me across your knee 
and take steps for its exorcism ! ' 

In money matters Ronald was always extremely careful 
and businesslike. He lived simply and inexpensively, and, 
when buying things for himself, always liked to get his 
money's worth and strongly objected to being done in 
a bargain. 

His aim was, as he told his friend 'Caesar' Carey, to spend 
as little as possible so as to accumulate funds for important 
objects. There can be no doubt that the first of these 
would have been the establishment of a large Boys' Club 
in Reading, and he had already noted down some of its 
main features. These fixed intentions, as well as the help 
he was able to give to the same cause during his brief 
possession of a considerable income, and the arrangements 
he made for his brother, were the expression of a large- 
minded generosity that was characteristic of him. 

He was sensitive at receiving gifts and was at first rather 


anxious on this account when it was proposed that he 
should enter the Reading business, but his uncle quickly 
recognized and admired his independent spirit and all 
misgivings soon disappeared. 

We all remember with his youngest sister Janet 
(Mrs. C. P. Symonds) that Ronald 

' was devoted to duet-playing, and when he came home 
only for a few hours and even in the last khaki days we 
sat down to the piano, he the bass and one of us the treble, 
and played the same old pieces over and over again 
Haydn's Symphonies and many others that have been in 
the house from time immemorial.' 

It was the same with Ronald and Dick Dugdale when- 
ever they met at Oxford or St. Helens, and, when he was 
at Balliol, the longing for music used often to seize him 
and he would rush home to play on the schoolroom piano. 

Although, as all his friends must have observed, Ronald 
was essentially a town dweller, who loved to live amongst 
men and would have felt stranded in a country-house as 
a permanent residence, no one enjoyed a walking- or 
cycling-tour more than he. His great love of scenery of 
all kinds could not often be indulged because of his busy 
life and the constant attractions of the seaside home at 
St. Helens. The beauty of the English lakes seemed to 
be a revelation to him when he first visited Grasmere in 
1907, and wrote to Hilda, ' I don't think I ever imagined 
there could be such a lovely place '. And those who were 
with him know that the love of the snow mountains entered 
into his keen enjoyment of Alpine winter sports. Then, 
speaking of a landscape of the most opposite type, he wrote 
to his friend Keith Rae of how he had grown to love the 
beauty and wonder of the Romney Marsh. His delight at 
the view over the Weald from the Ridge at Woldingham 
' Surely this must be the finest view in the south of 
England', he said is among the memories of the day on 
which we said our last good-bye. 


He had only one brief chance of studying Italian art, but 
it gripped him instantly, as his mother clearly saw on their 
journey together in the spring of 1913. 

As regards his intellectual powers, Edward remembers 
that at Rugby 

' Ronald was highly industrious, and this would have 
accomplished much, but he was never extremely clever at 
his lessons. I can well remember his difficulty at chemical 
equations, when I used to talk over such matters with him 
after he had started chemistry, and when I was working 
for the Final School, or had just finished it. At Oxford he 
was very interested in his work for the Engineering School, 
and I remember his insisting, during the Manchester 
period, on the great value of theory in the practical side of 
the science. He was quite alive to the weakness of those 
who only knew and cared about the practice, and who 
further argued that theory was of no value.' 

These memories suggest the marked intellectual develop- 
ment spoken of by his friends, G. C. Vassall and C. P. 
Evers. I have sometimes been surprised at his failure to 
grasp an explanation, and William Temple has evidently 
had the same experience in discussing theological questions 
with him. I believe that the reason for this is to be found 
in the immense keenness and variety of his interests. His 
life was such a glorious rush that he only had time to 
snatch at many things by the way, and so sometimes he got 
hold of them by the wrong end. But in no other way 
could he have impressed his friends as he did and in so 
short a life left behind him such a legacy of joy. 

He loved work of all kinds and threw himself into it 
with the utmost energy and persistence. He could keep 
it up at high pressure for long hours without injury to his 
health, but once at Reading in 1913 he went too far and 
had to knock off for some weeks. His fondness for work 
was characteristic throughout his life. ' I shall be glad to 
get back on Saturday to work again, as doing nothing is 
fearfully boring', he wrote to his brother when isolated 
with rose-rash at Rugby. And it was not doing nothing 
but building operations of various kinds and the most 


strenuous of sports and games that formed his recreation. 
' We did have a lovely time in Switzerland ', he wrote to us 
after his first winter sports at Morgins, in the winter of 
1908-9. ' For a sheer holiday it is the most magnificent 
I can imagine. You simply can't do any work I don't 
believe Father could and I am sure it has done us a 
tremendous lot of good/ 

Although Ronald loved games and played with all his 
might, he got most of the pleasure from the companion- 
ship. The majority of the papers in writing of him gave 
a very wrong impression by suppressing every side of 
his life except one. On this subject Capt. N. Whatley 
writes : 

' I met him first at dinner when he was Captain of the 
O.U.R.U.F.C. and what struck me most was his dislike 
of talking ordinary athletic shop. He never let football 
become anything more important than a glorious game. 
I was so sorry that the papers in writing of him after his 
death mentioned hardly anything but his football, which 
was such a very small part of his life/ 

It is unnecessary to say more at this point. The little 
that he made of his own athletic triumphs will be obvious 
in many future pages, as well as his enthusiasm over the 
successes of his brother and sisters. 

In politics Ronald was no party man. He would have 
supported the side which tried to do most for the social 
causes that were so dear to him. ' By their fruits ye shall 
know them' would always have been his rigid test. He 
agreed on the whole with the Liberal policy in social 
problems and hoped still more for what it might achieve in 
the future ; therefore, so far as he thought about politics, 
he generally considered himself to be a Liberal. Mr. James 
Grant remembers his interest, when he was in Manchester, 
in a Reading bye-election, when Capt. L. O. Wilson, D.S.O., 
captured the seat from the Liberals. Mr. Grant recalls 
that Ronald 'was quite surprised when I expressed pleasure 
at the result, saying, "I thought you were one of us". 
Several times afterwards we chatted on politics, but 


always with the greatest goodwill, and quite willing to 

Then, not a year later, in the crisis of his country's fate, 
another aspect of politics was revealed to him when he 
found that his Conservative friends to a man were eager to 
volunteer, but that there were to him surprising and dis- 
turbing exceptions among the Liberals. 

His friend Dick Dugdale remembered that Ronald 
talked with him about Parliament, and ' together we came 
to the conclusion that he could probably do more in 
Reading home politics than in the House'. 

Capt. C. P. Evers writes : 

'I have heard him argue both for and against Liberal 
policy, at different times. In a general way, he was entirely 
in sympathy with social legislation for the working classes, 
but here again he was still just feeling his way. He felt 
very strongly that men who had worked long and faithfully 
at their job were not receiving, and were not likely to 
receive, adequate payment. He felt that the good work- 
man deserved greater recognition and more ample chances 
of improving his position. 

' His opinions were not the result of his own individual 
experience, which was of course very limited and only just 
beginning. It was rather the general situation which 
impressed him. I don't think he had yet arrived at any 
particular conclusions : he saw the evils on one side and 
the difficulties on the other. 

' The boy problem interested him keenly. He felt that 
most good could be done on the moral side by getting hold 
of fellows when they were young. He was convinced 
that the greatest results could be achieved by personal 
influence and contact, and he succeeded, I am sure, for all 
the boys whom he came across loved him. He was not 
afraid to talk to boys i.e. factory boys and the like on 
serious subjects. At the School Mission Camp he was 
ready in fact eager to sacrifice much that was pleasant 
in order to sleep m a tent with the boys. He felt, rightly, 
that it was the way to get to know them and influence 
them. And he realized that ultimately the appeal to such 
boys must be based on Religion put to them in a way that 
they could really understand and appreciate. 

'We used to talk about the evils of blind-alley occupa- 


tions, and I remember how pleased he was when I told him 
that some money had been left to the Netting Hill clubs 
which would enable us to apprentice some of our boys to 
useful trades, instead of allowing them to become van boys 
or paper sellers.' 

William Temple's memories of Ronald's views on social 
questions will be found in the Reading period ; and a large 
part of this volume is made up by an account, much of it in 
Ronald's own words, of his doings in Boys' Clubs the 
central interest of his life. 

Ronald rarely spoke about religion to members of the 
family. His spirit was the very reverse of the revivalist 
type, of the man who will drag in religion on every occasion. 
And in his religion as in everything else there was the mark 
of his ever-present humour, as when he wrote to Janet of 
his first talk on serious subjects at the Balliol Boys' Club 
and how the boys ' were fairly quiet that is to say they 
only whistled, and talked, and threw chairs about '. And 
before another address to Club boys his friend Dick 
Dugdale remembered his humorous expression of despair 
as he said, ' I don't know what on earth to say to them '. 
But with his friends, the Rev. W. J. Carey and especially 
the Rev. W. Temple, he often discussed his difficulties and 
talked with the utmost freedom and naturalness, as may be 
inferred from his theological conversation in the bath after 
the English-Irish match in 1914. 

' In religious doubts', wrote R. W. Dugdale, ' he generally 
went to Billy Temple as 1 used myself. But his doubts 
were theoretical : his religion practical. His difficulties 
were intellectual and he never reconciled the two sides, 
although he longed to do so. But the intellectual diffi- 
culties never undermined his religious beliefs.' 

William Temple has written the following impression of 
Ronald's personality and religion, of which he can speak 
more surely than any other friend : 

' Ronnie had or rather was a genius for evoking 
affection. This does not seem in memory to be one 


quality of his composition, but to be its very essence. 
Plato might have argued that, as many things and persons 
are called lovable, there must be some " Absolute lov- 
able" which these things and persons imitate or resemble; 
if he had argued so, and had then met Ronnie he would 
have had to say that the Absolute Lovable had literally 
appeared before him. Everything else seemed subordinate 
to this ; his skill in games, his self-sacrifice for the boys in 
the clubs he helped to manage, his hopes of reform in the 
industrial world based on the growth of understanding and 
sympathy between employers and employed, all seem part 
of that extraordinary lovableness its modes of manifesta- 
tion and action. He was entirely of the Greek, as against 
the Hebrew, type of excellence. 1 I never detected in him 
any sense of an effort to be virtuous. He was magnetic to 
everything good, drawing it to him and into him ; every- 
thing mean or evil was repulsive to him, and he rejected 
it not so much with moral reprobation as with a kind of 
disgust. People were at their best in his company even 
coarse people just because low speech or action in his 
company would have been like a drunken shout in the 
middle of a symphony, and there is something stronger 
than conscience which prevents people from being con- 
sciously blatant beyond a certain point. 

' I put these general remarks first, because I know that 
some others and expect very many others had in their 
relations with Ronnie an experience unique in their lives. 
For myself I know that it is so ; one can never say, perhaps, 
that one loves one friend more than any other, for love is 
essentially individual and one loves each for what he is ; 
but in this friendship there was something more arrestingly 
unique than in others. One of its chief peculiarities makes 
any adequate description totally impossible. There was 
throughout a completeness of understanding which made 
it unnecessary that we should explain our minds to each 
other. I felt that I knew what he would think and how he 
would act on any given occasion. The result was that 
while we had many serious interests in common, we hardly 

1 Mr. Temple tells me that he was here referring to ' the contrast 
on which Matthew Arnold insisted so much, especially, I think, in 
"Culture and Anarchy ". The Greek type is (normally) easy, graceful, 
attractive : the Hebrew type is more earnest and struggling, evoking 
respect more than affection. It is not far from the difference between 
the Once-Born and the Twice-Born which James made familiar.' 


ever spoke about them ; when they were in our minds we 
said nothing but there was intercourse all the while. 
The only real exception to this is to be found in religious 
doctrine and the effort to relate religious experience to the 
rest of our experience and to the scientific view of the 
world ; but here Ronnie did nothing but ask questions, 
leaving me to do the talking, until suddenly he put in a 
remark which showed that however puzzling he found the 
intellectual problems, his own religious experience was 
fuller than my own. He would ask about prayer and how 
it could be expected to make any difference except to 
one's self, and when I had done my best to explain, I found 
that he was actually using prayer intercessory prayer 
more constantly than I was. Or he would ask about the 
Incarnation ; and was the whole of God in Christ or only 
some elements of the Godhead ? What was the relation 
of the Incarnation to the Presence of Christ in the Com- 
munion ? and the like ; and suddenly I found that in 
practice he relied more intimately upon Christ as a Divine 
Friend than I had ever learnt to do. 

'As far as I can judge from my own conversations with 
him his mind was never interested in religious questions 
until he got to Oxford. In this respect he and I were 
direct opposites of one another. While I was still at 
school I was corresponding with my father about the 
eternity of matter, free-will, whether the Perfect Man 
would be in himself and apart from any Incarnation- 
Divine ; no doubt there was some germinal experience 
behind all this, but my data have always been in the first 
instance the experience of other people, and my own appre- 
hension has usually been intellectual first and spiritual 
afterwards. With Ronnie this was inverted. He had a 
very full personal experience before his mind was exercised 
upon religious questions at all. As he had meanwhile 
been acquiring a view of the world based on or chiefly 
influenced by his scientific studies, the difficulty of ad- 
justment was very great. As a matter of fact, he held 
a view of things never consciously constructed but 
gradually formed as his mind worked over a larger and 
larger sphere which left no room for prayer or any real 
Incarnation or his own spiritual experience. This last was 
never a material for his thought until the other was fairly 
set; as a result his religious doctrine, when he came to 
form one, was a curious tangle, and at the time of his death 
he had not got far in straightening it out. This, however, 


was always a relatively superficial matter ; he was far too 
clear-eyed to deny the certainties of his own experience, 
and the fitting of them into an intellectual scheme was for 
him not much more than an engrossing jig-saw puzzle. 

' When we met in Manchester in July, 1914, he was 
much upset because in my sermon I had said hardly 
doing more than paraphrase St. John that a man who 
loves any one, in so far dwells in God and God in him. 
Ronnie pointed out that many agnostics and utterly irre- 
ligious people were capable of love (which was of course 
the whole point of my remark). I remember thinking how 
odd it was that one who in practice knew so much of faith 
and love should find difficulty here; but at the time he 
professed to find it the removal of a great perplexity when 
I told him that many people thus dwell in God without 
knowing it. I think the tangle of his theology was just 
beginning to worry him, and he was in the phase of 
wondering if one could " believe " if one had no rational 
justification for one's belief.' 

His elder sister Margaret (Mrs. Maxwell Garnett) re- 
members that Ronald, in one of their rare talks on religious 
subjects it was during his residence in Manchester 
expressed opinions which at the time surprised and a little 
distressed her. He said he could quite understand a man 
being willing to give up his life for some great good to the 
world, and that therefore the death of Jesus Christ did not 
appeal to him as the transcendent sacrifice it appeared to 
many people. His sister remembers his saying that he 
felt, if the world would be made better by it, he himself 
would be willing to die. It is probable that Ronald in this 
conversation was recalling what he had learnt from William 
Temple, who has written : 

' I am afraid I can't find in my recollection any talks with 
Ronnie on precisely the question of " Death and Re- 
demption ". But I am bound to have expressed to him my 
own conviction that if our Lord's death is taken merely as 
a historical episode, it cannot be regarded as so far tran- 
scending other sacrifices by other heroes as to take the 
place given to it in the Christian scheme. It is only when 
taken as a climax of a life always utterly devoted, and 
again only when this whole Life and Death are taken as 


the revelation once for all of the eternal nature and activity 
of God, that the Atonement begins to be intelligible or 
credible. This is why St. John who regards every 
incident in our Lord's life as a flash of the eternal light (as 
his Prologue makes plain) is to me the chief guide in 
theology. No doubt I said all this at some time, probably 
at many times, to Ronnie ; and probably it chimed in with 
his own thoughts and he raised no objection, so that we 
had no real discussion of the matter.' 

The impressions of a dear Balliol friend of about the 
same age as Ronald are placed next to those of the older 
friend to whom he talked so freely of his difficulties and to 
whom he owed so much. At the time of Ronald's death 
Stephen Reiss was ill with scarlet fever and being nursed 
by his mother, and they talked and thought about him 
together. Later in the year when Keith Rae had been 
killed before he could record his memories of his friend, I 
wrote to Stephen Reiss and asked for his help. His reply 
was written in pencil from the Front on Sept. 19, 1915, less 
than a month before he too gave his life for the liberty of 
the world : 

' I wish that I could give a more adequate reply to your 
request. I had such a tremendous respect and love for 
Ronald and yet I find so little that I can write which will 
in any way express my feelings for him or will not outrage 
my very vivid memories of him. 

' As I sat down this morning and wondered what I could 
tell you, my mind seemed naturally to turn to St. Paul's 
summary of the gifts of the Spirit in Galatians v. 

' He was just the personification of joy that delicious 
joy that makes all who come near it happy. I remember 
seeing Billy Collier just when Ronald had knocked himself 
up at Reading and before he was sent away to Italy. He 
was to have come with us on the river but had been 
advised to stay in bed. Billy told me that he was in 
excellent spints but looking rather seedy. I remember 
saying then " It will be tragic the day when Ronald is not 
in good spirits." His was the joy that made people smile 
when they met him. 

' Then I remember soon after he came to Balliol he was 
sitting in Keith Rae's rooms and Keith asked him why he 


was taking his Preliminary Science Exam, before . 

He laughed and said, " Because I am cleverer than 

It was charmingly modest. He knew he was the cleverer 
and he knew there was nothing to boast about in that. 
He just stated the fact. 

' He had the same modesty regarding his athletic 
qualities. He told me of some small Marlborough boy 
who had written for his autograph. He answered by telling 
him not to be " a little idiot " but to spend his time better 
than by worshipping athletics. 

' It all sprang, as you know, from a wonderful reverence 
that made him keenly sensitive to all that was beautiful or 
lovable in others. He had such an extraordinary apprecia- 
tion for their good qualities. As Walter Carey said, he 
had that supreme modesty that made him think every one 
better than himself. I remember especially, when staying 
with him at Reading, how eloquent he was about an old 
man who used to work next to him in the factory and talk 
to him about social questions and industrial history, and 
how he used to make him feel " an awful worm ", and he 
would spend his spare time very little in Reading, I think 
reading Marshall's Economics so as to understand things 
better and discuss them more easily with the old man at 
the factory. 

' Then I never understood the meaning of "temperance " 
before I met Ronald. I had always hated the wora and had 
associated it with a nasal twang and dullness. But Ronald 
could enjoy everything in a way I had never known before 
and yet he never got over-excited or " overdid it ". And 
when he was enjoying himself most he was always obser- 
vant of the enjoyment of others. 

' He was always the same. He was no Naaman waiting 
for great occasions. I remember his ready assent when 
I told him one day that I thought the Balliol Club boys 
gained their chief religious inspiration from playing games. 
And the idea had to a great extent come to me from know- 
ing him. It was when playing games that his joy, his self- 
restraint, and his impulsive fondness for others found their 
most splendid expression. 

4 His religion was just an outpouring of the spirit. It 
coloured all that he did. It made me see that true religion 
expressed itself in conduct, and I understood Christ's words, 
" If ye love me keep my commandments ". 

1 About his religion he was extraordinarily sincere. Pie 
would never join a bible circle because he was afraid 

c 2 


that others might think he was more earnest than he 
imagined himself to be. He hated giving publicity to his 
views, not because he was ashamed of them but because 
he was so intensely modest that he took an almost cynical 
view of his own ideas and was so sincere that he was terri- 
fied of cant and dreaded expressing views that he did not 
put into practice. He realized so well that belief is not 
purely intellectual. 

' But at the same time, as you know, he held a very 
strong and simple faith and was always pleased to discuss 
religious matters quite in private and with his friends.' 

From his youngest sister, Janet : 

1 Only three times did he speak to me of religious matters. 
First at the time of my Confirmation in 1908 ; during a walk 
home from the flint implements in Priory Bay he told me 
of his difficulty in keeping up the keenness and enthusiasm 
stimulated in him at the time of his Confirmation three years 
before. Then many years later, during the early days of 
his adoption by Uncle George, when the strangeness of the 
situation was still upon him, we were spending a week-end 
at Marlston, and he told me of his firm belief in Christian- 
ity. Since the first time we spoke of this subject he had 
passed through his College life and had had, he said, many 
doubts ; indeed he had at one time given up saying his 
prayers. But the doubts were conquered and he came out 
of the conflict a convinced believer in Christianity. I can- 
not remember the details of our last talk on the subject. 
To his family he was reticent about these matters, but he 
gained much from his many talks with his friends William 
Temple, " Caesar " Carey, and Dick Dugdale, all clergy- 

' As Ronald grew older and as his interest lay more and 
more in the lives of working men and boys, so did the 
religious side of his nature come more to the front. From 
his own experience he found, as he once told me, that 
a Boys' Club without religion was a failure. He introduced 
prayers into his Reading Boys' Club, and I was present at 
one of his first efforts. He told me that on the first night 
the boys behaved very badly, but they soon saw that he was 
in earnest and learnt to keep quiet. He would first play 
the hymn, then read a portion of the New Testament, and 
lastly say a few prayers, one or two of which were extem- 


The only sermon found among Ronald's papers, that on 
' Spirit and Truth ', was preached by William Temple 
before the University of Cambridge, and printed in full in 
the Guardian for Oct. 20, 1911. Ronald was then in his 
last term at Balliol, but it was settled that he should begin 
his work at Reading early in the following year, and I do 
not doubt that he felt a special force in the words quoted 
below : 

' For a man to choose his life's work for any considera- 
tion other than that of the service he can render is the 
greatest sin that any one can commit far greater than 
lapses into indulgence or vice for it is the deliberate 
withdrawal of most of his time from the obedience of God.' 

In writing about the home life which I believe was the 
chief environmental influence brought to bear upon Ronald, 
as it is in English life as a whole, I run the risk of appear- 
ing both egotistical and commonplace. The risk must be 
faced. I believe that these influences counted for much, 
and that, under different conditions, his nervous, timid 
nature would have developed very differently. To become 
what he was he had to be gradually strengthened without 
losing any of his tenderness. Under harder conditions his 
sensitive nature would probably have shielded itself be- 
neath a covering of reserve and he would have lost much 
of his power over others. If, on the other hand, he had 
been favoured above the other children, he might have 
become self-centred and have yielded to some of the 
dangers of athletic success. 

Looking back on the happy days of our children's 
youth, I think I may say that our unconscious aim was 
to be the elder brother and sister. There was certainly 
no conscious intention only a yielding to the delight of 
being with them and being one with them. And as time 
went on, and equally unconsciously, we were led to become 
in some ways the younger brother and sister, and to learn 
from them. Family life must lose a part of its greatest 
joy when this is not so; and yet it is not always easy. 


Every age has its lessons to teach, but the parents' minds 
are already stored with the impressions of their own age 
and so are apt to be unreceptive and dulled to the inspira- 
tion of new thoughts and ideals. How different is it with 
our children, and we must try to see with their clear un- 
biassed vision, and accept and help on the best that the 
new age has to offer. 

I have often thought that the natural and inevitable con- 
trast between the receptive powers of the old and the 
young gives its true interpretation to the words : ' I came 
not to bring peace on earth but a sword ', words uttered by 
Him whose sublime teachings meant, if they were to be 
received, the profound transformation of mankind. 

' And so it is in all the ages with every high creative 
thought which cuts deep into " the general heart of human- 
kind '. It must bring when it conies division and pain, 
setting the hearts of the fathers against the children and 
the children against the fathers.' l 

Our generation has not been tried, as others have been, 
by such sudden epoch-making change I do not speak of 
the Great War, for its influence upon us has happily been 
unifying and not dividing but gradual change there has 
been, epoch-making we may hope, and there has been 
need, in order to reach the fullest sympathy, for parents to 
learn from their children. I do not believe that the school- 
boys and undergraduates of my time were essentially 
different from or inferior to those of the succeeding gene- 
ration, yet I had never even heard of interests which to 
Ronald and his friends stood before everything else. They 
simply did not exist. There were no Boys' Clubs or Boy 
Scouts, which now seem to offer the most hopeful solution 
of the great social problem of the age, that of making us 
' all members one of another '. In these days and it has 
been so for many years past our children at the most 
receptive age, both boys and girls, are encouraged to in- 

1 Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species, Poulton, London, 1909, 


terest themselves in these movements and to help them 
on such flexibility at any rate have our educational sys- 
tems shown. And this means a great deal when we 
remember how recent and how profound is the change 
that has come upon us. 

Prof. H. S. Holland, that bright spirit whose loss we 
are mourning, traces the origin of the movement, of which 
Boys' Clubs are probably the most fruitful element, to two 
Balliol men, Thomas Hill Green and Arnold Toynbee, 
and after them to Samuel Barnett. 

T. H. Green ' had taught us the obligations which bound 
the University to the larger life outside '. Then, into the 
midst of the beginnings which had been stirred 

' there shot the radiant figure of Arnold Toynbee. . . . 
He gave himself from the political economy of the schools 
to the democracy of the streets. He went out to meet it, 
and to help it, and to teach it ; and in doing this he broke 
his heart and lost his life. Something must be done that 
should prevent such a memory from dying, so his friends 
felt, and Samuel Barnett was the man who saw what could 
be done.' l 

In talking of Boys' Clubs with Ronald I came to feel 
a most strangely sweet feeling for a parent a curious 
youth and immaturity in contrast with the large experience 
which, young as he was, had been his. For he had taken 
part in Boys' Camps for nine consecutive summers when 
the Reading Club finished its outing by the sea at New 
Romney four days before the outbreak of war, and, after 
the first year or two, Boys' Clubs had become the central 
interest of his life, an interest which he owed to Rugby. 

With Ronald's mother it was somewhat different. The 
opportunities and endeavours of the home in which she 
was brought up and the beneficent activities of her uncle, 
William Isaac Palmer, prepared her beforehand for Ronald's 
chief interest and made it less of a new world to her than 
it was to me. Her chief effort of adjustment to something 

1 ' Samuel Barnett and the Growth of the Settlements ', in A Bundle 
of Memories, 1915, pp. 89, 90. 


new and strange must have been in the region of athletics, 
for I certainly remember an unfulfilled prediction uttered 
after watching a game of Rugby football in the Parks : ' I'm 
sure I shall never let a son of mine play football ! ' I have 
often thought of the words when the speaker of them was 
adding to her treasured pile of press-cuttings or arranging 
for her seat at an international match. 

The signs and symbols of affection between parents and 
children were not abandoned as Ronald grew up. As it 
had been between my father and me so it was between me 
and my sons. In neither generation could any point be 
recognized in which a love that grew with the passing 
years was willing to be denied its symbolic expression. 
The last time we kissed each other was in Piccadilly Circus 
where we said ' Good-bye ', and I turned away with a heavy 
heart to return to Oxford, he to Chelmsford for the last few 
days in England. And not only in this but in other ways 
he was always the same to his parents. On any of his 
visits to Oxford from his work at Reading or Manchester 
or from his training at Chelmsford he would warmly em- 
brace us, always calling us by some endearing diminutive, 
literally most inappropriate to his father, but seeming to be 
all the sweeter on that account. 

The sum of loss I have not reckoned yet, 

I cannot tell. 
For ever it was morning when we met, 

Night when we bid farewell. 

Mary Coleridge's perfect lines sum up memories of being 
held close to that strong beautiful body and of the sweet 
absurdity of his words memories too of his last sight of 
us after a visit home as he went off on his motor-cycle or 
in his car and would always wave his hand far down the 
road, for he knew we were still waiting and watching at 
the gate. He knew well how much we all loved him. 
There were no doubts. It is a consoling thought. 

The most important influence brought to bear on Ronald 
was, I believe, the fact that he was one of a large family, or 
what in these days is called a large family. Almost equally 


important were the great individual differences between the 
members. Unfortunately we mere human beings cannot 
emulate the fairy mother of whom Lewis Carroll says in 
Phantasmagoria : 

The notion had occurred to her, 

That children would be happier, 

If they were taught to vary. 

But we can at any rate help them to preserve and de- 
velop the individuality which nature has bestowed, and in 
doing this we shall help them in another way by creating 
in the whole family the most favourable conditions for the 
development of each one of them. This ideal can only be 
reached when the family is a society of equals, in which 
each child feels that it is so and that it is not necessary to 
strive for it. 

In two respects Ronald was favoured by chance. I am 
sure that it was of special value to him that he was born 
between two sisters. It was also important that he was 
one of a family of which all the members were athletic 
much beyond the average. 

It is of course impossible to speak of likeness between 
children, or between them and their parents, as if it were 
a matter of certainty which would command universal 
agreement. But nearly every one remarked on the extra- 
ordinary resemblance which Ronald bore to his elder sister 
Margaret. In his first term at Balliol he told us that 
a friend had said, ' I saw your double in the town to-day, 
only it was a lady '. And Margaret was often recognized by 
the crowd as we were leaving the ground after some great 
match. The remarkable likeness between them was 
brought out with special force in the charades of which we 
were all so fond, when the brother would sometimes 
appear dressed as the sister, the sister as the brother, or 
when at a costume dinner at Wokefield in the Christmas 
Vacation of 1908 they walked in together as Roman 
brothers. This strong likeness was accompanied by special 
bonds of sympathy, although it is hardly possible to make 


any distinction, so warm was the love that united all five 
children. It is obvious, however, that there must always 
be some peculiar affinity between those children in a family 
who are next each other in age. Life unfolds for the 
younger so largely through the eyes of the elder that the 
unconscious pupil will always hold specially dear and 
intimate memories of the unconscious teacher. And what 
was true of Ronald in relation to his elder sister was of 
course also true of his younger sister in relation to him. 

The forceful influence of his elder sister was just what 
was required by his nervous emotional temperament, and 
when the treatment was rather drastic there was always 
comfort to be found in the sympathy of the younger. 
What his sisters were to Ronald will appear on many 
a page, but I think the sweetest indication of all is that 
delightful Peter- Pan-like letter written from Rugby when 
his mother and two elder sisters had sailed for Cape Town, 
telling Janet, not yet thirteen, that he supposed she was 
the mother now. 

Then in a young family the special admiration of one 
child is apt to be countered by a healthy scepticism, as 
shown in a memory of the summer of 1896. A lady friend 
who was staying with the children while we were away 
was asked by Margaret, 

' Do you think Ronald beautiful ? ' 

' Oh yes, very.' 

' So they all say. / don't think so at all.' 

Memories of Ronald's childhood are especially associated 
with St. Helens, because we were there together in holiday 
times. At Oxford there was always so much to be done 
and the opportunities were fewer. Chief of these were the 
meals when the children at one time they were at five 
different schools met and compared their goings on, 
getting tremendous fun out of the little adventures. Thus 
Ronald once told how a woman had stopped him on his 
way to school and asked for help in carrying a parcel, 
a story at once capped by Margaret, who had been asked 
to tie up a shoe ! Little things, yet how fruitful of laughter 


and interest to tellers and hearers. For each one was 
really interested in anything that the others had to tell, 
knew too that the others were equally pleased to hear 
of his or her experiences. Thus, without any teaching or 
effort, there grew up a delightfully friendly and equal form 
of family talk in which each was happy in being listened 
to and happy in giving way to others. And sometimes the 
incidents were really thrilling, as when Ronald, then at the 
Dragon School, was stopped by an older boy with the awe- 
inspiring words : 

' It's not usual for young Dragons to be seen with hoops. 
However, as I like you I won't take it from you.' 

It was the same with the accounts of years written by 
each member of the family and read to all the others on or 
about New Year's Eve. Although the writing was some- 
times rather an effort in the middle of the holidays, we all 
got a great deal of fun out of the occasion, as will appear 
in some of the quotations. The custom certainly makes 
for family unity and furnishes convincing evidence of the 
moulding power of the home life : the things that above 
all became part of themselves were the things that the 
children did together. 

And there are other advantages. I have often heard 
parents regret that they did not know what were their 
boys' strongest interests, or indeed whether they had any 
special interests at all. But encourage a boy to write 
down what he remembers of the past year, not as a task, 
but to bear his part as one of the family ambitious to 
amuse and interest no less than glad to be amused and 
interested and a parent will very soon find out what are 
his real tastes. 

And so too in letter- writing : each was spurred to the 
effort partly by the love of doing it but even more by the 
knowledge that only in this way were the longed-for letters 
from others to be gained. In these letters, of which many 
are printed in later pages, will best be realized the love 
and joy which grew out of the varied influences and at 
times the rough-and-tumble of family life. 


I feel strongly that, quite apart from their inestimable 
value in keeping up all the old family intimacies, the letters 
home are most important in education, and I believe that 
Ronald owed to them much of his power in expressing 
himself easily and rapidly. The power of writing English 
is thus acquired in the same way that speech is acquired 
by the free use of a faculty bringing advance and improve- 
ment, as an incidental result and not as the direct aim. In 
fact, improvement as the direct aim was rather strongly 
resented by one of the girls, who wrote : 

' I am sorry if I am not grimatical in my letters home, 
but you must forgive it because if I felt I had to think of 
what I had to put, I should hate writing the letters.' 

The instinct was quite right : her letters would become 
'grimatical' in time, and this, because she loved writing 
them, without any loss of ease and freshness in style. 

A large part of Ronald's early letters to his brother and 
sisters is filled with pleading for answers pleading and 
sometimes upbraiding. His letters often end in 'write 
soon ', repeated in a crescendo. 

Ronald wrote with great speed and facility : comparing 
his accounts of the years one sees that he suddenly 
attained his mature handwriting in 1905 when he was 
sixteen. He always performed his full share and generally 
more than his share of the family bargain. 

'Frightfully busy', he wrote to Janet from Rugby in 
1908. ' Written about 100,000 letters but can't miss you, 
so must make it 100,001.' And to his brother, with more 
numerical accuracy, ' I am simply eating up paper writing 
to you all. This is the tenth letter I have written and 
I must write one more.' 

The letters on both sides were generally full of the 
ordinary daily happenings of work and play the little 
things especially full, too, of anticipations of meeting in 
the holidays and the games and fun they were going to 
have together. Speaking of the little things, constant 
reference was made to the family jokes which are so 


different from others in that, starting from nothing, they 
continually gain by repetition. 

The little family traditions which always spring up in 
a happy home were peculiarly dear to Ronald. He was 
always one of the first to remind the others of them the 
family walk to Port Meadow on the afternoon of Christmas 
Day, the party to the pantomime in the same holidays. 

The family is and has long been the prime force in 
British education, but I do not think that it has been 
generally realized how immensely its power has been 
strengthened during the last generation by the ever-growing 
tendency towards an open-air life and the free play which 
sisters as well as brothers have had in it. Croquet, the 
halting first step, was followed by a very real one when 
lawn tennis became general in the seventies, and this by 
a mighty leap when girls began to make free use of the 
bicycle in the nineties. 

I have often been led to contrast my own youth with 
that of my sons and to realize how much they have gained 
by the fact that nearly all their sports and amusements 
have been shared with their sisters. Some few sports 
such as riding and skating were allowed to girls in my 
boyhood, but think of all that they missed. Hardly a girl 
could swim in those days, alpine winter sports were 
unheard of, for a girl to bicycle or play hockey or cricket 
would have been thought indelicate. As for sleeping in 
the open air, it was considered dangerous even for boys, 
and I remember my father being quite angry with me 
when I made my bed under a pear-tree on the lawn one 
very hot summer night. 

In 1905 and 1906 our family and friends played hockey 
against united Sandown and Shanklin. In one of those 
long stretches of a game during which my defence of our 
goal was a sinecure, an enthusiastic spectator remarked to 

'Of course we've no chance against your team; you 
feed your women ! ' 

Another change which has strengthened the influence 


of family life is the fact that now girls as well as boys go 
to schools where they learn loyalty to the community and 
to ' play the game ', creating too an additional and enduring 
bond between sisters who have been school-fellows. With 
brother and sister there is all the interest of comparing the 
differences in detail added to the strong sympathy in 
things essential. 

Whenever thoughts such as these arise in our family 
the memory of Hilda and her unswerving loyalty and 
devotion to Wycombe Abbey is always with us. And 
sympathy between brother and sister reminds me of the 
day when Janet came to leave the same much-loved school 
and went to Ronald for comfort; I found her sitting on 
his knees crying almost as soon as she reached home. 
She so rarely broke down that I was somewhat taken 
aback, but ' it is such a lovely place ' was the all-sufficient 

Thus British family fife, always the predominant force 
in shaping the lives of the young, has become under 
modern conditions an overwhelming power a power that 
may sometimes become a danger. When a family is 
swayed by a spirit of self-indulgence and self-assertion, or 
of class feeling and arrogance, the children are likely to 
give way to the temptations or to resist the broadening 
influences of Public School and University life. I use 
these words deliberately of our Public Schools in spite of 
much that has been written in recent years ; for apart from 
the intellectual side, which it must be admitted is often 
weak, apart too from the splendid public spirit and loyalty 
which all admit, the opportunity of meeting in the demo- 
cracy of school life numbers of boys with different experi- 
ences, different interests, and a different outlook is certainly 
broadening and educating in a high degree. 

The age which came to an end with the Great War was 
extraordinarily complex. When the attention was directed 
to one set of currents all seemed well, when it was focussed 
upon another set we seemed to be sweeping headlong to 
disaster. On the one side was a healthy love of work and 


play, on the other unexampled luxury; in this direction 
class hatred, in the other men giving their happiest hours 
to promoting friendliness and sympathy throughout the 
whole community, and meeting too with a wonderful 
response. To all these and other tendencies of the age, 
good and bad, family life has acted as a mighty intensifier, 
and family life will be the greatest of the forces to which 
we must look for reconstruction after the war. 


CHILDHOOD: 1889-1897 

I have known and admired him ever since as a little boy he sat on 
my knees to look at the dancing class. I have watched his triumphs 
at football and seen him with his sisters at home. He has been to 
me an ideal, the finest young fellow I knew. Dr. A. G. VERNON 
HARCOURT, writing, May 8, 1915, to his wife. 

RONALD was born on September 12, 1889, at Wykeham 
House, Oxford, where his brother and sisters were also 

The family when he joined it included Edward, aged 
six, Hilda, nearly five, Margaret, two and two months. 
Just three years later Janet was born. 

We named him Ronald because it was such a beautiful 
name. Later on, when ' Ronald ' and more often ' Ronnie ' 
became the most familiar of names on the Iffley Road at 
Oxford, at Twickenham, or at the Queen's Club, we 
realized that the choice had been something of an inspira- 
tion. For surely those who knowing him loved him, as 
well as the crowds who loved without knowing, all felt 
that the name and the man fitted each other, that no 
other name could have recalled so vividly the picture of 
the fair-haired Three-Quarter. 

He was baptized on October 18 at St. Philip and 
St. James's Church, by my old friend and tutor, the late 
Rev. W. Hawker Hughes, of Jesus College, who had also 
baptized his brother. His godparents were Miss H. O'B. 
Owen (Mrs. F. S. Boas), the Rev. Walter Lock, Warden 
of Keble College, and his uncle, the late Lewis Palmer. 

The attempt to write the story of Ronald's childhood 
must inevitably take the form of a series of disconnected 
pictures ; but each of these will tell something of him and 

18891897 33 

all together will I hope show what he really was. This 
period seems to me of great interest, not only because, 
in Mrs. Henry Sidgwick's words, ' Education in its widest 
and fullest sense ' begins ' as it must with the earliest 
infancy ', l but because to understand fully a child at this 
age is the surest means of distinguishing between the 
inherent and the acquired elements in a character. 

When Ronald was about fifteen months old he came 
into the care of a gentle, bright, and sympathetic nurse, 
who had already known him for some little time ; for it 
was the happiness of the children whenever they were 
with her that led us to persuade her to give up another 
position and devote all her time to them. And although 
Edith was married less than a year later, when Ronald 
was rather over two, she clearly remembers the presence 
of much that was characteristic throughout his life ; so 
that when Ronald's friends speak of his being ' always 
the same ', the words express a truth greater than they 
knew. Sunny memories of Ronald as a baby have come 
from the happy African home where his nurse of twenty- 
five years before thinks of him, thinks too with pride of 
her splendid sons who fought for the cause of freedom 
in South-West Africa, then in the last German possession 
on the continent, and finally in Europe. 

' Of course to me he was always a baby, good as he was 
lovely. He very soon made great friends with me and 
was a big rogue, always with a bright smile. Before he 
could talk he made me understand he wanted me to have 
his cot near my bed, to hold his dear little hand, but he 
soon got over his little fears. 

' He was always obedient, too, and would wait so 
patiently for the five minutes I always had him to play in 
the morning, and when the permission was given it was 
surprising how he would balance on his hands and turn 
a big somersault on to my bed without the least fear. 

' I also remember at St. Helens he would not put his 

1 Presidential Address to Section L, Report Brit. Assoc., 1915, 
P- 732- 



little feet in the sea for some time, and one day he asked 
me in his way, saying " Egie's hand ". 

' I can remember he would always give away his choco- 
late and forget himself. On one occasion he had one left, 
forgetting me, and he looked at it, saying, " Never mind, 
Egie, you can have a nibble ". Also he would not kill flies 
as one of his sisters often did ; he would say, " Poor fly 
wants to go home to Mummie ". 

' He was very fond of flowers, and used to try and find 
the very tiny ones, and give them to me. He was not too 
fond of toys, but would carry a flower in his hand the 
whole time whilst out in his pram. 

' I feel rather proud I taught him his first prayer, 
" Gentle Jesus ", and he could say it before his sister 
Margaret, and after the first time he always wanted to say 
it several times a day. 

' He was also remarkably intelligent, and would always 
want to play the older games with the others ; in the 
dressing-up games he would sit quite nicely and try not to 
smile. Hilda was very fond of having church in the 
nursery on Sundays, and the little darling would take part 
in it all ; he loved the hymn, " There 's a Friend for Little 
Children ", and would continually say, " Again, again ". 
At one time he had a very troublesome little rash, and, 
poor little chap, would say, " O dear 'pots Egie ", and 
then say "Sing", and it had to be "Friend for Little 

When Ronald was about two years old he devised for 
himself a simple form of negative sentence. He had got 
the affirmative one all right, and he knew very well what 
' no ' meant. What could be simpler then than to tack 
on ' no ' at the end of an affirmative sentence ? One day 
at Christmas, 1891, when we were staying at The Acacias, 
Reading, he was evidently offended with his nurse, Frau- 
lein Hebak, who had succeeded Edith, and sat at tea with 
his face persistently turned away from her. 

' Me want to look at Fraulein NO ', he said with em- 
phasis when she tried to appease him. It was really 
most effective, the sentence being rapidly spoken, then a 
slight pause followed by an emphatic, deep-toned, and 
unmistakable ' NO ' so effective indeed that Margaret 
adopted it from him. 

18891897 35 

One charming little saying comes back from the earliest 
years. The paraffin lamps at St. Helens Cottage were 
new to him, and when he saw one with a large white 
globe lighted, he exclaimed ' Oh ! pitty sun ! ' 

1 He was a pretty son ', said Edith. 

The incidents I remember of those earliest years chiefly 
illustrate Ronald's nervousness and extreme sensitiveness. 
I happened to come into the nursery at St. Helens when 
Edith was teaching the children a wonderful game, new 
to them and to me, founded on ' battles long ago '. Two 
lines were formed facing each other, and then the first 
advancing sang : 

Are you ready for a fight ? 
Are you ready for a fight? 
We're the Roman soldiers. 

Then the other line advancing sang : 

Yes, we're ready for a fight ; 

Yes, we're ready for a fight; 

We're the British soldiers. 

And then the fight began a very gentle fight with Edith 
in command of one army and controlling the other, but 
in a moment Ronald had left the ranks and run to ' Egie ' 
for protection, holding her dress and crying bitterly. 

Ronald was also distressed by other than physical 
causes. He would begin to cry if any one wanted to look 
at his bent little finger a slight deformity chiefly marked 
on the right side or if he was asked to try how far he 
could straighten it. 

The following incident shows, I think, an unusually 
sensitive appreciation of the links of understanding by 
which human beings are bound together. At about this 
age two or three he used to come into my room while 
I was dressing in the morning. He would stand at the 
corner of a case which was just the right height for him 
and, holding the pencil in his left hand, make vigorous 
attempts to draw. 

' It 's all kibbered ', he observed off-hand one day, as a 
matter of mild general interest. 

D 2 


'Covered ?' I said, getting a hint from the state of the 

' No, KIBBERED ', very decidedly, and in evident distress. 

' Do you mean covered ? ' I said again, with some want 
of tact, but really without any light. 

'NO, KIBBERED', he said, with great stress on the 
' kibb ', and beginning to cry heartily. 

Of course it was most painful to have to put up with 
such an uncomprehending father one who couldn't recog- 
nize the obvious ' scribbled ' when he heard so praise- 
worthy an approach to it but I am sure that none of the 
other children would have wept because of it. 

A picture of Ronald at two-and-a-half can be recalled 
from the impression he made on our friend Miss Grace I. 
Parsons, of St. Hugh's Hall, in the Easter Vacation of 

' He had the most lovely colouring imaginable a rose- 
leaf complexion, soft, slightly waving golden hair, and 
blue eyes of extraordinary clearness and brightness. 

' He was coming up the garden-path at St. Helens 
Cottage, and by way of greeting drew my attention to the 
" Pitty p'imrose ", a bunch of which he was holding in his 

' I remember him too as a remarkably affectionate child. 
He had a caressing way of gently stroking one's face, which 
was most endearing. 

' Altogether he made a deep impression on me as the 
most beautiful, attractive, and loving child I have ever 
met. I can see him quite well, but it is difficult to con- 
vey my impressions in words. 1 never felt so enthusiastic 
an admiration for a child either before or since. I felt 
at the time he was unique in his beauty and attractiveness.' 

It is interesting that with all his nervousness Ronald 
should have been quite free from shyness. A few years 
later he was sometimes shy of people in the mass, but 
of friendly individuals never. 

Ronald's godmother, Mrs. Boas, retains vivid memories 
of his first game of hockey : 

4 1 was married in Dec. 1892, and Teddie Poulton 

1889 1897 37 

was one of my pupils for the last part of my happy 
school life among my boys. One afternoon in my last 
term, when the days were getting chilly (so it must have 
been about October or November), I went to tea at Wyke- 
ham House, with Teddie and his family. We were all 
keen about hockey, and Mr. Poulton was very good about 
playing with us. Mrs. Poulton was out when I arrived, 
but he was in the garden with Teddie and Hilda, and we 
began a vigorous game. I think Teddie and I played 
Hilda and her father. 

'Presently there came a cheery shout, and Ronald 
trotted in, fresh from his walk, and clad in white fluffy 
garments ; he was always, at that age, like a personification 
of Spring, with his wonderful beauty and grace. " Me, 
too ", he shouted, and brandished a stick he had picked 
up. His father laughed, and said " Come on, then ! " and 
he charged in among us, shouting and laughing, and 
hitting out vigorously at the ball. 

' In a few minutes came the inevitable result ; down he 
fell, knocked over by the players who were all much 
bigger than he was, and who stopped to look at the small 
white figure tumbled among them. 

1 There was a moment's pause, then he gathered himself 
up, and scrambled to his feet with a delighted chuckle. 

' " My ten (turn) now ! " he called triumphantly, and fell 
upon the ball with eager strokes. 

' " Yes ", said his father, laughing, " let him hit it now. 
Don't you see he thinks it the rule of the game that when 
you have been knocked down you have a free hit ? " 

Ronald's athletic distinction was only traceable at this 
time and for many years later in his delight in movement, 
and the beauty and grace of his movements, remarked by 
many at the time. ' I love to see him run ', summed up 
the impressions of a lady friend who met him in the 
Parks ; and we can never forget how he would act when 
he went into the garden after breakfast. It was always 
the same : he walked faster and faster until, about half-way 
down the path he began to run, ending up with a spurt as 
fast as he could go. There was no competition : he was 
alone and had no object in view but the joy of swift move- 
ment for its own sake and this almost as soon as he could 
run at all. 


The first clear indication that I remember of Ronald's 
intense interest in manual work was given when a large 
rocking-horse was sent to the children by their grandfather 
in Reading. Ronald was the first to see it, and he came 
up to the nursery landing and said to the others in rather 
awe-struck tones, 

' There 's a great bogey-man horse in the playroom ! ' 

But when the case of open boarding was being removed 
he sat by me enthralled at the fascination of seeing the 
nails drawn out, and continually pointing to fresh ones 
with ' There 's another, father '. I remember realizing at 
the time that this must be the expression of an innate 
tendency, and my surprise and delight at its appearance 
so early. I have no means of certainly fixing the date, 
but am confident that he was not over three at the 

The second indication can be placed with precision. 
With the help of some workmen I had been digging 
a reservoir in the garden at St. Helens and holding up 
the clay sides with concrete retaining walls. One sunny 
morning in September 1893, when the men were away, 
Ronald sat at the edge of the little precipice the wall 
was 10 ft. high looking on with rapt attention, and I feel 
sure helping whenever it was possible, while I removed 
the boarding from one of these walls of which the concrete 
had sufficiently set. We were alone, I working and he 
eagerly watching, through the whole of the lovely autumn 
morning. Most boys of four would probably be interested 
in such work, but I do not think that many would keep 
up their interest for so long. The picture is very clear 
in my memory as the first of all the long, happy days 
spent in work together, and leading his strong natural 
inclination onward to a realization of the charm as well as 
the dignity of labour. 

Memories of Ronald's timidity and sensitiveness, and of 
his friendliness towards the friendly, come back to me 
from the later years of his childhood. 

He was always very shy of trespassing or of going 


O 3 

o K 
<u x> 

H 2 


Facing p. 38.] 

1889 1897 39 

anywhere or doing anything if, as he readily imagined, 
' a man looked angry at me '. 

I remember an example of his sensitiveness in the 
summer of 1894, when he was nearly five, and our dear 
American friends, Professor and Mrs. Osborn and their 
children, were staying with us at St. Helens. Mrs. Osborn 
had brought for him from New York a pretty little garment 
which he recognized as different from those worn here, 
and the struggle between his natural courtesy and equally 
natural dread of appearing conspicuous nearly brought 
him to tears ; but Mrs. Osborn quickly realized and with- 
drew the cause of his distress. 

Two pictures of Ronald are associated with my friend 
Sir Ray Lankester, who lived between 1891 and 1896 at 
a house in the Bradmore Road back to back with Wykeham 
House. I made some rock-work steps to help in getting 
over the party-wall dividing the ends of our gardens, and 
often used to take the children over to see my friend. 
Ronald was probably about four at the time of which Miss 
Fay Lankester writes : 

' I recollect that dear, beautiful boy climbing over the 
wall in a blue smock and coming up into Ray's house 
where I was sitting at the window, and getting on to my 
knees. He said, " I think you must be the Perfessor s 
wife ", and I kissed him and thought he was the dearest, 
sweetest thing I had ever seen in my life. Of course he 
grew up to be so splendid and such a joy and pride to 

He was probably a little older, about six, when we 
looked in upon Professor Lankester and found him enter- 
taining his mother and an American lady, who, when she 
saw Ronald, began to express, in talking about him and 
even to him, a rather unrestrained admiration. He bore 
it quietly, appearing not to notice it, but as we went back 
he told me how much he liked one of the ladies. 

' Not the one who was so proud of my eyes ', he was 
careful to explain. 

It was the same instinct which in later years led him 


to be shy of a partner at a dance who would talk to him 
about football. 

A few of his quaint or charming sayings remain in my 

' Father, I saw a butterfly with a burnt wing in the Parks 
to-day', was his description of that lovely messenger of 
spring the Orange-tip. 

When asked what he intended to be, 4 1 want to be 
a father * was his reply, summing up the memories of happy 
hours spent together at play, and more especially at work, 
in the garden of St. Helens Cottage. 

' It won't rain long because it 's crooked rain ', was the 
inference from his childhood's observations in meteorology, 
which, at least in England, is sure to be the first of the 
sciences to receive attention. 

Ronald's first school was Miss Cobb's and Miss Leather's 
(Mrs. Powell) kindergarten in the Polstead Road. He went 
there in the autumn of 1894, when he was five, and stayed 
for two years. Miss Cobb writes : 

1 It is his face I remember so vividly his sweet bright 
smile and very fair hair. I do not think that he cried at 
school, but he certainly appeared to be very sensitive. 
I think it is not too much to say that he seemed highly 
strung. I know that I felt it would be wrong to press him 
at all at his work that his physical development was then 

Mrs. Powell writes : 

4 1 remember your boy perfectly at Miss Cobb's school. 
I can see his little figure now full of life and energy, and 
such a bright, merry, sunburnt little face always full of 
fun and mischief. I cannot remember anything about his 
lessons, but his sparkling vivacity is very clearly imprinted 
on my mind even after so many years.' 

After the two years at Miss Cobb's Ronald went, in 
September 1896, for a year to the Misses Owen's school 
where his brother had been. 

18891897 4 1 

Miss M. E. O'B. Owen writes : 

' My recollection of him is that he was always keen about 
his work, and I remember particularly that he wrote very 
nicely for such a little boy. Ronald's voice is another thing 
we always remember. It was very sweet, and fuller than 
is often the case in such a young boy. Of course he took 
no leading part in the school from being so young ; but we 
always remember him as one of the manliest and best-toned 
boys we ever had. He always worked well and even then 
showed promise of his future as an athlete, and was, as 
always, liked by every one. In fact I have no remembrance 
of having to reprove him for anything. I always think his 
character was as near being perfect as a mortal being's 
can be. 

' One of the things which showed how utterly unspoiled 
he was by his successes and popularity was the way in 
which he used to come and play in our old boys' hockey 
matches. Between 1900 and 1911 he played seven times; 
and he always played as if it was a real pleasure although 
our boys are very young. And he showed just the same 
keenness as if he was playing in an International match. 
This spirit in the old boys is a very great help to us with 
each rising generation. I remember in December 1906, 
when Ronald had kindly played as captain for the school 
and Teddie for the old boys, walking home with them, and 
the eagerness with which they discussed the best way of 
arranging the match the next year. When that year came 
they both played again, only reversed their positions.' 

The intimate friendship and affection between Ronald 
and his cousin Eustace Palmer was begun in this period of 
his life. Eustace and his cousin Gerald Barry matriculated 
at Trinity in the autumn of 1896 and at once became warm 
friends of all our children. 

This close friendship, begun when he was seven, was 
destined to have an important bearing on Ronald's life, 
and if he had lived the two cousins would have been con- 
stantly associated in the control of a great business. 

The following memories begin towards the end of the 
period 1893 to 1897 but stretch on into Ronald's Dragon 
years, forming a natural link between these two stages of 
his life. 


From his Mother. 

1 As far as I can remember Ronald never needed punish- 
ment. I never remember him really naughty ; he was very 
sensitive, and a mere look of disapproval was sufficient. 
His joyous disposition showed itself very early. I remem- 
ber so well going into the nursery during a meal, and 
seeing him and Janet sitting opposite to each other, both 
laughing and setting each other on to laugh. He was very 
easy to teach, and he never seemed to find any difficulty in 
learning the Sunday collect, which I always expected the 
children to repeat to me during our Sunday lesson.' 

From Hilda. 

1 My picture of him at three or four was as a beautiful 
little boy, but decidedly a cry-baby. Then later, I see him, 
always with Margaret, having their supper together and 
seeing who could eat the largest mouthful of mustard, 
putting gravel in each other's beds and being anything but 
models of behaviour in church, so that they came out 
before the sermon even when quite big children. They 
used to come to the station to see me off to school and ran 
up and down the platform and stood on the footboard as 
the train was moving and other goings on, and I was so 
proud when the other girls noticed them and thought 
now jolly they were. I always think of those two together 
as children playing and ragging and having great jokes 
and it was the companionship with a sister a little older 
than himself, a very vigorous and athletic girl and abso- 
lutely brimming over with fun, which both kept him so 
simple and prevented his natural sensitiveness from getting 
too strong a place in his character.' 

And now that she is no longer with us it is right to 
speak of the strong, sweet influence which Hilda herself 
exercised over Ronald and indeed over all who met her. 
Ronald's gifts as a leader are well known, but within the 
family he and the other children all yielded to her gentle 
but vigorous leadership. Nor did she give up her power 
when the brothers and sisters had scattered into homes of 
their own. Even in the weakness of illness she was still 
the leader, and family schemes with some kind object in 
view were still suggested and organized by her. 

18891897 43 

From Janet. 

' My first definite memories of Ronald centre round the 
time that Evelyn came to us the Christmas after he was 
seven, and I four. 

' Ronald developed a love of carpentering at a very early 
age. When he was seven he made me a -doll's house, 
dividing the box taken for the purpose into rooms which 
he papered and carpeted. When he was eleven he 
improved on his first efforts, and introduced stairs with 
bannisters and doors which opened, the whole being 
papered again and painted white. I have still this little 
doll's house. 

' He was an exceptionally nervous little boy and always 
cried very easily. Margaret's great delight was to make 
him dissolve into tears and then I always wept to keep 
him company. 

' He had a sweeter disposition than most boys of his age, 
and hated inflicting pain on animals. Of course he engaged 
in all the games ana sports of his age, and amongst them 
catapulting. I remember how he confided to me that once 
he had killed a sparrow, and he was obviously very much 

A few months after Evelyn's arrival the Diamond 
Jubilee (1897) was celebrated, and she remembers that 
when we took the three elder children to London for the 
procession, she took the two younger into the Parks to see 
the children's fete and tea arranged by the city. She 
clearly remembers Ronald's great anxiety lest there should 
not be enough tea for such huge numbers and how he 
insisted on inspecting the preparations for himself to make 

When he was punished by being sent to bed earlier 
than usual he never could go to sleep until the difference 
with Evelyn had been put right. 

' I know it 's all for my good ', he would say ; ' I know 
that I deserve it ; but do forgive me.' 

All this sounds priggish and unnatural, but with Ronald 
it was the very reverse. It was quite spontaneous and 
meant a real and deep concern for the bonds which united 


him to others: it was the expression of his central and 
essential self. 

For this reason his extreme sensitiveness to a word or 
expression of disapproval neither of us ever punished 
him, a remarkable thing considering how much he was 
with us as a child. The same is nearly but not quite true of 
our other children. The occasions were so rare that I think 
I can recollect all with which I was personally concerned. 

I remember hearing Ronald say in answer to some slight 
rebuke : 

' Oh ! Mother, don't call me cross ! ' 

He meant, of course, ' Don't be cross with me ', but the 
way he put it seemed to be an unconscious emphasis of 
the thing he really dreaded, the endangering of the bond 
between them : whether the threat came from one side or 
the other mattered little. 

The offences for which Evelyn had to punish him were 
also characteristic : the commonest were due to impatience 
in dressing, when he would seek the aid of scissors in 
dealing with the button-holes for which starch had more 
than its usual affinity. From the first he made the most 
of his life. Always he worked and played with all his 
might, and slept soundly for as long as he could. The 
uninteresting phases that lay between he cut down to the 
finest point. His great friend among the masters at 
Rugby says that among his other records was that for fast 
dressing, and long before he went to Rugby he had noted 
down his times. Thus in a note-book of his I find that 
during six days in July and August, 1901, the maximum 
time occupied in undressing was fifty-five seconds, the 
minimum, twenty; in his bath and drying himself, the 
maximum three and a half minutes, the minimum two 
minutes twenty-five seconds; in dressing, the maximum 
five minutes, the minimum two minutes five seconds. It 
was no doubt the first possession of a watch which made 
him so keen to time himself and others as well, for his 
note-book includes the length of sermons and other parts 
of the Church services. 



His presence is like a gleam of sunshine. Headmaster's Report, 
Apr. 4, 1903. 

You cannot think how universally Ronnie Poulton's death was felt 
in the army. Everyone, both high and low, spoke of it. He was a 
great Dragon. Bde. Maj. C. C. LUCAS, G.H.Q. British Army in the 
Field (Draconian, Apr. 1916, p. 1849). 

IN September 1897, when he was just eight, Ronald 
entered the O.P.S. as a day-boy and became a Dragon, 
thus continuing the family tradition, for his brother had 
left only the term before to go to Rugby. 

The healthy, breezy Oxford Preparatory School the 
name ' Dragon ' was invented by the boys themselves in 
the early days had been in existence for just twenty years 
when Ronald went there. It was founded when the 
sudden liberation of the University society from a 
mediaeval celibacy had led to inevitable and insistent 
results. The first headmaster, the Rev. A. E. Clarke, died 
in 1886 and was succeeded by the present head, Mr. C. C. 
Lynam one who prides himself on shorter hours and 
more holidays than other schools, who gives the boys 
more independence and makes it easy for them to see their 
parents in term time, who hates to be called ' Sir ' every 
half-minute and prefers to be the ' Skipper V 

Capt. W. H. Moberly, D.S.O., remembers that one of 
the greatest on the Roll of Honour of the Old Dragons, 
Capt. Hugh Sidgwick, once spoke at an O. D. Dinner 
of the distinctive spirit and ethos of the O.P.S., and sought 
to explain how it was that 

1 it makes an appeal and invokes a loyalty similar in kind 

1 For a fuller statement of the Skipper's sound principles, see the 
Draconian for Aug. 1901, pp. 517, 518. 

46 THE O.P.S. 

to those of the best public schools.' He found the answer 
in ' the Skipper's refusal to force his boys into one or other 
of two or tnree conventional moulds, in his positive en- 
couragement of originality, in the opportunity given to 
boys to discover their own peculiar interests and gifts ; so 
that, if you were to collect a number of Old Boys in after- 
life and! to ask what was the common stamp that the 
school had set on them, you would be able to point to no 
single machine-made quality but you might observe that 
every one was very much himself ' (Draconian, Dec. 1917, 

P- 395)- 

I will speak of athletics first, not because it is most 
important, but because Ronald was most widely known as 
an athlete, and the period of life at which his powers began 
to appear and the rate of their development are of much 
interest. Until Ronald was about n his successes in 
any of the games and sports were in no way exceptional. 
His friends, looking back on that time and thinking of what 
he became, are astonished at the contrast between his 
powers before and after the spring of 1901. Thus Capt. 
W. T. Collier, R.A.M.C., writes: 

' I was just a month younger than Ronald, for I was 
born Oct. 12, 1889. One of my earliest recollections at 
the O.P.S. is of running against him and Claude Hardy 
in the 100 yards to decide who should represent the school 
in the under 10 or n race. Claude Hardy was first, and I 
just beat Ronald for second place. I think this is interest- 
ing because he had certainly come into his own in the 
athletic world before he left the school, and it must have 
been in the last year or two that his powers really began 
to develop.' 

Major Claude Hardy, R.G.A., is a little younger than 
Capt. Collier, but all three friends were within three 
months of the same age. It will be found in the records 
of the Draconian that Claude was at first always ahead, 
but after the spring of 1901 Ronald developed so rapidly 
that in a year's time he had become the first athlete 
in the school, as shown by his performance in the inter- 
school sports in the spring of 1902, while from this time 
up to the end of July 1903, when he left, he was making 

1897 193 47 

school records in the most varied games and sports, and 
had thus at a bound gained the exceptional position he 
never lost. This sudden increase of power was accom- 
panied by sudden increase of weight and height, as shown 
in the tabular statements of the Draconian. The rapidity 
of Ronald's growth continued after he left the O.P.S., for 
a Rugby record shows that at 14^ his height and weight 
were those of an average boy two years older, and his 
chest girth that of a boy of 18. 

If the curve of Ronald's growth be typical for a boy 
with exceptional powers and there is no reason to doubt 
it then for the full development of such powers the food 
supply during the critical period must be greater than that 
of the average boy. 

In spite of this deferred development of power it has 
been shown that from his earliest childhood there was 
something which attracted general attention and admiration 
and held the promise of all that Ronald was to be as an 

Considering the games and sports in order, I first take 
Rugby football, the regular winter game at the O.P.S. since 
the opening of the school. Ronald seems to have been quite 
happy in the game at the lower levels, for he wrote in a very 
short birthday letter to his brother on Sept. 30, 1900 : ' I 
am sorry to say there is no news. I am getting on well 
with football but there is no news so I will fill up the rest 
with kisses,' and so thoroughly was this done that the 
crosses occupy more space than the writing, leaving room 
however at the end for the most important part of all. 
1 P.S. Please write soon.' 

Ronald must have made his mark directly he entered 
the XV, for I remember one of the masters saying in the 
Michaelmas Term of 1901 : 'He has the regular Rugby 
swerve ', and in the account of that year I wrote, ' Ronald 
has become a famous three-quarter at football, so I am 
told by many of his teachers'. His play in the autumn 
term of this year is prominently noticed in the Draconian, 
where, speaking of the match against Lambrook on 

48 THE O.P.S. 

Nov. 16, won by the Dragons 29-0, the critic remarked : ' Of 
the three-quarters I think Poulton was the best on the day, 
he was very good at taking passes and very fast when he 
got under weigh.' The account of the match shows that 
he was even then an unselfish player responsible for tries 
made by others. 

The comments on his play in the last match of 1901, 
against Bilton Grange II, won 12-9, give the first expres- 
sion to an oft-repeated criticism : 

' Poulton made two or three capital runs but he must 
learn to go for an enemv who has the ball as skilfully and 
eagerly as, having the ball himself, he scoots away from 
the enemy.' 

Ronald referred to this match and the one against Lam- 
brook in a letter, Nov. 24, 1901, to Hilda at Wycombe 
Abbey School : 

1 1 am writing to you because of your birthday. I have 
now got my colours at football and am very pleased. We 
shall play a match against Bilton Grange shortly which is 
quite near to Rugby so I may be able to see him [his 
brother]. Next term we are going to do a Greek play, 
I hope it will be nice. We are at present doing " Lucian " 
about the adventures of some men who get wrecked on an 
island, with rivers of wine, and whirled into the moon ; it 
is very interesting but hard. We are having quite a hard 
frost here now and last week some of the boys skated but 
it thawed in the middle of the week. Teddie comes up to 
his exams, in about 10 days, isn't it nice ? We are doing 
Macbeth for a play this year, but Mr. Lynam cannot find 
a boy for Macbeth. Aunt Alice (Palmer) has sent to ask 
us what we should like for Christmas and Father suggested 
that I should have a working-bench which you can get any 
size in London and are not very expensive. We played 
a match against Lambrook and I enjoyed myself very much 
indeed. Mother has given me a new bag for my football 
things, it is ripping. We had such a nice lecture at school 
given by Mrs. Woods on Canada which was very success- 
mi and sarcastic. I must stop now. 

1 Your loving brother. 

1 P.S. I. WRITE SOON. P.S. II. Have not I 

written a long letter? P.S. III. Goodbye. P.S. 
IV. xxxxxxxxxx.' 

1897 1903 49 

A year later, in 1902, in his last season's play as a Dragon, 
he made 15 tries, a school record, on Oct. n, against 
St. Edward's (Juniors). In the account of the return 
match he was again reminded that ' defence is a part of 
the game*. In another match of the same term his ' good 
left-footers ' seem to have been useful. Looking back on 
his play for the O.P.S. Mr. G. C. Vassall writes : 

' His 15 tries v. St. Edward's are most often talked about, 
but his effort v. Dunchurch in the same term is what I 
remember best, and was the surest sign of what he was to 
be as a football player.' 

Ronald was given his colours in the Cricket XI in the 
summer of 1901. He spoke of it in a letter to his brother 
at Rugby : ' I have got my colours now : mine are blue 
and yellow, but I believe yours were green and yellow.' 
The letter continues to tell of school doings and other 
doings mixed together with delightful inconsequence, as 
for example : 

4 Yesterday we played Cothill and beat them, it is the 
first real match we have won. We had a ripping bath 
afterwards. I hope you will give me one of your puss- 
moths. I had four Poplar Hawk chrysalides but while 
I was away it came out and died, the other three died just 
as they were coming out : ' 

then by way of picnics and Wytham strawberry feast 
back again to school. An earlier letter to his brother in 
the summer of 1899 spoke of a visit to Youlbury, a name 
that recalls many happy memories : 

' I have been doing prep, at school for a week. We went 
to Boar's Hill yesterday. Hilda and Margaret and Violet 
Stark went on a bicycle and Janet went in the dog-cart 
with Mr. Evans, and Miss Brown and I walked the Devil's 
Back Bone way. When we got to Carfax we asked the 
tram man if you had to go along by Christ Church or along 
High Street, and Miss Brown said : " Which is the way to 
the Devil's Back Bone the Water Works ? " "The what?" 
said the man, and he laughed loudly ; of course he did not 
know what Miss Brown meant. Mr. Evans has got an 

50 THE O.P.S. 

owl which lives by Mr. Evans's dog. I have forgotten the 

The children had learnt to call the old and now replaced 
curved footbridge over the railway at the waterworks by 
the name used in my undergraduate days. 

To return to cricket, Ronald did not do much in his first 
season, but the Draconian says of him in 1902, especially 
referring to a 34 not out against Summerfields on July 19 : 
' A steady bat and very sound field, who showed on one 
occasion that he could play a really good forcing game.' 

He was captain of the Eleven in 1903, and Mr. G. C. 
Vassall remembers that his powers of leadership were 
noticeable even then, before he was fourteen : 

' The cricket " characters " in the Draconian don't do 
him justice, especially as a captain. He always got the 
best out of his side and they would have followed him any- 
where. Some of his innings in his last term against time 
were wonderful ; especially v. Cothill, 60 odd in half an hour 
to win a match. 

' He was always the life and soul of the party when we 
went by train or in a brake to play cricket matches. So 
much so that we used to offer him 6d. if he could last for 
five minutes without speaking ! Sometimes the rest of us 
would go on talking ; sometimes we would all sit silent, 
watch in hand but ne never won the 6d.' 

The Draconian speaks of him in 1903 as ' the best bat 
and field in the team ', and his total of 335 and average of 
33'5 runs were school records. He gained the bat given 
in memory of Alfred Spurling, O.D., killed in the Boer 

In hockey Ronald was in his last year the most success- 
ful O.P.S. player, making 10 goals out of the 24 (against 3) 
scored by the Dragons in three matches in March 1903. 
As early as March 1901 he had been one of an ' A ' 
team which defeated the Christ Church Choir School 
by 12-0. 

As regards his athletic performance at the O.P.S., Ronald 
took part for the first time in the Inter-School Sports held 

1897 193 5 1 

in March 1901, and was second (at 3 ft. n in.) in the high 
jump under 12. 

In the Summer Sports of that year Ronald, although 
beaten by Claude in the 100 yards under 12, was very suc- 
cessful in other events, with the best all-round record of 
the day. 

1902. In the Inter-School Sports Ronald made the 
highest score for the Dragons (7 out of 25). In the 
Summer Sports his ' record performances under 13 ' are 
spoken of in the Draconian. His 15 ft. 7 in. in the broad 
jump was a school record. 

Mr. G. C. Vassall writes : 

1 1 remember his surprise and delight when I showed 
him that he must jump nigh if he wanted to jump far. He 
was sceptical to begin with and finally made me change 
into running shorts and spiked shoes. " I can see better 
what your feet and legs and knees are doing, like that," he 
said. Next day he came running up with : " It 's quite 
true, I can do nearly two feet more." ' 

1903. In the Inter-School Sports the Draconian con- 
sidered that Ronald's was the best performance. He was 
first in the high jump under 14 (4 ft. 3^ in., in a high wind) ; 
second in the 100 yards under 14 ; first in the 440 yards 
(67 sec.) under 14 ; and second in the open broad jump. 

In the gymnastic competition between the boarders and 
day-boys Ronald obtained the third highest marks : 32, to 
37 gained by two boys. 

The Headmaster's Report on Games and Gymnastics at 
Easter 1903 was : ' Very good indeed. Takes his success 
with a most becoming modesty/ 

Ronald's last Summer Sports included a new school 
record in the broad jump (16 ft. n in.) as well as the first 
place in the 100 yards, quarter mile, and high jump (4 ft. 6 in.). 
He was awarded the Athletic Cup, and, on the day when 
he received his prizes, from the hand of his mother, I was 
told by the Headmaster that he was 'the best all-round 
athlete who had ever been at the school '. 

The Reports on Ronald's work show keenness and 

E 2 

52 THE O.P.S. 

brightness throughout, and a development in the last two 
or three years that kept pace with his athletics. He was 
most successful in the English essays on historical subjects. 
Two of his very early efforts, ' Mary, Queen of Scots ' and 
some verses on the ' Discovery of America ', he kept in his 
scrap-book with the title ' A Prize Poem and Essay ! ! ' 
His mathematics were also praised in the Reports. 

Ronald also received the second of two prizes offered to 
the O.P.S. by his father for a natural history collection 
with notes, to be made in the summer of 1900. He sent 
in a collection of butterflies, and was awarded a prize 
because of the full and careful data accompanying the 
specimens. Later on he added a ' Prize Coll. ' label to 
each, distinguishing it from the rest of his collection. 

Ronald was a keen collector. He and his sister Margaret 
encouraged each other in the development of an omnivorous 
taste, as is evident from the following letter to his brother 
at Rugby. The suggestion in it is delicately made for 
a child of nine and a half: 

March 7, 1899. ' I have not much to say but I wanted 
to ask you about some coins in your Apotheke which is 
hanging above my bed. Margaret and I collect coins in 
our museum in the boys room. It is very tidy ; and we 
collect butterflies and moths and magazines and crests and 
stamps and shells and tortus shells and eggs and coins.' 

Ronald often sang and recited in the O.P.S. concerts. 
The Report for April 1903 speaks of his recitation as ex- 
cellent and he received a prize for it at the end of the 
Summer Term. 

In his accounts of the years Ronald does not say much 
about his work, but there is an amusing reference to one 
of the masters. He was speaking of the Autumn Term of 
1902 : ' I was for the first time wholly under Hum's [Mr. 
A. E. Lynam's] mastership. I found [it] quite different to 
what I expected. I expected great sufferings for me, but 
he certainly did not give it.' 

Speaking of one of the outside hockey matches early in 
1903 he wrote of their opponents : ' It was a curious school, 

18971903 53 

chiefly comprised of Dukes and Lords, very luxurious and 

' As to cricket ', he wrote of the 1903 season, ' we played 
fourteen matches of which we only lost two. In the first 
six matches, I played very badly, having an average of only 
six, which is very bad for the captain of the eleven. But in 
the remaining matches I had better luck. We bathed as 
usual, though the water was much below its normal tem- 
perature. The sports at the end of the term were favoured 
by a very fine day. I gained a good deal of money in the 
sports and also a cup. The next day we had the speech day, 
my last day as a schoolboy at the O.P.S., but 

The old order changeth, yielding place to new, 

and I had to go to a Public School some time. But I was 
very sorry to leave. I received three book prizes.' 

I keep to the last one of the finest things done at the 
O.P.S. and that is the acting of a play of Shakespeare just 
after the Christmas holidays every year. The interest 
spreads far and wide, infecting not only the whole school 
but younger brothers, sisters, parents, governesses, nurses, 
Oxford friends; also old Dragons who are lucky enough 
to visit the familiar long-loved haunt at this electric moment, 
who write prologues and are sometimes even allowed to 
shine in minor parts. But this is the day of the young 
Dragons and their sisters, and no important part will be 
given elsewhere. Yet in spite of this, the Skipper con- 
trives to make the parents and all the rest feel as if they 
were part of the show, with every right to be very proud 
of it. And this complacency is not confined to the Shake- 
speare play, though it is especially evident on that great 
occasion ; it is felt in everything, work and sport, that is 
done at the O.P.S. It is one great secret of O.P.S. success. 

So the great day conies round every January in accord- 
ance with the Skipper's sound idea ' that an acting know- 
ledge of at least one play of the greatest playwright of our 
own, or any other country, should form part of the education 
of every English boy '. And thus the Dragons have met 
beforehand and continue to meet the sensible criticism that 

54 THE O.P.S. 

the beauty of Shakespeare's plays is often lost in an exces- 
sive study of the notes upon them. 

There is a most appealing incongruity in a Caesar of at 
most fourteen extending his slender arm as he declaims : 

Have I in conquest stretched so far mine arm 
To be afraid to tell greybeards the truth? 

Or in a stern bearded warrior of the same age hurling at 
the trembling messenger : 

The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon ! 

4 Not at all a nice story ' was the comment of a sister's 
nurse on the play in which the line occurs, reminding one 
of the Victorian old lady who said of Antony and Cleo- 
patra : 

' How unlike the home-life of our own beloved sovereign ! ' 

Ronald, who had acted minor parts in the plays of 1901 and 
1902, was, in his last year, asked to take Mark Antony. In 
1896, when the same play had been chosen as the first to be 
acted in the newly built hall, his brother was Julius Caesar. 
The following criticism of Ronald's part appeared in the 
Draconian (Apr. 1903, pp. 608, 609) : 

' As regards the performers there can be little doubt that 
Mark Antony was facile princeps. I never remember to 
have seen, even at the O.P.S., anything to equal his 
splendid conception of this, one of the greatest of Shake- 
speare's characters; the perfect taste of his elocution, his 
command of pathos and of irony and his beautiful self- 
restraint were indeed amazing in a boy of his age.' 

Ronald was at the time thirteen and four months. In his 
account of 1903 very little was made of his own doings. ' I 
was given the part of Antony. The play itself went off very 
well and the audience were very crowded.' 

Below is the Prologue to As you Like It, played in 
January 1918 written by Frank Sidgwick, an Old Dragon 
(Draconian, Apr. 1918, p. 4043) : 

Welcome, all friends! Once more we tread the boards, 
Shepherds and ladies, fools and exiled lords, 

18971903 55 

Trusting that you with us may still rejoice 

To hear the April notes of Shakespeare's voice. 

Please you a little parody forgive, 

And let me ask ' Who dies, if Shakespeare live ? ' 

Never again will one 1 who loved his plays, 
Wrote us pur Prologues, gave the critic's praise 
Never again may he rejoin us here 
To watch the scene and give us actors cheer, 
Never again : but though the voice be gone, 
The spirit hovers, bidding us 'Carry on'. 

Nor he alone, but all our loved and lost 
Call us to effort, without count of cost. 
Take we the burden they were bidden drop ; 
Only the coward and the fool will stop. 
Can we not find, then, if we humbly try, 
More in this play than meets the ear or eye? 
Reason to love our England more and more, 
Some spur to make us better than of 3'ore ? 
Come, to our duties, for the play's the thing. 
Company, 'shun! God save our gracious King! 

It would be a great mistake to suppose that because 
boys leave a school at about fourteen the effects are likely 
to be unimportant ; far from it, they may be lifelong. For 
over twenty years I have tried to help and have been 
helped by young British naturalists in many parts of the 
Empire, especially Africa. Among the keenest of these 
are two who in helping me came to know each other and 
to realize that when they were about ten years old they 
had been at the same school in Oxford and with a master, 
the Rev. J. W. B. Bell, who had done his best to encourage 
their fine latent powers of observation, and their love of 
living beings. It cannot be doubted, I think, that their 
whole lives have been coloured by this early education in 
the strict meaning of the word, a true leading out of the 
qualities that were in them. 

1 Capt. Hugh Sidgwick, killed at the front in September 1917 
one of the 64 Old Dragons who had fallen in the Great War at the 
time of the beautiful Memorial Service on June 30, 1918 by the end 
of the War 75, but the fallen O.D.'s in the French Army are not yet 

56 THE O.RS. 

And this thought brings me back to the O.P.S. and the 
words of Capt. J. C. B. Gamlen in a little sermon to the 
school when on leave in the Michaelmas Term of 1917 : 

'When I was a Dragon, we thought we had great 
traditions, and we had, but they were not nearly so great 
as yours to-day. For, in our time, the older Dragons who 
had gone out into the world, and who had built up the 
school traditions for us, had had no such opportunities for 
behaving greatly as have been given by this great war. 
With you it is different. To take but three names, you 
have before you the examples of Charles Fisher [Lieut. 
R.N.V.R., H.M.S. Invincible, lost in the Jutland battle], 
and Ronald Poulton, and Hugh Sidgwick. 1 I choose these 
names, not necessarily because they are the greatest, but 
because I knew these men. Now, to belong to the school 
which produced these men is just as though you belonged 
to a school which had produced Sir Richard Grenville, and 
Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir Philip Sydney. Think of 
these men, and of the other O.D.'s who have fallen, in that 
way. Let them be your constant example, and, in order to 
profit fully from that example, try to learn anything you 
can about them. Try to discover what manner of men 
they were; there are plenty of people who knew them 
intimately and can tell you all about them ; about their life 
here, and afterwards, and their great successes, and their 
friends, and, most of all, about their views of life, and the 
way in which they illustrated those views by giving their 
lives in the greatest of all causes. If you learn this lesson 
well, you, too, may one day, in some great crisis, have the 
privilege of copying their example. You cannot do more 
than that.' (Draconian, Dec. 1917, p. 4000.) 

A few months after Capt. Gamlen's address was spoken, 
Lieut. Martin H. Collier went for his last voyage, leaving 
the most touching proof of the influence of school life in 
early years. The words were written, on first receiving 
the command of an over-seas submarine in April 1917, as 

1 In the same number of the Draconian, p. 3095, Capt. W. H. 
Moberly, D.S.O., also writes of Hugh Sidgwick : ' If I were asked to 
illustrate the contribution of the O.P.S. to English life, and now to 
England's sacrifice, I should be content to couple his name to that 
of Ronald Poulton and to let the O.P.S. be judged by them.' 

1897 193 57 

part of a letter to his father and mother to be opened in the 
event of his death. 

' I don't think I fear Death ; there has been too much of 
it during the last two and a half years to retain its old awe 
and prestige. 

1 1 have never talked much of Religion, but I think you 
know I believe very firmly in the After-life, and look forward 
to meeting all my friends, Berry, Spurling, Ronald 
Poulton, Denis O'Sullivan, and many others who have 
already "passed over" and you when you come/ 

With the exception of the first name, probably that 
of a Naval friend, all were Dragons. Alfred Spurling was 
killed in the Boer War, his brother Frank, also an O.D., in 
the Great War, but many months after Lieut. Collier wrote 
his letter; Denis died while still at the school. Martin, 
a fine football player who often met Ronald on the field, 
was always proud that it was he who persuaded F. E. 
Oakeley, the International who fell early in the war, to take 
up the Rugby game instead of Association. 

The Dragon period must be completed by saying some- 
thing of the holidays. St. Helens Cottage at St. Helens, 
on the north-east coast of the Isle of Wight, came into our 
possession at the end of 1888, about a year before Ronald 
was born, and the work and play there had an important 
influence on his life. 

It was here and at this period that he began to help in 
the various building operations, and how much they meant 
to him may be realized from his accounts of the years. 
No one reading his story of the work done more than eight 
months before, at Easter 1902, could doubt that it was 
written by one with a very special aptitude for engineering 
or some such practical profession. Another point comes 
out. His words show that, at this early age, he wrote as 
a comrade, with all the interest and sense of responsibility 
of one who sees the work of his hands growing before him. 

The details of the work would be wearisome, but some- 
thing must be said of his bright willingness to help. Often 

58 THE O.P.S. 

in order to finish off a piece of work, or use up material 
that was already prepared, he would get up at six or 
earlier once, for a special occasion in 1900, at 4.45 and 
work with me before breakfast. I always asked him if he 
wished to do this and he was always willing and indeed 
eager. Then the last mornings were ever the same. We 
worked up to the last minute the evening before and got 
up at six or earlier to clean and put away all our tools and 
gear ready for the next holidays. 

A bit of work in the summer of 1900 is very clear in my 
memory. For several days we had been interrupted by 
rain. At last, on Aug. 27, we declined to be stopped any 
longer. Ronald and I got up early and, in spite of rain 
nearly all day, built the whole of the retaining wall seen 
above the seat in the accompanying illustration, and faced 
the exposed surface with pebbles. 

His love of building is shown in many a letter, and 
especially in his regret when the increasing pressure of 
scientific work encroached more and more upon the time 
I could give to the strenuous recreations of St. Helens. 
This was always distressing to him, although the old hours 
could never have been continued as he grew older and 
came with his friends for shorter periods, needing con- 
centrated play rather than work. But he always regretted 
it and loved to think of the old times. This was the mean- 
ing of a lament many years later that ' things are not as 
they were ', and of his letter to me from Salisbury during 
the Army Manoeuvres of 1910 : ' I am looking forward to 
seeing you all. It will be tremendous fun. And you 
mustn't work very much while we are all together.' And 
his friend Dick Dugdale remembered that he ' used to get 
very worried about the way you never would take a rest, 
even when you were there '. And always when he had 
been out with his friends or for any other reason was not 
working with me he would come round to see what had 
been done, and, whatever the progress, his encouraging 
words were the same, words that are ever with me 
' O father, you have got on '. And I know well that the 

At St. Helens Cottage, Aug. 27, 1900. The open two-foot rule gives the scale. 
About J of the length, on the R. side was built by Ronald. From a photograph 
by A. W. Wade of St. Helens, I. W. 

Facing p. 58.] 

1897 1903 59 

sense of all that we had done together was with him when 
he wrote on April 22, 1915, a fortnight before he was killed : 
' You would simply love all the schemes for improvements, 
and making dug-outs and improvements for drainage '. 

But the holidays were never entirely devoted to building 
operations and other such work. Much strenuous activity 
was expended in games, as many a page of this book will 
show. The favourite was hide-and-seek, and the garden 
was very largely planned so as to increase the variety and 
interest of the game. I have also a picture in my mind of 
Ronald and Janet looking at each other after breakfast or 
lunch and nodding sometimes towards the lawn for some 
wild form of croquet ; sometimes towards the fives court 
on the other side of the house for a kind of squash rackets. 
Thus without wasting a moment in words they reached 
agreement and started a game. But hide-and-seek was the 
great game at St. Helens, enjoyed by our children more, 
I feel sure, than any Inter- University or International 
contest. The object of the hiders was to gain a base on 
the lower lawn without being touched. The lower lawn 
itself might only be entered by certain channels which the 
seekers attempted to guard but were liable to be distracted 
by concerted rushes. Running and dodging and above all 
combination were the essentials of both attack and defence ; 
hiding played a very minor part in the game. All the 
strategic parts of the garden were known by special 
names, rather puzzling to friends who joined in the game 
for the first time. The excitement of capture and evading 
capture was terrific, well expressed by Margaret, who, 
when caught in a place from which escape was impossible 
exclaimed : 

' I feel as if I could break the world in two ! ' 
Quite apart from and beyond the building operations and 
games in the garden, the swimming and golf, there were 
the interesting features near at hand : the pool of the only 
tidal mill George Darwin ever saw, at the bottom of the 
field the other side of the road, the flint implements of 
Priory Bay to the north, and the Tertiary Strata of White- 

60 THE O.P.S. 

cliff Bay to the south. It has been an ideal spot for the 
holidays of children with a natural taste for work and play 
in the open air and for science. 

The accounts of the years were begun in 1899. Ronald's 
occupies just one side of a sheet of foolscap and ends like 
a letter, ' Your loving Ronald ' followed by' P.S. It is to 
Mother to read' another little indication of his natural 
timidity, which he could even then conquer when he felt 
that something was required of him ; for to recite at the 
mid-term concert, as spoken of in his account, would need 
far more resolution than to read what he had written to 
the very friendly and appreciative circle at home. 

Among the doings of school and holidays which stood 
out in his memory at the end of the year the only thing 
which need be mentioned is the November night when ' the 
shooting stars were supposed to come but they didn't ' 
a great disappointment to many as well as the writer. 

No accounts were written in 1900, but they were resumed 
at the end of the following year when Ronald wrote 
a much fuller history. The slight impression made upon 
him by the Boer War as an event seems remarkable. 
There is no reference to its progress : 

' On the i8th February came the news of Mr. Church's 
death at the war. He was one of our masters. Some 
time before had come the news of Queen Victoria's death 
from anxiety. We had a whole holiday to see the Queen's 
funeral, and we had the luck to get a window in London. 
We also got a half a morning off for the Proclamation of 
the King in Oxford.' 

The account ends: 'Teddie got the Brackenbury 
Scholarship for Science at Balliol for which we offer him 
our best congratulations : it is an extremely good ending 
to the year." 1 

The story of 1902 again shows a great increase in length, 
extending to nearly seven pages of foolscap. It begins 
with the Christmas visit to Youlbury and the games and 
acting there. Wedged into the account of the first term, 
after it had been written, were the words: 'About this 
time Peace was declared. There was a demonstration in 

1897 193 6 1 

Oxford.' This and 'the carpentering shop and Museum 
otherwise known as the Church Memorial ' at the O.P.S. 
are the only references to the Boer War. 

There is an amusing description of his cousin Eustace 
Palmer's wedding at Easter. Ronald speaks of the building 
work in the garden at St. Helens being stopped 

'by the invitation to Eustace's wedding, in which Janet 
took part as Bridesmaid. The wedding was effected at 
St. Marie's Church. Janet though almost ill with fright 
still had enough in her to take the pretty bracelet which 
was given her as a present. After supper Aunt Jean very 
kindly sent us off to Ulysses, It was lovely, especially the 
scene representing Hades.' 

Ronald's account of the journey from St. Helens to 
Oxford at the end of the summer holidays of 1902 
referring only to Janet, Ronald himself, and the maids, for 
the others were away reveals, I think, a power and sense 
of responsibility unusual in one so young : 

' After saying good-bye to all around here we started off. 
I walked by the sea-wall. We got into a very crowded 
train at Stokes Bay. At Fareham much to our surprise 
we were told we had to change. There was a frightful 
squash. We got into a first-class carriage much to the 
disgust of the guard. We again changed at Eastleigh, 
this time into a carriage where we hardly had standing 
room. At last we reached Basingstoke only to find that 
we had lost our train and must wait for an hour and 
a half. After a long time we got into an almost empty 
carriage with some ladies who greatly disliked our animals 
and who threatened to call the guard. Luckily the guard 
was not forthcoming. We again had to change at Reading, 
making five changes in all. We at last reached Oxford.' 

During his Dragon period Ronald remained unusually 
nervous. His mother recalls that, in the early years, he 
found great difficulty, owing to his timidity, in getting 
' changed ' after games or bathing, and she well remembers 
the quakings at breakfast on the first morning of the 
school term after the holidays, the one breakfast at which 
Ronald would not eat marmalade ! I think, however, that 

62 THE O.P.S. 

this form of self-denial did not last very long. The same 
timidity appears in his account of 1901, when he said of 
a visit to Wokefield Park at Easter ' Uncle Alfred very 
kindly hired us two horses, but they were extremely fierce 
ones '. 

My own memories are of the little disasters of childhood 
at St. Helens fortunately few and far between, so that 
very little of his youth was clouded in this way. And 
sometimes there seemed to be a special justification for 
resentment against the fates. For instance, coming down 
from his bedroom with bare feet he once trod on a ' sleepy ' 
wasp and was told that he had better put his shoes on 
next time. But when next time came he felt justly 
aggrieved that another 'sleepy' wasp had taken up its 
abode in one of the shoes ! ' You told me to do it ', he said 
reproachfully, and it was evident that the fact made the 
pain all the harder to bear. 

Margaret too remembers, in the wonderful games and 
sports that used to go on, mainly under her leadership, 
how Ronald took his failures very much to heart. He was 
about ten at this time, and, although Janet was too young 
and Ted and Hilda too old to join, the ' Black Demon 
Band' was a formidable organization, including the cousins, 
children of Dr. and Mrs. Waller, and the family of our 
friend the late Prof. Gotch. St. Helens is an ideal place 
for such romantic adventures sand pits for headquarters 
where the trial of rebels could be conducted in secret, 
deep dark thickets of gorse where it was possible to hide 
from foes who were always seeking to destroy the band, so 
that it was necessary to run from one cover to another 
very stealthily and quickly : it was safest indeed to traverse 
the dangerous open spaces in single file with the body 
bent at a right angle so that the height was reduced to but 
little more than half. And in order to be sure that the 
Black Demons were thoroughly fit it was necessary to 
subject them to certain tests which were carried out on 
a little single-plank bridge with a narrow hand-rail on one 
side. There was also the added fascination of danger at 

1897 193 63 

any rate to clothes, for the bridge spanned a little stream, 
4 the heart of the river', and its banks of soft black mud, 
picturesquely called 'the porcupine piggishness '. The 
crowning feat was to walk along the narrow hand-rail. 
When Ronald fell he would exclaim ' Oh ! I'm killed ', not 
entirely in joke, and for quite a long time would lie 
motionless in the ' porcupine piggishness '. 

At Oxford too Margaret and Ronald used to have great 
times in my workshop in the Dragon days, she doing her 
carving and he pretending to be an inefficient workman 
appropriately named Mr. Boosey. 

It was in the year 1903, when he was about 13^, that 
Ronald's personality first attracted the attention and the 
surprise of his brother. Edward would no doubt have 
recognized it much earlier but for the six years' interval 
which prevented them from being at school together. 
I remember very well the incident described in the follow- 
ing memories : 

1 1 think the first occasion on which I noticed there was 
something different from myself in Ronald, at any rate in 
regard to our effect on other people, was on the occasion 
of our Easter visit to Paris, when there had been a row at 
the O.P.S. The difficulty was that the Skipper had been 
in the habit of asking various boys who were not in the 
cricket eleven, to go with the team and watch matches 
against other schools. This was looked on as a great treat 
by the boarders, as it meant a change from the regular 
routine. However, with many day-boys a Saturday after- 
noon at home was more enjoyable than watching any 
cricket match, and there was some grumbling. 

' The Skipper was furious when he got to know about 
it, and thought Ronald was one of the chief grumblers, 
whereas, as far as I remember, Ronald did not mind very 
much either way, in fact he rather liked going. The 
Skipper one day told the school straight out what he 
thought of the grumblers, and in particular told Ronald 
what he thought of him. Ronald was much upset, and 
eventually Father wrote to Mr. Lynam and explained 
matters. When we were in Paris, Ronald received a most 
penitent letter from the Skipper, asking him to reply as 
soon as possible that he would forgive him for his suspi- 

64 THE O.P.S. 

cions, and make things all right again. Ronald began his 
letter " Dear Scipper 'V and in a most matter of fact way 
and quite unaffectedly said that things were all right. He 
received a second affectionate letter of thanks. I well 
remember the impression that these two letters made on 
me that Ronald had succeeded in creating in another 
man a much deeper affection than I had ever done, and 
wondering what mere was in this small boy that made this 

From Mr. C. C. Lynam, the Headmaster of the O.P.S. 

' I have been trying to put something down on paper 
about Ronnie, but I find it impossible. There is so much 
to say and yet one simply cannot say it. He was one of 
those boys in whose presence it was impossible to say or 
do anything nasty or offensive, and he seemed to raise and 
purify the atmosphere of school life. I really do not 
remember ever having had to find fault with him. His 
smile and his clear bright look always made me feel that 
one need never to ask, " Is life worth living ? " There came 
a sort of breath of the Divine with him that dissipated care 
and weariness and renewed one's faith in God and Man. 

I am ever your debtor, my friend, in that you gave me 
the privilege of intimately knowing and loving your dear 

1 He always spelled it that way when a Dragon. I remember that 
his first sentence he showed me the letter was to this effect : 
' I was very glad to get your letter for I was rather anxious.' He then 
went on at once to our doings in Paris. E. B. P. 


RUGBY: 1903-1908 

My memory of Ronnie and our school life together is very vivid in 
my recollection. His death upset me more than anything which has 
so far happened in this war, and he still lives in my memory and that 
of many others of his pals as the finest fellow we have ever met. 
Lt. C. C. WATSON, R.F.A., from the front, Jan. 24, 1917. Died of 
wounds June i, 1917. 

I can never forget the help he gave me and the influence which in 
his unobtrusive way he shed around him at Rugby and in the School 
House. I can but thank God that I have known him. THE LATE 

THIS book was nearly finished when I read The Loom 
of Youth, in which the author claims that English Public 
Schools in general are fairly represented in the picture 
of ' Fernhurst '. The picture is certainly false of Rugby as 
Ronald knew it. Early in his time there was a boy at the 
School House who in his exclusive devotion to games and 
the style of his language was everything that the author of 
the Loom presents as typical. But it is quite clear from 
Ronald's correspondence with his older friend, H. F. Garrett, 
that this boy was not only exceptional but also unpopular. 
Garrett, who knew the boy when he was at the School 
House, wrote from Cambridge a tolerant letter advocating 
exceptional treatment for an exceptional class : 

'All these men want is work they can get up an in- 
terest for. Caesar and Xenophon never by any chance 
could appeal to them ; and so, when they are at School, 
every bit of energy or interest they have is concentrated 
on games. It's not really their fault; they're made like 
that. The sooner they leave a public school, the better 
for themselves and the school, and I don't think a 'Varsity 
is the place for them either.' At the 'Varsity, he said, 
such a man ' is sure to find heaps of men who care for 


games and games alone, and he will only get worse and 
worse. Whereas, if he goes into some business and gets 
to understand that there are other things than cricket and 
footer in life, he is sure to improve, provided he has got 
some of the right stuff in him.' 

As regards immorality the picture in the Loom is even 
less true of Rugby. C. P. Evers writes : 

' Often when we met after school days we did not dis- 
cuss serious matters to any extent when the meetings 
were short there was no time for much more than ordi- 
nary exchange of views, and we were so glad to see each 
other that we spent a good deal of the time laughing. 

' But we often did discuss things that mattered much 
of it connected with school, the relations of masters and 
boys, the duties of the Vlth, the curriculum, and so on. 
Above all, we discussed moral questions. The following 
letter shows how deeply he felt about this when he went 
to Oxford and started work at the Balliol Boys' Club. 
He felt strongly that boys ought to be warned of moral 
dangers at school. We had some correspondence about 
this. He was evidently so upset by his discoveries that 
I did my best to comfort him. But we agreed that it was 
a difficult subject to treat in the best and wisest way.' 

Ronald's letter was written from Balliol on March 2, 

4 What I want to ask you is, don't you think that grave 
harm is done in Public Schools 

' (i) By not explaining quite plainly all about it merely 
from the material point of view of the boy to the boy 
when he gets to a suitable age, 

4 (2) by not being much plainer about it, and by cloaking 
it under such vague terms as are used in the pulpit ana 
elsewhere ? 

' I am quite sure that the principle of keeping that kind 
of thine dark must be wrong, when I say that I went right 
through Rugby with only the vaguest ideas of what was 
meant by immorality. Although I admit that certain words 
from my Mother kept me straight before I went to Rugby. 
What I mean is that had I gone wrong at Rugby, though 
it would have been largely my fault, yet to a large extent 
it would have been through ignorance of the harm I was 
doing myself. Because our house, like all the houses at 

I 93 1 98 67 

Rugby, I hope, never opened any boy's eyes by any filthy 

' Excuse my talking, my dear Claude, on this sordid 
subject. But after all in the slums of Oxford or elsewhere, 
it is the only matter of desperate importance. What I ask 
you can you think of this system of concealment of 
knowledge, when one of our officers expressed surprise 
because we were horrified when he casually told us that 
he made a beast of himself? 

' In a club of some forty or fifty boys I suppose we know 
of some ten or twelve boys who have contracted the most 
filthy habits. And there are probably many more. 

' I am convinced that all that which is preached in the 
pulpit about filling up your time, and never being idle, is 
simply a gospel of cowardice. It teaches you not to face 
the temptation, but somehow or other to get round it. 
What I say is make the boy realize the wrong he does 
himself, so that having realized it, he may be strong 
enough to be able to be idle without harm. 

1 After all as Rae * said, it is such a common thing, that 
why should it be talked of in bated breath, and never 
explained ? ' 

After speaking again of his ignorance of such things at 
Rugby he continues : 

' How can you expect an ignorant boy to ask about 
things, about which there is such a mystery? Certain 
people at School used to say how pi I was, and how 
ignorant of things. And I ask you how can a member of 
the Vlth do his duty in this business if he doesn't know 
what to look out for ? 

' I can quite understand the danger of making the whole 
thing too open and obvious. But I would not let any boy 
know anything about it till he comes to the age when the 
temptation may assail him.' 

In the concluding words of an article on the school in 
Country Life for April 8, 1916, Alfred Ollivant sums up his 
impressions of Rugby as he knew it and speaks of the 
time that was coming the time of which some features 
are, I hope, preserved in the following sections : 

1 Ronald's Balliol friend Keith Rae, often spoken of in later pages. 



'Dr. Percival killed the heavy swell. Since his days 
the ' buck ', as I believe the modern Rugbeian calls him, is 
a boy among boys, and not a god among mortals. And in 
the last twenty years the school athletes have excelled as 
never before : Victor Cartwright, the two Stoops, Ronald 
Poulton, Kenneth Powell, E. W. Dillon, all learned their 
craft in the Close. Certainly the times have changed. 
That lingering note of savagery which characterized the 
upper classes, and therefore the Public Schools, through 
the nineteenth century has died away. And it is hard for 
us to conceive that there may be Rugbeians still alive who 
remember when it was the custom for the fag to warm his 
master's bed of bitter winter nights by lying in it before 
the entry of his lord. In my time there was no bullying 
at Rugby, but on the other hand there were no Ronald 
Poultons, Rupert Brookes, and Kenneth Powells. These 
men stand for something new in the history of the school. 
They represent the spirit of the twentieth century, 
a graciousness, a tolerance, a human sympathy, unknown 
to us of the older generation. 

' And these three great ones I have named, if they were 
the chief, were also but the children of their time. All 
three, with hundreds more who were used with them to 
answer Calling Over in Old Big School, have fallen 
victims to that eruption of animalism which is the anti- 
thesis of everything for which their large and generous 
natures stood. They and their fellows have fought the 
good fight and finished their course, almost before the 
echo of their schoolboy feet has died in Quad and Cloister ; 
but they are surely with us still 

Marching at dusk across the Close in column, 
Mud-stained and triumphant from the trenches where they 


Endless Battalions, in the listening twilight, 
Swinging home at evening, the Army of our Dead.' 

In writing the account of Ronald's schooldays I have 
received much kind help from his friends among the 
masters and boys, and have also consulted the pages of 
the Meteor, especially for his athletic performance. But 
I have chiefly relied on Ronald's own words in his letters 
and accounts of the years. These will show that his 
school life was not a thing apart but woven into one with 

1903 6g 

his family life. Quoted passages without any indication of 
origin are always from Ronald's accounts of the years. 

To Hilda. 

'Oct. 4. 

' I am getting on very well here thank you. I find it 
much nicer than I expected it to be. The Sixth in our 
dorm, is very young and rather strict, but he is very nice. 

' Last Wednesday Bowring (Head of games) took me into 
his study and told me all about what Mr. Lynam wrote to 
him. He asked me who taught me footer, so I said 
Vassall. He said " G. C. Vassall of Oxford. Oh, vou 
must be well taught". This shows how famous Vassall is. 

' It is very touchant (" tres touchant " to copy what you 
said) to find I am at all missed by my elder sister. 

4 / am an Alto in the choir. I sing most superiorly now, 
and please tell Mother that I will sing alto with her in 
church when I come home/ 

To Margaret at school in Paris. 

1 Oct. 25. 

'As I have not really written a decent letter this term 
I must do so now. Thank you so much for your letter, it 
was kind of you to write. I am sorry I have not written 
before, but Sunday is the only day I can write. 

' I am working very hard here to get out of my form 
(Upper Middle II) next term, though I think this very 

' Mr. Lynam wrote as you know to the head of the games 
to tell him of our respective merits. In consequence 
I play invariably now in " Belows" *, the top House Game. 

1 In order to understand this and other football terms in use at 
Rugby it is necessary to explain the system followed at the school. 
My son Dr. E. P. Poulton has drawn up the following account : 

' " Big-side " is an arranged game of football, on the Big-side ground 
opposite the Tablet commemorating the origin of Rugby Football, 
between the best two Fifteens in the school chosen entirely by merit 
from any House. It takes place nearly every half-holiday, except 
when there are foreign matches or House matches. During my last 
years there were always two Big-sides, absorbing 60 players between 
them. While Big-side is being played the first Fifteens of all the 
Houses, without the best players who are in Big-sides, play against 


I have not yet played in a House Match and I know 
I shan't do so this year, but I played in "Counting Belows" 
which is really a House Match without the five or six best 

' No end of chaps get " dished " (hurt) in footer. In one 
game we played one man went off to the " San. " with 
a sprained ankle, while four or five others stopped the 
game at different times for about three minutes each. At 
present in our house we have three members of the House 
Fifteen in the San. besides one who has just come out. 
But you needn't be afraid of me getting hurt, as it is 
usually the forwards who get hurt and not the |s. 

' Half term in two weelcs hurrah ! Then I shall see 

That letter of yours was quite worth the money I can 
assure you. I am becoming quite a letter-writer now. 
I write about five to seven Tetters on Sunday, only five 
to-day. You are coming home for Christmas I hope : as 
I am looking forward to seeing you then. It will dis- 
appoint me if you don't. 

'Chapel bell just going for Evening Service. Please 
write soon/ 

To Hilda. 

'Nov. 24. 

' " Mes felicitations " on your hockey career. How did you 
play against the High School? I suppose you won? 
(Don't show Janet this or she might get angry at me 
taking it for certain that you won) (also please ask her 
which [school] was founded first her's or Lynam's, and 
which one copied its colours from the other.) We have 
had a row here in the school generally, but as it is not 
important to any one except those who participated in it, 
and I wasn't one of those, it can wait till the holidays to be 
told. The only inconvenience is that in consequence all 
halves on Monday have been stopped which is rather 
a blow. 

each other. These are called " Belows ". The second and third 
fifteens similarly play against each other and are called "II Belows" 
and " III Belows " respectively. On certain days these Below 
matches are arranged on a league, viz. as in an American tourna- 
ment, and are called "Counting Belows ", " Counting II Belows", and 
"Counting III Belows", so called because the victories count towards 
the order of merit determined at the end of term.' 

i93 7 1 

' The Chemistry we do here is awful fun and if only 
I had the apparatus in the holidays I could make heaps of 
things. You are not doing Chemistry in the Museum are 
you ? I wish you were because you and I could go there 
together in the holidays to look around. 

4 Last Wednesday we had a lecture on the Revolution. 
It was a very good lecture [by Hilaire Belloc], but not very 
interesting to some boys. I must say I rather liked it ; he 
compared with our-time politics rather well and had some 
amusing anecdotes to illustrate his words. Last Sunday 
we had a lecture on the Mission in India. He showed 
some very good slides. He also showed us two Lepers. 
It certainly was a most disgusting sight : he apologized for 
showing us them. It was a very interesting lecture.' 

Lt. C. C. Watson, R. F. A., wrote from the front 
Feb. 21, 1917 : 

' My first memory of Ronnie is curiously enough, in 
view of our later friendship, of the first day he was at 
Rugby School. He passed well in the School into 
"Upper Middle II" Mr. Hawkesworth's form at that 
time and I can still see him distinctly sitting as bottom 
boy of the class by the door, with his Eton collar and 
rather long front hair generally a little low over his right 
eye, and his knees stuck out at an angle of ninety degrees. 
I remember him as rather a quiet shy boy at that time and 
as I had been in the School a year then we had nothing in 
common and I did not get to know him. Funnily enough 
that was the only time I was in the same form as Ronnie, 
as his progress was much more rapid than mine ; besides 
which his specialization took him into a different sphere.' 

The first mention of Ronald's football in the Meteor 
(Dec. 22, 1903, p. 150) is in the description of School 
House v. Collins' in ' Final Counting Belows '. In this 
game, won by the School House, 39 points to i try, 
he ' played very well at three-quarters '. 

In the holidays he went with me for the first time to the 
much-loved Magdalen Carols on Christmas Eve (p. 123). 
Then there were happy days as of old at Youlbury and at 
Marlston, where at the fancy dress ball ' I passed with 
some success as a baby. I must give thanks to Margaret 
for her kind help in getting me up '. 


On his return to Rugby Ronald entered Form Upper 
Middle I, from which he secured his remove at the end of 
the term. He wrote to his mother on Feb. 7 : 

' I am third this week in my form which is one better, 
and I really think that I have quite a good chance of 
getting out at the end of the term, then Hurrah ! ! ! no 
more fagging.' 

On Jan. 25 there was a school levee on playing Hockey 
at Easter, and Ronald thought it a great pity that the game 
was not given a trial, for he disliked the School Runs and 
thought that most of the boys disliked them too. 

' Later on in the term the Confirmation ceremony was 
performed. As I was chosen one of the select choir I had 
an interesting part in the ceremony.' Then came practising 
for the Sports on March 23-24 in which ' I won some races 

and so got afterwards a silver bowl Teddie came down 

for the Sports and carried off the prize for the Old Boys' 
Race with great eclat.' Edward gave a little account of 
these sports in a letter to his mother : 

'As you might imagine, Ronald did simply splendidly 
and I am certain created a record for the number of prizes 
he won in events under 16 years and 14^. He won every 
event he went in for under 14^. 

' His total number of prizes was 8 and I helped to bring 
them back to his study after the races. 

4 It was impossible not to be impressed with his great 
athletic power, and he shows promise of being quite 
Rugby's best athlete when he gets older. Of course you 
know how entirely he is free from conceit of any kind. 
You can imagine that I had one of the nicest days of my 
life in watching him.' 

The following account of his performance appears in the 
Meteor (Apr. 16, 1904, p. 34) : 

1 In the under events Poulton stood out pre-eminent. 
He won the 100 yds. both under 14! and under 16, the 
150 yds. under 16, the 300 under 14^, the Broad Jump 
under 16, the Half-Mile under 14^, was second in the High 
Jump and Steeplechases under 16, and third in the 
Hurdles under 16, a wonderful all-round performance. 

1904 73 

His times in the 300 yds. and half-mile under 14^ were 
excellent, and his winning two 100 yd. races one after the 
other in 12 sees, was a very fine performance.' 

Lt. C. C. Watson wrote : 

1 1 remember towards the end of that winter term [1903] 
that I heard his name mentioned several times as a very 
promising football player, but the first time he became 
really known was when he swept the board at the Junior 
Sports in 1904. I took a special interest in the per- 
formance, having done the same the year before, and 
I remember being told by Kenneth Powell that I should 
have to look to my laurels, which proved truer than I ever 
dreamed of at the time.' 

At these, his last athletic sports at Rugby, Kenneth 
Powell won the Athletic Cup, with a total of 6|, while his 
and C. C. Watson's House, W. G. Michell's, won the 
Wrigley Cup with 195, although the School House was 
close upon them with 192. 

An amusing incident relating to these sports is described 
by Ronald in a letter to Margaret a very unusual letter, 
inasmuch as the circumstances led him to speak in detail 
of his own performance. 

1 1 have just been out to dinner with Mrs. Eden who 
seems to know a good deal more about Father than I do. 
She kept on asking me if Father had such and such a plant, 
and I didn't for the life of me know. 

4 It was funny ; an assistant master there was talking 
about the sports, and he said that one of his (Eden's) boys 
had run the half-mile in 2 min. 30 sec. He said he thought 
that it was a much better time than the time of the under 
14? half-mile at Rugby School, which he said was not at all 
a good time and that it was over 2 min. 30 sec. The funny 
thing is that I, who won that race, was in the room all the 
time ; and as a matter of fact I did it in 2 min. 26! sec., 
which was better than the last two years times and the time 
of the under 16. Rather a faux pas wasn't it ? I blushed 
most mightily.' 

Ronald found this vacation in 1904 'to be of greater 
interest than many other Easter holidays, in that it was the 


first time that the family with the exception of father found 
and took up with Palaeolithic flint implements '. 

Rugby in the Summer Term seemed to Ronald ' an out- 
line of doings fogged and dimmed by a mass of ice-cream. 
It is an extraordinary thing, but practically not a day 
passed in which I did not regale myself with at least one 
ice-cream '. 

He was placed in Mr. Payne-Smith's form V2b, and 
was extremely happy and interested in the work, although 
disappointed in failing to get his remove. In cricket he 

1 missed the House Eleven by one place. The evenings 
were usually spent in going on "ends", that is playing 
cricket in a net. As I had got my Young Guard, which is 
a collection of boys under sixteen, I had an advantage in 
that I could go when I wished to nets which had a special 
professional to coach.' 

On the breaking-up day he went to London with his 
friends the Garretts to stay with them and see the match 
at Lords, which was 'very depressing just as it was all 
through, as we were so completely out-played '. One 
evening 'we played bridge, but as they completely out* 
played me, the game to me was a continual attempt to keep 
down the number of my mistakes. Needless to say I failed 
entirely '. 

Among 'facts which must be mentioned: on June n 
Sir Alfred Jones in fulfilment of his promise sent to Janet 
a grey parrot. It is now quite a pet of the family '. The 
bird, which speaks Ronald's name beautifully, was always 
a great favourite of his, and is associated with him in many 
memories, especially at St. Helens, where ' Pepper ' would 
always be near us when we worked in the garden and 
would be wheeled down to the beach on the barrow when 
the tent was to be put up. On one occasion he was 
frightened by a movement of part of the framework on 
which he was sitting, and flew straight into the sea. Ronald 
waded in to the rescue and found him floating very high in 
the water and showing his alarm, not by loud and piercing 
sounds, but by great rapidity of utterance. I also remember 

I 94 75 

Ronald, as he was sitting reading in the train on the way 
to St. Helens, putting his finger through the bars of the 
little travelling cage so that Pepper might be amused by 
caressing it. 

Janet was the great source of information about Pepper 
and all the other animals. Thus, in 1905, Ronald was 
told that 

' Pepper is very well ; he says " Ronald " ; he tries to say 
" Ronald you rascle ". " Prince" [Hilda's dog] is ill ; he has 
bronchitis (I've no idea how to spell it). 

' One of the baby pigeons died ; he was quite tame and 
couldn't fly, and would not eat. I buried him in my 
Cemetry, and put a slate up for a grave stone, and wrote on 
it in red chalk : 

In loving Memory of 

only child of Clowie.' 

Margaret too was always full of information about the 
animals and once taxed his ingenuity with this statement : 
' We have at present in the house thirty-eight living or beat- 
ing hearts, counting humans, if you understand these 

In the summer holidays, when the family was reunited, 
an event happened by which Ronald was a good deal 
upset. One special charm of St. Helens was its uncon- 
ventionality. All the members of the family could do as 
they liked and dress as they liked. But in the summer of 1904 
a house in the village was taken by a pleasant friendly family 
with different ideas. ' They were very fashionable but nice. 
Their chief amusement seemed to be dancing.' Now danc- 
ing at St. Helens seemed to Ronald the beginning of the 
end of the old simplicity, and when an invitation arrived he 

'was rather perturbed. It necessitated a journey to 
Ventnor to get some articles of apparel. At length I was 
persuaded and Margaret and I accepted. My view may be 
summed up in a few words. I knew no ladies, I could not 
then dance the waltz. The dance which finished at i.o 
lengthened into a supper which lasted till 2.0. As I had 
two suppers already with Margaret, I refused this one. 


Margaret accepted it. In consequence I sat down on 
a chair absolutely alone and surrounded by waitresses.' 

Ronald's account of the summer at St. Helens starts 
with : 

.' One other topic of importance. That, of course, is our 
find of Palaeoliths. We came expecting to find, and 
strange to say we did find them. We went often several 
times a week, and though on many occasions we were not 
rewarded yet I should think we brought back trophies on 
almost a dozen occasions. Mr. Baker J came down to visit 
us. He was rather shaky in his belief with regard to 
them. But one lucky day we set out and he found one. 
This quite converted him. The rage grew on us in pro- 
portion as we succeeded, even leading us to get up at 
6.0 a.m. the day before we left.' 

His account of the holidays ends : ' the night before 
I went to Rugby we went to the " Lights o' London " a some- 
what melodramatic but all the same pathetic play. I enjoyed 
it very much.' 

At Rugby he was still in V 2 b, under Mr. Payne-Smith, 
who had been so Ronald found to his great surprise for 
two years head of Wycliffe Hall, next door to his Oxford 
home. ' He is an awfully nice man. The more 1 saw of 
him the more I liked him.' 

Ronald's place in the choir became rather uncertain in 
this Advent Term, but he succeeded in keeping it, as he 
wrote to his brother on Oct. 2, ' by a judicious oiling of 
the voice. As a matter of fact I can sing alto quite well, 
but I shan't be able to last on next term I'm afraid '. 

The following letter, written to his mother on Dec. 18, 
is fixed into his scrap-book, probably because of the early 
reference to his dear friend William Temple : 

4 1 have really had a most successful term's work and 
play. Besides my form Prize, last Wednesday I was 
approached by the Captain of Football and awarded my 
Flannels (known as ' Bags ') a Distinction l next below 

1 Prof. H. B. Baker, F.R.S. 

1 The 'Distinctions' at Rugby are given in Advent Term for success 

1904 77 

a Cap. I know it 's a thing I oughtn't to be overjoyed at, 
but I'm quite pleased. But I think there is too much fuss 
made over it. For I am now in Hall, 1 that is a thing which 
people of 7 terms are entitled to, and I can wear ' Barmaid ' 
collars, &c. 

' Well, I am looking forward to see you all on Wednes- 
day, I can tell you. 

'Yesterday we had a game School House v. School 
House Old Rugbeians. The O. R.'s won. There were a lot 
whom I knew, the dear W. Temple and H. F. Garrett, &c. 
Bye-the-bye H. H. Hardy 2 is here taking a form whose 
master is away. I talked to him in the interval of the 
Concert last night : he is awfully nice. The Concert was 
quite a success and very novel a very good treble solo 
and 4 Piano solos with strings. To-morrow there is a 
short school Concert, in which there is going to be a piece 
of 4 Pianos with two at each. I rather doubt whether it will 
be a success.' 

Ronald's account of 1904 continues : 

' The night before breaking up an old custom was 
observed, which is observed at the end of every term. 

in Football. They are (i) ' Flannels ', commonly known as ' Bags ' 
the right to wear black stockings : there are about 30 of these in the 
school at any one time. (2) ' Caps ', wearing white knickers, special 
jerseys, and a gorgeous gold and silver braided tasselled velvet cap : 
there are about 30 of these. (3) The XV, with a special band on the 
straw hat, blue knickers, and crest on the white jersey. 

The value attached to ' Distinctions ' may be inferred from a para- 
graph in his brother's account of 1904 : ' It was a great pleasure to 
find that Ronald had got his " Bags ", a Distinction which I just missed 
getting all the time I was there. He is on the way to being a regular 
blood, one of the right kind, combining powers of work with athletic 

1 William Temple kindly informs me that ' Getting into Hall ' at the 
School House means the privilege of sitting at the middle table for 
meals and of coming into the Hall and reading the papers after Prep, 
in the evening, or between Lock-up and Prep. The only fire in the 
House is there, so the privilege is worth something. The right of 
using the Hall at other times, and of walking through or standing 
under Hall Arch is confined to Sixths, Caps, Elevens, and the Head 
of Hall, viz. the Senior boy, provided he holds a distinction of some 
kind such as the Racquet Pair. 

2 Capt. Rifle Brigade ; now Headmaster of Cheltenham. 


I refer to the custom of ' knuckling down '. All the fags 
are leaped over as in leap-frog (down a narrow passage 
into which the dormitories lead) by the Distinctions. I had 
to leap. I think it is a silly custom, as I got my toes hurt 
against the sides of the passage several times.' " 

In the Lent Term of 1905 Ronald was confirmed by 
Bishop Mylne, whose impressive address I remember very 
well. A little earlier in the term his friend H. F. Garrett 
wrote to him from Cambridge : 

' Just a short letter really a short one this time to give 
you all good wishes for your confirmation and all it may 
bring. I hope it will always be a comfort to you and a 
source of strength in times of sorrow and temptation : 
I am certain it can well be all this, and often is so.' 

As regards work he 'entered Mr. Collins' form Va'. 

The following undated letter to Hilda is shown by the 
reference to hockey to belong to this term. The absence 
of his sister's letter is to be regretted, considering the 
nature of its effects. 

' A sad fatality must be recorded : 




* 12.0 a.m. 

1 It appears that on Monday last during breakfast in the 
School House Rugby Hall, a student, whose name has 
been ascertained to be R. W. Poulton, was seen suddenly 
and with increasing celerity to be slipping below the table. 
All efforts to save him were found impossible. He was 
picked up almost unconscious. No further details. 

' (Through Reuter's Agency)/ 

At the bottom of the front page, entirely occupied by the 
above notice, was a reference to the last page giving later 
news : 

1 12. TO. 

' All fears can be dispelled. The youth has recovered 
and gives details. He says that he received that morning 

1 A family word meaning mock sympathy. 

1905 79 

a letter from his sister E. H. P. which was so amusing and 
so terribly funny and witty, that he laughed so hard that 
he found himself slowly losing consciousness and sinking 
below the table. Measures are being taken by school 
authorities to open and destroy any too amusing letters 
as being too funny for youths' precarious nerves. 


' Isn't it lovely about Hockey with regard to you and 
Teddie ? I hear Teddie scored the goals against London 
and you, you are playing vigorously. Bye the bye they 
haven't elected you to play for the English Ladies' team 
yet, have they ? Please marconigraph when they do/ 

The last paragraph referred to the selection of his brother 
and eldest sister for the Oxford v. Cambridge teams. A 
little later he wrote to his brother on his share in the 
Oxford victory (3 goals to i) : 

' Hearty congratulations on your brilliant victory. You 
don't know how I swelled with pride when I read your 
magnificent doings in the papers. They praised you like 
anything. I should have loved to have been there to 
watch. The papers said that your " fast passes and dash- 
ing plav won the game ", or something similar. It really 
was glorious, especially so, since the betting was for 
Cambridge and against Oxford.' 

His sister's match was less successful, for although the 
score was the same, 3-1, it was unfortunately the other 

Ronald wrote of the Sports in his account of 1905 : ' our 
House succeeded in winning the Wrigley Cup. I won an 
event or two and bought a silver salver with the proceeds.' 

The Meteor (April 4, 1905, p. 38) says of him : ' In the 
junior events Poulton and C. C. Watson were, as last year, 
unrivalled, besides being conspicuous in the opens as well.' 
Ronald's performance in this and other years at Rugby is 
tabulated on p. 105. 

Ronald was, with two others, fifth for the Athletic Cup, 
gained by M. B. U. Dewar. The cup is awarded for the 
highest marks gained in open events, each first counting 
i and each second mark. 


The School House gained the Wrigley Cup with 256 
marks, the next house, Donkin's, gaining 97. 

Ronald played in the School XV in all five Rugby matches 
of the term. In the first v. Cambridge O. R.'s, he had 
Kenneth Powell as an antagonist. At Easter 

I The search for implements went on, with varying luck. 
Our enthusiasm was tremendous and compelled us to get 
up before breakfast to prosecute our search. 

' The summer term as usual went off absolutely unevent- 
fully with cricket, work in Mr. Collins' form, bathing, and 
bicycle rides with Mr. Payne-Smith. A bright and happy 
spot in the term was the visit to Rugby by Mother, Hilda, 
and Margaret a farewell visit before their African tour.' 

On this subject he wrote to Margaret on July 16 : 

I 1 must say I wish you weren't going, but it 's a selfish 
wish and I retract it. But it will be a very different holi- 
days to most, as we make so much of being all together.' 

A little later, after we had started, he wrote to Janet, the 
only sister left in England, on July 23 : 

1 1 suppose you are the Mother I must write to now (only 
I hope in that case that you will write to me as many times 
as Mother does). Isn't it sad now they have all gone ? ' 

Towards the end of term Ronald received a letter from 
the Skipper, referring to the three Old Dragons in the 
School House W. T. Collier, Claude Hardy, and Ronald 

1 1 want to tell you what a reputation you three in the 
School House have to live up to. Dr. James wrote to me 
the other day : " Your School House trio are excellent 
fellows, good workers, manly, and altogether an excellent 
element in it, so I am keen to get more." Give my love 
to the other two and mind you all three live up to your 
present character ! It is a long time since anything has 
pleased me so much. Scholarships are nothing to it.' 

On July ii Ronald wrote to his brother at Balliol, who 
had been unfortunate in his class in the Final School of 
Natural Science (Chemistry) : 

'You really don't know how much I sympathize with 

1905 8i 

you, in not obtaining a first. Any one with a bit of an eye 
can see that you are well worth it ; it is a pity. But after 
all, I don't see that it makes so much difference except 
with regard to Fellowships. But I am sure they won't 
take much regard to your place when they know you. 
I shall be awfully interested to hear about it when I see 
you. But I can easily see from what Father said you did 
not anything like do yourself justice. I think exams, are 
such very bad tests of a man's ability, because it is only 
a certain kind of examn. brain which can contract into 
three hours all the amount of knowledge required. Here 
I fail always.' 

At the beginning of the summer holidays Ronald again 
stayed with his friends the Garretts to see the match. He 
then met his brother at Charing Cross and went with him 
to New Romney for his first visit to the Rugby Mission 
Camp. Thus, before he was sixteen, was born in Ronald 
that enthusiasm which grew stronger and stronger with 
each year of his life, becoming in the end the most power- 
ful of all the influences by which he was swayed. 

Later on in the holidays Ronald went to Carlisle ' to 
meet Mr. Collins by whom I had been invited to visit the 
Roman Wall stretching from Newcastle to Carlisle. We 
stayed the night at Carlisle, and the next day trained to 
Naworth, where we saw a splendid old abbey. We drove 
along the wall, seeing some nne bits of Roman architecture, 
till we reached Hexham. We saw Hexham Abbey, a fine 
old building in the centre of the town, and early the next 
morning drove to Chollerford for breakfast. This village 
is on the river Tyne and is close to the bridge which the 
Romans built over the river, the piers of which can be seen 
still quite clearly in the water. We inspected this and then 
drove along the wall till it turned away from the road to 
scale some cliffs to the north. . . . We lunched in the Roman 
fort of Borcovicus on the wall and walked back along the 
wall on the top of some fine rugged cliffs, from which we 
could see the Northumberland lakes very well. We arrived 
back at Chollerford in the evening and the next morning 
inspected a fine encampment near the bridge/ 

At school in the Advent Term : ' As I was head of games 
in the house, I had a great many new duties to perform. 
I was made a sixth power much to my pleasure and finally 


joined the specialists and definitely started my extra work 
in Physics and Chemistry. The work was of course quite 
new and strange and the physics especially very difficult. 
But by degrees it got easier and soon I began to see what 
I was aiming at.' 

In a letter to his mother, he spoke of the sixth power 
and of his feeling of responsibility : 

1 The House has only seven Vlths and so two more have 
been made to look after the eighty boys in the house, and 
I'm one. I am ever so glad. And Dr. James was very 
complimentary when he gave it me. He made me quite 
blusn ! I am head of games in the house, so that makes 
the reason of me being chosen as one.' 

During this term Ronald was given his ' Cap ' and his 
'Colours' as one of the XV. His 'character* is thus 
described in the Meteor (xxxix, p. 163) : 

' R. W. Poulton, '05 (10 st. 3 Ib.) : A centre three-quarter 
of great promise. Very fast, and has a useful swerve. 
Plays a most unselfish game. His defence is not as strong 
as it might be.' 

His friend H. F. Garrett wrote from Cambridge : 

'Well, very heartiest congratulations, Ronnie, on the 
XV : not that of course it was ever for a moment in doubt 
that you would get it this year ; but I know what a happy 
moment it is one of the happiest in a man's whole life, 
I should think when he gets that blissful little note.' 

From Ronald to his brother : 

' 1 think athletics are made too much of here, though 
thank you for your congratulations I am certainly glad to 
have got it. We had a lively argument in "Hall" last 
night, which resolved itself into the importance of games 
and work. I argued with vehemence against a man who 
does little or no work, is keen on games, and reads the 
Sportsman. It seems to me that if one works with the 
same vigour as one plays games one can't go far 

In the same letter he took occasion to say another cheer- 
ing word about the disappointment in the summer class-list. 

1906 83 

Referring to a recent examination for a Magdalen Fellow- 
ship he said : ' I am so glad you beat all the I Class men, 
as it shows your superior worth to everybody who couldn't 
see it for himself.' 

' The year [1906] started by a performance of Our Boys 
by the Poulton family at Wykeham House, before an 
audience first of girl and boy friends and then before their 
parents. The play was a great success and the staging 
showed how wonderfully well a home-made stage and 
home-made appliances succeed.' Ronald took the part of 
Talbot Champneys, while his brother was Charles Middle- 

Early in the term he wrote to Hilda, comparing their 
work : 

' How goes the Physics ? I hope well. I at present 
am just finishing Heat and am to start on Higher Dynamics. 
But I have got to do Optics and Sound and Light and 
lots more yet. But in the holidays what fun we shall 
have trying to beat each other in questions.' 

The earlier pages of this book have shown that Ronald 
was intended by nature to be an engineer ; and when in 
course of time the question of his University career came 
to be considered, we were faced by the difficulty that 
Cambridge had a flourishing school in this subject while 
Oxford had only made a tentative experiment, just draw- 
ing to its close, in the same direction. From the educa- 
tional point of view it looked as though$Ronald ought to 
go to Cambridge. His own feelings were expressed in a 
letter written early in the term to his mother : ' The more 
I think of going to Cambridge the more abhorrent it is 
to me. I only hope there will be some" way out of it.' 
Fortunately for his wishes a way was found, and just in 
time, so that Ronald became one of the first pupils of the 
first Oxford professor, who came into residence the very 
same term as Ronald and succeeded in persuading the 
University to establish an Honour School of Engineering. 
The incident is of some interest, showing, as it does, the 

G 2 

8 4 RUGBY 

injury to British education that is threatened by those 
who contend that each of the two ancient Universities 
should leave to the other the representation of certain 
important subjects. Many men go and always will go to 
Oxford or Cambridge for reasons other than the educa- 
tional equipment. Therefore every important subject must 
be represented adequately not necessarily equally in 
both Universities. 

In the course of this term, when he was about i6|, 
Ronald had his first experience of speaking in public. 
Referring to the starting of a Debating Society in the 
School House, he wrote to his mother on Feb. 25 : 
' I am sure speaking informally like this makes one much 
more a master of oneself when one has to make an im- 
promptu speech.' A few days later he wrote : ' We had 
a debate last night on the question, " Is sport cruel ? " 
I spoke for it being cruel. It was very amusing alto- 
gether, but we were badly beaten. I felt quite at home on 
my legs, speaking. 1 

Earlier pages show Ronald's great keenness and inter- 
est in the flint implements found near St. Helens. In 
the course of this term I wrote to him suggesting that 
he should begin to prepare a paper on the whole collec- 
tion, comparing it with those made in other parts of 
England. He replied : 

' Your letter filled me with pride, though I felt it 
slightly undeserved ; for after all I have done very little 
at present with regard to implements; but I really feel 
very keen and shall just love to start this paper under 
your directions.' 

The same day he wrote to his mother : ' The more I 
think of them, the keener I am to get to St. Helens to 
start on my paper about them.' The work, thus begun, 
was continued from time to time for many years, giving 
him a great deal of pleasure and leading to developments 
which will appear later on. 

Lord Roberts visited the School early in the term 


(Meteor, xl, pp. 1-2, 31-5), and Ronald wrote Feb. 18 to his 
mother : 

1 Lord Roberts came down last Friday and examined 
the Corps, and we had ample opportunity of examining 
him as ne several times stood just opposite us while we 
were looking on. He really is rather nice-looking, and 
extraordinarily upright and agile for 72, as I believe he is. 
Afterwards he gave us an outline of his policy in Big 
School. It was quite sweet to see the way he took on 
his top hat when the band played the Grand Salute. 
Altogether it was quite an interesting occasion.' 

Although at this phase of his life Ronald had no inter- 
est in military affairs, he was evidently impressed by 
Lord Roberts's visit, for he wrote of it to Edward as well 
as to his mother. 

The Meteor (xl, p. 41), referring to the Sports towards 
the end of term, mentions as ' Among the most notable 
features : Poulton's Broad Jump (19 ft. 6 in.), Stoop's and 
Poulton's High Jump (5 ft. i in.).' The details of his 
performance are given on pages 45-8 with the following 
summary : ' In the open events, Poulton was the hero of 
the day, winning the Broad Jump, the 150 Yards, the 
Quarter Mile, and the Hurdle Race, and being second in 
the Hundred Yards and High Jump.' Ronald won the 
Athletic Cup with five marks against three gained by the 
second. He also won the Racquet Handicap (Meteor, 
xl, p. 41). 

He wrote on March 30 to his mother and father con- 
gratulating us on our silver wedding, to be celebrated on 
the following day. 

To his Mother. 

1 " Congraters ", as they say here, on your Silver Wed- 
ding, and many happy returns of the day. 

' Time seems to go faster and faster, and I remember 
quite well, several years ago, reckoning up what year 
your Silver Wedding would come in. And now it has 
come. I only hope it will be a very happy one. 

' With best love, darling, and many happy returns.' 


To his Father. 

1 Well, Father dear, first let me congratulate you from 
my heart on your Silver Wedding. 

' It was simply lovely to see you again yesterday, and, 
as Mr. Collins said, you looked young enough to be my 
brother. What a lovely time we do have together in 
the I.O.W. and at Oxford, don't we? I am sure this 
holidays will be no exception. 

' I always feel so terribly sorry for the boys whom I 
know, who have lost their parents, when I think what 
you and mother are to me. 

4 1 hope you will have a nice time in London and 
thoroughly enjoy yourself. Please give me your impres- 
sion of Nero, as a boy in our house is always talking 
about the goodness and beauty of it. 

' On Tuesday next I am going with Hugh-Jones to the 
Lime Kilns, where they have found implements and 
Elephas antiquus bones. I don't know whether we shall 
find anything, as it all depends on whether a fresh face 
of gravel has been cleared or not. Anyhow it will be 
very great fun. When we get to the Isle of Wight we 
really must investigate the Foreland locality, which Evans 
mentions. We might quite possibly find another locality. 

' I shall have to seriously start learning Geology now 
that this paper is going to be written and that I may 
definitely take it up.' 

Towards the end of the Easter holidays Ronald deve- 
loped mumps, and, as he wrote : 

' Began on my paper on the palaeolithic locality in 
Priory Bay, in fact of the whole Island. 

' The work seemed easier, and I found I had quite got 
the drift of the work, and I think I learnt quite a large 
amount. The cricket was not particularly interesting, 
and the scorer I am sure found it monotonous continually 
putting down the same score against me. As a matter 
of fact, for some unknown reason I was given my tie, a 
distinction which I certainly did not earn.' 

To Hilda. 

1 1 may as well say straight away, that I only wish the 
inventor of cricket had never been born. For some in- 
explicable reason they thought fit to give me my " tie " 

1906 8y 

the lowest distinction but as my last scores have been 
i 4 3> y u can see how little I am worth it. I got it 
on the strength of an 81 I made.' 

Towards the end of term he wrote to his brother : 

' I simply must do some work in the holidays, and I 
want you to do your best to force me to do so.' 

' . . . Term ended, and I waited on an hour or two to 
meet Father, Mother, Hilda, and Teddie at Rugby Station 
all bound for the York British Association. It was my 
first British Association, and a very interesting experience. 
I went to several Sections and heard papers on Radium, 
osmotic pressure, &c., and unfortunately just missed an 
account of an implement locality at Ipswich. Hilda and 
I varied our labours by delicious ices at a restaurant 
near by. The second lecture Father and I cut and went 
to the Silver King at the theatre as a pleasant diversion. 
We went a fine expedition to Rivaulx Abbey all across 
the moors, and had a splendid view of the Abbey from a 
magnificent grass terrace almost overhanging it.' 

Ronald was not yet reconciled to dancing. A letter to 
Hilda shows clearly enough that he was still gripped by 
the memories of St. Helens two summers before : 

' Margaret and I will have a lovely time at Marlston, I 
expect, barring the dance which is looming ahead. So 
next Saturday or Friday, whichever it is, please think of 
a poor chap, with a dinner jacket covering his brawny 
shoulders, trying to dance one of the hundreds of valses 
with some unknown lady partner. Ough ! ! ! (how do you 
spell it?)' 

But Margaret was quite equal to the occasion, of which 
she wrote : 

' I had to brace Ronald up, coax and cuddle him before 
I could persuade him to attend such a mighty function.' 

And in the end all was well, for he was able to write to 
his brother : 

' I really quite enjoyed myself. The dance went off 
better than I could expect.' 


Soon after the dance he went back to Rugby, and his 
account continues: 

4 1 found I had been placed in the Vlth and got through 
a good deal of work in the term. In the football I played 
in all the matches, and as Watson, the Captain, got crocked 
in a game quite early in the term and was unable to play 
again, I had to Captain the team in most of the matches. 

' On the whole term I came out top of the Science 
Specialists, which pleased me rather. House supper went 
on successfully, and so the term ended.' 

His mother wrote to him on Oct. 6 : 

' Let me first congratulate you warmly on being in the 
Vlth. I am sure you will help to make the Vlth a strong 
and high-toned body, and you know as well as I do, that 
Prayer to God is the real means which will give you 
the power to do this. I can quite imagine how you will 
enjoy the increased responsibility.' 

The following memories of Ronald were written in a 
central African jungle by one of his fags, who wishes 
me to observe the Service tradition and withhold his 
name : 

'When at Rugby it was my good fortune to be his 
" fag ", an honour of which I was, and always have been, 
very proud. What chiefly impressed one was his cheery 
manner and total absence of "side ". To his " fags " he was 
invariably kind, considerate, and never patronizing; he 
took the trouble to show interest in the small boys who 
cleaned his study in the morning and made his toast in 
the evening, helped us when in difficulties and was a 
genuine friend to us. I have never known any one to 
take advantage of his kindness to be familiar or imper- 
tinent, but there was something in his manner towards 
us " fags " which made us do our small duties for him to 
the best of our ability, because one regarded him more 
as a friend for whom one would gladly do anything than 
as a " fagmaster " whose orders had to be obeyed. So 
far as I know, he was the only " buck " (to use a school 
term) who, realizing that the future of the house games 
lay in teaching the small boys, used to take the trouble to 
come down to our games in his spare time to instruct 
us in the art of playing football. A word of praise from 

1906 89 

him on these occasions was more valued by us than the 
highest commendation from anybody else.' 

Letters from his friend H. F. Garrett show that Ronald, 
in thus helping the small boys with their games, was the 
inheritor of a fine tradition. Harry Garrett, one of four 
brothers, all at the School House, was only at Rugby for 
a year with Ronald. In spite of this short overlap, and 
the four years difference in their ages, the boys became 
great friends and often wrote to each other after Harry 
had gone to Cambridge. One letter, which as it turned 
out was prophetic, was written Oct. 18, 1906, when Ronald 
was feeling rather despondent at the prospects of the 
School House XV: 

' Every hour you spend on coaching lower games, &c., 
this year will bear fruit next, and let 's hope you'll captain 
a Cock House team your last year at School. You know 
how keen I am about this coaching of the lower games, 
and you may be sure of my best wishes and sympathy 
whether we're Cock House or not. So buck up, old man, 
and don't be disheartened.' 

When the war broke out H. F. Garrett obtained a com- 
mission in the 6th East Yorks. Regt. He was in charge 
of a machine-gun section at Gallipoli, and was killed at 
Suvla Bay on Aug. 22, 1915. The following extracts are 
from a letter to his parents, written on the eve of his 
landing and going into action for the first and last time. 
The fearlessness for himself and the fear for his men are 
characteristic of his unselfishness, courage, and modesty. 

' H.M.S. Theseus, Imbros Harbour, 
' August 6th, 1915. 

' The great push has begun, and I write this (as you 
see) from the boat which is taking us across. Long 
before you get this letter you will know the result of the 
move ; it is evidently a great effort. Our own part in it 
(that of the Xlth Division) is to land and occupy Suvla 
Bay (some miles north of Gaba Tepe), and then drive inland 
from there. 


' I am very excited and a little afraid not afraid in a 
physical sense at all, I am curious to notice but a little 
afraid about acquitting ourselves with credit, me and my 
Section. Despite all one's efforts to foresee the real thing 
and prepare for it in one's training, the real thing is going 
to be something vastly different from anything we have 

' I have a great responsibility : I may have decisions 
to make, and to make instantly, on which many lives will 
depend, and that thought frightens me. There are many 
fellows in the Section whom I like very much, and I 
hate the thought that through some blunder of mine 
their lives may be endangered.' 

Ronald's play in the various football matches is described 
in the Meteor (xl) which gives his 'character' in this 
season as follows (p. 183) : ' R. W. Poulton, '05, '06 (10 st. 
7 lb.). A really good centre three-quarter, with plenty of 
pace ; has an excellent swerving run and makes good 
openings, but is sometimes inclined to pass rather wildly ; 
a good tackle and fair kick.' 

In the course of this Advent Term Ronald first met on 
the football field F. N. Tarr, who was to be a great friend 
and comrade at Oxford. In this season and the last the 
Rugby XV also included F. M. Stoop, who often played 
with Ronald in later years. 

The accounts of the years were not written by the family 
at the end of 1907 or 1908, but an attempt was made to 
write both these years, together with 1909, at the end of 
this last year. Ronald's memories of the two earlier years, 
as he recalled them after this interval, are therefore brief. 

From Hilda in January, just after Ronald had gone to 
Rugby : 

' How am I to exist without a certain cheerful thin 
bristly face, I don't know: I do so miss his curly little 
fingers, which is all as if I would say that the house is very 
different without you and I wish you were still here.' 


Ronald's answer was certainly consoling and cheering : 

' My dearly beloved foot-on-skate skedadler, I hope you 
slide the light fantastic toe along the ice until you are 
perfect in the three, not to mention the rocker, or bracket, 
or grape-vine, or the homely simple spread-eagle. I had 
a lovely day yesterday skating on this large lake. A long 
row of about 20 of us used to join hands and skate as 
hard as we could : then the man at one end would act as 
a pivot and stop, and the other outside man would rush 
round and usually land on his back. (Ha ! Ha ! howls of 

1 1 now do about 37 hours' Chemistry and Physics a 
week, so I am turning into a regular Professor.' 

I had suggested to Ronald that he should write the 
article on flint implements for a new guide to the Isle of 
Wight which was being prepared under the editorship of 
Mr. F. Morey. When I visited Rugby for the Sports 
Ronald showed me the correspondence and I wrote to my 
wife : ' The Editor of the New Guide to the I. of Wight is 
tremendously pleased with Ronald's article on the palaeo- 
liths of the Island. He says " it will do admirably " '. 

The full title of the book, which was not published till 
1909, is : 1 A Guide to the Natural History of the Isle of Wight. 
A series of contributions by specialists. . . . Edited by 
Frank Morey, F.L.S.', Isle of Wight : the County Press, 

Pages 37-41 contain 'An Account of discoveries of 
palaeolithic implements in the Isle of Wight. By Ronald W. 
Poulton, Balliol College, Oxford ' : with two plates, of which 
a description is printed on p. vii of the preliminary 

The Meteor (xli, pp. 41-5) in the account of the Sports 
says of Ronald : 

' Once again, as we did last year, and as we seem likely 
to repeat next year, we have to chronicle the phenomenal 
success of Poulton ; his all-round powers are well attested 
by his grand total of six-and-a-half marks for the Athletic 
Cup, including, as it did, victories in the Half Mile, the 
Quarter Mile, the 150 Yards, the 100 Yards, the Hurdles, 
and the High Jump. . . .' 


And again ' Poulton's Quarter Mile in 55 seconds came 
near to breaking the record for the School Sports. . . .' 

The School House won the Wrigley Cup by 168 to iu| 
scored by Collins'. Ronald won the first Athletic Cup 
with 6, S. E. Swann being second with 3^. Ronald was 
also successful in Rackets, winning the School Tie Finals 
with Cunningham (xli, p. 45). 

1907 was the year of the Oxford Pageant, for which, as 
Margaret wrote : ' we had rehearsed steadily through the 
term in swamps of mud and rivers of rain.' Ronald came 
over from Rugby to see it : 

' It was a good show, particularly the point at which the 
fellow on the motor car fell into the river. I came back 
by 9.0 train, and when I got to the dormitory, I found that 
they had fastened up the electric light switches, reversed 
my bed, made an apple-pie, &c. But I got it straight, and 
woke them all up, so it was about all square.' 

In the Summer Term Ronald gained the Senior Prize 
for Practical Chemistry. His cricket showed considerable 
advance this year, and he was made successively a member 
of the XXII (xli, p. 61) and of the XI (p. 85). His 
average of 18-88 for 10 innings, twice not out, made him 
third in the XI (p. 130). His ' character ' on p. 131 is as 
follows : 

' R. W. Poulton. An improving bat, who made some 
useful scores ; was particularly conspicuous on the field 
for his smartness in ground fielding and safe catching.' 

An O. R. friend, Basil Cozens-Hardy, wrote : ' I had not 
the opportunity of offering you a time-honoured " Allow 
me " on getting your XL I said you would get it all right, 
but your false modesty protested against such an idea ! ' 

Ronald's account continues: 'At Lords we gained a 
sensational win over Marlborough, and I contributed 4 
and 29 not out, and caught a couple of catches.' In this 
match he played against his future Oxford friend Ronald 
Lagden, who made i and 17 and also bowled for Marl- 

From a photograph by Geo. A. Dean of Rugby, 1907. 

Facing p. 92.] 

1907 93 

' In September I went to Grasmere to join a party 
consisting of Billy Temple, H. H. Hardy, Dick Dugdale, 
"Ruth" Arbuthnot, 1 [Roger Gaskell and] H. W. B. 
Joseph, on a walking party. We had a fine week in a 
wet month, and had some splendid walks. We went to 
Scawfell, Scawfell Pike, Bowfell, Helvellyn and many 
others. At r the end of the stay Dugdale and I went to 
Carlisle to meet J. Collins, who was taking us on the 
Roman Wall. It was lovely renewing our acquaintance 
with it. We had some gorgeous sunsets over the moors, 
and the river at Chollerford was looking its best. Dugdale 
and I returned to Carlisle, and, after a wretched music-hall 
where a person sang a song in which she protested that 
" she was fishing for us ", while she tried to throw a large 
fishing-net over parts of the audience, we caught the night 
train south.' 

To Hilda from Grasmere. 

1 This place is simply glorious. Grasmere is a beautiful 
lake surrounded by nills, about 6 miles from Windermere. 
The hills are simply lovely and the weather glorious. I 
don't think I ever imagined there could be such a lovely 
place. It was frightfully hot to-day, but there are sparkling 
streams every hundred yards, and one can drink any time.' 

To Hilda from Marls f on. 

' Sept. 23. 

' Well, we had a splendid time in the Lakes. I enjoyed 
myself frightfully. We also had a ripping time on the 
Roman Wall with J. C., who was kindness itself. We 
saw some Roman excavations going on. They had dis- 
covered masses of coin, dice, draughtsmen, &c. It was 
very interesting.' 

It was during this visit to the Lakes with a party brought 
together by H. H. Hardy that Ronald first began to know 
intimately Dick Dugdale (Rev. R. W. Dugdale, C.F., M.C.), 
who became one of his greatest friends. The following 
memories of the visit were written by Mr. Dugdale : 
' Only a few incidents stick in my mind : 
' (i) We had a competition as to who could get down to 

1 Capt. A. H. Arbuthnot, London Regt, who was also with Ronald 
at Grasmere in 1908, died of wounds May 15, 1915, ten days after his 
friend's death. 


breakfast first, because the first comer got a second helping 
of porridge and cream. 

1 (2) We nearly always shared the bathroom. 

' (3) We used to take a double lunch each. 

' (4) We each noticed that the other laughed uproariously 
at the jokes made by learned members of the party and 
were each surprised at the learning of the other. It came 
out in confidence that we neither of us understood a single 
word ! After that we had no difficulty in laughing. 

'(5) I remember Ronald saying one day as we were 

foing up White Pike (I think it was) in the sweltering 
eat, " You don't mean to say you really like this." I was 
young enough to pretend I did. 

' (6) One very cold day at Grasmere we bet Ronald io/- 
he wouldn't bathe in the stream by which we had sat down 
to lunch. In half a shake he was practically undressed 
and we had to offer him large sums of money not to do it. 

4 1 am sorry I can't write better about these things but 
I don't think anybody knows what friends we were to each 
other. We both knew that we came absolutely first with 
each other and therefore letter-writing and that sort of 
thing didn't matter a bit. Our correspondence was always 
spasmodic and very jerky : like our conversations. Our 
conversations never ended : a serious subject nearly always 
ended in the personal side which always interested us most 
and therefore it is difficult to say what conclusion we 
came to on any matter. We always felt there was plenty 
of time a whole lifetime of intimacy in front of us : and 
therefore there was no hurry. Things would develop of 
themselves : questions and difficulties would solve them- 
selves. We discussed every subject under the sun, except 
football which came up very rarely : and then only if the 
personal side of it happened to be interesting. 

'On the whole I think the thing that started Ronald's 
and my friendship was that we found we could both enjoy 
things with the same keenness and also laugh about every- 
thing in the same way. We had received the same training 
at Rugby and therefore at bottom our "Philosophy of Life 
was the same. We went for the same things and looked 
upon life from the same standpoint. Hence nothing ever 
jarred even in the most intimate talks/ 

Ronald's account continues : ' Soon after [Grasmere] 
was back in Rugby for my last winter term. 1 1 was certainly 
the term I shall look back on with the greatest pleasure.' 

1907 95 

Some of his impressions of it are recorded in two letters 
to Janet, who had just gone to Wycombe Abbey for her 
first term : 

1 Sept. 29. 

' I have just found out the amount of work I've got to do 
this term and it perfectly appals me. Besides ordinary 
work I've got to find time to do two three-hour papers 
a week out of school and as much reading as possible. It 
will mean a terrific grind and no mistake. So you won't 
be the only hard worked one.' 

' Oct. 13. 

' Much as I should like to write to you every Sunday 
I find great difficulty in getting time to write even every 
other Sunday. However, a promise is a promise (curiously 
enough) and I must do it, even if Dr. James says " Poulton, 
I can't have you wasting your time writing to that small 
(?! How dare you) sister of yours when you ought to be 
working for a scholarship ", I should say " My dear fellow 
(I always talk to him like that), you talk rot, which is the 
most important, my big (that 's better) sister or the remote 
and far distant chance of ever securing a scholarship ". So 
you see what risks I run by writing to you. 

' I am sorry England didn't ask you to play La Crosse 
against Ireland last week. I have written to find out 
why not. 

'Well I am so glad you like the school so much. 
I bet (naughty boy) you don't like it as much as I do this 
ripping place. I shall be sorry to leave.' 

To his Mother. 

' Mr. Payne-Smith has come back to Rugby and I am 
lunching with him to-day. To-night I am having supper 
with Mr. Evers to meet Donald [Head of the Rugby Home 
Mission] who is preaching this afternoon. And this after- 
noon I am having tea with Hardy. So you see on Sunday 
I do myself pretty well.' 

Ronald's natural dislike of ceremony and display appears 
in another letter to his mother, referring to a visit on 
Oct. 25 (Meteor, xli, pp. 133-5) : 

' We had a great fuss yesterday. Princess Henry of 
Battenberg came down to open a new wing of the Hospital 


here. We received her in the Close. Dr. James was 
robed in the red robes of a D.D., and all the masters wore 
their hoods, and the Head of the School presented an 

' The town was very gay, with painted scaffold poles and 
imitation flowers, &c. Mr. Bradby said the poles reminded 
him of cheese straws, and he always thought he smelt 
cheese when he walked out. There were fireworks in the 
town in the evening, but we weren't allowed down town 
at all. It seemed an extraordinary fuss about nothing. 
However, Rugby has never had a Royal personage for 
hundreds of years, and so they wanted to make a fuss.' 

The great feature of the term was the football, of which 
Ronald wrote in his account of 1907 : 

' Watson who had been Captain of the XV the previous 
year returned, but very kindly shared the Captaincy with 
me, or least I acted as a kind of secretary. We thought 
the XV would be a good one, but it turned out to be the 
finest the School has ever had. We won every match 
except one, and scored about 250 points against 59. We 
beat Uppingham and Cheltenham comfortably. At the 
same time the School House was easily Cock House. We 
won every match before time (with a lead of 35 points, the 
games are always stopped) and we only had 5 points scored 
against us/ 

Ronald's 'character' was described in the Meteor, in 
prophetic words : 

' R. W. Poulton (S.H.), '05, '06, '07. A brilliant centre 
three-quarter. Holding the ball in both hands, at arms 
length, he relies on his great pace and a most deceptive 
swerve to get through, and seldom without success. He 
gathers the ball beautifully, and has always combined 
excellently with his neighbours in the line. If his tackling 
improves, he will become a great player' (xli, p. 175). 

The prospects of the team were discussed and the joint 
captaincy criticized by C. A. L. Payne in the Tribune, with 
portraits of C. C. Watson and Ronald. 

Ronald referred to this criticism in the pencil draft of 
a long letter intended for the Meteor, but I think never 
sent. It was written probably in 1908 and is summed up 

i97 97 

in the following suggestions which I have slightly 
shortened : 

I. That a post of Secretary be appointed in addition to 
the Captain. 

II. That Remnants be managed by Caps, in order, each 
taking a day. 

III. That Distinctions be given on the three Bigsides and 
the House Matches, and of course on any other games 
which the Captain and Secretary may have observed, but 
not otherwise. 

' I have been led to these conclusions ', he wrote, ' by 
the arrangements of 1907. Notwithstanding all that the 
Tribune said to the contrary too many cooks did not spoil 
the broth. There was, I feel sure, no friction whatever 
between the two, and certainly it was a great relief to 
both to have only half the strain.' 

The following letter was written by C. C. Watson on 
Feb. 21, 1917, a few months before he too gave his life for 
his country and for the world. Throughout these memories, 
recalled at the front, there breathes the noble and generous 
spirit of English Public School life at its best and highest : 

' I will now try to put down on paper some of my recol- 
lections of Ronnie, though I fear it will be rather a poor 
attempt and will in no way do him justice, while my own 
school life was so intimately bound up in his, owing to our 
friendly rivalry at all games, that I am afraid that my 
memories will be too full of the letter " I ". 

' With regard to his athletic career at Rugby the finest 
performance 1 ever saw him make at football was against 
University College, Oxford, in 1907 [Nov. 5]. They had 
a very strong side indeed, having heard that we were out 
of the ordinary, and five minutes from time were leading by 
two points. Ronnie picked up the ball in his own twenty- 
five and made the most marvellous run right through, 
scoring the winning try. I remember standing in the 
middle of the field letting out an increasing crescendo of 
yells as he dodged man after man, being much too blown 
to follow up myself and too excited to think what I was 
doing. I have since seen him play for both Oxford and 



England, but that was incomparably the best try I ever saw 
him score. 

' Ronnie's influence in all athletic matters had the great- 
est possible results at Rugby. When I was a fag there, 
and during my first two or three years, there was very 
bad feeling between my house and the School House. It 
began over a football House Match dispute and the feeling 
was so strong that it was considered bad form to be seen 
walking down town with a School House boy ! This was 
naturally a rotten thing for every one and soon changed 
when Ronnie got to the head of affairs. I remember one 
most fierce and exciting House Match which we won by 
a fluke by two points, and how in the last phase W. G. 
Michell, my House Master and the finest fellow in the 
world, raced up and down the touch line with tears in his 
eyes, protesting that the referee had overstepped the time 
limit by five minutes. Well, immediately it was over Ronnie, 
who was captain of the School House and terribly dis- 
appointed, came straight over to me and insisted on taking 
me down town and standing me a feed, an example which 
was followed by other members of the teams a pretty con- 
siderable change from former days which a lot of us 

' Ronnie was always the peace-maker. For instance, to 
tell a story against myself, a test game had been arranged 
to try several promising players : Ronnie picked the teams, 
he captaining one side and I the other. Entirely by 
accident his side turned out very much the stronger, Robert 
Cunningham who was Ronnie's greatest pal in the School 
House playing with him, and I had rather a rough time. 
Quite unjustly I thought Ronnie had done it on purpose to 
rag me, and departed from the field very ruffled. He saw 
I was annoyed and ran after me and I was very surly with 
him indeed ; but he would not be denied where nine out of 
ten fellows would have got on their high horse, and 
insisted on carting me off with him, and I soon recovered. 
It was little things like that which showed his character 
and endeared him to us all. 

1 Unfortunately I never came across Ronnie much 
in the most intimate phase of school life, namely 
in his house and study, as it was very rarely that we 
had the opportunity pi spending much time in each 
other's houses. Looking back on our school career as 
a whole the one thing that strikes me above all else is the 
fact that Ronnie was the perfect type of a " good winner ". 

igo-j 99 

Experience then and in other phases of life since has 
taught me that the vast majority of men can be good losers, 
but it is only the very favoured few who can be good 
winners. Ronnie possessed that gift par excellence ; he 
never had an atom of side, was always totally unaffected, 
and although an easy first at nearly everything he put his 
hand to, seemed unaware of the met altogether. As you 
can well guess, that side of his character touched me very 
closely, being as he was an easy first to my poor second in 
nearly every way, and I think it one of the greatest tributes 
to his character that he caused me to feel absolutely 
unconscious of the fact so that it did not gall me in any way. 
' I have not been able to get away from Ronnie's 
character as it affected myself, and my own small doings, 
but that is naturally how I have the keenest recollection of 
him, and I cannot dissociate any memory I have of him 
from it. I am very glad however to have been given the 
opportunity of writing the above, and shall never forget 
the pride I feel in having been numbered as one of Ronnie's 

Returning to the Advent Term of 1907, the match 
between the School House and M knell's was played 
Nov. 25. Ronald wrote to Hilda of his anticipations : 

'To-day we are rather excited as Cock House Match 
begins at 3.0 and we haven't been C. H. for 6 years, and we 
are going to be this afternoon for certain I think. [The 
match was won 43-5.] If we are C. H. there are several 
funny old customs here. First I shall go and be wept upon 
by Mrs. Mclntyre who has been in a suppressed state of 
excitement for days. Whenever you go into her room she 
waves her hands and says " Are you ready for the Battle ? " 
Then we have a tea in Hall with sausages broken 
crockery paid for by the House. Then after tea we open 
a tin box enclosed in the brickwork behind the wainscoting 
in the fire-place, and put in a list of the House XV. 
Finally after Prayers we have Quad.Cheering, which con- 
sists of a five minutes rag in Quad. Then bed thank 

' Hurrah for Saturday fortnight or three weeks when you 
will be down here.' 

The last words referred to the House Supper, held in 
the Old Big School on Dec. 18. 'We had a splendid 

H 2 


House Supper ', he wrote, ' I had the usual speech to per- 
petrate, but it was pretty easy this year.' Ronald spoke 
for the ' House Games'. 

All the term, in spite of the exciting events described in 
his letter to Hilda, Ronald was working hard for the com- 
bined scholarship examination in December. He had 
written on Oct. 20, to his mother : 

' With regard to preference for Colleges I put Balliol, 
Trinity, Christ Church as the order I should prefer. I like 
Teddie's idea and should of course love to go to Balliol 
anyhow. It would be nice to keep up the connection.' 

It was an especial pleasure to me that, in addition to 
taking the regular scholarship papers, Ronald sent in the 
manuscript of the original work he had done upon the flint 
implements of the Isle of Wight. He wrote of the exami- 
nation : ' I had a very nice week at home, though three 
hours papers twice a day are not much fun.' On Dec. 9 
we went to Rugby to see him play in the match v. Chel- 
tenham and on our way home from the station called at 
Balliol and found that Philip Guedalla had been awarded 
a Classical Exhibition and Ronald the Williams Exhibition 
in Natural Science. The Science Tutor, Mr. (now Brig.- 
Gen.) Harold Hartley, told us that Ronald's work was 
well up to Balliol Exhibition standard, and Mr. (now Prof.) 
H. B. Baker, F.R.S., that the other colleges would have 
been glad to take him as a scholar. 

To his Father. 

' Dec. 10. 

' I am most awfully glad about the result, not so much 
for myself as for you. When I first came to Oxford I 
thought I hadn't got a ghost of a chance, when I finished 
I thought I had a faint chance, but I assure you the Ex- 
hibition was far more than I expected. I see they didn't 
award the Scholarship to any one. Last night was I think 
quite the happiest moment I have ever had. I got a tele- 
gram merely " Congratulations, Butler ". I didn't know 
whether for Balliol or the Cheltenham match ; but soon 
I had Teddie's wire and Guedalla's. The masters here 



have been most awfully kind, and Dr. James is very 
pleased. Well, this term has been a perfect dream. I 
don't think any one has had a happier time here so far 
than I have, and I am so thankful I came to Rugby. 

'With much love darling and many thanks for your 

The letter enclosed A. D. Stoop's invitation to play with 
the Harlequins, and asking what I thought of it. ' Of 
course it is quite an exception, and I certainly should not 
suggest doing it again. It only means half a day away. 
1 should be back to dinner.' ' It would be awfully good 
fun playing ' he had written to his brother earlier in the 
term. In spite of these first thoughts Ronald finally de- 
cided not to accept, acting on the advice of his friend 
Mr. C. P. Evers, who considered that he was too young. 

From the Headmaster. 

' Dec. 10. 

1 1 do most warmly congratulate you and Mrs. Poulton 
on Ronald's signal success. I do not know when anything 
of the kind has given me half the pleasure that this has ; 
for when a boy who is a supremely good athlete is also 
a conscientious worker, sets the highest possible example 
of character and conduct, and is utterly unspoilt by all the 
homage he receives in a school and world which crowns 
and enthrones the athlete above all others one can only 
thank God for his presence in our midst.' 

Before returning to Rugby Ronald wrote to Mr. C. P. 
Evers : 

' We have just given two performances of two plays in 
our house and have got jhj from them. The large part 
goes to the United Girls' Schools Mission but I have pre- 
vailed upon my sister [Hilda] to give me somewhere about 
7 for the Rugby H.M. I want to know what to do with 
it. Do you want it for the London or Birmingham Mission 
or what particular fund is most in need of it? If you like 
I will bring it back with me and you can take it and put it 
into the fund you think most needs it. I am sorry I couldn't 
grab more but I think my sister deserves the rest for her 
mission for all the trouble she has taken. We did Browne 

102 RUGBY 

with an E and My Lord in Livery. They \yent off splendidly. 
37 isn't bad for only two performances in a private house. 
We got 150 people in the room which was a pretty good 

During this term Ronald left science and worked at 
mathematics and modern languages : 

' We had a good term's football and won four of our six 
matches, but we had lost a good many of our team. 
Dugdale did a record in the Crick Run [i hr. 12 min. 
20 sec., on March 14. Meteor, xlii, pp. 46, 53]. For the 
Sports we again got the Wrigley, and I got some more 
medals. I successfully passed " Smalls " at the end of 

Of a lecture given by Ronald on Feb. i (Meteor, xlii, 
p. 5) C. P. Evers writes : 

' Mention of the Roman Wall reminds me how Ronald 
lectured on the subject while he was at school to the Rugby 
School Natural History Society. There must have been 
200 or more present including a good many masters. He 
had a lot of beautiful lantern slides and gave the lecture in 
a most lucid and interesting way. It was a great and 
almost unique achievement for any member of the school 
to lecture like that to the whole Society.' 

On March i Ronald wrote to his mother in Italy telling 
her of the Natural History Society's prize for his paper on 
the flint implements of the Isle of Wight (Meteor, xlii, 
P- 3) : 

'Well, last night Mr. Gumming gave out the N.H.S. 
prizes, and I have found that I have got the Distinguished 
Work prize, which is worth 5. I am awfully glad because 
it isn't always given, and only when the standard of the 
work is high enough. I shall be able to get a nice lot of 

He also wrote that, the day before, he had won the first 
prize for a Drop and Place Kicking competition. 

His mother wrote, referring to the match v. T. V. Tolson's 
XV, on March 5 : ' I am thinking of you to-day, playing 
your last match. All these last things are sad, but they 
are stepping stones to higher things.' 

1908 103 

At the end of the football season Ronald received from 
an unknown admirer a silver cigarette case with his initials 
on it. An accompanying letter spoke of the pleasure the 
writer had received from his play in the football field, 
adding that his ' sporting all round play has had such an 
influence upon the other players, that it has raised the 
School XV far above the average '. Ronald's admirers 
were by no means limited to the school, for Mr. LI. A. 
Hugh-Jones well remembers ' how the townspeople used 
to crowd the Close to see him play in foreign matches '. 

On Feb. 20, Dick Dugdale persuaded Ronald to do the 
thing he most disliked viz. to run in a long pounding 
race. Ronald was twelfth in 58 min. 29 sec., Dick being 
first in 49 min. 51 sec. (Meteor, xlii, p. 41) : 

' Our last Easter Term I persuaded Ronald to run the 
Barby Village Bigside Run. He had done everything 
possible in the athletic line and I wanted him to run one 
bigside before he left. Much against his will he did it. 
You have to " come in " ten minutes after the first man to 
count ; as the ten minutes was nearly up I saw Ronald 
coming down the road very slowly towards the finish, and 
by pacing him in we just managed to do it. I don't think 
any one could have induced him to run another Bigside.' 

' I was very stiff after it ', he wrote to Janet a few days 
later. Then on March 18 he told her of another game in 
which he represented the school, and here as in football in 
company with the same great friend and rival, C. C. Watson : 
1 Yesterday we played Cheltenham at Fives. We won, but 
I bruised my hand pretty badly, and shan't be able to play 
for a day or two.' The Meteor, xlii, p. 43, states that this 
a love match but with each game closely contested was 
the first time Rugby had beaten Cheltenham in the Fives 

To Janet, who had got leave from the Head Mistress to 
go to the Rugby Sports : 

' March 22. 

' Many congratulations on your hockey success. I hope 
you keep in the team all right. We shall soon see you in 
the school team. 

io 4 RUGBY 

'No; I did not beat Watson [in the single fives com- 
petition]. I don't know why you should think that I should. 
I never thought I had a chance. However I very nearly 
did beat him. 

1 Hurrah for Friday. It will give you a lovely holiday 
in the middle of the term.' 

From the Meteor, xlii, p. 52 : 

' As was predicted in last year's Meteor, we have again 
to record the wonderful success of Poulton, who won no 
less than six events ; for, although he lost the Half Mile 
to Swann this year, he just succeeded in wresting the 
Broad Jump from Watson, though the distance was less 
than that of last year and the year before.' 

Ronald won the first Athletic Cup with 6, against 4 
obtained by the second, S. E. Swann. The School House 
won the Wrigley with 174 against 89 gained by M knell's. 

It will probably be convenient to recapitulate at this 
point, and print in tabular form the whole of Ronald's 
achievements in the Sports during his five years at 
Rugby, omitting the 300 Yards under 14^, in which he was 
first (39! sec.) in 1904, and the Steeple Chase under 16, in 
which he was second in 1904 and first in 1905. 

It will be inferred from this table that Ronald was 
remarkable for his all-round powers rather than for great 
success in any particular event. He was least successful 
in the Half-mile and had no inclination at all to enter 
for still longer races. He told me that he believed the 
Quarter-mile was the event at which, with special train- 
ing, he could do best ; and this and the 150 yards were 
the two races in which he was always first whenever he 
was able to compete at Rugby. 

Mr. C. P. Evers remembers that in the course of this 
term : 

' Ronald came to me and said that he and R. Cunning- 
ham had entered for the School Double Eton Fives, but 
they did not know how to play ! they had never been on 
an Eton Court in their lives, and did not know the rules ! 
So would I have a game with them and show them ? Of 


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io6 RUGBY 

course I was only too glad, so I got some one else I 
forget whom to make up a game. At the end of the 
afternoon Ronald and Cunningham were quite expert, and 
I believe I am right in saying that they won the competi- 
tion. Probably the opposition was not very strong, for 
Eton fives here has never been as popular as it deserves 
to be. But anyhow it was rather a remarkable achieve- 

We now come to Ronald's last term at Rugby. 

' We had a poor cricket XI ', he wrote, ' and won very 
few matches. But with an unpromising House XI we 
became Cock House, and thus had practically every Cup 
in the School. It was a good ending of my time at 

Ronald's batting average 27-96 for 20 innings, twice 
not out was third in the School XI (p. 132). His best 
effort was 33 and 89 against M.C.C. and ground (Meteor, 
xlii, p. no), although he made larger scores in matches 
with other houses 91 and 85 against Stallard's, and the 
figure mentioned in the following letter from his friend 
C. C. Watson, who had left Rugby and was on the Con- 
tinent : 

' July 17, 1908. 

' I've never seen such a fellow as you ; you're always 

' I should think you are a bit more pleased with your- 
self about cricket, you're too beastly modest for words. If 
I'd made 148 in Cock House match [v. Collins'] I should 
have told every one I met instead of saying I was " a bit 
keener on cricket now " : I've just got the Meteor. 

1 1 can really sympathize with you for the last few days 
of next week, I know what it is ; it was awful.' 

Ronald wrote of the Match at Lord's : 

' We went up to Lord's the day before the end of Term, 
and the next two days played the match against Marl- 
borough. The papers will tell you of our failure in every 
branch of the game on that day, and with scores of 14 
and 4 I can hardly be considered to have showed great 

The Meteor summed up his play during the last season 

1908 107 

at Rugby : ' A vigorous batsman, but with a partiality for 
the leg side, who has been very useful to the side on 
several occasions. A very fine field at third man and in 
the deep ' (p. 132). 

Ronald wrote in his account of 1908 : 

' I feel sure that no one enjoyed every moment at school 
more than I did. I felt a pang at leaving, and the feeling 
was increased very much when the school went back in 
October. I made a large number of friends at school, 
among whom were several masters, and it is pleasant to 
think that one is at least welcome there at any time.' 

To his Mother. 

'July 26. 

' My last Sunday here is nearly finished, and it makes 
me feel very sad. I shouldn't think anybody could have 
enjoyed his time more here than I ; and it is a pretty 
big wrench leaving the place, but I suppose it has to 
happen some time. We had a splendid sermon from the 
Head Master this afternoon, talking all about leaving. He 
put it very strongly that one's boyhood is over, and now 
one has to make a start in life for good or for bad. I 
suppose he is right, but certainly the boyhood that I 
have had and am having has been a tremendously happy 
one. And I am quite certain that there is no school 
where a boy could get so much good as Rugby. 

' There are such a crowd of ripping people I have got 
to say good-bye to. It will take me all my time to-morrow 
and Tuesday morning. I am out to almost every meal 

' With much love, darling, for the last time with this 
crested paper.' 

The following letter from his mother he always kept in 
his leather pocket-case : 

'This is probably the last letter I shall ever write to 
you as a School Boy. I can't tell you what a joy your 
School career has been to me, also dear Teddie's. I have 
come to love Rugby and all belonging to it, and I am 
sure you feel the same. I hope most sincerely that your 
College life will be even happier.' 

io8 RUGBY 

Hilda remembered that ' after Ronald had been at Rugby 
a little while, he absolutely loved going back and told me 
that he looked forward to it and went off with no feeling 
of regret at all. I don't think there are many other boys 
and girls, even those who are supremely happy at school, 
who do not rather hate having to go back after the holi- 
days.' And even Ronald in the early years, as Edward 
recalls, had rather a harassed, preoccupied look on the 
last day. 

The Headmaster wrote to us before the end of term : 

' Though Rugby, I hope and think, has done no little 
for your sons, they in their turn have done much for 
Rugby : and in especial I can never be too appreciative 
of what Ronald has done in my own House to keep the 
tone and standard what they should be. It is an incal- 
culable help when a boy of his athletic and intellectual 
capacity sets an example of a blameless life and active 
service in the Vlth.' 

From Ronald's last Report. 

1 We shall miss his cheery presence, his athletic capa- 
city, his keenness for the House, and his high example, 
more than I can say. But we shall all watch his Oxford 
career with interest and (I am sure) with pleasure. He 
has worked well and deserved success.' 

From the School Marshal. 

1 He was quite the leader of all that was good at Rugby. 
He was kind and gentle in speech and manner, and yet 
he commanded the willing obedience of the whole School.' 



Those who knew him and loved him will carry with them 
memories of him till the end : thoughts of him will cheer them and 
inspire them : they will thank God that he lived and was what he 
was. From Report by Capt. C. P. EVERS, Hon. Sec., in 27th Annual 
Report, for 1915, of the Rugby School Home Mission (p. 8). 

THE suggestion that Ronald should join the 1905 Camp 
was made by his brother Edward, and by Mr. C. P. Evers. 
He was also strongly urged by H. F. Garrett, who wrote 
in the course of the Summer Term giving full details of 
the life, and the day after the Rugby-Marlborough match 
travelled down to New Romney with the two brothers. 
The camping-ground, which came into the possession of 
the School in 1907, lies on the Kentish coast, about 12 
miles west of Folkestone. 

Capt. C. P. Evers writes : 

' It was rather an experiment, for he was not yet 16, and 
it is seldom that boys as young as that are quite at home 
at camp. But the experiment proved a great success, and 
after that he came regularly. His connexion with the 
Mission was in every way a happy part of his life. Of 
course every one there loved him and he was always of 
the utmost help in looking after the games. 

' During his first 2 or 3 visits to camp he was not 
specially interested in the Mission work as such, or in the 
boys themselves. Indeed he was too young to be able 
to give much serious thought to the bigger problems of 
Mission work. At the beginning he frankly came because 
he liked the free and easy life, the games, the jolly spirit 
which pervades camp, and the fellowship of other Rug- 
beians who formed the staff. But it was the camp which 
gave him, I think, the inspiration towards social work, 


which was beginning, at the end, to mean so much to 
him. Towards the end of his time at school he was 
beginning to think about the more serious side to our 
Mission work, and in Jan. 1908 he was sufficiently inter- 
ested to give to our funds part of the proceeds of some 
theatricals at Wykeham House. From Rugby it was 
natural that he should go on to similar work at Balliol, 
with ever-increasing power and sympathy, and from 
Oxford to work at Reading which seemed destined to be 
of immense social value.' 

Ronald wrote of the 1905 Camp : 

' The Camp consists of 2 old connected coastguard 
cottages, of wnich one is used by the Rugby Mission and 
the other by an old sailor who lives there. It is only 
some 3 yards away from the sea at high tide and in the 
winter is often flooded to the second story, in fact only 
last winter the sailor and his wife spent a sleepless night 
standing by their upstairs bedroom window, prepared at 
any moment to jump into a boat alongside and row to 
safety. Our week there was a very enjoyable one. After 
3 nights sleeping in a bed, I gave way to my superiors and 
slept out on a straw mattress stretched on some concrete 
which lay round the house. I had a bad night and was 
finally driven in by rain, but all the other nights were 
quite comfortable ones. As regards our doings during 
the day, we played cricket and football on the beach, 
and washed up, and many other such things. We went 
expeditions to Lydd and New Romney to play cricket 
matches, and altogether the whole thing was a great 

A letter from an older Rugby friend who became 
Lt-Col. C. Bushell, V.C., D.S.O., refers to the visit of the 
Mission Boys to the School in the Summer Term of 
1906 : ' I heard that you made yourself a most welcome 
comrade to the Mission Boys ! Congratulations on so 
doing and on storming so boldly the heights of public 
opinion.' These few words are evidence of the zest with 
which Ronald threw himself into this work before he 
was 17, treating the Club boys as friends instead of in 
the rather stiff manner due to shyness or to the fear of 
what others might say and think which the average 


Public School boy would commonly adopt and consider 
to be the proper attitude. Ronald's account of the 1906 
Camp is very brief. 

Towards the end of the Summer Term of 1907 Ronald 
wrote telling us of his wish to go to the Camp for the Boys' 
week. He had already written of this and the Mens' week 
to his brother saying, ' I think you would, and I know 
I shall, enjoy the Boys' week more.' As he was also going 
to the Lakes in September we were a little restive at the 
inroads into our family gathering at St. Helens. Ronald's 
answer to a letter putting this point of view shows the 
serious importance he already attached to the Mission : 

' Don't think that when I made arrangements to go to 
Camp, I did not long to be with you. It 's quite true I did 
make arrangements and several boys from the House were 
going with me for two or three days. I really thought of 
going because it is very important to try and encourage 
people to go while still in the School to make them see 
something of the Mission which they are always sub- 
scribing for. 

' Hardy and Evers were very disappointed when I said 
I couldn t go, but it doesn't matter a bit as others are sure 
to turn up. We shall have a lovely time together and I 
am looking forward tremendously to seeing you again.' 

But much as we wanted to have him with us with only 
one break, we could not persist, and so, early in August, 
he wrote to C. P. Evers : 

1 After many persuasions and talkings I have succeeded 
in getting leave to go down to Camp from Monday next 
till Thursday. It isn't very long, but I couldn't arrange 
for more. I lose no time in getting down as I leave here 
at 7.30. I suppose you wouldn't like to meet me. It isn't 
a very suitable time, during lunch.' 

Of the Camp in 1908, the first after leaving Rugby, 
Ronald wrote to his brother: 'We have had a splendid 
week at Camp. The weather was glorious, and we had 
no rain. There were lots of very nice people there, and I 
stayed the week-end with Hardy, Billy Temple, Hawkes- 


worth, and several others. It really was a splendid time.' 
' Quite the nicest Camp I have ever had ', he wrote to 
C. P. Evers from the Rectory, Lydd, where ' last night I 
got all the sleep I wanted '. 

The Rev. C. S. Donald, Warden of Rugby House, 
292 Lancaster Road, W., has recalled memories of Ronald 
at the Rugby Mission : 

' You ask a difficult task. It is not easy to be definite 
and to give an impression of Ronnie is like having to 
describe a fragrance or a luminosity. Wherever he was 
and however many were present he always quite uncon- 
sciously " occupied the stage ". He got nearer the ideal 
standard than any other I have met, I think. The men 
and boys of the club here loved him dearly: his death 
made a deeper impression than any other event of this 
horrible war. 

' I first knew him at our Mission Camps when he was 
still at school and it is typical that, of those early Camps, 
he is the only one whom one remembers as having been 
there (except the regular staff). An officer of the Wilt- 
shires who was there in those days told me this week he 
could remember no one by name who was there 8 years 
ago except Poulton. He was even then the life of the 
Camps lively enough any way and he was always " with 
the boys " instead of shyly staying with the staff. This 
was also typical of him. 

1 He often when here, in Netting Dale, used to come 
" visiting " with me in the poorest streets. I remember 
taking him to one " furnished room " of the worst descrip- 
tion here to see a sick boy, and his amusement at seeing 
amongst the few wretched pictures on the wall, his own 
portrait cut out of the Daily Mirror.' 

The following letter from Mr. H. C. Bradby of Rugby 
speaks of Ronald and the Mission Boys at the School : 

' I cannot help writing, although a stranger to you, to 
tell you how dreadfully we feel the loss of Ronald. I was 
very fond of him and very proud of him as a Rugbeian. If 
ever one felt despondent, as a schoolmaster and a lover of 
Rugby, because of individuals whom one didn't care to 
think of as representing the school in the outside world 
the thought of Ronald cheered me up, and of all he was 


doing and going to do. I have known this place inti- 
mately since I came as a boy in 1882 and I know of no 
Rugbeian in all those years who had a wider or better 
influence. It was better than a hundred sermons to the 
school, who looked up to him as a great football player, 
to see him come down with the Rugby Club absolutely 
unpretentious and jolly. 

1 It is very hard to go on with the old tasks while the 
best and noblest to whom one looked with such hope 
for the future are being swept away. It will not lessen 
your sorrow but it may help you to bear it when you 
realize how crushing the blow is to so many whom you do 
not know.' 

This section is brought to its close with thoughts 
written down by Mr. C. S. Donald after hearing of 
Ronald's death and reading the perfectly genuine but one- 
sided accounts of him in the papers : 

' On May 7 the news came that Lieut. R. W. Poulton 
Palmer had fallen. Many of the papers published his 
portrait with considerable description of his career as an 
athlete of the first rank, the number of his international 
caps and the unrivalled brilliance of his play. Some too 
noted that he had lately inherited a fortune which he had 
not lived to enjoy. The space which the Press gave to 
his obituary is evidence of the interest which the world of 
sport took in their favourite player. Thousands had seen 
him play, and the notice of nis death must have recalled 
many a tense moment when the crowded stands rose as 
one man with " Poulton 's through " amid the long-drawn 
roar of " Eng land ". 

' One hesitates to say more of any one man in these 
days when ten thousand unsung heroes are giving their 
all that we may live, lest we injure that one by dispro- 
portionate praise. And yet it seems a pity that that 
section of the sporting public who were interested in 
Poulton should not have the picture more complete and 
should associate him only with dramatic football and a large 

' How many of those, escaping early from the office to 
"bury an aunt" at Twickenham or motoring down by 
road with imprecations on the goods van which blocked 
the way, knew that the little chap in sackcloth apron and 
leather cap hanging behind that same van had a similar 


purpose in his small head and as fruitful a domestic 
bereavement as their own ? All were going to see Poulton 
play in the afternoon, but he was also going to play with 
Poulton in the evening at his club. His portrait found a 
place on many a greasy wall, and still I know is hid in 
many a grubby pocket, and in many a boyish heart. 

' How many of those who saw England play South 
Africa, the match lost but ever memorable for one un- 
equalled run, knew that the hero of that lightning move- 
ment had climbed a crazy stair the night before to console 
with his bright presence a dying coster child ? 

' How many of those who knew him as a 'Varsity star of 
the first magnitude knew that he was leaving the gates of 
Ballipl, not for Vincent's or the Grid, but to spend the 
evening with the paper boys and golf caddies in St. 

1 He seemed an anomaly to them at first. Did not Blues 
rag in the High o' nights? They soon discovered what 
many, mechanics of Newton Heath, biscuit-makers of 
Reading, the gamins of Netting Dale, the men of the 
Berkshires, his intimates at Rugby, Oxford, and since, 
have also discovered, that life had become enriched by 
contact with a rare and most beautiful spirit, at the thought 
of whose coming the blood ran faster, in whose presence 
all that was mean and unworthy was impossible, and who 
left behind him the freshness and joy of the mountain 
winds. Ronald Poulton seemed crowned with all the 
graces not only those which the world most covets, 
wealth, athletic pre-eminence, physical beauty but with a 
singular humility, purity and courage, and so wide and 
generous a heart that it had to give itself everywhere and 
most where such gifts were most wanted. Small wonder 
that from many a van boy and coster, shopman and 
mechanic, yes, even from the little tie-maker and laundry 
hand, in one corner of London at least the word went 
round in blank distress, "Mr. Poulton is dead". The 
thought that he, and such as he, have " happened " is the 
best corrective to pessimism. They are the true riches 
which neither war nor death are able to destroy.' 

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Foci us p. 115 ] 


BALLIOL: 1908-1911 

The world will indeed be a poorer place now that he is gone. 
From the Trenches, May 24, 1915, by Capt. and Adj. ROBY M. GOTCH, 
Sherwood Foresters, at Rugby S.H. and Oxford with Ronald. Killed 
near Gommecourt, July i, 1916. 

I think often of him and of you ; but of him with pride, and confi- 
dence that if we could see all, even those who have most to mourn 
would mourn ' not as men without hope '. THE MASTER OF BALLIOL. 

BEFORE Ronald went up to Balliol, the party of the year 
before met again at Grasmere, whence he wrote to Janet : 

'Sept. nth. 

' We have just come home after a very long day, but it 
has been a glorious day the only day in fact that we have 
been quite dry and warm. We first of all biked 6 miles, 
then we walked 9 miles to Scawfell Pike, and then on to 
Scawfell where people climb, then we walked down to a 
beautiful lake called Wast-water, 6 miles, then a hard up- 
hill walk of 9 miles. Then biked home and after dinner 
to-night we walked for 5 miles in a perfect moonlight. It 
makes altogether 30 miles walking and 12 riding. It has 
been the day we have waited for. 

' Well, Jane, many happy returns to you. By Jove, you 
are getting old, aren't you ? let me see how much older 
am I than you ahem ! I am thinking of buying some nice 
surprise present at Oxford for you. I am coming home 
Monday, so that I shan't be home much before you. I hope 
you are having a ripping time. I expect you are, but 
I guess you are never so tired in the evening as I am. 
I am absolutely dog-tired, and my feet have very nearly 
given way. I have several blisters and bruises on my 
toes. Altogether it is a very strenuous life, but I have 
never eaten as much as I do here. One is always thinking 
of the next meal. To-morrow we are haying a slack day, 
I think and hope : at least we are having breakfast at 
9, which is a great thing. 

I 2 


' We shall have a nice holiday ending together, shan't 
we? What day do we do the Franco-Brit.? We must 
glance into the pictures and the machinery hall and some 
other places before we start amusing ourselves. 

' A man called Podmore has been walking with us [p. 6], 
and his sister goes to Wycombe next term into one of the 
Abbey houses. If she is as nice as he is you had better 
cultivate her acquaintance.' 

From Ronald's account of 1908, written at the end of 

' On Thursday, October 8th, 1908, 1 slept my first night in 
Balliol. Everything was very delightful and new. I 
started with the Engineering School under Prof. Jenkin. 
During the term I passed Chemistry and Physics pre- 
liminaries and Additionals. The Engineering was very 
interesting, but of course I didn't do much of it, as I had 
the other exams, to pass. 

' My diary for the term is uninteresting except in so far 
as it gives a true record of the number of meals I partook 
of at other people's expense. My first two or three weeks 
were good days for my inside. I lived to eat rather than 
ate to live. Thus on October iqth, i6th, and lyth I had 20 
invitations to meals, 9 of which I accepted ! I accepted 
three invitations to dance during the term, but cut mem 
all, since, when it came to the point, I hadn't the courage 
to go, as my knowledge of caracoling was somewhat rudi- 
mentary. Later in the term I was elected in the Bracken- 
bury Society and the Shaftesbury.' 

Ronald brought forward his first motion at the former 
Society, early in the following term : ' That this House 
views with alarm the increasing luxury of the age.' 

On Nov. I3th, Mr. Mott, founder of the ' World's Student 
Christian Federation ', spoke in Balliol Hall and his address 
made a great impression on Ronald. 

Of three letters to Janet at Wycombe Abbey, the two 
written in term give some account of his doings, but the 
series is for the most part a touching crescendo of entreaty 

for replies. 

1 Oct. 28th, 1908. Balliol. 

' I am almost too ashamed to write you, owing to my 
long delay, but I must take courage and compose a peace- 


making kind of epistle. But, after all, am I always to start ? 
You might have written first, and then, without fail, I should 

have replied. But still . I am sitting here after having 

been to a football practice and am patiently waiting for the 
water to boil : then I can have a hot bath and so get clean. 
It is just boiling now, so I shall get dressed and finish this 
letter before rushing out to tea. 

' I have now changed satisfactorily and am feeling fairly 
clean, which is a great relief. I have to go out to-night at 
8 and 9, and have to go to the Laboratory from 5.30 to 7, 
and have to write an essay after all that, so you can realize 
how full my usual day is. 

' Are you going to get into the Lacrosse House Team ? 

I Collier has just come to take me off to tea, but I am 
determined to finish. On Monday I am going to Rugby 
for the day, and am also, I think, going to stay the night. 
I am very busy here going out to meals every day almost 
and they take up so much time. No more now. Please 
write me a letter.' 

' Nov. Qth. 

I 1 did write to you, didn't I ? But I have heard or seen 
nothing of you. When I go home I ask " Is Janet alive 
or has she gone to the South Pole ? " And I am told she 
is very well, but complains that people don't write to her. 
But, after all, you must return the compliment. Please 
realize that this is No. 2 and you haven't written one. 

' How is the world treating you ? You may have seen 
that they have kicked me out of the team ; I don't know 
whether permanently or not. 

'Yesterday I went up to London to play against the 
Varsity for the Harlequins. It was a beastly game, and 
I should have much rather played hockey for the Varsity, 
as I had been also invited. 

' Are you in the Lacrosse Team for the house ? 

' I am going to the " Mikado " Saturday with Harry 
Tyndale, 1 and I hope to the " Yeomen of the Guard " on 

' Much love and kisses.' 

1 Lieut. H. E. G. Tyndale, King's R. Rifle Corps; wounded at 
Hooge, July yst, 1915. 


'Dec. I4th. Wykeham House, 

' Oxford. 
' Madam, 

' I have waited many months in patience for a letter, but 
none have been forthcoming. I say to myself Why is 
this? What can have happened? Is she alive? The 
answer comes back from the shades of High Wycombe 
She 's a little bit of all right, but she hasn't time to write 
to that absurd person who has only written 3 times after 
all one must write 10 or 20 times to get one answer. She 
is much too interested in a book, " ships that pass in the 
day ", no " night ", to worry about you, you despicable 
little anthropoid. So I answer sadly Right ho ! What 
ho! Tatcho! Then I must write even again. I must 
write for the third time and expect no answer, and in 
addition I must prepare a little present, price 9^., for her 
on her return on Thursday, so that she may just condescend 
to notice the existence of a brother who after all is only 
3 years younger (or older) than her. 

' I hope this finds you Cock House at La Crosse, and 
adorned with many cups. No more now, with much love, 

' Your loving brother, 

' (the second one. Do you ever remember ever having seen 
him or written to him ?) 

' Ronald. 

' That ts his name, though you might not think it.' 

The year 1909 opened at Morgins, where Ronald, Hilda, 
and Margaret were having their first experience of Swiss 
winter sports. 

1 The New Year came in during our first night at 
Moreins-les-Bains, Switzerland. We had a snowy journey 
and found that everything at Morgins was suited for winter 
sports. We skied, skated, tobogganned and danced every 
day for a fortnight. I learnt the gentle art of dancing 
through the kind help of Miss Manns, and certainly im- 
proved in skating. Sid-ing I found difficult and aggravat- 
ing, but also fascinating. We went expeditions up the 
slopes for lunch. These were not particularly delightful, 
as it meant carrying one lady's skis (usually Margaret's) up 
the hill, and being unable, owing to the balling of the ski, 
to slide down again. The objections to the place were 


minor ones, but pretty numerous. There was not enough 
sun on the rink. The hotel was deficient in heat and 
light ; and dry bread is not exciting food for tea. How- 
ever, it was a lovely fortnight. We had a crowded journey 
home. The trains were all full and I and many others 
slept on the corridor floor.' 

To Janet. 

1 March i2th. 

' So overjoyed am I at the delightful letter I got from 
you to-day that I had to write off again to you. To-morrow 
[ go to Leicester to play for the Harlequins against 
Leicester. I return to beloved Rugby to stay the week- 
end with the St. Hills. I have to come back anyhow 
Wednesday to do a Viva for Divinity Exam. I have just 
been in for. And then I go up to London to stay with 
Teddie, and finally on Saturday I play for England v. Scot- 
land at Richmond. The others are all coming up. I only 
wish you could come. On Sunday morning 1 start for the 
Pyrenees. So I am going to have a very busy time. But 
I am looking forward to the I. of W. and seeing you, you 
darling, most of all. Margaret went and watched the 
Wycombe Abbey v. United yesterday. I wish you had 
been well, and we could all have come and watched. You 
see in the I. of W. we will play one match in the first 
week, if we can raise a team, but without you and Teddie 
it will be very difficult. Anyhow, after you come, we will 
have a game and the side will be something like this, 
I suppose : 


Ernest. Margaret. 

Hilda. Cardew. Ronald. Janet. Olive. 

I don't know how we shall do it. But anyhow we must 
get some games. With much love, darling, 

' Your loving brother.' 

At the end of the Lent term Ronald went down to Ber- 
mondsey and stayed two days with his brother at the 
Oxford and Bermondsey Mission. Then came the visit to 
Vernet-les-Bains in the Pyrenees. ' There I met Mrs. 
Temple and William, and we had a lovely week. We 


worked about 6 hours a day and we walked, in weather as 
hot as August, into the snow/ 

Mr. Temple writes : 

' It was an altogether delightful time, but my clearest 
memory is of his immense pride in his packing ; on the 
journey home his bag was opened at least half a dozen 
times and offered for our inspection ; it began as a real 
pleasure in his skill, but went on as a game.' 

Of the first Summer Term there was little to say : 

' Free of all preliminary exams., I now had only my 
finals to look forward to. That was the difficulty they 
were so far off, but writing now [at the end of 1909] they 
seem horribly near/ 

The following letter was written by Ronald in July from 
Blaenau Festiniog, where he was working as one of a 
map-making class : 

' North Western Hotel. 


' I can think of no more perfectly sweet idea than of 
writing to you both together. Isn't it too pathetic (pro- 
nounced parthetic) ? 

1 " Here am I, waiting at the Church ", l etc. No, trying 
to see though eyes bleared by mud and fleas, no flies, and 
seeds and rocks, and bricks and mortar, and straw and 
nails, and motes and beams, &c. 

' We have been that is Avery and a friend, in a car, 
I with Baker, a Balliol man, on my carrier, Stark and a 
friend on another motor bike. We went first to Conway 
for lunch, and then to Menai Bridge for tea, and back for 
dinner 83 miles with a man on the carrier. The bicycle 
has now gone 283 miles without a breakdown of any kind 
except a loose nut. By the bye, perhaps you didn't hear 
of my delightful run from Rugby 150 miles, and here in 
time for dinner. 

' We work pretty hard here : go out at 9.30 and level, 
survey, and triangulate in order to draw a map of the 
district at the end. We get back at 6.30 and have dinner, 

1 Hilda remembered that the words are part of a song beloved 
by the boys of the Rugby Mission and a continual source of amuse- 
ment to Ronald. 

1909 I2I 

and after dinner we draw out plans and play billiards. It 's 
pretty dull, but it 's not at all good weather. It rains every 
day and we are always getting wet. The country is very 
fine, and it was lovely to-day by a lake at the top of Capel 

1 1 am in great fear of a policeman asking for my 
licence, because I have lost it and haven't got my number 
registered, so it will be rather a disaster if I am hauled up. 
But we must hope for the best. 

4 How are you getting on ? Many thanks for the card. 
I thought the wedding a great success, and everyone 
seemed very struck with your beautiful manly tone of 
voice (Ernest), and gentle modulated accents (Hilda). 

4 No more now. Xove to both/ 

Ronald wrote of his second Michaelmas Term : 

' The Engineering went on. I started Thermodynamics 
seriously, and we pretty well went right through it during 
the term. At the same time I did a good deal of machine 

4 On Nov. 27th I went to Rugby and lectured on Sur- 
veying to the N.H.S. The lecture must have been very 
technical and boring, but they took it very well.' 

Some of the lighter events of the term are described in 

a letter to Janet : 

4 Nov. ith. Balliol. 

4 How are you getting on ? Thanks awfully for your 
letter. But you haven't told me (i) Are you in the La 
Crosse team ? (2) Are you going to Rhodean (or Rodean) 
to play ? You are a great surprise I must say telling me 
that you wouldn't get into the House I, II, III, IV, V; VI, 
VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, &c. (I don't 
know how many there are in a game). You're a marvel ! 

4 1 may come and see you on Dec. 2nd. What do you 
think ? Term is getting on. What Ho! 

4 If you want to see an account of a match in which 
I played well, look for the Harlequins v. Northampton in 
the papers to-morrow. I got in three times and dropped 
a goal. 

4 1 have got the sack from the 'Varsity, which is rather 
annoying, isn't it ? 

4 To-morrow, the Pelhams' dance : I have quite forgotten 
how to, however. Tuesday, our College yearly dinner : 


Wednesday, dine Pelhams' : Thursday, Gondoliers at the 
Theatre : Friday, Corpus smoking concert : Saturday, 
Mi&ado. There 's a frivolous week. I mustn't do it. It 's 
too bad. I must work. 

'I do so much want to hear about you. Mother, 
Father and Aunt Diana have just been in to nave chocolate 
with me after the Balliol Concert. 

' Well, Jane darling, much love. 

' I hear you are playing; before the whole School. You 
ought to play at the Balliol Concert. You are again a 

Then on Nov. 24th, on hearing at last of the place in the 
School La CrosseTeam, he wrote : ' Heartiest congratula- 
tions. I only heard yesterday. It is perfectly splendid. 
I am glad.' 

After term came the Trial match England v. the South , 
and a visit to Rugby : 

4 1 stayed with Dr. James for the end of term and his 
leave-taking. He was wonderful. He made 4 speeches 
at different occasions, and in each he was wonderfully 
restrained, and kept clear of the personal element. I think 
anyone who was in the house with him must feel a deep 
affection for him.' 

* At Christmas lunch, which was sumptuous as usual, 
there sat down Father, Mother, Teddie and Frida, Hilda 
and Ernest, Margaret and Max, Janet and Ronald Nos. 
i, 2 ; 5, 6 married couples ; Nos. 3, 4 ; j, 8 engaged 
couples ; Nos. 9, 10 on the shelf, as yet. The presents 
were numerous, though as far as I was responsible not 
particularly costly. And now I write this the day after, 
with the effects of Christmas lunch still upon me, and I 
cannot say what the last few days of the year will bring 
forth for us. All I say is that we hope to play a Boxing 
Day game of hockey to-morrow; and Father, Mother, 
Janet, Max, Margaret and I hope to go to Switzerland to 
celebrate the New Year among the snows.' 

From Ronald to his Balliol friend, Keith (T. K, H.) Rae. 

' Dec. 27th. Wykeham House, Oxford. 

1 1 got your letter just as I came back from the Carols 
at Magdalen. I don't know whether you have ever heard 

1909 I2 3 

of it. We meet in Magdalen Hall, in which is a huge 
Xmas tree. The Magdalen Choir then sing the first half 
of the Messiah. I never heard anything like the boy's 
voice in my life. He was simply like a lark. He jumped 
at the high notes and they came quite clear and loud. 
After the Messiah we had an interval and ate sandwiches 
and mince pies and had hot spiced drinks. Then the 
lights were turned out and the candles on the Christmas 
tree lit, and they sang Xmas Carols unaccompanied 
mostly. About 10 minutes before" 12.0 they sang " Adeste 
Fideles ". Then we waited quietly till the College clock 
struck, then they sang " Gloria in Excelsis". As a fellow 
said to me " It is the most reverent evening of the 
whole year." 

' I have been writing an account of the year all to-day. 
We always do it in our family. And we all read our 
accounts to each other to-night. 

' Well, old chap, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New 
Year. I am quite sick of football and am going to Swit- 
zerland for a week on Wednesday. I have had a talk with 
Harold [Mr. H. B. Hartley], and I have got to work next 
term, so I shall chuck everything that I can except the 
[Boys'] Club. I want to stick on with it, though 1 shall 
have to limit my number of attendances. But they shan't 
be fewer than last term. I felt a beast at the end of 
term. But one can't find time for everything one wants 
to do. 

1 1 am getting a bit fed up with all the engaged couples 
hanging about this house. They are very jolly but they 
don't want to see you, so you have to clear out. Luckily 
I have got a room I can work in without fear of dis- 
turbing anyone.' 

During our stay at Wengen in January my wife 
received the letter from her eldest brother, the late 
Rt. Hon. G. W. Palmer, which led Ronald to think of the 
Reading Factory as his career in life. There had been no 
doubt from earliest childhood that he was extraordinarily 
fitted by nature for the Engineering profession, but his 
capacity and sympathies were so deep and wide that other 
ideas were forced on the minds of some of his friends. 
Those who met him in the O. T. C. thought that he was 
obviously meant for the Army, while his friends at Rugby 


were clear that he ought to be a Schoolmaster. And as 
a matter of fact this last thought had taken a considerable 
hold upon him in the Christmas Vacation of 1909-10, 
having been aroused by overtures from Rugby and 
strengthened by the merry party of Rugby friends at 
Wengen. Ronald felt strongly, as he once wrote to 
Keith Rae, that no one ought to be a Schoolmaster unless 
he loved the work ; but he had no doubts about himself 
on this score. However, his love for Engineering was as 
strong as it could be, and knowing that no profession 
could give fuller opportunities for influencing men and 
boys, Ronald had no hesitation when the offer came. And 
once the choice was made he never had any doubts ; his 
way became clearer with each step that he took. 

The great business, created in chief part by Ronald's 
grandfather, offered endless opportunities certain to call 
forth the powers of work and of sympathy with which 
Ronald was so richly endowed; then too, there was the 
appeal of family tradition. Thus it came about that from 
this point, at first gradually but more and more fully as 
time went on, Ronald's life became shaped and directed 
towards the great work that a happier future would have 
held for him. 

My brother-in-law was anxious that Ronald should be 
warmly received by the head of the Engineering Depart- 
ment. But there was no cause for anxiety, for the manager 
wrote after the interview, ' he is a boy after my own heart '. 

Until the time when he became intimately associated 
with his nephew, my brother-in-law had seen and known 
little or nothing of Rugby football, and he naturally looked 
for further evidence of Ronald's powers to succeed in the 
career he proposed for him. So, soon after our return 
from Switzerland, Mr. Harold B. Hartley, Science Tutor 
at Balliol, wrote the following impression : 

' You asked me to write a few lines giving my general 
impression of Ronald's character and capacity; 1 have 
spoken to those of my colleagues who have seen much of 
him in College. I find they agree with everything I have 


to say and would be very glad if necessary to support my 

' Ronald did some work with me when he was thinking 
of taking up mining, and he was a most interesting and 
receptive pupil. He has shaped well at Engineering, 
especially if one considers how many outside interests he 
has had during the last two years. 

' He has a very practical mind and he should develop 
into an excellent man of business; he thinks clearly, is 
methodical by nature, and is receptive of new ideas. 

' He has been a most valuable man in College, as there 
is no part of College life into which he has not entered 
with keenness. He knows almost everybody, and his 
position both in athletics and as an Exhibitioner of the 
College has given him much influence with different types 
of undergraduates. It is some years since we have had 
anybody who was so obviously fitted to take part in the 
management of a large concern. Ronald has a genius for 
dealing with men; his extreme modesty as regards his 
own attainments, his tact and good nature win friends for 
him everywhere. 

1 1 feel that I have not put the case in his favour nearly 
so well as I could wish, but I hope it is sufficient.' 

Although Ronald's future was settled, there were still 
two years before he would leave Oxford to begin his life 
in Reading, and in the meantime his work in Engineering 
for the Schools became of more importance than ever. In 
the Lent Term of 1910 he wrote of ' attending lectures and 
laboratory work on Freezing Machines, Gas Engines and 
Turbines : all very interesting '. 

During this term Ronald read a paper before the 
Anthropological Society on our Palaeolithic finds, erro- 
neously described as Neolithic in the account of the 
meeting (Oxford Magazine, March 3, 1910, p. 240). 

, To Janet. 

1 March 27th. Eastbourne. 

' How long is it since you and I corresponded ? Before 
the days of steam engines I feel sure. Well, here I am, 
and you haven't an idea what I am doing. Well, I will 
give you an account of my doings up to date. When 


I last wrote I was in the J.C.R. of Balliol Coll. I suppose 
I went to bed that night, and many other nights, and 
finally, as always happens, term ended. So on Monday 
I went to Rugby (I don't remember if I have ever been 
there before) ; then I went north to Little Stretton, two 
miles from Church Stretton, which is 10 miles from 
Shrewsbury. There were 9 of us in an old farm-house 
called the " Malt House". All the rooms lead from one 
to the other, and we had feather beds! However, we did 
8 hours' work a day, which was good; also we had 
a game of golf in the afternoon on a perfectly precipitous 
links. Well, yesterday I came down to Oxford. The 
trains were Sunday trains, so I had a five hours' wait at 
Shrewsbury. But I went up to the School and there met 
a man I knew, and I was snown all over. Then I came 
down, and stayed a night at Wykeham House with father 
who goes down to the I. of W. to-day. Then this 
morning I caught the 9.10 train and am now on my way 
to Eastbourne to stay a week-end with the Rev. F. S. 
Williams of Eastbourne College who used to be a tutor at 
the School House. On Monday I am going to Broadstairs 
on a reading party with Billy Temple, and then for the 
I. of W. on Monday week, and then to look forward 
to seeing you, you darling. Well, you are such a great 
person now that I hardly dare write. Many belated 
congratulations on getting in the Hockey Team. Try and 
get into the Cricket Eleven too and then you will be an 
awful dog. I shall really come and see you next term on 
my new motor bike, which I have got no money to pay 
for, but I am going to buy. I am going to write to 
Margaret to get her to arrange some hockey matches at 

Ronald wrote of the visit to Eastbourne College in his 
account of 1910 : ' It was a most beautiful Easter week- 
end, and it was nice seeing a new School/ 

On Easter Monday Ronald 'went to Broadstairs on 
a small Reading Party with William Temple- a Queen's 
party, splendid people. We worked quite hard, and, in 
the afternoon, constructed enormous walls of sand to keep 
back the sea, which the children much enjoyed.' 

Mr. Temple writes : ' We had been there for a week 
when he came, and it had been a very jolly time ; but his 

1910 127 

arrival made everything different. We immediately had 
to buy enormous garden-shovels, and spent the afternoon 
barricading the sea put from a tiny bay by making an 
immense sandbank right across it. This might in itself 
amuse me for one day or be tolerable for two. Ronnie's 
amazing spirits kept us at it with infinite zest for a whole 

Ronald's account continues : ' After the Sunday, when 
I heard William Temple preach one of his best sermons, 
I went across to the Isle of Wight.' 

To Keith Rae. 

'Aprils. St. Helens. 
4 Dear Keith-face, 

' I hope you will be able to look in upon us on your way 
to Oxford. Evelyn Cardew turns up I hope on Friday, 
and Billy Collier the next Thursday. So please yourself 
and choose your date. But come as early as you can. No 
day will be too early (pretty ! !) But we have no chocolate 
cake. However, with what eagerness will we approach 
the same in your rooms next term. If you are dropping 
some things an3'where, don't bother to bring dress clothes 
just one suit and then flannels, &c., grayers no collar, 
golf knickers and shorts. 

'Well, how goes it? You can bring a book or two to 
study if you like as you will have lots of time. You shall 
take us sailing and show us how it is done. I have been 
working 8 hours a day (liar) well, about 7^ for 3 weeks, 
and am feeling haloish. 

'Well, farewell. Let me have a note in that familiar, 
but appalling script. 

' Yours ever, 

' I have lost your address so to Balliol it goes.' 

In the Summer Term Ronald ' chucked cricket and got 
fat and played occasional games of tennis. I worked 
pretty hard at Hydraulics and turbine and steam nozzle 
experiments. About the middle of term I went with 
Mother to Mortimer and acted as Godfather to Denys 
Gardiner. It was a nice little holiday, but these shows 
come rather expensive in the silver mug department.' 


To Janet. 

1 Listening to a rotten lecture. 
' 9. 15 a.m. Monday June yth. 

' You will say when you see this, what can have happened 

' i. Ronald is actually writing to me. 

' 2. What a curious piece of paper. 

' 3. Why isn't he doing his usual hard work. 

1 1. I meant to write to you in a day or so. 

' 2. This is a piece of foolscap and I have no other piece ; 
and I don't like to ask for a bit. He might not like it. 

' 3. I usually work very hard of course, but this man is 
more boring than any one I ever heard. He talks absolute 
bosh. He is telling us with great gravity the work I learnt 
my first term at Rugby. 

' How goes the world with you ? We had a topping 
dance on Thursday night at the Taphouse's room. I haa 
about four a+ and a good many a dances. 

' I am going to be here all the week, working hard, and 
playing tennis in the evening, and then I shall go away for 
week-ends. I am coming to you on the first Thursday in 
July. I can take you out to tea, can't I? Then I am 
going to Rugby for one week-end and also probably to 
Marlston. Then I am going into the tennis tournament 
here. I am playing in the mixed with May. 

' To-morrow I am going to lunch with Hilda and then to 
the Roosevelt lecture. It ought to be rather amusing. 

' Term ends Saturday week, and then we go to Camp for 
about 10 days. 

1 You will have a lovely time in Brussels. I should love 
to go with you. 

'There goes 10 o'clock and I have to go to another 
lecture. I will finish this there probably or somewhere 

' The next lecture was so important that I am finishing 
this now just before playing tennis. To-night I and one 
other man and the Professor are going into the " Broad " 
to find the candle-power and illumination of the arc lamps 
in the road. It ought to be very amusing. There will 
probably be lots of people messing around looking on. 
Now Jane I must stop. ' 

In the Long Vacation Ronald ' stayed up in Oxford all 


July for an Engineering Summer Term extension, doing 
laboratory work and helping in a bit of research on the 
reaction and velocity of flow of steam at different external 
and internal pressures, through differently shaped nozzles. 
Some good results were obtained'. The work was not 
altogether unrelieved by change and recreation, if we may 
judge from the following letter to Janet : 

'July 2nd. Wykeham House, Oxford. 

' The night is quiet. I am in the schoolroom. Mother 
is drinking coffee in the drawing-room. Father is dining 
in Jesus with the Entomological Boys, and I have a full 
stomach, and am drawn to write to you. Why is this 
curious feeling of desire to write to that curious specimen 
who disports herself at High Wycombe ? Partly because 
I hear that she is afraid I am not coming to High Wycombe 
on Thursday and partly because I believe she would like 
a letter from the skinny-nosed individual whose pink face 
is bent over this damask sheet. To set her mind at rest, 
I have every intention of coming to see you on Thursday 
on my Express Locomotive (3^ H. P.) If wet, I shall train. 
I hear that May and Marjorie and Willie are coming also. 
Then I say let us have tea together or lunch or something 
and have a jolly party. I am looking forward to it. I shall 
be so shy ?? 

' I got back from Camp [Aldershot] yesterday and am 
still feeling pretty weary. We hadn't enough sleep, and 
I went to sleep there at all sorts of odd times.' 

Then a little later, on July I4th, he wrote from Marlston 
congratulating Janet on being a member of all the three 
school teams Hockey, Lacrosse, and Cricket : 

' Many congratulations on the triple brooch. It is 
splendid. I feel so honoured. All Oxford knows about 
it ; Mother told several people and they all said that they 
had heard it through Elsie or Doris or some one. 

' Mother and Father started yesterday at 2.30 from 
Oxford [in the dogcart] and got here at 7. I started [on 
motor-cycle] at a quarter to five and got here at a quarter 
to six. Some difference in speed, isn't it? 

1 The cream and raspberries are all right. 

' No more now, 

' Your loving 

1 (Brother of Janet.) ' 



To Keith Rae. 

' You may see a bedraggled object creeping down that 
narrow lane to your house in the evening [of July 29]. 
I am afraid I shall have to leave on the 5th in order to get 
to the Mission Camp at Romney. I will bring books to 
Rhoscolyn. I should have to do a little work. 

1 With love, 

' Your friend, 

' RONALD. ' 

The 'bedraggled object' did not reach Anglesey on 
the 29th, but wrote instead from Shrewsbury : 

' It is the eternal floater ! I am so sorry. I left Oxford 
at 6.0 this morning : arrived at a point 6 miles from Stow- 
in-the-Wold at 8.30. There I broke down : it would 
misfire. I had to walk it to Stow : there I had breakfast at 
10.30 and messed about with it till i.o; then I trained to 
Worcester. There I thought I had mended it. But it was 
as bad as ever on the way to Kidderminster which I reached 
at my last gasp. There I went to a splendid garage who 
put it straight immediately. The platinum points on the 
magneto were worn, so I had to buy new ones. Then 
I fizzed over here and am putting up at this small pub. It 
is now 8.0 and I have had no food since breakfast. To- 
morrow I shall be with you about 3.30. It is going top- 
hole now. I am sick at being so late. I am very tired 
but quite well. 

' Best love, 

' RONALD. ' 

A little later in the Long Vacation Charlie Symonds, 
Dick Dugdale, and Ronald joined us at St. Helens. Ronald 
wrote of the journey by motor-bicycle : 

' It is interesting to recall that we left Oxford about an 
hour before Dick's train, and got to the pier for crossing 
an hour and 20 minutes before he arrived ! We stayed in 
the island about 3 weeks, and it was a good time. We 
read about 7 hours a day. 

' On Sept. i2th I had a 2ist birthday. We had a splendid 
picnic on Shanklin Down. The sea and cliffs looked all 
right. The presents were too numerous and costly to 
mention. About Sept. i7th Janet and I left for Marlston, 


Janet by train, I by bike ; and though it rained hard, and 
I broke a belt, and lost my way, and crossed in the same 
boat with her, yet however, and marvellous to relate, I met 
her as she reached the platform of Hermitage Station. It 's 
marvellous but " ye can't do it yer know ! " 

To Keith Rae. 

4 Sept. 15th. 

1 Marlston House. 

' Thank you tremendously for the wire and letter. And 
will you give jolly old Reiss my love, a kiss, a kick, and my 
thanks for his participation in your wire. 

' Aren't you looking forward to the digs. ? By Jove I am, 
but as for the work, good gracious I shall put knowledge 
into my waste paper basket of a head at the rate of 8 hours 
a day. 

' Came up here yesterday on the old machine, and am off 
to manoeuvres as Motor Cycle orderly on Saturday for 
a week. I have still 7 letters to write and have written 6, 
so excuse this palsied script. 

1 Much love, old thing, and kind regards to your people. 

' Your affect, friend, 


Written from Oxford on October gth after Ronald had 
received Orthodoxy as a birthday present from Keith : 


' Thank you more than a little for the book. You will 
not believe me when I tell you a curious story. I have 
had a lot of books as presents, and as they are in the 
schoolroom, where I work at present, in a caoinet next to 
my brother's books, 3 or 4 days ago I was comparing them. 
I found I had a better lot than his, but there were one or 
two I wanted. One was "Orthodoxy". I said to myself 
I will read it anyhow, and took it out to read it. The next 
morning came your letter. Talk about Telepathy (but 
we won't argue about it!) So it's splendid; thank you 
again so much. It will be a nice little thing to remember 
you bv when I am slaving in a factory, and you are getting 
wretcned men sent to penal S. for millions of years. 

' Saw Billy yesterday looking fit. No more. I am up 

K 2 


to my eyes in correspondence and work. Hence this 
measly scrawl. 

' Much love, 

' Yours oo which means 

' yours to the power of infinity 
' or yours x yours an infinite number of times. ' 

William Temple writes : 

' In September 1910 I began my work at Repton. I was 
on the way to Australia when I was appointed, and got 
back a few days late for my first term. My mother was 
anxious to get the books into shelves as soon as possible 
and asked Ronnie to help her with them. Accordingly he 
arrived after the boys got back but before I did. One 
day, Jack Smyth, of the Priory \ who had been a Dragon 
with Ronnie (Now Lieut. J. G. Smyth, V. C., and the hero 
of many legends) ran into Mr. Vassall's study and said in 
great excitement " Ronnie Poulton has just ridden down 
the school-yard on a motor-bike''. I have always believed 
that the immense cordiality of my reception two days later 
was partly due to the proof of my friendship with so 
popular a hero given by nis presence at that time. ' 

Ronald headed the account of 1911 : 

' The year of the Coronation of King George V. 

'This year has been as eventful as any up to the present 
for me. In it, I have finished my " Schools ", thus probably 
passing through my last competitive examination, and have 
also completed my career at Oxford. I am not going to 
become sentimental over my life at Oxford, but leaving 
that to the imagination, merely point out that I am now at 
a further point in my journey where I have to try to put to 
some use the knowledge and experience gained at School 
and College. 

' The new year found me staying with Dick Dugdale at 
Whitchurch, and working hard for schools. Indeed, the 
history of my activities up to June may be condensed into 
the phrase, " working for Schools ". I spent some time in 
the laboratory and lecture room doing alternating current 
theory and later the theory of structures with regard to 

1 One of the Houses at Repton. It still contains some of the Norman 
pillars of the old Priory from which it is named. 



From photographs by Edward Rae in the Summer Term of 1911. 

[Facing p. 133 

191 i 133 

bridge-building. I revised hard, and succeeded by June, in 
having got most of the subject fairly clear. But mathe- 
matics was my stumbling block. ' 

The following memories of Ronald at this period of his 
Oxford life were recalled by his friend Dick Dugdale, not 
many months before he was killed : 

' i3th Wing, R.F.C., B.E.F., Febr. i, 1918. 

' Perhaps it was rather rash of me to say I could tell you 
a " good deal " about Ronald's working for his Finals, but 
nowadays details are not as distinct as they used to be. 
The particular period I was thinking of was the time when 
he was digging with Reiss, Keith Rae, Cardew, and Billy 
Collier in Oriel Street. He himself had chosen the smallest 
little back room for working in, you remember. It had 
a window looking up Bear Lane or at any rate in that 

' I remember once discussing cricket with him, and asking 
him why he had given it up : and he said because it took so 
much time : tennis was not so exacting and his work was 
to come first. Somehow or other I connect with that dis- 
cussion his telling me a saying of yours that a man wasn't 
really going to be good at his job until it came first in his 
thoughts always : until he could think out problems con- 
nected with it in his mind as he went about, as he dressed 
or had his bath, &c. . . . Ronald, I remember, admitted 
rather mournfully that Engineering didn't affect him like 
that other things were so interesting : but that he saw 
that what you said was perfectly true and I think he made 
great efforts while working for his Finals to get into that 
frame of mind. 

1 Often I used to go into his little room and suggest 
doing something or other (I had finished Mods, and Greats 
had only just begun : so that is my weak excuse for it !), 
and he would probably send me away : or come out for 
a brief ten minutes. Often too, as I passed, I would see 
him in the window sweating away at some work, and we 
would pass the time of day. Generally my efforts to get 
him out were unavailing. Then there was that visit to 
St. Helens, when Ronald and I worked in that sitting room 
over the stables. I think 7 hours a day was what we set 
ourselves : but we often " cheated " about it : we used to 
sit and work for some time and then find we had started 
some engrossing subject of conversation and we had to 


begin all over again. Though on the whole we got through 
a goodish amount of work. Looking back now I should 
say that he worked for his Finals from the same point of 
view as most people do. Theoretically he knew they ought 
to come first and a strong sense of what is really important 
and what isn't kept him at it. On the other hand he knew 
that other things were much more interesting and the long 
hours of work were really a trial to the flesh. Very few 
work really hard for Exams, at Oxford because they haven't 
learnt what hard work is : but many try to work really hard 
because they know they ought, and Ronald was one of those 
many. I know that what often kept him at it was the ideal 
of hard work that he saw in your life. The conversation 
used often to go back to that, and we used even to plot 
how best to stop you working so hard because Ronald 
thought it bad for you. But it was the ideal you set which 
kept him to it. He had far more to stop him working at 
Oxford than 75 % of the men there have and yet he main- 
tained a pretty high level of work up to his Finals all the 

' These probably are not the sort of details you want at 
all : but, as I say, details have for me gone into a rather 
hazy background : only the salient facts remain with 
Ronald in the middle of them as full of life and personality 
as ever.' 

It is very touching to read these words and to know 
what I never knew in Ronald's life. I certainly never said 
anything to him with the intention of spurring him on ; he 
needed no exhortation and he received none from me. 
Anything I may have said referred to original work and 
not to preparation for examinations. 

Among the few relaxations Ronald allowed himself was 
the Winter's Tale acted by the O.U.D.S., where ' Hilda 
as Hermione was the chiefest joy of all '. 

' In the Isle of Wight we had some excellent games of 
hockey. For the last week of the vacation I went North 
and met C. P. Evers, R. W. Evers, and Roby M. Gotch at 
Hexham, and started for a short walking-tour over the 
Northumberland hills. It was a splendid week. There 
was some rain, but the views were excellent, and most of 
the villages, notably Alwinton, Otterburn, and Harbottle, 

From a photograph by Hills & Saunders of Oxford. 

Facing p. 134.] 


most fascinating. We played a continuous game of Bridge 
each night, and spent the last night at Alnmouth on the 
Northumberland coast 

' During the Summer Term I was hard at it. Among 
the relaxations were a splendid dance at the beginning of 
the Term, a beautiful row up the river for breakfast on 
May morning, occasional games of cricket, and refereeing 
at cricket matches of the Balliol Boys' Club. Just before 
Schools I spent a week-end at Rugby and played in the 
Old Rugbeians Cricket Match, which was a bold experi- 
ment, as I had not touched a bat for a year.' 

Ronald did not find the Schools in June so terrible as 
he imagined. It is also pleasant to know that the strain 
was by no means unrelieved. 

' The mathematical papers were too much for me, but 
I found I knew a good deal about the other subjects. The 
second I obtained was really what I expected. In the 
middle of the examination Janet and I went to watch 
the Coronation. We had a fine view from a stand in 
Parliament Square. The day after the last paper we went 
to the Balliol Ball which was voted by all present as a 
great success, and seemed to me to compare favourably 
with the other balls of that Commemoration.' 

Professor C. F. Jenkin wrote to me on June 30 ; I well 
remember the pleasure given to my brother-in-law by the 
letter : 

' None of my men this year get firsts. Ronald is at the 
top of the list of the Second Class. He has done his final 
papers very well. He only worked for me two terms 
really hard, and has done extraordinarily well in that time. 
I have urged him from time to time to work harder, but he 
has had so many other occupations that till the last two 
terms he was not able to do so. 

' As he does not need to hunt for a job and does not need 
the special prestige of a First, I cannot think that he really 
lost anything but rather that he has gained by all the other 
excellent work which he has interested himself in. 

' I have never met a young man I would more gladly 
recommend for any post of responsibility. It has been a 
great pleasure having him in my class.' 


Ronald's Science Tutor, Harold Hartley, wrote on 
July 10 : 

' Many thanks for sending me Jenkin's letter about 
Ronald. I knew he had improved a lot in his last terms, 
but I hardly expected him to go better than a " Second ", 
as his time had been so much broken into in various ways. 
But I would not have had him alter anything. He has 
added a great deal to the life of the College and we shall 
be very sorry to lose him in December. Classes are after 
all only a small incident in a career. As Conroy said to 
me " Their chief merit is that they justify a job ". There is 
no need for that in Ronald's case so we need not worry.' 

Mr. Hartley also wrote to Ronald on July 8 : 

1 The College accepted my plan for your work next 
Term. I am very sorry it is to be your last ; we shall miss 
you in College and I shall always be glad to remember 
that I had a hand in bringing you to Balliol.' 

Except for the football, treated elsewhere, Ronald's last 
term requires few words. He took his degree on Oct. 12, 
and was in lodgings in Long Wall with his friends Dick 
Dugdale and M. T. Collis. The rooms were uncomfortable 
1 and but for the companionship of my partners would have 
been unbearable. I spent a certain time in the Pitt-Rivers 
preparing a paper on the I. of Wight palaeoliths. I also 
prepared a paper on an Engineering subject to read before 
the Physical Section of the N.H.S. at Rugby, but captaining 
the team took most time.' 

After the Schools and Aldershot Ronald ' went with a 
party of Balliol friends, about seven in all, for four days 
canoeing on the Wye. The weather was perfect, and this 
with the excitement of rushing the rapids combined to make 
the trip a great success. The views were wonderful and 
the hospitality of the farmers remarkable/ 

The Rev. Neville Gorton retains vivid memories of the 
expedition : 

' It was a great time and I know the success was entirely 
due to Ronald. Keith, Stephen, Ronald, Wertheimer, 1 

1 W. T. Collier was also one of the party. 

191 1 137 

and I had all just taken Finals. Three of us had had 
a sort of nervous break-down before or after and were 
naturally as nervy and moody as we could be, and Ronald 
kept us all going. I remember a desperate quarrel between 
three of the party it was only that they were on edge from 
being tired out over some absurd handling of the boat off 
Goodrich, and Ronald's splendid healing influence as 

Lieut. F. Joseph Conway (Wertheimer), R. F. A., writing 
from Bombay, July 27, 1917, and finding it 'difficult now 
to recall particular incidents of Oxford days, which seem 
immeasurably far away', has special memories of Ronald 
on that camping expedition. After referring to the effects 
of the examinations and the influence of Ronald's person- 
ality, 'which might be described as magnetic; he never 
allowed you to be annoyed with the world for long', 
Lieut. Conway continues : 

' The deeper side of his nature could be felt under the 
cheerful, fascinating surface, but he never consciously 
obtruded his real personality. His moral earnestness was 
a factor for good and not for self-gratification : hence he 
was anything but a prig. He was an influence. 

' It seems to me that by their death men like Ronald 
have illuminated very brightly the dark days in which we 

A day or two after the expedition Ronald carried out 
a plan proposed by his uncle and ' departed for a longish 
stay in France with Madame de Montarby and her 
charming daughter Marie Louise, at her small house near 
Blois, in Touraine. There were two other English fellows 
there, but I was honoured by being taught by the dark- 
eyed Marie Louise. The heat was very great about 95 
for five weeks. We never left the house till after tea, and 
usually got in about 3 bathes in the River Beuvron which 
flows beneath the garden wall. We worked in the 
morning, read in the afternoon, played stump cricket in 
the evening, and played spoof and demon patience after 
dinner. On occasional cool days we visited the Chateaux. 
Among others we saw Chenonceaux, Villandry, Blois, 
Cour-Cheverny, and Amboise. We met some of the 
aristocratic families of France who seemed united in the 
endeavour to turn the Government out of the country but 


on no account to do any good to themselves or any one 
else '. 

The visit to France in 1911 was the beginning of a love 
for the country and its people which deepened in Ronald's 
mind each time he went there. Next to his own country 
France stood alone in his affection there was no third 
and the words written beneath his portrait at La Caillere 
are just what he would have wished them to be : 
' Mort pour sa patrie et pour la notre, 5 mai 1915.' 

To his brother. 

' La Caillere. 

' This is a very jolly farm-house here, right in the country, 
about 30 miles from Tours and 40 from Orleans. It 
is about 2 miles from the Loire. All round are Chateaux 
great and small. All the small are inhabited by Counts, 
&c., and the big by Marquises or Princesses, or else 
uninhabited. It appears to be nothing to be a Count here. 
Even 500 peers in England won't make peers so common 
in England as they are here. I haven't seen any of the 
show Chateaux yet, because they are a good way off, and 
it is very hot, but I have been to several of the smaller 
ones. We went to one the other day. It is quite a big 
house with a beautiful park, and a tennis court. The 
tennis court was of sand with the oldest net I have ever 
seen. It broke twice during one of our games. The 
French are very annoying when playing tennis ; they will 
treat it as an interlude to conversation. They often talk 
during the rallies, when there are any, which was seldom 
as they were very bad. You can imagine how this 
annoyed us, who take our games rather seriously as 
a nation.' 

To his father. 

'All the papers out here are full of war scares. I do 
hope it doesn't mean anything. But they are very much 
afraid here, because on September 20 the 2nd year men in 
the army go home, and they will have to be kept to the 
Colours. Much love, Darling 

To Keith Rae. 

'Aug. 28. 

' I have a good mind to write to you in French, but of 
course you wouldn't understand it, you're such an exceed- 

ign 139 

ingly illiterate fellow, and am I not the Professor des 
Beaux Arts de Rhoscolyn? By Jove I wish I was with 
you now. You can imagine I am a bit dull here. 

' First of all I see it was a second. I am very sorry, but 
I suppose it was not exactly a disappointment to you as 
you expected it. But still it is a nasty feeling to have 
when with given luck in health and such things you could 
have pulled off a first easily. Poor Gortey, I haven't 
dared to write to him yet, but shall soon. And also poor 
Stephen. But I suppose he wouldn't be so disappointed 
as Grortey. I am so glad that Werters pulled it off. 

' When you write please tell me about the digs you and 
Billy have got. I am more than interested. Dick and 
I have already asked more people for week-ends than 
there are week-ends, which is a bit awkward. He and 
I are going a short tour for a week on our infernal 
machines round Nantes, Tours, Blois, Chartres, Caen, 
Bayeux, Avranches, Mont St. Michel, at the end of 
September, and then I come home the 3oth and Teddie is 
married the 3rd of Oct. 

' Well, now a little about my life here. This is a jolly 
farm-house, quite small and simple. The garden is quite 
nice, but of course completely burnt up. Madame here 
is quite delightful and quite amusing. We work every 
morning, and then we read in the afternoon and take some 
form of violent exercise after tea and bathe before dinner 
and when we get up. It is a quiet monotonous life, and 
we get a bit tired of it. But about a fortnight ago I went 
home for a week to see my people and to have a week-end 
with my Uncle, and also to have 3 days with the boys 
of the Rugby Club at Romney. It was all right, I can tell 
you. We had 125 boys there and 95 the day before. I am 
here now till the 2oth of Sept. before I go off on the tour. 

' The other day I was in the garden waiting for dinner 
when I heard a carriage pass in the road outside. It was 
pretty dark, but I thought I heard a voice saying, " There's 
Ronnie Poulton ". I ran out, and there was Bulkeley, 1 and 
a fellow called Campbell who is at Magdalen, and crowds 
more I didn't know. They had been to see a chateau near 
here and were returning. It was a funny coincidence, 
since we neither knew the other was out here. On the 
Saturday I biked over to the chateau where they are 

1 1 had a long talk with Bulkeley about the Anna [the 

1 Capt. V. F. Bulkeley-Johnson, Rifle Bde 

i 4 o BALLIOL 

Annandale Society at Balliol]. He was very sensible, 
and would do anything to turn it into a reasonable club, 
even to the extent of abolishing the table ; but he says that 

and , though much more reasonable people than 

they used to be, would oppose it, and they had a strong 
following. But he is very keen not to allow freshers in 
the Club, and is going to pill any put up next term. He 
was very sympathetic and really quite jolly. 

' Well, good-bye, old boy. Write a nice letter about your 
doings and about the digs and about the Viva, and about 
the river trip. Love, 

' Yours affectionately, 


The Annandale Society was started in Balliol about 
1890, as a rival to the ' Dervorguilla ', by M. W. Mortimer, 
who annexed for it the very attractive colours, black, grey, 
and white, of an extinct society, the 'Bat Club', so called 
because its members were given to nocturnal flittings, and 
because they were not cricketers. The original Annandale 
is remembered as a society with a serious purpose, 
a living protest against the frivolity of the age, a meeting- 
place chiefly for Scotchmen who debated Carlyle and 
other weighty writers. Presently, captured in a humorous 
spirit by a set with very different ideals, it became trans- 
figured, and finally led in Ronald's time to a serious feud. 

Capt. H. R. Bowlby, 8th Rifle Brigade, himself in favour 
of a peaceful solution, has recalled memories of the 
struggle : 

' There may be said to have been two groups in the anti- 
Anna section of the college : 

(a) The extremists of whom Keith Rae was the leading 

(b] Those who also profoundly disapproved of the Club 
as being contrary to the spirit of Balliol, but were willing 
to use the most tactful and peaceable methods in order to 
bring about a conclusion satisfactory to the College as 
a whole. 

' The one standing visible grievance to all of us was the 
"Anna" table. 1 We felt it to be contrary to all that 

1 Originally a ' Dervor' institution, captured for the ' Anna' by an 
inner ring of members belonging to both societies. 


Balliol stands for a united and friendly society of men 
from eyery class as well as from all parts of the Empire. 
There is no doubt and I know Ronald felt this that the 
table made a bad impression. 

'The second grievance was the all too frequent dis- 
turbance of College peace on Saturday nights. The climax 
was reached when a leading member of the " Anna " rudely 
interrupted the meeting in Balliol of a distinguished 
University literary society the Shaftesbury at which 
members of other Colleges were present. It was then felt 
that serious measures must be taken. A formal meeting 
was held in the Garden Quad on the following day, at 
which Ronald, as the best known member of the College 
as well as being intensely liberal minded, and Rae, as 
a senior undergraduate and perhaps best known for his 
rigid and consistent attitude, saw the intruder and threat- 
ened serious measures if an apology was not forthcoming. 
As matters then stood it is my honest conviction that 
conciliatory methods were out of the question. Thanks to 
these two an apology was given, and a serious "row"- 
few know how intense the feeling was or how complete 
the preparations was avoided. I have no doubt that this 
was due in a very great measure to the respect in which 
Ronald was held by every one and to the strength and tact 
which lay behind his dealings with others. 

' Although he was not at Oxford when the final events 
brought about the doing away with the table, his support 
was of great service to the opposition, and being the man 
he was I believe he made certain members of the "Anna" 
realize that there was something in the arguments put 
forward by the opposing faction. Those who knew Ronald 
and Evelyn Cardew must realize that they would not have 
refused to join the Club had they not had well-thought-out 
reasons for declining. 

' Ronald's connection with this episode is I think all the 
more significant because he was loved and respected by 
members of the Club. It was as for all of us his indig- 
nation at any slur being cast on the good name of Balliol 
that led him to take a leading part in the suppression of 
those who showed lack of courtesy and consideration to 
fellow members of the College, as well as on the occasion 
mentioned above to guests of the College.' 

C. P. Evers writes : ' Ronald used to tell me a good deal 
about difficulties at Balliol, especially in connection with 
the rowdy set of " bloods ", who seem to have made them- 


selves particularly objectionable in his time. Most of the 
leading men in Ronald's particular circle refused to know 
them or have anything to dp with them. But Ronald him- 
self was on good terms with many of them, and he was 
a good deal exercised in his mind towards the end of his 
Oxford days as to whether his friends had adopted the 
right course. He was inclined to believe though I think 
his friends did not agree that it would have been more 
helpful if they had been willing to know the " bloods " and 
had tried by personal influence and example to bring about 
a better state of things in College. As it was, they cut 
themselves completely aloof, showing that they despised 
the " bloods ", but this did not really help matters. This 
was Ronald's own view, and he expressed it to me during 
(I think) his third summer, when I spent a night at 
Wykeham House during Eights' Week. While some of 
the party were at a concert I walked down to Ronald's 
rooms in Oriel Street and he and I and Dick Dugdale 
discussed the question for a long time. As it happened, 
during the discussion one of the particular " bloods " in 
question burst into the room after a Bullingdon dinner, 
together with a visitor a young Guardsman, I fancy. 
Both especially the latter were the worse for drink. 
That was one of the few times I saw Ronald really angry. 
He putthem both out of the room in the most unceremonious 
fashion. The " blood " returned a little later, rather sobered, 
and apologized for what had happened. Ronald was not 
easily appeased, but the man was in a way contrite, and 
was finally forgiven. But I think the interview confirmed 
Ronald in his opinion that it would have been better to 
recognize the existence of the " blood " element and to try 
and win it away from its worst characteristics. ' 

The explanation of the ' Anna ' as a disintegrating force is 
to be sought in an intolerant and aggressive spirit too often 
found among men from a single school, and evident, I have 
been informed, upon the banks of the Cam no less than 
upon the Isis. 

It will be clear to any reader of this volume that no one 
could have loved his school more devotedly than Ronald 
loved Rugby. His letter to his mother on leaving school 
would by itself be sufficient to prove this. But his intense 
loyalty and devotion to Rugby did not mean that he was 


the less, but all the more, able to enter freely and sympa- 
thetically into the varied life of the University, and to co- 
operate in the most friendly spirit with men from every other 
school or from no school at all. A false strain has crept 
into the loyalty of some men from a great and ancient and 
noble foundation. Let us hope that in the future those 
who are responsible will see to it that Eton men are not 
handicapped in playing their part in a world which is never 
likely to be composed wholly of Eton men. In the end 
the world will always cure those of them who are worth 
curing, and they will play, as they have ever done, a splen- 
did part in it; but after what unnecessary friction and 
delay, and the loss of so much that University life could 
give them, and with how much loss to others. 

'All Keith's last year', writes his friend Neville Gorton, 
' the " Anna " was a kind of nightmare to him. For months 
he had the whole thing on his brain. He was extra- 
ordinarily bitter. He felt that before he went down he 
ought to smash it. It was a serious disintegrating influence 
right through the College. One can't exaggerate the harm 
it did, and the last two years I was up the whole College 
was divided in the most bitter feud. Personally I used to 
get frightfully worked up at times and then, as Secretary 
for the Christian Union set in College, to doubt the wisdom 
or Tightness of Keith's methods and waver round to other 
methods, though I honestly think now Keith's was the only 
way out. ' 

Although the feud between the leaders on the two sides 
was so bitter, a beautiful and touching end was brought to 
it by the stress and strain of the war. Even when things 
were at their worst Keith Rae had clearly recognized great 
and splendid qualities in the leader of the opposite party. 
' If I were in a shipwreck or any danger of that kind 
I would rather be with him than any one else', he once 
said to the present Master of Balliol. But the protest and 
forced apology were regarded as a lasting grievance, and 
nothing more than a formal reconciliation and this much 
later was possible at Oxford. Then came the war, and 
the two opponents met as officers in the same battalion. 


Capt. Bowlby, who was with them, wrote of Keith to the 
Editor of the Balliol Club Magazine : ' Those of us who 
knew and loved him need not be told what a wonderful 
officer and friend he proved himself to be " out there " '. 
And so in those few short months these qualities became 
also revealed to one who had never really known him, and 
his old opponent sought Keith for a true reconciliation and 
friendship. And when the end came with the first use of 
liquid fire in the attack at Hooge, Keith and his sergeant 
were last seen, unyielding and alone, defending an aban- 
doned trench, while his new-found friend was killed, with 
many another of our best and bravest, in the first ill-planned 
and useless counter-attack. 

Ronald was not one of those who take naturally to the 
life of a soldier. When the question of his joining the 
School Volunteers arose he wrote saying that he would 
be rather pleased if we did not wish him to enter the 
R.S.R.V.C. But the Officers' Training Corps had come 
into existence on Sept. i, 1908, as the result of the inspiring 
meeting in the Town Hall addressed by Lord Haldane in 
the previous May, and Ronald, when he came up, was 
convinced that it was his duty to join. He was extremely 
interested in the great questions of military strategy and 
tactics. Members of the family will always remember the 
long evening hours he used to spend in the drawing-room 
at St. Helens, reading The Times History of the War in 
South Africa ; and his friends noticed the same keenness. 
Thus Captain L. R. Broster wrote : 

' I was surprised to find how keenly interested Ronald 
was in Military strategy. For the want of something to 
do I read Ian Hamilton's Russo-Japanese War and With 
Kitchener to Khartoum, and found that he had studied them 
long before.' 

I remember too how much he appreciated The Defence 
of Duffer's Drift, by ' Backsight Forethought', of which he 
gave me a copy. One of Ronald's friends greatly admired 

THE O.T.C. 145 

J. A. Cramb's book on England and Germany, and I was 
much interested to know what Ronald himself would think 
of it. I found, as I expected, that he agreed with me in dis- 
liking the eloquent glorification of war which is its main 
thesis. After four years of the real thing even the military 
chiefs of Germany, if they spoke their inmost thoughts, 
would probably express only a chastened approval of the 
views of their English apologist. 

A brief statement of some experiences in the O.T.C. is 
given in Ronald's accounts of the years. 

He speaks of taking part on May 5, 1909, in ' the 
review of the O.T.C. at Headington and shortly after in 
a Field day at Claydon '. On June 19 he went with the 
O.T.C. to Aldershot for a very enjoyable though very wet 
week. Then in September, 

' went for the day round the manoeuvres at Faringdon, 
with Gerald Fisher on the carrier of my motor-cycle. He 
expressed great knowledge of where the fighting would 
be, but ultimately we motored 40 miles without seeing 
a soldier. On Nov. 22nd I was examined for certificate 
"A" O.T.C., and I hope I passed. 1 I certainly got through 
the practical at Cowley Barracks.' 

IQIO. ' About May i6th I was picked as a representative 
of C Company to march in the procession through London 
at the King's funeral. We stayed the night on the floor of 
a Territorial Drill Hall. The standing in St. James's Street 
and the marching with strapped overcoats to Paddington 
was the most tiring thing I ever did. 

'At the end of Term I spent the usual splendid and 
damp week at Aldershot, where owing to shortage I was 
forced to act as Colour-Sergeant of our Company, with the 
advantage of not having to carry a rifle on parade.' 

He wrote to his friend C. P. Evers on July 18 : ' I had 
a gorgeous time at Aldershot and really am frightfully keen 
on soldiering.' As a result of the Aldershot week Ronald 
and his friend Dick Dugdale (of C.C.C.) were invited to 
take part as Motor-cycle Dispatch Riders in the Autumn 
Manoeuvres. Ronald's brief note was contained in the 

1 He passed successfully. 


missing pages of his account of 1910, but I remember his 
telling us of his capture and how it was cleverly effected by 
converting a pony carriage full of ladies into a barrier which 
brought the motor-cycle to a sudden stop. Before he could 
turn and escape, the enemy appeared at close quarters 
behind him and he had to surrender. 

After the manoeuvres were over Ronald received the 
following letter from H.Q. of the Southern Command at 
Salisbury : 


' Lt.-General Sir Charles Douglas wishes me to write 
and thank you very much for the very efficient way in which 
you carried out your duties as a despatch rider during the 
recent manoeuvres. He thinks it was most patriotic of you 
to give him your services at great expense and discomfort 
to yourself. 

' Yours sincerely, 

1 R. S. MAY.' 

In the Autumn Term of 1910 Ronald was elected Presi- 
dent of the O.T.C. Sergeants' Mess ^Varsity, Nov. 17, 
1910, p. 65). 

After the Final Schools in June 1911, ' the next week was 
spent at Aldershot, where we had an excellent week's 
training, interrupted by a visit to Windsor for the review 
of the O.T.C.'s by the King. This review of 22,000 possible 
officers in any branch of the army of England was quite 
a moving spectacle, only marred by the thought of now 
few of those 22,000 will ever be fitted really to command. 
But the importance of the whole scheme is shewn by the 
fact that during the recent crisis, there were not enough 
officers in England to fill up places vacant from the primary 
wastage of war.' 

Capt. N. Whatley has kindly sent me the record of 
Ronald's Service in the Officers' Training Corps: 

Cadet Colour-Sergeant R. W. Poulton, 

Balliol Section, C Company, 
Joined, Oxford Univ. O.T.C. 4. 12. 08. 
Resigned 29. 12. n 

with above rank. 

THE O.T.C. 147 

Passed Examination ' A ' and obtained the 

Certificate Nov. 1909. 
' B ' and obtained the 

Certificate May 1910. 

Ronald's record of Service and Qualifications of a Cadet 
on leaving the Infantry unit, Oxford University Contin- 
gent, dated Jan. 9, 1912, gives as his Qualifications 
' General Efficiency, very good,' and, under Musketry, 
* Fired Table " B ".' The Special Remarks entered are 
4 Efficient, 1909, 10, n'. 

Among Ronald's papers are a set of his answers to ques- 
tions on ' Appreciation of Situation '. The careful marginal 
and terminal notes by Capt. and Adj. R. Maclachlan 'just 
back from camp fagged out ! ' show that he found the 
answers satisfactory. Capt. Maclachlan's paper giving the 
results of the examination for Certificate B is endorsed, 
4 Well done. I know you cannot take a commission yet, 
but enclose a pamphlet ! ' 

The Rev. Henry C. Wace (Maj. T.F.) has recalled memo- 
ries of Ronald as one of a band of Balliol men who took an 
important part in the earliest days of the O.T.C. at Oxford. 

' Your son was one of the most notable leaders in Under- 
graduate life who joined the Corps when it was recon- 
structed as an O.T.C. under Lord Haldane : the whole 
success of the movement depended on the way in which it 
was backed up by men like your son. From the time he 
joined, the Balliol Section became the most efficient and 
vigorous section in C Company. Their position was on 
the right, and I well remember the extraordinary succes- 
sion of big vigorous men the College provided at the head 
of the Company. They were big mentally as well as 
physically most I think were Scholars. Names that occur 
to me are D. R. Brandt [Lt. Rifle Brigade, killed July 6, 
1915], L. U. Kay-Shuttleworth [Lt. and Adit. R.A., killed 
Mar. 30, 1917], C. Fyson [Lt. Wore. Regt.], W. G. Fletcher 
[2nd Lt. R. Welsh Fusiliers, killed Mar. 20, 1915], V. F. 
Bulkeley-Johnson [Capt. Rifle Brigade]. In the first camp 
that your son came to it must have been 1909 he was, 
I believe, in a tent at the end of one of the lines opening on 
to the centre street. He was with Brandt and Kay-Shuttle- 

L 2 


worth and another. I remember the tent well, and watching 
with some anxiety to see whether they approved of our 
methods of running the Company or not. It was the first 
year we had had men of that stamp, in any numbers, in the 
Corps, and one was very anxious as to how it struck them. 
I don't think I am doing them an injustice if I say that, as 
far as I remember, some of the small details of Camp life 
such as keeping their buttons clean, &c. rather bored that 
particular tent ; but when it came to real work they would 
do anything, and they backed one up absolutely to the last. 
I never had a man who worked more loyally under me than 
your son ; I cannot recall a single instance in which we 
were at loggerheads. Busy man as he was, he took an 
infinity of trouble over the Corps, and I believe that, despite 
his many engagements, he hardly missed a single field day 
during term time.' 

Memories have also come to me from one who served 
in the O.T.C. with Ronald J. Mostyn Silvester, Jesus 
College, A.D.C., resident when he wrote at Machakos, 
British East Africa : 

'Your son was of course a good deal senior to me at 
Oxford, but he was Colour-Sergeant of our Company in 
the O.T.C. , and never shall I forget the constant considera- 
tion and kindness which he showed to all of us, whether 
we were from Balliol, B.N.C., or Jesus [the three 
Colleges combined in C Company]. We would always 
far rather do anything for him man for our officers. I only 
knew him in just that little corner of life in camp, but there 
he won my admiration and respect. As Colour-Sergeant 
he was the senior Non-Commissioned Officer, and com- 
mands, orders, &c. passed down through him to us, while 
all requests for leave, &c. went up to the C.O. through 
him. I remember very often in those dreary marches over 
Long Valley and Laffan's Plain, when returning to camp, 
how he would buck us up with a few words or would start 
a song to get us along on the campward road. 

' The next year he had gone down and another man 
occupied his place. Somehow things were often wrong 
that year, and again and again one heard, "If only old 
Poulton were here it would be all right". I think that will 
show you in what respect and affection he was held.' 

It was from his experiences in the O.T.C. and the re- 

THE O.T.C. 149 

suiting association with professional soldiers that Ronald 
came to realize, before he left Oxford, that war with 
Germany was inevitable. Thus the Rev. C. S. Donald 
writes : 

' I once stayed with Ronnie at Oxford, a short and 
jolly visit. I well remember being introduced by him on 
the Oxford platform as I left to a Staff Officer. As the 
train was coming in I remember Ronnie saying, "He's 
a splendid fellow. He is absolutely certain that the Ger- 
mans mean war in a few years: it's as certain as the 
sequence of night and day. : 

And these are the words with which Ronald brought to 
an end the account of 1911, his last year at Oxford: 

' Before closing I must mention the fact which has made 
this year stand out in every Englishman's mind. This fact 
is the appalling proximity to a European conflagration 
during July and August. At one time we were within 
24 hours of war with Germany, and only by a certain 
amount of good fortune was it avoided. It is interesting 
to inquire what one would have been doing now, had that 
crisis not passed ; and it is important to consider what 
course one will pursue if any crisis of this kind is not 
surmounted in the future.' 



There is nothing that is not fresh, happy, and beautiful in his 
memory. I can never think of any sorrow cloud passing over the 
sun in that wonderful life except sorrow for the sufferings of others. 
It is a memory to cherish as one of one's dearest possessions. 
2nd Lt. T. K. H. RAE, Rifle Bde., Balliol, from the Flanders front, 
July 9, 1915, three weeks before he was killed. 

I so often think of those three great friends, Ronald, Keith Rae, and 
Stephen Reiss, and like to imagine them as in the old days working 
together elsewhere. How I miss them ! Capt. H. R. BOWLBY, Rifle 
Bde., Balliol. 

EDWARD in his account of the year speaks of various 
meetings, held in Balliol during the Michaelmas Term of 
1906, under the presidency of the present Master, to 
discuss social questions. As one result it was decided to 
start the Balliol Boys' Club in Oxford. 

In Ronald's first term Stephen L. Reiss was President, 
Keith (T. K. H.) Rae Secretary, and Neville Gorton 
Treasurer. These and all the other officers of the Club 
during the whole of his Oxford days H. R. Bowlby, 
W. T. Collier, G. M. Hamilton, and R. Wodehouse were 
among his most intimate friends. Ronald was Secretary 
Oct. 1909 to June 1910. 

On one occasion when an officer was absent Ronald 
took the notes but added, 'To Mr. Wodehouse, who is 
I believe Secretary of the Balliol Boys' Club ', and ' I have 
done this for my dear friend, and I hope he finds it a clear 
and concise account of what happened. Signed R. W. 
Poulton (Ex-Secretary that's how I learnt to do it).' 

Keith Rae, the leader of the group of friends who 


managed the Balliol Boys' Club, was a year senior to 
Ronald and a little older, having been born May 24, 1889. 
One of his brothers being too delicate to leave home, 
Keith stayed with him and was educated by a tutor, 
attending classes at the University of Liverpool. Unlike 
Ronald, he had had no experience of Boys' Clubs before 
he went to Oxford. It is interesting that one whose 
education had been so different from that of most English 
boys should have quickly taken a leading place among the 
Balliol men of his time. Ronald's letters show how 
much he looked up to Keith and how highly he valued his 
friendship. The leading part taken by Keith Rae is well 
shown in a paragraph from Ronald's letter of March 2, 1910, 
to C. P. Evers, of which nearly the whole has been quoted 
on pp. 66, 67 : 

'We are making a great effort to fight against the 
immorality of the boys, whether Club boys or not. Rae, 
our President, in the weekly officers' meeting (boy officers) 
told them perfectly straight what he thought and knew 
about it, and in consequence we got their confidence and 
shall I believe be able to do much good.' 

Ronald kept up his active association with the Club to 
the very end of his Oxford life, attending the Committee 
meeting on Jan. 21, 1912, a few days before he left for 

It was during his Oxford residence that I learnt some- 
thing of Ronald's work at the Club and in Camps. I re- 
member his once telling us of a boy, who, having been 
turned out for making himself a nuisance, showed his 
defiance by spitting into the room through the keyhole. 
I wondered whether such a boy would ever be any good 
in the Club. ' Rather,' said Ronald ; ' why, when you've 
once got hold of him he'll probably make the best of the 
lot'. The same spirit of humour and creative optimism 
appears in a letter to Janet written from home, Dec. 14, 
1908, at the end of his first term : 

' Yesterday I went down to St. Ebbe's, where the Balliol 
Boys' Club is, and took the service and made them a little 


sermon. I think it was rather successful, and they were 
fairly quiet, that is to say they only whistled and talked 
and threw chairs about.' 

So Ronald while still an undergraduate had found for 
himself the truth stated by Baden-Powell, ' that the worst 
hooligan soon makes the best Scout: he only needs 
direction for his adventurous energy and attractive pursuits 
to fill a void' (Times, Oct. 10, 1916). That there were 
several such boys in the Balliol Club may be gathered 
from a letter written by W. T. Collier to Keith Rae, just 
before the beginning of the Autumn Term of 1909 : 

' The Club is open now every night. I rely on you to be 
here on Thursday, as I have told two or three boys to 
come and see you. I must confess I shall be rather glad 
when Term begins, as it is rather a sham in the vac. One 

or two of the boys are rather out of hand, notably , 

whom Poulton chucked out last week, who has been 

behaving rather like the and type : he has been 

going off steadily the last 2 or 3 weeks, and , who 

is the limit : I put him out last night, though he ought to 
have been out before. 

' Poulton has brought down a new game Puff-billiards 
which has caught on tremendously. He has been up 
to the Rugby Mission in London and is full of schemes 
of reform. 1 must say I agree with him, if it would be 
possible to make them work smoothly. He suggests that 
the first part of the evening should be given up to learn- 
ing something useful, i.e. carpentering, boot-mending, &c., 
and the second part to amusement, &c. Of course it 
would need considerable thought and money for this, but 
I am sure that we ought to start something in that way, 
which might be really useful to the boys.' 

From his Mother. 

' Ronald often talked to me about the boys, and some 
of them I knew, as they lived in my district. When he 
came home on Sundays he would talk to me about what 
he should say to them when he took the Sunday service. 
We often also discussed their future life, and their em- 
ployments, and he and I used to argue the question as 
to whether we ought to keep a house-boy. I think, in 

IN OXFORD YEARS: 1909 153 

the end, he was convinced that the training we gave these 
boys did help them in their future careers. I loved all 
these talks; he always had such sensible and practical 

The generous share of the year allotted to vacations 
enabled Ronald to spend much time at the summer 
Camps, which were his special delight. In his first year, 
before he had settled down to serious work for his Final 
Schools, he not only worked hard for the Balliol Club, 
but at Easter 1909 visited the Bermondsey Club, while 
the Long Vacation Camps form a large part of his account 
of the year. On June 29, the day after Hilda's wedding, 
he started on his motor bicycle for Beaulieu in the New 
Forest and the Balliol Boys' Club Camp, of which he 
wrote : ' The weather was beautiful, and it was an inter- 
esting and instructive experience sleeping in the tents with 
the boys. One gets to know them much better that way.' 

Lt. G. M. Hamilton (Graves Regn. Comn.) writes : 

' I fear I can remember little enough about it, except 
the pleasure it was to have him with us. Two things 
remain with me his anger and disgust with a boy who 
was ill-treating a crab, and his intense enjoyment of an 
early morning walk through the New Forest which ended 
with a visit to the beautiful ruins of Beaulieu Abbey.' 

Later on, there was New Romney and, as he wrote : 

' My fifth consecutive visit. I was there right through 
the fortnight except for one brief interlude. 1 even came 
in for the last day of the girls' week. This caused some 
embarrassment when I went down to Netting Hill later, 
to be welcomed at various turns by some unknown young 
ladies, and I had to reply appropriately. 

' It was a splendid week and absolutely perfect through- 
out. The nights on the beach were lovely and called forth 
a song of which the chorus was : 

You may like your feather bed 

Where you cannot turn your head 
To see the moonbeams silvering the sea ; 

You may talk of dell or dingle, 

But a bed upon the shingle 
Is the only bed worth sleeping in for me. 


' I never feel so perfectly the delight of living as at 6.0 
in the morning on the beach at New Romney, with the 
waves lapping at my feet, and the sun high up over 
Dover pier.' 

In the middle of the stay Ronald motor-cycled north 
to act as groomsman at the wedding of his friends Miss 
Nancy Mann and Mr. Hawkesworth. He gave a graphic 
account of the return journey from Oxford to New 
Romney : 

' I left Oxford at 4.30 by Carfax clock. I passed Henley 
after tea, looking lovely, and passed through Twyford, 
Wokingham, Bagshot, Bisley, Guildford and Dorking. At 
Dorking I had some dinner, and as it was such a perfect 
night I determined to go on. I had to change the belt as 
the other was slipping, but otherwise all went well. I went 
through Redhill, East Grinstead, and finally reached 
Tunbridge Wells with great difficulty at 2.30 a.m. The 
difficulty was that I could not find my way. I found a 
policeman who directed me on. I got through Lamber- 
hurst, but finally came to a stop at 3.30 at a big cross 
roads, because I hadn't any idea where I was, and my 
back tyre was punctured. I stuck up the bike and went 
to sleep for 2^ hours on a heap of stones. Among other 
excellent things that a motor bicycle does for you, it 
never fails to make you sleepy. The next morning I 
mended the puncture, and found my way through Rye to 
New Romney in time for breakfast. The motor bicycle 
was very popular, as I was able to give a lot of rides to 
boys along the sands/ 

The following memories of Ronald at the New Romney 
Camps of 1909 and 1910 have been recalled by his Oxford 
friend, Capt. C. P. Symonds, R.A.M.C., whose engagement 
to Janet was such a pleasure to him during the months 
of training at Chelmsford : 

'I find it very difficult to put down on paper any 
definite impressions of Ronald as I knew him. I know 
that some of the happiest days I have ever had were 
spent in his company, while all the times were so jolly 
that I was too happy to think much or analyse my feel- 
ings, but was content to love him and enjoy it, as every one 


From a photograph by A. L. N. Russell, 1909. 

From a photograph by Rev. C. S. Donald, probably 1910. 

Facing f>. 154.] 

IN OXFORD YEARS: 1909, 1910 155 

else who knew him did love him ; so now I have to cast 
back and try and unravel why so much of the brightness 
and friendliness in the air were due to him. 

' He was certainly the most attractive of all men to meet 
for the first time. Although we were at Rugby together 
I never really had more than a nodding acquaintanceship 
with him until the Romney Camp of 1909. He and I were 
both included in a party of some half-dozen of the Staff 
who went down a day beforehand to prepare things : I had 
never been down there before, whereas he and the others 
were old hands, and I felt at first rather shy, but by the 
end of the journey down in the dirty S.E. carriage I knew 
I was going to enjoy my fortnight there. I well remember 
that when I got into that train I was filled with apprehen- 
sion, and when I got out of it, I felt as if I'd known every 
one in the party for years and that they were all splendid 
people. And now as I look back on it, I believe it is a 
good instance of the atmosphere of friendliness that Ronald 
created wherever he went. 

' I was a new-comer, and a stranger in an intimate party, 
and quite naturally and unselfconsciously Ronald made me 
of it, and put me at my ease. Wherever he was he was 
radiant of good spirits and could make people "rag", and 
in the most diverse companies could create in no time a 
spirit of good fellowship. Before that Camp was finished 
I came to know him as intimately as I think only Rommers 
(or war) can bring people together in so short a time. We 
used to sleep next one another on the shingle, and talk 
as we went to sleep and here he introduced me to some 
of his ideas about Boys' Clubs : they were then quite 
vague, but he obviously felt that Boys' Clubs were one of 
the institutions worth living for. 

' He was always at Rommers, in those days, the Camp 
carpenter, and used to spend the mornings very happily 
repairing wrecked furniture always with some one to 
help him. I believe he hated doing things alone, but as 
long as he had a congenial spirit with him, no task was 
dull: and he had a way of finding congenial spirits. 

' With the boys he was a great success ; to start with 
his natural athleticism appealed to them, and he was as 
unselfconscious and jolly with them as he was with 
others : he never pretended to understand them when he 

' The best picture of him in my memory is of a blanket- 
wrapt figure on Romney beach early in the morning, and 


a perfectly red unshaven face with an enormous grin of 
satisfaction at having shirked a cold bathe and scored 
another half-hour's sleep. 

'And I remember turning him out of his nest in the 
shingle and the fight that ensued. He was a priceless 

After a visit to New Romney in the autumn of 1915 
Capt. Symonds wrote : 

' We enjoyed our bathe on the old beach at Rommers, 
though it made me feel very sad to look on all the old 
places and think of the men who were gone. 

' Rommers made me think much of Ronald, and of the 
last week-end I spent there with his club : I am surprised 
to find how very deeply I love a man of whom compared 
with my other great friends I saw really but a little. When 
peace comes and with it Romney Camp again, I know his 
spirit will be with those of the old crowd with whom he 
spent such glorious days.' 

In 1910 Ronald, who had gone with the Balliol Club 
boys to London in the course of the Summer Term, felt 
that he could not manage to be at the Camp in the last 
Long Vacation before his Final Schools. But when the 
question was discussed in February, he, being the only 
member of the Committee who knew the Rugby Club 
camping ground at New Romney, suggested that the 
Balliol boys should go there. 

There is no doubt that the choice was a mistake in view 
of the fact that not one of the Staff accompanying the boys 
had been to New Romney before. But Ronald could 
not do more than see the party off with Keith in charge, 
at Charing Cross, and he did not learn till July 10, when 
the Camp was over, that the result had not been a success. 
The following letters show how distressed he was at the 
possibility of any misunderstanding between him and 
Keith, and especially between his two friends, Keith and 
H. H. Hardy, the Treasurer of the Club. 

IN OXFORD YEARS: 1910 157 

From W. T. Collier to Keith Rae. 

'July n, 1910. Oxford. 

'I had a call from Ronald yesterday. He was rather 
upset about New Romney. He was very anxious you 
should not write too strongly to Hardy, as the latter was 
rather put out already and has a fairly useful tongue: 
however, I told him I thought you were a match for most 
people in that department. 

' I am awfully sorry you weren't fit during the week : 
I am afraid it made you look rather on the dark side of 
things. However, " Experientia docet" (who said I wasn't 
a Latin scholar?).' 

From Ronald to Keith Rae. 

'July 14, 1910. Oxford. 

' I was agreeably relieved during the week to get a p. c. 
from George Allen to say how much they were enjoying 
it all, and so the news I heard from Billy's cousin who was 
calling last Sunday sent me off on my bike to Billy, where 
I heard the dismal story, which even his customary cheer- 
fulness could not hide. I may say I left him feeling very 
wretched, and when I think of it I still feel pretty bad. 

' My dear Keith, I am frightfully sorry it was so un- 
successful. I do wish you had wired to me to tell me to 
come down as / told you either that Saturday or during 
the week. The wratn of the Professor would have been 
preferable to the regrets I now feel. I do wish I had come. 
But I imagined that all was well as I didn't hear. I am 
sick about it all. And I am certain that the weather and 
the kit and the few rows you did have made you look at 
the locality with a dismal eye. I know that it is ideal for 
a camp, provided that you are comfortable, which you 
obviously were not. Do write and say you forgive me. 
Please write to me and be kind. Billy has been very 

But he never would admit that the place itself was 
anything but perfect : ' I still firmly stick to the opinion 
that the place, as I saw it last, was perfectly ideal for such 
a camp, at least as ideal as any sea-side place in England.' 
And he spoke of the hold it would have on H. H. Hardy, 
who, at Lydd, 'has lived all his life on the marsh and 

i 5 8 BOYS' CLUBS 

knows, as some of us are learning who go there year after 
year, some of its beauty and wonder.' And later on, when 
he had been to New Romney, he wrote to Keith Rae from 
Marlston, Sept. 15, 1910 : 

'Camp was as good as the Rugby Camp always is. 
I cursea them all for giving the Ballipl Club such a rotten 
time, but I must say we had a topping time. We found 
the water splendid and didn't boil it ; yet no one was the 
worse for it. Of course the important thing, the weather, 
was very kind to us, though it wasn't as warm as usual.' 

On the same day he wrote to C. P. Evers : 

'About the Religion Question at Camp I did speak 
a little to you about it at Camp, and I absolutely agree 
with you. More should be made of this at a time when 
one has most influence over these boys. And I feel quite 
certain we ought to sleep in the tents with the boys. If it 
is arranged I shall hope to get a tent. I should love to 
talk to them on things that matter. Of course with the 
bigger boys it will be more difficult, but it ought to be 
possible to put the more experienced staff to look after 

1 It was a splendid Camp and I enjoyed it as usual no 
end. Charlie and I helped clear up on the Saturday and 
didn't get off till tea-time, so we slept at Cranbrook in 
Kent for the night. 

' Two boys missed their train, so I put them on behind 
and motored them to catch the train at Ham Street : rather 
good, wasn't it ? ' 

The present section is brought to a close with the 
memories of friends who were associated with Ronald in 
Boys' Clubs during this period of his life. 

From Alfred Ollivant, whose earliest memories of 
Ronald are of the three days which, in the midst of his 
summer in France in 1911, he could not resist giving to 

' I remember well the kind of thrill that went through 
that August Camp when the men knew that " Mr. Poulton " 
was coming. He came with his friend Dick Dugdale. 
And I remember now the keenness with which he flung 

IN OXFORD YEARS: 1911 159 

himself into the rough football on the dunes on those 
glorious summer evenings.' 

From Captain W. T. Collier, R.A.M.C.:- 

'Our last year at 15 Oriel Street was the best of all. 
We were most of us pretty busy during the day, and I was 
amazed at his power of application ; for at a time when he 
was Captain of the XV, he did a regular 8 hours' work 
a day. But when one or two of us returned from the 
Club, as we often did, about half-past ten, we would all 
gather round the kettle either on the stairs or in the 
dining-room for a last cup of cocoa. And I remember 
how he would laugh at some small event of the day or of 
the evening at the Club. For he had, in no small degree, 
the power of appreciating the humours of every-day 
existence one of the things which helped to make him so 
cheerful and so human a companion.' 

From 2nd Lt. Keith Rae, writing to Ronald's mother. 
Capt. H. R. Bowlby, who was with Keith at the time, 
remembers his despair at the news of Ronald's death, a 
few days before he went out. 

1 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade, 

'35 Rushmoor Camp, Aldershot. 
1 May 7, 1915. 

1 1 hope you will forgive me for intruding upon your 
sorrow, but I could not go abroad without writing to you. 
No one who loved and admired Ronald as I did, or who 
owed him what I do, could possibly say nothing. 

' I shall not attempt to express what his friendship 
meant to me. I have been indeed lucky beyond descrip- 
tion in the friends I have had, but I have never met a 
more beautiful nature than his. It is when we meet 
such as Ronald that we can begin to see beyond this sad 
life and understand what they are like who live with Him 
for ever. Truly " of such are the Kingdom of Heaven ". 

' For Ronald himself the only cruelty is that he was 
cut off on the threshold of a great life. 

1 Death has no terrors for such as he. It is for those 
he has left behind that the sympathy must be. It cannot 
comfort you altogether to think of the splendid way in 
which he laid his life down. It will however help you 
to know how he was loved by all who knew him. He 


has left the world richer by his splendid life. Death can 
never deprive us of a happy Past with all its beautiful 
memories. That is the great consolation of this terrible 
war. Strong as Death is, Love and Goodness are stronger 

1 Please forgive this letter, but I felt I must write to you 
to-night. Will you please tell Professor Poulton now 
deeply I feel for him at this time and how earnestly I pray 
that God will comfort you both. 

' Believe me, dear Mrs. Poulton, 

' Your very sincere friend, 


From Keith Rae, who had asked through his father if 
I could tell him the position of Ronald's grave. ' He 
had a great love for Ronald and has felt his loss sorely/ 
It was written a few weeks before Keith's name appeared 
on Aug. i in the list of those ' missing, believed killed ' at 

' Dugouts, 8th Battn. Rifle Brigade, 

'July 9, 1915. 

1 Many thanks for your letter. I was very anxious to 
go to Ronald's grave if I could, and leave a few flowers 
there. But it does not seem at the moment possible. 
I cannot say where I am, but I am many miles away at a 
very notorious and unpleasant spot. You know I will 
take any chance I have of getting there, and will let you 
or Mrs. Poulton know the moment I have done so. 

' I cannot realize yet that Ronald has gone and I do 
not attempt to do so. For I firmly believe that Death is 
at most a temporary parting and that we may meet those 
we love after the grave. 

' I wish I could tell you and Mrs. Poulton how deeply 
I feel for you in your sorrow. For us others it is so 
much easier. As Billy Temple put it, we can try to 
follow in his footsteps. 

' You ask me to write a few of my recollections of 
him. I would most willingly try, and, if it please God to 
bring me safely through this war, I will. But life here is 
so arduous and so distracting that it would be almost an 
impossibility to do so now. There is but seldom time to 
call one's own, and one is never " off duty ". 


' It is a time of sorrow and tears for us all, is it not ? 
I believe that the Clouds will lift and that the Sun will 
shine forth again. 

' Will you allow me to send my love to Mrs. Poulton ? ' 

From Keith Rae to the Rev. E. C. Crosse, C.F., D.S.O. 
(8th Devons), written July 16, 1915 : 

' You see that dear old Bussell and Bob Brandt have 
gone? It is terribly sad, but nothing can come as a 
surprise since Ronald has gone.' 

I conclude this section with words written by Cyril 
Bailey in The Balliol Club Magazine (1915, pp. 4-6). Here 
Ronald is remembered, as he would wish to be remem- 
bered, among his comrades and friends in the work. 
Eighty-five members of the Club, officers and boys, were 
known to be serving in the Army or Navy by March 1915, 
and, in addition to the officers who have fallen, H. R. Bowlby 
and W. T. Collier have been wounded. 

'The war, which has brought mourning to so many 
homes, has not spared the Club, and has indeed taken of 
our best. We have lost four former members of the 
Committee, including an ex- President and an ex-Secretary. 
... If we are to find the kind of comfort which shall 
make it possible to say of us, " Blessed are they that mourn, " 
we must let our thoughts dwell not on the blank that we 
feel now, but on the good days when they were with us. 
We must try and remember what manner of men they were 
and let their spirit become, as it were, part of our lives, 
that we may be able to feel a little as they felt and perhaps 
to do some small part of the work they might have done, 
if they had been spared to us. 

' Of the four Druce Robert Brandt was the least in- 
timately associated with the Club. He was a great scholar 
and a good athlete he kept wicket for Oxford against 
Cambridge in 1907 and a man of very many interests and 
quantities of friends. His life in Oxford was always 
a busy one, yet he found time in it to be with us often in 
the Club. And what we probably remember best about 
him was a most infectious energy and a plentiful sense of 
humour and behind it a strength of character, which 
almost unconsciously made anything mean or unclean 



impossible for him. No one could be with him and not 
feel lifted into a more vigorous and healthy atmosphere. 

' Ronald William Poulton Palmer, or " Ronnie Poulton ", 
as all his friends called him and many to whom he was 
only a great name, was also a man of many great gifts 
undoubtedly the greatest Rugby football-player of his 
generation and the most popular man wherever he went 
yet his absolutely unaffected humility and his power of 
sympathy made him the truest of friends to " all sorts and 
conditions of men ". He was very much in the Club and 
was an obvious idol: nothing could have been easier for 
him than to let himself be the centre there of a cheap 
popularity. But with us he was always just one of us 
known to all and ready to throw himself into anything that 
was going on. Only those who knew him well know how 
much he gave up for the Club, and how he valued his 
hours there. . . . lie said himself that the Club had helped 
him, as nothing else could, to understand different people 
and different points of view. 

' Of the other two it is harder to speak, if only because 
their days in the Club are more recent; and each of us 
will have his separate recollections of them. To those who 
were in Camp last July, its most prominent feature, as we 
look back on it now, will probably be the presence there 
of Stephen Reiss. He had been prevented by illness from 
going to the front with his regiment, and chose to spend 
with the Club the last days of his leave. He came almost 
silently and seemed to take no very leading part in what 
was going on he was still weak but every one felt his 
presence. And so it was always : he was naturally a shy 
man and hated any kind of self-assertion, but his friend- 
ships were deep and strong, and it was impossible not to 
feel his profoundly religious nature. Not that he often 
spoke of his religion though few who were there will 
forget the night in Camp when he spoke to us at prayers 
but in a very rare way he lived it. One felt that he 
attached other values to things than the ordinary man, and 
that the spiritual side of life was always with him. He 
gave the Club of his best ; and those wnp knew him in it 
must see to it that something of his spirit remains with 

' It is many months now since we heard that Keith Rae 
was " wounded and missing ", and we can hardly dare hope 
that we shall see him again. His connexion with the Club 
was closer and longer than that of any President we have 


had, and extended over nearly the whole of its existence. 
He devoted himself to it in a way that was almost 
marvellous. H e knew not only every member as a personal 
friend, but the parents and home of almost all of them as 
well. He was in a very peculiar sense the life of the Club, 
and it would almost be true to say that the Club was his 
life : certainly nothing was dearer to him. He too was 
a shy man, but one of those whose shyness makes them 
talkative, and this habit sometimes gave people a wrong 
impression of him. . . . His manner was so courteous 
and deferential to every one, that sometimes one asked 
whether he really understood men and distinguished 
between them. But these doubts were soon dispelled 
when one came to know him ; few men had a clearer or 
more serious purpose in life than Keith Rae, few knew 
better the men and things which he liked and loved and 
those of which he disapproved for he could hate too and 
burn with anger where he thought there was injustice. 
And it was because he was so definite himself that he was 
able perhaps more than any one else to give us the ideal 
of what the Club might be, a place where amid much 
diversity of lives and occupations and interests the mem- 
bers might be united in a fellowship stronger than all 
differences, where behind all the bustle and noise and 
variety of our energies we might know the power of 
friendship and feel the presence of God. 

1 Of those who have known these four in the Club, some 
are still in Oxford, many are fighting, as they fought, for 
our country and for ideals even greater than country; 
wherever we are, let us from time to time allow our 
thoughts to dwell on these leaders whom we loved in the 
Club and we shall be stronger to meet what may come 
to us. ' 

M 2 




How often in that poplar-haunted space, 
Athwart the meadow mist, the westering sun, 
We watched the mimic battle sway and roll 
This way and that; and loved his gallant grace, 
The swift elusive swerve, the buoyant run, 
The breathless sudden glory of the goal ! 

R. FANSHAWE in the Oxford Magazine, June 18, 1915. 

It is quite impossible for me to tell you how much I feel for you. 
The news came as a terrible shock to me, for I, too, have suffered a 
great loss. Lt. F. N. TARR, Leic. Regt. (with Ronald in the 1909 
Oxford Rugby Team, and International Teams in 1909 and 1913), 
killed July 10, 1915. 

DURING his first term, Ronald suddenly became the 
centre of much controversy in the public press and in foot- 
ball circles everywhere, especially at Oxford. Up to this 
time he had kept in the comparative quiet of school life and 
avoided publicity as far as possible. It is stated in the 
News of the World, May 9, 1915, that he refused to send 
his photograph for reproduction to the editor of an illus- 
trated paper, saying ' that he was sorry not to oblige, but 
he did not approve of schoolboy players being made so 
much of in the Press '. But this quiet enjoyment of the 
great game with his friends was now over. The constitu- 
tion of the University Rugby Team to play against 
Cambridge is the most exciting athletic event of the Autumn 
Term, and Ronald, who had often encountered Oxford 
College teams, was almost certain to be discussed, and 
discussed he was as few boys of nineteen have been. 
But he took it all very easily and lightly, paying little 
attention to it, and continuing to play as well as he could 
whenever he was asked. 


It must not be supposed, however, that he neglected 
competent criticism. Hugh Martin (Major, R.F.A.), who 
was at Balliol and in the 1909 'Varsity team with him, 
remembers that 

' Ronnie and I used to train together in the Balliol field 
when there was no 'Varsity turn-out on. We would run up 
and down the field together, passing and repassing, as he 
said he must learn to combine. 

' He was the cheeriest and most delightful of men to 
play on the same side with, always apologizing for a pass 
that went astray, often when it wasn't his fault even. He 
was never depressed, and never thought he was beaten till 
the whistle went.' 

It is natural enough that Ronald's play should have 
provoked differences of opinion. His Dragon and Rugby 
records show that he was a remarkable all-round athlete, 
who, almost from the first, had shown a peculiar aptitude 
for three-quarter play. I think it likely that the early 
development of his powers of running, dodging, and 
feinting in the dearly loved game of hide-and-seek with his 
family and friends at St. Helens helped him to become 
what he was. It is probable that in most men such 
individual powers would be the expression of an indi- 
vidualistic temperament : it would be natural when watch- 
ing some brilliant display to assume that Ronald was an 
individualist by nature. But, as those will know who 
have followed his family and school life, this was the exact 
opposite of the truth. All Ronald's happiness in life was 
social in games as in deeper things. Athletic competition, 
the most individual of all sports, he never cared for, 
although he excelled as a boy, and might have excelled as 
a man, in more than one event. Rugby Football he loved 
far more than any game just because of the combination 
which is its essential feature. 

Sir Godfrey Lagden, writing on 'The Game and its 
Ethics ' in The Rugby Football Annual, 1914-15 (pp. 19-22), 
finds the qualities required to be those 

' which Punch, the truest interpreter of British character 


and moods, has given in reply to the question " What is a 
Sportsman ? " " As I understand the breed, he is one who 
has not merely braced his muscles and developed his 
endurance by the exercise of some great sport, but has in 
the pursuit of that exercise learnt to control his anger, to 
be considerate to his fellow men, to take no mean advan- 
tage, to resent as a dishonour the very suspicion of 
trickery, to bear aloft a cheerful countenance under disap- 
pointment, and never to own himself defeated until the last 
breath is out of his body." ' 

When to these great qualities we must add another and 
that the most essential of all the instinct of combination, 
the direction of thought and effort for one's side rather than 
for one's self we recognize that, in Sir Godfrey's words, 
'there is in Rugby Football something noble that counts 
for more than winning goals and points '. 

One little indication of Ronald's feeling for the side 
rather than for himself has only become known to me as 
I have been writing the story of his life. When a team is 
photographed it is usual for the captain to hold the ball. 
It is evident that Ronald did not wish to be distinguished 
from the rest of his side in this way, but preferred to appear 
like any other player in the team. I infer this from the 
Oxford group in 1911 and from all the groups of his 
International captaincies that I have seen. But in his last 
game before the war, when he captained a scratch Isle of 
Wight team at St. Helens, he held the ball for the post- 
cards of the village photographer, who probably thought 
that they would be more marketable if the captain was 
marked out in the usual way. 

Alfred Ollivant, writing of Ronald as he first knew him 
as the Oxford captain in 1911, shows the inner meaning of 
qualities that brought success in football and would have 
brought it in greater fields : 

'Then, as at other times, I was impressed by what was, 
I should be almost inclined to say, his dominant quality- 
his unconscious humility. I think it was in that his 
strength lay, his power over other men, his immense 
promise as a leader. He was on terms of absolute equality 


with all men. He impressed one so much because he 
never sought to impress one at all. There was no egoism 
in him. He would never have sought honour, place, and 
power. They would have come to him. And the judge- 
ment and balance which made him what he was as a captain 
on the football field would have ensured him in time a place 
as a leader in other and more important spheres. He was 
the one young man of his generation who seemed to me to 
have the power and the will to lead the young men of his 
day in what I believed to be the right way. And he would 
have done it too. He will do it still indeed but in the 
spirit now. ' 

Towards the end of his Oxford life Ronald told me that 
he did not enjoy Internationals nearly so much as 'Varsity 
matches. He said that the standard of play was of course 
higher, but the members of the team did not have the same 
chance of getting to know each other or each other's play. I 
think he felt the same in his first term, when he remembered 
his great school team in 1907 and contrasted it with the new 
and, for the time, unfamiliar surroundings. And later on, 
when he came to know and be known more widely, he 
thoroughly enjoyed the International matches. How 
much the social element entered into his pleasure is shown 
by his remark that he enjoyed the match v. Scotland, on 
March 18, 1911, chiefly because of the number of Oxford 
friends in both the teams. And later still when he became 
the English captain, and in the great matches just before 
his captaincy, I am sure that he derived the greatest 
pleasure from the games. By that time all controversy 
about his methods had died down, and his powers of 
leadership were fully recognized apart from his play. But 
of more importance to him was the fact that he knew his 
team so well and not only his own team but the rival 
teams also. 

In the Autumn Term of 1908 Ronald, with all his 
capacity for doing the unexpected, was tested with men 
who knew each others' play far better than they knew his, 
and it was only natural that a satisfactory combination 
could not be effected at once. Nor was it possible at first 


to know that he united qualities which are often irrecon- 
cilable, that his originality and opportunism were all for 
his side and never for himself, that, whether he achieved 
it or not, he always desired success in combination with 
others rather than success gained by his own unaided 
efforts. In the end all this was fully recognized, and 
every lover of the game felt that 'There was no more 
thrilling sight to be seen on any Rugby ground than a 
tricky run by " Ronnie " finished off by an unselfish 
reverse pass and a colleague's score ' (Daily Mail, May 8, 

Ronald's play has been described and discussed by 
exponents and critics of the game times without number, 
and the impressions of many experts, including a full 
account kindly written by Mr. A. C. M. Croome, are 
quoted in various parts of this and the next section. It 
is therefore quite unnecessary for me to say anything 
about its technical aspects a task for which I am quite 
unfitted. But I remember what Ronald said on the rare 
occasions when he talked to me of football, and these 
memories have now a special value. He once said that 
fast running was not as important as people believed, and 
he instanced A. D. Stoop, who although not a fast runner 
was very successful in getting through. This, Ronald 
said, was often achieved by a deceptive pace that was 
slower than it appeared to be, so that an opponent, 
running to intercept, overshot the mark and crossed 
Stoop's track at a point he had not yet reached. There can 
be no doubt that, in this and in other ways, Ronald's play 
had been much influenced by his early association with 
the great Harlequin leader. Thus his deceptive pace is 
spoken of in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 
for May 15, 1915, as well as his ' peculiar ability of being 
able to run at high speed and to swerve to either side 
while doing this '. This reference to Ronald's high speed 
recalls the fact that critics differed widely on this very 
point, some maintaining that he was not really a fast 
runner, pointing in confirmation to the ease with which 


he was overtaken in the International match v. South 
Africa in 1913. His athletic record proves beyond doubt 
that he was fast in all short races, but the Rugby player, 
handicapped by carrying the ball, naturally comes to rely 
on his swerve and feint rather than on speed. In the 
match just referred to Ronald was overtaken at the end 
of a very long run, started soon after a successful try, and 
was probably too tired to keep up his highest speed to 
the last. 

The following memories of Ronald and his play have 
been kindly written by George Cunningham, I.C.S., the 
Oxford captain who first gave him his ' Blue '. They 
are dated July 7, 1915, from Kohat, NW. Frontier 
Province : 

1 So much has already been written of Ronald Poulton 
as a Rugby footballer, that I despair of saying anything 
fresh or original about him, but I am grateful for the 
opportunity of adding a word of admiration for a player 
whom I now regard as the most brilliant who played in 
Oxford during the five years I was in residence from 

' Poulton's talents were well known at Oxford before he 
came up to Balliol in Oct. 1908, and in any ordinary year 
he would have been certain of a place in the XV. That 
season, however, the solitary vacancy in the three-quarter 
line was filled by C. M. Gilray who had brought a great 
reputation from New Zealand, which he completely justi- 
fied. He was an older man and more seasoned than 
Poulton, who had not then grown to his full strength. 
The same four three-quarters returned the following year, 
1^09-1910, and it was only shortly before the match with 
Cambridge in December 1909 that Poulton was assured of 
his place in the XV. Once he began to play regularly, it 
was hard to realize how we had ever got on without him. 

' That year against Cambridge he played on the wing 
and played magnificently, scoring five tries. Of all his 
many achievements this was perhaps the most memorable, 
and Poulton was the first to acknowledge the credit due to 
his centre three-quarter, C. M. Gilray. Poultpn's position 
in this match raised the question whether his real place 
was on the wing or in the centre. There is no doubt that 
the eccentric course he sometimes took when placed inside 


disturbed the orthodox ideas of his wing three-quarter, and 
he was often charged with spoiling the combination of a 
three-quarter line. In my opinion his occasional "unortho- 
doxy " was almost invariably justified by results. But as 
a matter of fact, force of circumstances were alone respon- 
sible for his ever playing on the wing. F. N. Tarr and 
Gilray were obviously centre three-quarters and too 
valuable to be neglected. Gilray had indeed played in 
earlier matches on the wing with Poulton next him in the 
centre, but this was never a comfortable arrangement ; the 
centre was faster than the wing. Their places were there- 
fore exchanged, and in the Inter-'Varsity match, which 
I think was the first time Poulton played on the wing, the 
new arrangement was a great success. Yet I have no 
doubt that Poulton's peculiar talents really found larger 
scope in the centre, and the methods which sometimes 
confused his own wing three-quarter disconcerted his 
enemies far more. 

' He had a fine easy swerve to which he trusted, rather 
than to his pace. In fact he was not unusually fast. His 
long stride and supple body enabled him to thread his way 
through a crowd of opponents with an ease surpassed by 
no recent player except perhaps K. G. Macleod. He ran, 
as every one remembers, with a curiously even, yet high- 
stepping motion, his head thrown back, the ball held in 
front at full arms' length. He missed few passes, and 
could pick up the ball from the ground with remarkably 
little change of speed. He kicked accurately, but never 
far ; when he " punted " the ball, his knee was always too 
much bent. His defence was, as far as I remember, weak 
when he started to play for Oxford, but it improved 
quickly, and in his second season was as good as that of 
any one in the Team. 

'The most dramatic of his runs that I can remember 
came a few minutes before the end of the match between 
Oxford and the Glasgow Academicals in Michaelmas 
Term 1909 [Oct. 30] on the Iffley Road ground. The 
Academicals were a point or two ahead, and had been 
pressing hard on the Oxford line for 10 or 15 minutes. 
The ball came out of the scrum on the Academicals' side, 
but a pass was missed. Before we had realized that our 
opponents were not scoring another try, Poulton had 

fathered the ball 10 yards from our line and dodged the 
alves and three-quarters. Once in the open he easily 
evaded the full-back, and ran the rest of the field followed 


by a vain pursuit. Such was the suddenness of the run 
that I doubt if more than one of his own side had reached 
the half-way line by the time Poulton was placing the ball 
behind the goal-posts. So the match, which had been 
given up for lost, was won. 

' Invariably cheerful, seldom without a beaming smile 
on his face, Ronnie as we all knew him was a welcome 
companion on the football field and everywhere else. 
With all his qualities and gifts of which his skill at foot- 
ball was only one he was the most modest of men, simple 
and sincere. I never knew him speak harshly of any one, 
and his reward was that he was admired and loved by 
every one who knew him.' 

From Grahame Donald, Assist. Surgeon R.N., H.M.S. 

Meteor : 

' It was wonderful to play on the same side as Ronnie 
the result of the game was always open until the very last 
minute. I don't know if any one else ever felt the same as 
I did, but it always seemed to me that when I was playing 
on his side I was playing for him : the side was a secondary 

' There are very few men one meets of whom it can be 
said one loves them. But Ronnie's was such a wonderful 
character one couldn't help loving him.' 

The following impression was written by the Rev. 
Garnet V. Portus, a Rhodes Scholar from Sydney Univer- 
sity, who played for Oxford and England, and was a 
contemporary of Ronald's : 

'He's away! He's right! Oh-h-h-h! There! What 
did I tell you ? That was a common sequence of expres- 
sions at the Iffley-road ground in Oxford, in the winters of 
1909 and 1910. It centred round the doings of Ronald 
Poulton, once the wonderful schoolboy from Rugby, now 
the proved three-quarter of Oxford, and presently to be 
the idol of English International crowds. It is hard at 
this distance to analyse the charm of him. It was not 
unconnected with his physical presence. Tall and lithe, 
broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped, fair-headed and blue- 
eyed he was, and he easily took the eye of the crowd. 
Once attracted by his looks, the crowd were not disap- 
pointed in his play. Sometimes he was beautifully ortho- 


dox ; he would do the correct thing most efficiently take 
a pass on the wing, race swervingly along the side-line, 
slip round his opposing three-quarter, dodge the full-back, 
and trot around behind the posts with the crowd roaring 
their delight. But at other times he was entirely unor- 
thodox. Playing in the centre, he would abandon an 
attack developing towards the wing three-quarter, and go 
threading his way between the centres and halves and 
breaking forwards of the opposing side, until, having 
lost him in the melee, your eye would catch his fair head 
emerging through the defending fringe, side-stepping, 
feinting, swerving, and ever with the ball characteristically 
held with both hands, at half-arm's length in front of him, 
and his head swaying from side to side with his swerve.' 
(The Referee, Sydney, N.S.W., Aug. n, 1915.) 

' From a Billet in France. 

'A bright crisp October day, when the hoar-frost still 
hangs faintly on the grass, in spite of the afternoon sun, 
already, about half-past two, preparing for its setting 
a day when the cobwebs gleam along the ground and 
catch round one's shoulders or in the eyes, when there is 
enough nip in the air to make you shrug your shoulders, 
and enough sun to make you glad you are alive. The 
crowd pours through the gate. Every moment a taxi or 
hansom drives up, and discharges its burden of dames and 
their squires, or of luxurious undergraduates, whose legs 
cannot support the ennui of the walk down the Iffley Road. 
If you be of the elect, you pass to the left and find a seat, 
if you are in time, in the covered stand ; if you be of the 
humbler sort, you pass to the right and so on round to 
the standing room against the ropes, and keep yourself as 
warm as may be by patient stamping of the feet. In the 
stand, North Oxford is in force. Regius Professors sit 
side by side of the dames and daughters of retired army 
colonels and captains. All the latest " Rugger " gossip 
goes round. " So-and-so is being tried on the wing to-day. 
" It seems pretty hopeless against Cambridge if we can't 
get more weight in the scrum." "Oh, well, you never 
can tell. Do you remember the year Cartwright was 
captain ? " and so on, and so forth. 

' Ten minutes and a quarter of an hour pass, and the 
impatient look at their watches. Then two or three figures 


run down the steps of the Pavilion in the right-hand corner 
of the ground, followed by more. The ball is kicked down 
the ground, and the visiting team stretch their legs before 
the game. Directly after, the covered stand and the 
" ropes " allow themselves to become enthusiastic as any 
Oxford audience can, and clap their hands as fifteen 
figures in dark blue, every one hands in pockets, step with 
studied nonchalance down the steps in their turn. Instantly, 
the well-informed identify to those around them the various 
heroes. " That 's Lagden, 1 that very big fair-haired man." 
" Bain ? 2 Oh, yes, there he is, dark with longish hair. 
Tackles like a bull-dog gripping your leg." " That little 
sturdy chap with thick legs is Dingle. 3 A jolly good 
' three '. very likely to get his International." " Do you 
see that enormous red-haired forward? Thomson* of 
Univ. that is. Regular Scots forward." "Now, that's 
Poulton. That thin, wary sort of chap. Goes delicately, 
like Agag. Extraordinary chap, simply can't get hold of 
him. Now, look, he 's got the ball. There he is! " 
' Yes, there they are ! Memories ! ' 

J. M. ELDRIDGE, Maj., R. Berks. 
(From the Oxford Magazine, Oct. 29, 1915.) 

In the following pages I have set down memories of 
Ronald's football in his Oxford years taken in order, and 
especially of his three 'Varsity matches. 

Before Ronald left Rugby he must have known that 
his chances of getting into the 'Varsity Team in his first 
term were very doubtful; for H. A. Hodges, 5 the captain, 

1 Capt. R. O. Lagden (4th King's Royal Rifles), killed at S. Eloi, 
March i, 1915. A forward in the Oxford Teams of 1909-11 ; English 
International, 1911. 

2 Capt. D. M C L. Bain (srd Gordon Highlanders), killed in Flanders, 
June 3, 1915. A forward in the Oxford Teams of 1910-13, captain in 
1913; Scottish International, 1911-14. 

3 Capt. A. J. Dingle (6th E. Yorks.), killed in Gallipoli, Aug. 22, 1915. 
R. centre three-quarter in the Oxford Team of 1911 ; English Inter- 
national, 1913-14. 

4 and Lt F. W. Thomson frth Royal Scots), killed in Gallipoli, 
June 28, 1915. A forward in the Oxford Teams of 1912-13. 

5 Captain, Monmouth Regt., twice wounded, twice mentioned in 
dispatches, killed March 24, 1918. 


had a three-quarter line of unusual reputation. C. C. 
Watson, who had gone to Cambridge, wrote to Ronald 
from France, July 17, 1908 : ' I only wish you'd come to C. 
You'd simply walk into the Rugger team there, while at 
Oxford you'll have some difficulty next term as they've 
got such a good lot.' 

In this, Ronald's first term, we made a point of being 
present to see him play. For this reason he told his 
mother directly he was out of the team, adding that he 
was 'going to play against them on Saturday', referring 
to the match v. the Harlequins on Nov. 7. Except for 
this and a few words written to Janet at school, I do not 
believe that Ronald ever said a word on the subject to any 
of us, either at the time or later on when the great match 
came off and H. H. Vassall crocked after ten minutes, and 
the Oxford team so strong on paper was lucky in secur- 
ing a hazardous draw, lucky because K. G. Macleod only 
just failed to drop a goal which would have given Cam- 
bridge the victory. Nor did he say anything about it to 
his Oxford friends, as I infer from the words of the Rev. 
Garnet V. Portus in The Referee (Sydney, N.S.W.) of 
Aug. n, 1915: 

' But great as was Poulton's popularity with the crowd, 
who dearly loves to have a hero who looks like a hero, it 
was nothing to the affection he inspired off the field. 
" Sunny " is the word that best expresses Ronald Poulton's 
nature. He was always sunny, so that he rose superior 
to most of the littlenesses of men. He came up to Oxford 
with the reputation of being the school's football prodigy of 
that generation. Every one had heard of him. But, con- 
trary to expectations, he was dropped from the 'Varsity 
side that year. In a small way, I had had much the same 
experience, and I fancied I knew how he would feel about 
it. So, as it behoved an older man, I sought him out, full 
of sympathy. But I left him without saying that I was 
sorry for him, for the simple reason that he was not sorry 
for himself. He believed the selectors had done the right 
thing ; he was looking forward to success and a ' Blue ' 
later on, if it came his way, and he steadfastly refused to 
sulk in spite of the persuasions of his friends. At the 
same time, he was very ready to be sorry for me.' 


Ronald's account of football in the exciting Michaelmas 
Term, 1909, and up to the end of the year, is very brief 
and matter-of-fact : 

1 1 played regularly for the 'Varsity till the middle of the 
term, when I got kicked out. On Nov. ist I captained the 
O. R. team at Rugby, but could not stay the night. On 
the i3th I played for the Harlequins against Northampton, 
in a game which was one of the most enjoyable I have 
ever played in. 

' On the Monday [Nov. 29] I was back in Oxford and 
played for the 'Varsity against Monkstown. On Thursday, 
I got my " Blue ", and in the evening went to the Lynam's 
dance, which was good fun, but would have been better if 
every one had been there/ 

'Term ended on Dec. 4th. I went up to Boar's Hill 
with Mother and Father to Mr. Evans. It was a jolly 
three days.' 

Then a night with Stanley at Goring and home at 
Oxford again till the Saturday, Dec. nth, when 'we went 
up to London to play against Cambridge. It was good 
fun playing but a very easy game to win '. 

Concerning the events which immediately preceded the 
final selection of the three-quarter line, there is no reason at 
all for it reflects credit on every one concerned why 
I should not tell the story just as Ronald heard it from his 
friends and told it to me at the time. 

The Committee of the O.U.R.U.F.C. consisted of 
G. Cunningham, Captain; C. N. Jackson, Hon. Treas. 
F. H. Turner, Hon. Sec.; H. H. Vassall; C. N. Cronje; 
F. N. Tarr; and R. V. Stanley, Representative of the 
Rugby Union. 

George Cunningham had made up his mind the final 
decision probably influenced by the Monkstown match 
coming after the previous defeats that Ronald ought to 
play. In this decision he was supported by some of his 
colleagues, as I have been told by Mr. C. N. Jackson. 
Capt. R. V. Stanley, too, informs me that after the Black- 
heath match he strongly urged in Committee that Ronald, 
who seemed to be much stronger than in 1908, should be 


played in place of Vassall. Cunningham accordingly wrote 
to Vassall telling him that he would not be in the team. 
But it so happened that Vassall was away from Oxford on 
that day and the letter was brought back to the writer. 
Then Cunningham, having once taken the plunge, felt that 
it was too much to expect him to do it again. To enter 
into the spirit of the story one must remember the youth 
of the actors, and realize how much these things mean to 
them and to their friends so much indeed that they are 
felt as responsibilities probably heavier than any to be 
borne in later years. George Cunningham explained what 
had happened to his Committee, Vassall being absent, and 
told them what he felt. Then F. N. Tarr said, ' Well, 
Poulton ought to be in the team and I will give up my 
place to him.' But this was not to be, for Cunningham, 
stirred afresh, determined to write to Vassall again, and 
this time the letter was received. And the best part of the 
story is its end, which came in a note from Vassall sending 
Ronald his heartiest congratulations, wishing him the best 
of luck, and telling him to go in and win. Ronald told me 
of this letter, and I could see how very pleased he was to 
receive it. To understand what it meant we must re- 
member that Vassall, with his high reputation as a player 
and the added lustre of a great name, was in his last year, 
while Ronald was only beginning his second. Tarr's self- 
sacrificing offer was an example of that modesty and 
reticence concerning his own accomplishments spoken of 
by the ' Varsity of Jan. 27, 1910, in an ' Open Letter ' to this 
fine player. 

The letter from Cunningham Ronald fixed in his football 


' Magdalen College, Oxford. 

' Tuesday. 

' Heartiest congratulations on being chosen to play 
v. Cambridge. Go to Castells as soon as possible and get 


your clothes. No smoking except pipes in moderation ! 
(after meals). 

' Yours ever, 

' Get to bed by 10,30 and up at 8.' 

'Tuesday' (Nov. 30) was probably written in error 
instead of Thursday (Dec. 2), for the selection appeared in 
the press of Dec. 3, and most of Ronald's congratulations 
were of that date. 

The great day came on Dec. n, after lots of rain and 
much anxiety as to whether play would be possible. 
Ronald had chosen for his mother and me two of the best 
seats, in the front row opposite the middle of the ground, 
and marred only by the stream of late-comers apparently 
inevitable at the Queen's Club passing in front and hiding 
the play at critical moments. 

This, the thirty-seventh encounter, was the first 'Varsity 
match I had seen, and to me the most thrilling of all 
matches before or since. Many things combined to in- 
crease the excitement the unexpected failure of the year 
before when the Oxford team was so strong on paper, the 
keen controversy over Ronald's play reflected in his 
entrances into and exits from the team in 1908 and 1909, 
with the dramatic selection a few days before the match. 
Then, on the day itself, there were the ominous looks and 
forebodings of an Oxford expert I happened to meet on 
the ground, the anxiety lest the turf should be too soft and 
muddy for play, lest the mist thicken into a fog, and the 
fear that these precarious conditions might be more to the 
advantage of the rival team. 

Almost as soon as the play began all doubt was at an 
end. Within five minutes Ronald had made the first try, 
converted by Cunningham, and, before the interval, had 
scored the second and fifth (unconverted), the third being 
made by H. Martin and the fourth by Purves for Cam- 
bridge, both unconverted. Thus the game stood at the 
interval: Oxford 14, Cambridge 3. In the second half 


Ronald made the sixth try, converted by Cunningham, and 
the ninth, converted by Ronald Lagden, while Martin 
made the seventh and tenth, unconverted, and the eighth, 
converted by Lagden. So Oxford won by 4 goals and 
5 tries to i try 35 points to 3 an easy record. The 
previous record was also created by Oxford, in 1883, 
under Grant-Asher's captaincy 3 goals and 4 tries to 
i goal, or 27 points to 5. 

My friend the expert who had been so gloomy before 
the match told me he had never known one side so 
completely on the top of another. Even the points scored 
give an inadequate impression of the difference between 
the teams, for Tarr broke his collar-bone after ten minutes 
of play, while soon after F. H. Turner damaged his knee, 
and Cunningham and C. M. Gilray were also knocked 
about rather badly. At one time Oxford was left with 
only six forwards, but even then Cambridge could do little 
against them. Ronald on the left wing and Martin on the 
right owed their successes to the two centres, Gilray and 
Tarr, replaced after his injury by Buchanan, and to the 
half-backs, as much as to their own fine play. 

In Ronald's packet of letters of congratulation was one 
from a clerical friend : ' You played like an angel, in fact 
probably better.* The balance and caution of the expert 
are delightful. 

Among telegrams was one from the O.P.S. : ' Warmest 
congratulations. I felt very proud of my old pupil. 

Ronald's record in his first 'Varsity match, coming just 
when the controversy about him was at its height, combined 
with the attractive features of his play to render him, from 
this time onwards, probably the most conspicuous figure in 
the football world. 

In the Lent Term of 1910, after our return from Wengen, 
where I had been unlucky at skiing, I heard that one Oxford 
undergraduate said to another : ' I'm told that Poulton 's 
broken his arm.' 


' WHAT ! ! ! ' said the other ; but presently when he met 
his friend again he said : 

' Why, I thought you meant THE POULTON : I hear it 's 
only his father.' 

It must have been a year later that the son of an old 
friend had a dispute with a school-fellow upon the relative 
distinction of their friends and acquaintances, and finally 
settled the matter by saying : 

1 Well, look here, my father was at school with Poulton's 

' Do you mean the Oxford Captain ? ' 


After that there was nothing to be done except by silence 
to accept defeat. 

In his second 'Varsity match, Dec. 13, 1910, Ronald 
played left centre, the line being W. C. Allen, F. G. 
Buchanan, R. W. Poulton, W. P. Geen. The Oxford 
Magazine gives the line in reverse order, making Ronald 
right centre. The 'Varsity claimed that it had first 
publicly advocated the arrangement of Ronald and Geen. 

The contest was in every way different from that of 
1909, for, contrary to expectation, the sides were evenly 
balanced and the result in doubt up to the last moment. 
Oxford began by scoring 10 from two tries by W. P. Geen, 
both converted by F. H. Turner. Then A. B. Ovens 
gained a try for Cambridge converted by J. B. Lockhart, 
and Geen another try, unconverted, Oxford being thus 13 
points to 5. After this, Cambridge forged ahead, gaining 
two tries, by B. R. Lewis and Ovens, both converted by 
Lockhart, and the first half came to an end with Oxford 
2 points down 13 to 15. After the interval Lewis gained 
an unconverted try, making the Cambridge score 5 points 
to the good, and soon after, about midway in the second 
half, had to retire from the field, a great loss to his side. 
Finally, as the contest was nearing its close Ronald gained 
two tries, both converted by Turner, the first making the 
scores equal, the second winning the game with 23 points 

N 2 


to 18. The aggregate score, 41, was a record for the 
'Varsity match ; and it was also the first time that a side 
scoring as many as 18 had been beaten. 

Although not so thrilling to me as the previous 'Varsity 
match, the part that Ronald played was far more important, 
and 1910 was in a truer sense ' Poulton's match ' than 1909. 
All who saw it must have been inclined to ask the question 
put by the 'Varsity (1911-12, p. 131): 'What other player 
could have won the match as he did in the last ten minutes ? ' 

Ronald's account of athletics in his last term at Oxford is 
naturally restricted to his responsibilities as captain of the 
Rugby Team. The new members of the Committee of 
the O.U.R.U.F.C. for 1911-12 were L. G. Brown as Hon. 
Sec., H. S. Sharp, and D. McL. Bain. R. O. Lagden 
served on the Committee with Ronald in this season as 
well as last. Ronald's account is as follows : 

' I must admit that the larger part of my time was spent 
on work connected with managing the Rugby Football side 
at Oxford. There are so many more things to do than 
people imagine, and even the choosing of a team in a year 
as difficult as this has been, requires a considerable amount 
of labour. We had various disappointments in the trial 
matches during the term, thougn on occasions we had 
good wins. Fortunately the team came on well at the right 
time, winding up with 3 or 4 wins, and decisively beat 
Cambridge by 19 points to o. 

'Just before the 'Varsity match eleven of the team spent 
a week-end at Cleeve Hill, near Cheltenham. It was just 
what was required to give us a lively feeling of fitness and 
to allow us to get to know one another really well. And 
as a team, apart from the consideration of their play, they 
were as nice a lot of people to be with as one could wish. 
After the match the team toured in Ireland and Liverpool 
and Manchester and were royally treated, and every one 
seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly.' 

The great match came off on Dec. 12. Ronald chose 
seats for us in the same place as in the two previous years. 
He played in the same position as in 1910, viz. as left 
centre with W. P. Geen again on his wing, and made the 
first try within five minutes of the start. The 'Varsity 


gives the following account of the play (Jan. 25, 1912, 
pp. 122-4) : 

' The ball was kicked off, there was a scrum, a short fly- 
kick, and Poulton was over. Try No. i. In another three 
minutes Steyn had emulated his captain's example, and 
then, after another glorious run by Poulton, Bullock threw 
himself over the line for the third try. Nothing could have 
surpassed the wonderful speed with which each movement 
was executed. . . . We remember nothing like it in a long 
series of inter-'Varsity games.' 

Of these three tries, two, including Ronald's, were uncon- 
verted, one(Steyn's) converted by Lagden, making the score 
n-o at half-time. 

Twenty-eight minutes from the start Ronald had one of 
the very few pieces of bad luck which came to him in the 
game he loved best. One of his swerves was a little too 
sharp, overstraining a muscle at the back of the left thigh, 
and some of the fibres were torn. It was the one match in 
which he would have wished to be perfectly fit to the end. 
The injury was by no means serious but painful, and it 
quite prevented him from playing his usual game. Carried 
to the pavilion by Brown and Lagden, he was only off the 
field for a few minutes while his thigh was bound up, and 
I feel sure that, as The Times said, he could not soon have 
forgotten the roar of cheering which welcomed him when 
he returned. His presence on the field encouraged his 
men and he was able once or twice to tackle effectively, 
but his running was at an end for the day and for several 
days after that. 

In the second half, Dingle, after a fine movement in 
which Knott had an important share, and, later on, Bullock 
gained tries, the first converted, the second unconverted 
by Lagden. Thus the game ended in an Oxford victory, 

The critic of the Oxford Magazine considered that 
Ronald's play was splendid up to the time of his injury, 
and also thought ' that Poulton and Knott (by his clever 
kicking of what The Times writer in a brilliant account of 


the game described as " googlies ") decided the issue in the 
first ten minutes.' The Times takes the same view : 

'Thus Oxford won by 19 points to nothing; but the 
defeat of Cambridge was more crushing than these figures 
suggest, for if there was one point upon which the critics 
were agreed it was that Oxford's chance of winning was 
bound up with the form shown by Poulton. Perhaps, 
however, they were right, for the Cambridge men never 
recovered from the panic into which he threw them in the 
first few minutes. Long after he had been rendered 
useless it seemed that "his spirit went marching on", 
swinging the ball from side to side as if he were rhapso- 
dizing on a concertina, compelling the defence to follow 
him spellbound.' 

At the end of the same article The Times sums up the 
part played by Ronald in the four 'Varsity matches of 
1908-1911 : 

' He has been the dominating personality in the Univer- 
sity match since he went into residence, for even in 1908 
it was his exclusion in favour of a notoriously brittle player 
which cost Oxford a victory. In 1909 he scored no less 
than five tries; in the following year all the points by 
which Oxford gained her narrow victory were made by or 
through him ; and in yesterday's match the effect of his 
first charge over the line can hardly be over-estimated.' 

After the match came the tour of the team. Ronald 
went with them ' to look on ' ; as his thigh still prevented 
play. Some of their doings are described, with notes on 
the 'Varsity match, in a letter to the Rev. W. J. Carey, 
written by Ronald after the return home : 

' Wykeham House, Oxford. 

' Dec. 22. 

'Thanks so much for both your two letters. The 
first cheered us at the start and the second cheered me 
when it was over. Frankly they played splendidly. The 
forwards did everything that was wanted. They came 
across to a man and heeled quickly. Cheesers [Chees- 
man] said he had the easiest time this term getting the 


ball away. And Thomas did well in my place. Knott 
was very good. His first two kicks were gems. And 
Dingle showed up unexpectedly. His try was magnificent. 
Of course the Tabs got their tails down after our good 
start. Everything happened as I had hoped. I told our 
fellows to risk everything for a score. So we simply 
hurled the ball about to start with. And I made Steyn 
and Bill [Geen] stay near the touch line, and so Lewis 
and Ovens were forced to turn in every time, and we got 
them in the middle. 

'We had magnificent fun on tour. We had an awful 
crossing and they were bad against Dublin the next day. 
But after that they played well ; and some of them played 
every game ! 

' Well, here we are about to celebrate Xmas. My leg is 
much better, and I can run about slowly. I am afraid I 
must stay for that trial and so shall not get to Miirren till 
the 7th. However I shall have ten days. 

' Thanks so much for all your kindness and help to us 
last term. When we were a bit down in the mouth, you 
gave us cheerful advice, and I am sure it was through you 
that the Team this term has been the large happy family 
it turned out to be on the tour. 1 They are the best of 
people. Good luck for Christmas. How did the [Bolton] 
Mission go ? 

1 Yours affectionately/ 

Speaking of the match, Ronald told me that Cambridge 
had taken quite the wrong line in continually playing for 
safety and kicking into touch after his injury when the 
score was against them. The time had come for them to 
risk everything for a score, and he said how surprised and 
pleased he was to see them playing Oxford's game. The 
Times makes the same comment : 

' The chief fault of Cambridge was that they were pre- 
occupied with stopping Oxford and never developed a 
game of their own. When nothing mattered except 
scoring they (the faster side) actually went in for touch- 
kicking very good touch-kicking, but useless in practice 

1 To this his friend remarked : ' Of course this is not true at all. It 
was owing to Ronald himself entirely, but it is just like him to impute 
his own good influence to others. W. J. C.' 


and most encouraging, morally, to their outnumbered 

Ronald's skill in Hockey was very soon realized when 
he came up. It is interesting that in his first game for the 
'Varsity, v. J. L. Stocks's team of Old Rugbeians, on 
Feb. i, 1909, he was playing against his brother. It was 
a very close game, but the 'Varsity lost 2-3. The prophetic 
comments of the ' Varsity were amply fulfilled in the match 
against Cambridge : ' R. W. Poulton made a satisfactory 
first appearance in the team, and it seems that his inclusion 
will strengthen the forward line considerably. He and 
Ball should make a very dangerous left-wing.' 

The 'Varsity match on Feb. 24 ' was a great game and 
brim-full of incident up to the last'. At half-time Cam- 
bridge led 3-2, but Oxford scored all the four goals in the 
second half, Ronald shooting two in the last ten minutes. 
It was Oxford's first victory since 1905, and the total of 
9 goals was a record for the 'Varsity match. Ronald 
played in the forward line, as left inside. 

Thus Ronald became a 'Half-Blue' for Hockey as his 
brother and eldest sister had been before him. To the 
same game Cambridge awards a full ' Blue ' ; for the two 
Universities unfortunately cannot agree upon a uniform 

The 'Varsity Hockey match of Feb. 23, 1910, followed a 
course curiously like that of 1909. Well into the second 
half of this ' very close and exciting game ' ( Times), Cam- 
bridge were leading 3-2, but Ronald, playing centre 
forward, brought the turning-point when he 'took the 
ball more than half the length of the field with a wonderful 
run. Though robbed at the last minute, Marcon secured 
and scored, thus bringing the totals level ' (' Varsity). After 
this Oxford scored two more goals and Cambridge one. 
Thus Oxford won 5-4, and the record number of goals in 
1909 was equalled. Although Ronald did not score, the 
Field considered that, after Leighton, who shot 3 goals 
for Cambridge, he was perhaps the best forward on the 


ground ' whose splendid efforts in the later stages of the 
game had very much to do with Oxford's victory'. In 
this game and in 1911 Ronald Lagden played for Oxford. 
4 This splendid all-round athlete ', as he is well described 
by C. J. B. Marriott in British Sports and Sportsmen, was 
even more versatile than our Ronald, for he represented 
his University in Cricket and Rackets as well as Rugby 
Football and Hockey. 

In 1911 Ronald played Hockey as centre forward in 
the 'Varsity Team whenever he could spare the time from 
his work for the Schools in June. The 'Varsity match was 
played as usual at Beckenham, on Feb. 22, and Cambridge 
won 4-1. Oxford's failure was no doubt largely due to 
Ronald and Lagden having so many other claims upon 
their time : in fact the full side had only been together in 
two of the matches before the great event. Up to seven 
minutes before time Cambridge had made all the goals, but 
at this point a rush by Ronald and Marcon ended in a goal 
by the latter. The Oxford team then pulled itself together 
and only just missed another goal. 

Although Ronald had such a remarkable record for 
Athletics as a Dragon and at Rugby, Inter-' Varsity Foot- 
ball and Hockey were quite enough for him at Oxford. 
What he might have done if he had chosen to train 
seriously may be guessed from the following recollection, 
probably of the year 1910, by his friend C. P. Symonds of 
New College : 

'I remember an incident, trifling in itself, which im- 
pressed me very much at the time, illustrating his lack of 
nervousness and the robust constitution of his inside. 
I had asked him and a number of others to lunch, and, after 
he had had at least two helpings of all the indigestible sort 
of dishes provided by the Common-Room, he suddenly 
remarked that he must go, or he'd be late for the Balliol 
Sports at which he did a better time for the quarter than 
had been done in the 'Varsity Sports! ' 

It was the same with football. Capt. S. E. Whitnall, 
R.A.M.C.,writes : 
'of early days when we lunched with him and Bruno 


[L. G. Brown] in Long Wall before a match Bruno serious 
and grave, he by contrast gay, and even before great contests 
as free from care and as nappy as though but going for 
an afternoon's run. Then, he never seemed to be training 
I think he was always at the top of his form. I remem- 
ber Bruno lunching off a tomato and a glass of water, 
whilst Ronnie cheerfully joined us in the pheasant and 
claret he had provided for our fare.' 

Statements, made in some of the papers, that Ronald 
was a Hockey International and that he competed in the 
'Varsity Sports are erroneous. In the 1909 Freshmen's 
Sports he did well in the 100 yards, beating the winner in 
one of the heats, and in the Lent Term of 1910, his friend 
Mr. C. N. Jackson of Hertford, the kind and efficient 
organizer of all things athletic, seriously pressed him, in 
the enforced absence of the second string, C. Howard 
Smith, B.N.C., President later on of the O.U.A.C., to train 
for the Quarter-mile in the forthcoming 'Varsity Sports. 
Ronald was very unwilling to give the necessary time and 
attention to the, to him, uninteresting routine, and he 
exacted a promise that if the original runner reappeared, 
he should be let off and so, after a short period of train- 
ing, it happened. I remember the incident well, for 
Ronald talked to me about it a good deal, and I, knowing 
that he would never care unduly for Athletics, and that 
a double ' Blue ' was a fine thing in itself, encouraged him 
to do as Mr. Jackson wished; but I saw that nothing 
would move him from the condition he had made. 

Ronald enjoyed playing Lawn Tennis just as he enjoyed 
all games with his friends, but he was not a good player. 
This was probably due to the other attractions of 
St. Helens, which gave him little chance of playing the 
game in his boyhood. After he grew up I only played 
with him once, when we were staying at Marlston in July 
1910. We had 3 single sets one afternoon and 3 more the 
next morning. I managed to win four but it was very 
hard work. 

In Ronald's brief account of his athletic pursuits in his 
first Summer Term he told us that he tried his ' luck at 


Cricket and made a very flukey innings of 83 in the 
Freshers' match ' : also that about this time he took part 
in the founding of an Oxfordshire Football Club, requiring 
many committee meetings. 

In addition to the 83 in the second innings of the 
Freshmen's match on May 6, in the Parks, Ronald made 
16 in the first innings, his total of 99 being just the same 
as that of Ronald Lagden 3 in the first, 96 in the second 
innings. But our Ronald was not a cricketer, like his 
friend : he once said to me, ' I've a good eye and can hit 
the ball, but it 's not my game ' and he would have agreed 
with the criticism of the Magazine which speaks of ' a big 
innings by Poulton ; but, apart from its great service to 
his side, his batting was not of a very high class. He can 
hit the ball very hard, but at present he applies his power 
in the wrong way ' (xxvii, 1908-9, p. 295). 

In this Summer Term he 

' bought a motor bike and found it an unqualified success. 
It never broke down ; I never put any improvements on it ; 
it saved me railway journeys, gave me any amount of 
pleasure, and the total cost, beside the cost of running, was 
only five pounds. I bought it for 35 and sold it in 
October for ^30. ' 

Just after Ronald had gone down the ' Varsity for Feb. 
29, 1912, brought out an etching representing four of the 
chief athletes in the previous season R. C. Bourne (Lt. 
Herefordshire Regt, wounded), Ronald, A. H. G. Kerry 
(Lt. R.E., Motor Cyclist Section), and C. W. S. Marcon 
(Lt. Oxf. & Bucks. L.I.) all except Bourne born in 
Oxford, all except Kerry Old Dragons. The journal truly 
remarked on p. 184 that ' it is a unique circumstance, and 
one unlikely to take place again, that the President of the 
Boat Club, and the Captains of the Rugger, Soccer, and 
Hockey teams should all be the sons of Oxford residents '. 

The remainder of this and a large part of the following 
section contain a full and critical account of Ronald's Oxford 


and International football, very kindly contributed by my 
friend Mr. A. C. M. Croome. This division of each section 
into two parts necessarily implies that the same episodes 
are described twice, but it will be realized that they were 
seen from different points of view. I feel sure that 
Mr. Croome's able analysis and discussion of the great game 
in the years before the war, and of the part taken by one 
well-loved player, will bring to many the gift of bright and 
thrilling memories, recent indeed in time as measured by 
dates, but, because of all that has come between, dimmed 
and often lost as in the mist of far-off years. 


Ronnie Poulton when he came up to Balliol from Rugby 
in 1908 immediately became ' the most discussed footballer 
of the day '. That means a great deal when it is remem- 
bered that Adrian Stoop was still developing the Harlequin 
style of play in the London district, and that the critics 
were still occupied in analysing his methods and were by 
no means agreed about their value. Poulton had, of 
course, imbibed some of Stoop's ideas while he was still 
at Rugby. Consequently when he came into 'Varsity 
football he was fitted by knowledge as well as by Nature 
to be the Oxford exponent of his mentor's teaching. 
Oxford is frequently described as the home of lost causes. 
The description may be partially true of the attitude 
adopted by many members of Convocation with regard 
to political and intellectual questions. But in practical 
matters such as Rugby Football it can be proved to 
demonstration that Oxford men do not cling to obsolete 
practice merely because past generations found it satis- 
factory. A Ranji or a Stoop will find there a general 
readiness to test his innovations by experiment, and no 
obstinate conservatism will hinder their adoption if they 
pass that test. Poulton provided an unique opportunity 


for such experiment in 1908. He came up a Harlequin 
born and made. If there had been no Stoop to start the 
New Football he would most certainly have taken on the 
job. Inevitably his performances were the subject of 
constant and sharp discussion in a place where keen wits 
specially trained to logical analysis of observed phenomena 
are gathered together. Here it may be remarked that 
Ronnie's attitude towards the discussion which his play 
evoked was extraordinary and altogether charming. He 
paid due attention to well-informed criticism, but his head 
was not turned half an inch up or down by the knowledge 
that thousands more words were spoken and written every 
week about him than about the Vice-Chancellor or any 
other resident member of the University. Spoken criti- 
cism is now a mere memory; the written remains, and 
makes amusing reading, because in the body of it may be 
found a surprising number of mutually contradictory state- 
ments. ' Poulton's pace on the wing was a valuable asset 
to his side ' is a phrase which occurs in a report of a match 
played early in the October Term. Next week the paper 
which printed it says that ' Poulton is by no means an ideal 
wing, because he is not fast enough to keep up with Tarr '. 
' It 's no use playing that Poulton against Cambridge : he 's 
too fragile ', said a man taking his tea in Vincent's, where 
there is much expert knowledge of Athletics to be found. 
' Fragile be blowed! ' said his neighbour, ' Have you noticed 
that he is always first up after a tackle ? And nobody has 
taken the ginger out of him yet, not even the Scottish. ' 
The truth is we can see it now that a genius had 
appeared in Oxford, and even Oxford, where such creatures 
are by no means unknown, could not immediately place 

The Oxford Rugby team had a very good season in 
1908 ; Ronnie played in seven of the October Term matches, 
and in all of them was on the winning side. At first he 
was tried on the wing, but against Liverpool, Richmond, 
and Blackheath he was placed in one or the other of the 
centre positions, where Stoop and other London team- 


builders preferred to put him. Unfortunately he selected 
the Blackheath match at the Rectory Field on Nov. 28 as 
the occasion for his one bad game. Blackheath was the 
last fixture but one on Oxford's card before the all-important 
match with Cambridge. Consequently his comparative 
failure mattered more than it would have if it had occurred 
earlier. Moreover, Ronnie was playing at inside right, the 
only place on the three-quarter line about the filling of 
which there was much doubt. Martin was firmly estab- 
lished at outside right. Tarr and Gilray had proved a 
great left wing pair. The only question for Hodges, the 
captain, to decide was whether he should play Vassall inside 
to Martin or experiment with Poulton. Vassall was brittle, 
Poulton eccentric. In the Blackheath match Martin and 
Poulton did not hit it off. This was rather curious because 
they were both Balliol men and used to practice combina- 
tion at odd moments. Finally Vassall, admittedly a centre 
three-quarter of the best International class, was reported 
sound. Hodges's choice was indicated. With Vassall fit 
and well no sane captain could have disturbed the com- 
bination between him and Tarr, the best pair of centres 
who had played for Oxford since the adoption of the four- 
three-quarter formation. Gilray on the left wing was at 
his very best. He was some years older than the ordinary 
freshman, and, well as he subsequently played for Oxford 
and Scotland, he never improved on his 1908 form. In 
fact his running seemed to become a trifle more laboured 
and slower in subsequent years ; for proof see the gradual 
deterioration in his performances on the Athletic ground. 
Moreover, he undoubtedly possessed the weight and 
strength which Ronnie was considered by many critics 
to lack. In that season Ronnie looked like a boy playing 
with men. Undoubtedly appearances were deceptive. He 
was not found wanting in the International matches in 
which he took part during the Lent Term, and, thinking 
things over, I arrive at the conclusion that the daintiness, 
characteristic of Ronnie on and off the football field, 
obscured to some extent the solid merits of his play in 


defence. To the end of the chapter the smashing tackle, 
which caused a runner to remember the occasions when 
he tried to get past Gamlin or Lyon, was foreign to Ronnie's 
methods. But he seldom let an attacker through when he 
had a reasonable chance of stopping him, and, if he missed 
him first time, his amazing quickness often enabled him to 
retrieve the error. Later, when Ronnie had grown to his 
full strength, and, like all great athletes, 'stripped big', 
no one was under any illusion about his defence, least of 
all the rushers or runners who tried to get through it. His 
one weakness was to be found in his kicking. I never 
saw him use his right foot or get great length with his left, 
and, for a man pre-eminent for his quickness, he wanted 
a surprising lot of room if he was to get in his kick at all : 
artists like Strand-Jones or the late Arthur Gould could 
punt in half the space required by Ronnie. 

The other adverse criticism passed on his play in 1908 
was really a compliment in disguise. It was said that he 
was liable to spoil the combination of the three-quarter 
line. This simply means that he already showed the 
genius for doing the unexpected thing, which subse- 
quently made him the greatest match winner of all time. 
In any walk of life, when a genius appears, his innovations 
on established practice are not immediately rated at their 
true value ; and every time he fails to bring off one of his 
peculiar coups, there is a general wagging of orthodox 
heads. If Ronnie during his first term occasionally tried 
to do too much on his own, which I am not prepared to 
admit, his attempts were not prompted by selfishness or 
conceit. But I can well imagine that a sound and orthodox 
three-quarter, playing with him for the first time, might 
quite frequently have been left guessing by the unexpected- 
ness of his manoeuvres and the speed at which they were 
executed. The defending players also had to guess, and 
more frequently guessed wrong. 

As all the world knows, Oxford failed to win at Queen's 
in 1908 because Vassall broke down. In point of fact they 
would have been beaten, if the referee had been the other 


side of the scrum when the movement started which led to 
their solitary score. Hearne, the Trinity Cabby, and the 
other enthusiastic supporters of Oxford football, must 
remember the horrid feeling of disappointment when they 
saw Martin shorten stride to keep behind his centre, who 
was bravely but vainly trying to make use of an opening 
which would have meant a certain try but for his injury. 

If Ronnie failed to get his Blue in 1908 he was first 
reserve for any one of the four places in the three-quarter 
line, and we should have won the 'Varsity match with him 
at inside right. Next year there never was much doubt 
about his playing against Cambridge, and it was felt that 
he was quite likely to decide the issue of a hard-fought 
match. As a matter of fact Oxford ran up the record score 
and gave an exhibition of Rugby Football which I have 
never seen approached. 

Before the end of the season 1908-9 Ronnie was given 
his International Cap and played against France, Ireland, 
and Scotland. Adrian Stoop's influence had much to do 
with the selection ; it was a bold act to recommend, or pick 
a man whose physical strength had not fully matured, and 
who had been left out of the Inter-' Varsity match shortly 
before. But Stoop is a remarkable judge, and an equally 
remarkable trainer, of footballers, and Ronnie completely 
justified his selection. 

No extraordinarily large measure of that vanity, which 
is among the mainsprings of human action, is needed to 
make a man regard the Cap as a more desirable distinction 
than the Blue. Not so Ronnie. Professor Poulton, sum- 
marizing his own observations of his son's actions, recalling 
his talk, and confirmed in his judgement by the letters of 
many intimate friends, concludes that Ronnie's pleasure 
in games was mainly social. Of course he loved Rugby 
Football for itself, its pace, which he did so much to increase, 
the unique opportunities which it gives for exercising 
certain gifts of body and mind. So do men, horses, hounds, 
and even, it may be, foxes, love hunting. But Ronnie found 
his chief pleasure in playing for and with his friends, and 


he was keenest about those matches in which no member 
of his side was a stranger to him. Had he been a golfer 
he would have preferred a good foursome before a cham- 
pionship single. There is something ironical about the 
fact that a man of this temperament should have been 
persistently blamed, during his first season of 'Varsity 
football, for spoiling the combination of the outsides by 
his eccentricity. We can see the truth now in the light of 
later experience. The presence of an exceptional genius 
in a football team does not immediately improve combina- 
tion. But when it is realized that the object of combination 
should be to afford opportunities for genius then the best 
results follow. At Rugby Football, genius is the faculty 
for doing the unexpected thing, and doing it successfully. 
The man who departs from current canons of orthodoxy 
sets both his own and the opposing side guessing, but his 
colleagues learn to guess right sooner than his opponents. 
It was not to be expected that a 'Varsity team with a pre- 
ponderance of Internationals among its backs should im- 
mediately feel impelled to ' play to ' a Freshman three- 
quarter. But later Oxford and England fifteens learnt 
that it was profitable to give Poulton all possible chances 
of winning matches for them. He rarely, if ever, let them 
down. Times and again he scored himself; but even more 
frequently the actual try was made by another after he had 
cut out the opening ; and with him playing openings often 
came when the odds against their development were heavy. 
Latterly Poulton was ' marked ' by the opposing side more 
closely than any other player in the United Kingdom. 
Having an instinct for combination he made use of the 
enemy's tactics for the benefit of his friends. In the Welsh 
match of 1912 at Twickenham he and Birkett worked 
together cleverly and successfully. Several times Birkett 
got the ball and ran in a direction which indicated a pass 
to Poulton, who took up the proper position for receiving 
it. The markers were on to him like flies round a jam 
pot. Birkett either went on himself, or, missing Poulton 
out, flung a wide pass to Chapman on the wing. Ronnie 



delighted in combination of that sort. His part in the 
movement, though absolutely essential, was quite unob- 
trusive. But his side profited, and his friends achieved 

Ronnie ' going through the brown ' provided as wonderful 
and as exhilarating a spectacle as has ever been seen on any 
field of play. Polo cannot provide its equal because there are 
not enough people on a polo ground. And all other ball 
games must be ruled out because they are comparatively 
sedate. Every one who has played Rugby Football knows 
that occasionally, once or twice in a lifetime it may be, 
a man sees a lane through the serried ranks of opposing 
forwards and backs. When that happens he is over the 
line for a try. Ronnie was always seeing lanes. 

Capt. L. R. Broster, R.A.M.C., contributes a description 
of Ronnie's running, and concludes it with the expression 
of personal affection for the man which appears in every 
expert's tribute of admiration for his football. He says : 

' About Ronnie's method of play it is difficult to speak 
because he was far too modest to talk about it ; and nobody 
but himself is capable of analysing it. One just has a vivid 
impression of him running his head back, the ball pushed 
out right in front of him, his knees up, and always 
finding touch with his left foot. It was rather curious 
that in his first year the Oxford Committee should have 
thought him too much of an individualist to break up the 
existing quartette, and that the English Selection Com- 
mittee should have received him with open arms. In fact 
this delusion existed even till the next year when they 
played him wing three to Gilray, till he finally crushed it 
by scoring the record of 5 tries ! 

'The development of the Harlequin three-quarter game 
was largely due to him. He was the most dangerous 
offensive player of his time, with such a natural swerve and 
gift for opportunism that he turned the scale in many 
a hard-fought and closely contested tussle. 

' In the Oxford side it was always a case of " get the ball 
to Ronnie ". He was the most delightful person to play 
with, and as a skipper he was ideal. With him it was 
always " well played ", or " bad luck " when you did 


The notes which above all distinguished Ronnie's foot- 
ball, its daintiness and its wonderful quickness, were both 
the product of perfect balance as well of mind as of body. 
Short analyses of his technique contributed to this book by 
expert Rugby players show clearly enough that The Times, 
always cautious in the use of superlatives, had reason when, 
writing on May 8, 1915, of his three-quarter play, it said 
' his name will go down to posterity as probably the greatest 
player of all time '. But when all is said it was not solely, 
or even mainly, by technique that Ronnie caught the 
imagination and won the affection of the crowd. The late 
Dr. H. S. Holland, Regius Professor of Divinity, in a few 
exquisitely chosen words has expressed the feelings of 
numberless inarticulate enthusiasts. I cannot conclude 
this introduction better than by quoting his letter to 
Ronnie's parents : 

' To my grief and to my regret, I never once had an 
opportunity of speaking with your boy. Often, through 
Neville Talbpt, it was proposed : but we never met. 

1 1 knew him, therefore, only from the Football Field 
that is all. 

' But I have never seen anything athletic rise to such 
a height of beauty, as your boy in the great game. Every 
motion that he made was the perfection of grace and force 

1 1 used to say that I now know what the onset of 
St. Michael must mean, as I saw him flash down the field 
through the thick of his foes, like a swaying yision, as their 
clutching hands slipped off him as by a miracle, and he 
shot and swung and swerved past them all with some 
rapturous " touch down ". 

' It was a sight to thrill the yery bones. 

' And, somehow, one loved him personally for giving one 
the joy of such a sight. 

' I loved saying his name. It was the symbol to me of 
something so fair and gracious. He carried the mere game 
up into the region in which the pure works of art are a joy 
for ever, and hold our affections enthralled.' 

Ronnie's play in his first Oxford Term has been sufficiently 
described in the preceding introductory pages. We come 

o 2 


to the October Term of 1909, a period at which considerable 
interest attaches to the history of Oxford football, because 
Cunningham was much embarrassed in the choice of his 
three-quarters by the presence of so many players of 
capacity far above the average. At the beginning of Term 
Vassall, Tarr, and Gilray were in residence, but Vassall was 
not very fit and could not turn out in the earlier matches. 
In his absence Ronnie was played at inside right with 
Nicholas outside to him, though in a couple of matches 
Maritz took Nicholas's place. Then about the middle of 
term Vassall took his place. Ronnie was left out for him, 
notably in the Richmond match at the Old Deer Park. 
But in that game Nicholas was injured. On the following 
Monday the Edinburgh Academicals came to Oxford. As 
Vassall was also unable to play Gilray was placed inside 
left, the position in which he had done so well for Scotland 
during the previous spring. Ronnie played outside to him 
and Maritz crossed to the other wing. The Academicals 
were unmercifully thrashed, and the Poulton-Gilray com- 
bination proved highly satisfactory. In the course of that 
week Martin unexpectedly came up, and the Old Line, 
Martin, Vassall, Tarr, Gilray, turned out on the next 
Saturday against the Army. Their attack was good enough 
but there was an ominous breakdown in defence towards 
the end of the game. And on the following Monday the 
team received, from Edinburgh University, its first defeat 
of the season. The same four three-quarters appeared for 
Oxford, and again the tackling was not all that it should 
have been. It was also noted that Gilray was beaten for 
pace on the wing. Another defeat from Blackheath con- 
firmed the impression that the Old Four did not provide 
the best available combination, and against Monkstown the 
line which eventually played against Cambridge was tried 
for the first time. A heavy score was made, and the 
figures were impressive, although the Irishmen were 
unluckily weakened by injuries in the course of the game. 
The last of the trial matches, that against the London 
Scottish at Richmond, ended in a victory for Oxford, but 


disclosed nothing to disturb the Captain's conviction that 
Martin, Tarr, Gilray, Poulton formed the best three-quarter 
line available. Vassall acquiesced in the decision with the 
ready cheerfulness natural to so good a sportsman. 

In the 'Varsity match of 1909 the Cambridge line was 
crossed nine times, and each try was gained by a wing 
three-quarter as the result of a movement which started 
somewhere near the centre of the ground. This is proof 
positive that the heavy scoring was the result of perfect 
strategy perfectly carried out by all concerned. No one 
Oxford player can be singled out as mainly responsible for 
the achievement of the side. Yet it is tolerably certain 
that if anybody but Ronnie Poulton had been playing on 
the left wing there would have been no record-breaking. 
I say this not because he scored five of the nine tries him- 
self : a very ordinary performer could have taken three if 
not four of the openings made for him : but because the 
first of the five, the score which gave Oxford the start, and 
made Cambridge anxious, was one of the most brilliant 
ever seen. When he got the ball, the defence was well 
placed. Cambridge, not Oxford, had the extra man on the 
map. But he went through the lot practically untouched 
and planted the ball between the posts after running well 
over fifty yards. I had a perfect view of the performance. 
I was sitting on the grass behind touch in goal at the 
pavilion end. From there I could see that Ronnie ran 
almost straight : the defenders seemed to do the dodging. 
Here I may admit that I go to Queen's to see Cambridge 
beaten rather than to watch a first-class game of football. 
Any one who brings about the desired result, even if he be 
the referee, earns my lasting gratitude. That amazing try 
of Ronnie's immediately made me his debtor, and the debt 
became the greater as the tale of points increased. The 
burden of my debt was increased in 1910, and in 1911 
adequate payment was finally rendered impossible. 

When Ronnie stepped on to the field on October 22, 
19*10, to play against the Old Merchant Taylors many of 


the spectators had not seen him ' changed ' for more than 
six months. He made one appearance on the University 
Cricket Ground when he made 83 runs in the Freshmen's 
match by cheerful but promiscuous hitting. Since then his 
summer games had been played in private. It was com- 
monly remarked that in the interval he had filled out 
considerably. He very soon showed, by going practically 
untouched through the O.M.T. team, that increased weight 
and strength had not diminished his old slipperiness. 
Oxford's captain in this season was F. H. Turner, a re- 
markably good leader of forwards, and a very shrewd 
judge of back-play. He placed Ronnie at left centre with 
W. P. Geen as his outside. Geen was a Welshman, who 
had in the preceding season made something of a reputa- 
tion as a centre three-quarter in Welsh Club football. His 
experience had taught him to regard combination as the 
greatest of all possible virtues in a Rugby player. Perhaps 
his training had made him peculiarly capable of anticipating 
the movements of his reputedly ' difficult ' centre. At any 
rate the two soon reached a very high standard of combi- 
nation. Buchanan on Ronnie's right also showed that it 
was not impossible, or even difficult, to combine with him, 
especially if the object of combination were borne in mind. 
That object is, of course, to give the ball at the right 
moment to the player most likely to make the best use of 
it. By this time there was very little doubt in the minds 
of Oxford players and spectators that when Ronnie was 
engaged in a match the profitable policy was to play to 
him. It is also noteworthy that the critics of his play now 
cease to suggest that he was weak in defence. With 
increased weight and strength he found it easier to effect 
the smothering tackle which abruptly ends an attacking 
movement. There were other Rugby players whose 
methods would have satisfied a referee experienced in 
administering the Football Association's rule about 'un- 
necessary violence '. But most, if not all, of them were 
less effective in defence. It has not escaped remark that 
Ronnie suffered very few accidents during his career as 


a footballer. He wrenched a leg muscle in the 1911 
'Varsity match, and his mother recalls an occasion when 
he returned from an International match lacking some 
of the skin from his leg. There is only one other mention 
and of this the details are forgotten in all the material 
collected for the making of this book of any mishap 
occurring to him in a game of football. Yet he was most 
persistently marked by opposing sides. The explanation 
is that the exquisite sense of balance which produced his 
bewildering swerve enabled him to save himself in 
a tackle: he was always the first of the two parties 
concerned to resume the upright position. His personal 
popularity was a negligible factor in the case. Pylades 
and Orestes, if playing for opposing sides at Rugby, would 
put one another down mercilessly. Yet there is not much 
deliberate savagery in modern Rugby : for one thing the 
pace is too great to allow time for deliberation. But first- 
class teams play terrifically hard. Geordie Cunningham, 
after passing his I.C.S. examination, came up to Oxford 
for a fifth year. On Saturdays he generally played for the 
Scottish. When Oxford had a Wednesday match he 
would watch it. One Wednesday afternoon at tea in 
Vincent's he said he must give up going to the Iffley Road 
ground. He feared that the spectacle there presented 
might spoil his nerve. Some teams are rougher, some 
more chivalrous than others. Roughness produces rough- 
ness, chivalry chivalry. Prof. H. S. Holland's above- 
quoted appreciation of Ronnie's play indicates clearly 
what his influence on football manners was. 

From the start of the 1910 season the Oxford team 
showed signs of the weakness which nearly proved their 
undoing when they met Cambridge. They could score 
heavily themselves but could not keep the other side out 
as a really great team should. During the first half of the 
season, up to and including the 'Varsity match, Oxford 
scored 342 points, of which Ronnie was directly responsible 
for 59, and had 88 scored against them. Perhaps the 
figures hardly bear out the suggestion that the tackling of 


the team was weak, but figures are notoriously deceptive, 
and their evidence is of less value than that of trained 
observers. The critic of the Field on four several occa- 
sions notes that weak defence placed Oxford in danger. 
He specially exempts Ronnie from blame in this respect. 

Turner's team had only been beaten once when they 
met Cambridge : the Harlequins had scored 13-0 against 
them at Twickenham in a match which provided the 
referee with a severe test of lung power ; it was contested 
at tremendous pace, and he frequently needed breath to 
blow his whistle. The two great matches of the October 
Term were those against the United Services, hitherto 
unbeaten, and Dublin University. In both the Oxford 
team fairly rose to the occasion. Against the Services, 
Buchanan and Knott got most of the opportunities to 
distinguish themselves in attack and made the best of 
all of them. The two tries which Ronnie scored were 
both made for him by one or the other of these two, but 
he and Cheesman did great work in defence that day, and 
suffered not at all by comparison with Lyon, the famous 
full-back of the Services, who was at his very best : he 
twice stopped the two Oxford centres when they were 
clear. Many good judges thought that against Dublin 
Ronnie played better than he ever had before. An 
instance of his often noted genius for doing the unexpected 
thing successfully is thus described : 

' Dublin dropped out from the 25. Sampson (full-back) 
caught the ball and ran towards the open. There Poulton 
clamoured for a pass and got it. Instead of running to the 
right, where he was expected, he swerved to the left 
through the surprised Dublin forwards. This brought 
him among his own forwards, to whom he passed, and 
a couple of them handled. Meanwhile Geen, quick to 
detect his chance, sprinted up the left touch-line, and 
arrived just in time to take a wide pass and cross in the 
corner. It was a triumph of unorthodoxy. The chief 
credit belongs to Poulton, who played magnificently all 
through. He was equally great in attack and defence, and 
after Knott was injured he did the work of two.' 


In the 'Varsity match so nearly lost, and so hardly won, 
Ronnie reproduced the form displayed against Dublin 
University, and even improved upon it, although his side 
failed to play up to its proper form. The tackling was 
lamentably weak, with the result that Cambridge were 
five points up midway through the second half. 

' The strength of Oxford ', says the Field in its account 
of the game, ' was founded on the possession of a player of 
genius in Poulton, adequately supported by Buchanan 
and Geen.' The detailed report which follows gives 
chapter and verse to justify this assertion, and shows that 
Ronnie was mainly responsible for all Oxford's five tries. 
Three times he put Geen in, and when the game seemed 
lost he scored twice himself from positions impossible to 
any other player. One of these two tries was almost 
miraculous. Half the Cambridge pack was rushing at him 
when he got the ball, and he was standing still. But when 
they dived for him he was not there. Once through them 
and in more open ground, he made the backs look like 
guide-posts to direct his course into goal. The reason 
why I choose the word ' miraculous ' to describe his run is 
that I have never seen an extremely difficult feat performed 
so easily and certainly. The one small blemish on his 
performance was that he had a kick charged down. It 
was an expensive mistake, for Cambridge scored a goal in 
consequence of it. 

Ronnie played little football in the Lent Term of 1911, 
though he took office as Captain of Oxford. He took his 
place, however, in the Hockey team, which was beaten 4-1 
by Cambridge, and was considered by the critics to have 
tried to do too much on his own. He certainly displayed 
inexhaustible energy, especially at the end of the game, 
when most of his colleagues were run off their legs by the 
faster Cambridge men. 

In the October Term of 1911 Oxford were less successful 
than usual, and, before the match, the general opinion 
was that they would lose. The best-informed judges, such 


as E. H. D. Sewell, Hamish Stuart, and Ernest Ward, all 
assured me that Cambridge must win, unless they all put 
in that proviso Poulton could beat them on his own. 
Ronnie, I fancy, had come to something like the same 
conclusion, and determined to risk everything for an early 

In the course of the Term the team played thirteen 
matches, winning eight and losing five ; and they scored 
289 points, Ronnie's share being 64, against 105. One 
cause of their comparative ill-success was the injury sus- 
tained by Knott in the Guy's Hospital match. He was 
kept out of the next five fixtures, but took part in the 
brilliant victories over Edinburgh University and the 
London Scottish which immediately preceded the 'Varsity 
match. At Queen's he was at his best and how good his 
best was! But before the all-important game started 
Oxford's supporters were rather anxious about him. 
Another thing that proved an occasional source of weak- 
ness was a certain loss of form on the part of Geen. 
Certainly he scored a large number of tries, but he had to 
some extent lost his eye for an opening. Times and again 
he hesitated on occasions when his captain had cut out 
a reasonably good opening for him; in the preceding 
season he would have been in for a certainty. But Geen 
was also inspired to greatness against Cambridge. In fact, 
at Queen's the whole team fairly rose to the occasion. 
The forwards, extraordinarily well led by Brown and 
Lagden, packed well, got their full share of the ball, and 
heeled smartly. In loose play they were wonderfully 
good. Their rushes were as skilful as they were vigorous, 
and there was none of that horrid loafing offside, and 
waiting to cut into a rush started by others, which charac- 
terizes the play of many packs reputed to be good in the 
loose. Cheesman worked the scrum wisely and well. 
Knott was, as has been said, at his best. The three- 
quarters were brilliant, and Sampson at full-back never 
put a foot wrong. The men themselves were in no doubt 
about the source of their inspiration. It came, they agree, 


from their captain. Ronnie himself, until he was injured, 
played better than he ever had before. He stood out by 
himself in the contest of brilliancy. It has already been 
suggested that he had some doubts about the soundness 
of his side and had made up his mind to take all manner of 
risks from the kick-off in order to establish an early and, 
as he hoped, demoralizing lead. His tactics succeeded 
perfectly, carried out as they were by himself and others 
whose opportunism had been developed by his precept 
and example. 

The first time Oxford got to the 25, and their forwards 
got the ball, Knott punted low over the scrummage to the 
Cambridge full-back. It was a risky bit of play because 
a return kick might have sent Oxford back to the half-way 
line. But Knott had pitched the ball exactly right. It 
would have * yorked ' the full-back if he had tried to catch 
it, so he was obliged to wait for the bounce, and Ronnie 
arrived simultaneously with the ball. How he got there 
no one will ever know. He must have given Knott, who 
followed up his kick, at least five yards and a beating. 
His mind must have moved even quicker than his feet. 
Anyway get there he did and the ball bounced kindly! 
Not long afterwards the same pair repeated the manoeuvre. 
Again Ronnie was in time to rush the full-back and Steyn 
dashed up to score. But the match was by no means over, 
and at a very critical moment Ronnie was injured and 
helped off the field. He was soon back, but limping badly. 
It seemed long odds that Cambridge would make good use 
of the advantage accidentally gained. But once Dingle 
averted disaster with a run worthy of his captain. On 
another occasion Ronnie saved the situation by a smother- 
ing tackle. He could hardly walk, much less run. But 
somehow he managed to cover ten or fifteen yards in 
impossibly quick time, and down the man with the ball 
before he could get into his stride. 

After the match the critics, especially those who had 
with some confidence anticipated defeat for Oxford, 
blamed the Cambridge backs for standing too close up to 


the scrummage in order to spoil their opposite numbers, 
instead of adopting a formation better suited to enable 
them to score. The criticism is sound up to a point. 
The Cambridge team was behind on points. Manifestly 
their game was to rub off the deficit if they could, and to 
take large risks in endeavouring to do so. But at all 
games a side only plays as well as the opposition allows it 
to play; and the opposing captain has a large say in 
determining the amount of latitude allowed. Even an 
Oxford man may feel a certain amount of sympathy for 
Scholefield, who played magnificently, and his colleagues. 
They were in a most awkward situation. The first two 
tries scored against them had resulted from quite un- 
promising openings. They had opposed to them Knott, 
Poulton, and Dingle the last-named on the day almost as 
clever an opportunist as the other two. It is excusable if 
they had visions of a record score, and played to cut their 
losses. Even after Ronnie was injured it would have been 
dangerous to sacrifice defence to attack; so well did Knott 
and Dingle carry on. Moreover, the reports of the match 
are full of notes such as : ' Poulton, though very lame, 
retained much of his peculiar gift for being in the right 
place at the right moment.' It cannot be for a moment 
maintained that if the teams had met on half a dozen 
occasions Oxford would have averaged 19 points more 
than Cambridge. Perhaps that margin flattered the 
collective ability of the winners in their single encounter. 
But the fact that the points were scored is a part of the 
evidence on which the general estimate of Oxford's captain, 
as player and leader, is based. This match finished 
Ronnie's career as an Oxford footballer, and in a few 
weeks after it he had ' gone down '. 

A. C. M. C. 


SITY FOOTBALL: 1908-1914 

The news came as a tremendous shock to me, for once again this 
cruel war has robbed us of one of the very best sportsmen who ever 
lived. Whether playing against him or with him, he was always the 
same, and Rugby has been deprived of a personality that will never 
be replaced. Capt. R. A. LLOYD, the Irish Captain in the season 
before the War, writing, when wounded, from Lady Muriel Mason 
Nursing Home, London. 

RONALD played the first of his many games with the 
Harlequins a few weeks before he entered the University. 
Mr. Ernest Ward writes : 

' When I went to Richmond Athletic ground to see the 
Harlequins trial in September 1908 I was welcomed by 
Mr. Smith (perpetual president of the Harlequins) in this 
way: "Come and see a future England International. 
Young Poulton of Rugby is playing to-day. Adrian is 
trying him in various positions. He is the greatest ' find ' 
that we have had for years ". Ronnie was tried in all sorts 
of positions outside the scrummage and, in every one, to 
use that oft-quoted Baconianism, "succeeded excellently 
well." 3 

His selection for his first International was also due to 
Adrian Stoop. The following letter was written by Ronald 
to C. P. Evers from Balliol, on Jan. 24, 1909, a few days 
before the match v. France : 

'I went up and played for the 'Quins v. the Scottish 
yesterday. It was a splendid game, and we won 8-5, 
though I think a draw would have been fairer. I am 
trying to play hockey as well this term, though I don't 
think I shall be able to manage both. I am playing for 
the 'Varsities v. London at hockey to-morrow in London. 


' Don't spread it about, but I believe that I am playing 
for England v. France on Saturday. I was picked reserve 
two or three days ago, and Vassall scratched, and I was 

officially so don't say anything to any 

like to play, as if I could play fairly decently I might play 

against Ireland. No more now. 

' With kind regards to Mrs. Evers and three kisses for 
Sybil and baby, 

1 Your affectionate friend.' 

Ronald's seventeen International matches are tabulated 
on p. 229, and Mr. Croome's critical account of them forms 
the concluding part of this section. In the earlier part, 
chiefly personal memories are recalled with here and there 
quotations from letters and from the football press. 

Ronald's impressions of his first game, against France, 
won 22-0, were not very favourable, for his mother wrote 
to Janet : ' Ronald said he did not really do very well at 
the match. He felt very nervous; and the ground was 
terribly hard. He got a big knock on the nose which bled.' 

His second International, v. Ireland, on Feb. 13, won 
11-5, was the first victory on Irish soil since 1895. 
Ronald, who helped towards Palmer's try in the first half, 
leading to the only English goal, was evidently in good 
spirits after the match, and his mother's letter to Janet 
seems to have suffered in consequence : 

' If I make a lot of mistakes, you must excuse me ; for 
Ronnie is here, and he and the two girls are ragging 
terribly. Ronnie came back this morning, having done 
very well, and not being much injured, only a bit of skin 
taken off one leg. Ronald and some others took a jaunting 
car on Saturday morning, and drove much the same way 
as you and I did all round the Phoenix Park, saw the place 
of the murder, and then ended up with the Zoo.' 

The match, v. Scotland, played at Richmond, and lost 
8-18, was the first of his three Internationals in which 
England was beaten. 


The experiences of 1910 were summed up in his account 
of the year : 

4 1 had to come back after a week [at Wengen] to play 
in a trial match in London. We were badly beaten, but 
I succeeded in staying for the Welsh match a week later. 
After that they had no further use for me.' 

The circumstances that led up to the match were 
curiously indicative of the plethora of Rugby players in 
England, and the difficulties of the Selecting Committee. 
The Rugby Union had chosen a side which, in the 
absence of some selected players, had easily defeated 
first the North and then the South. Yet, when the 
selected players were restored, it was, as Ronald states, 
badly beaten by the Rest on the Saturday before the 
match. So, at the last moment, the team was reconsti- 
tuted and made to include more than half of the side 
which had beaten it. The game was the first played on 
the Rugby Union Ground at Twickenham, and England 
won 1 1-6. This was the only International match in 
which Ronald played on the wing. 

His account of athletics during the first six months of 
1911 is confined to these characteristic words on his fifth 
and only International match in this year : 

4 1 played for England against Scotland, and enjoyed 
the game chiefly because ten members of the teams were 
Oxford men, and seven were personal friends.' 

The match was played at Twickenham on March 18, and 
Ronald was Right Centre. Ronald Lagden played as a 
forward in the English Team. England won 13-8. 
Ronald, although he made no tries himself, was concerned 
in two of them. The second is thus described in a paper 
I have not identified : 

4 Then came a brilliant bit of work by the much-criticized 
Poulton. At half-way Stoop kicked across. Coming up 
at top speed, Poulton cleverly took the ball, beat the 
opposition, and unselfishly passed to Birkett, who ran 


round behind the posts. Lagden easily kicked a goal. 
It was Poulton's try, however, and it was Poulton who 
was acclaimed by the crowd.' 

His sixth International, v. Wales, won 8-0, was played 
on Jan. 20, 1912, a few days before he went to live in 
Reading. He had rather a strenuous time over it, as he 
was travelling home from Switzerland, sleeping in the 
train, on Jan. 18 and 19, and was met on the platform and 
hurried off to practise with other players the evening 
before the match. Then, after it, he went with Dick 
Dugdale and me to Bunty pulls the Strings, and returned 
to Oxford by the midnight train. 

During his residence in Reading, Ronald played in 
seven International matches. Something of his methods 
of training may be gathered from the Berkshire Chronicle 
for Sept. 12, 1913 : 

'A local yeteran Rugby player asked him last winter 
how he trained. "Come to Kendrick Road at seven 
o'clock to-morrow morning, and I'll show you," he replied. 
The veteran went, and saw him "fly" between the lamp- 
posts with a speed he could not imitate.' 

It is also stated in the Manchester Courier of May 10, 
1915, that he 'instituted a series of training runs in the 
early mornings, and it was wonderful the number of young 
men who rallied round him and turned up for a spin 
between five and six o'clock '. 

He also often played for the Harlequins. His friend 
R. W. Dugdale remembers Ronald saying, ' I'm quite 
willing to play for them if they want me, but I'm not 
going to give up my work in order to play.' Accordingly 
he would catch the first train after his work was over, 
and then change as he was being rushed up to the ground 
in a taxi, appearing only a few minutes before the game 
began. Some of the players were annoyed at his cutting 
things so fine, as they thought, but Ronald felt that life 
was much too full and too interesting to be wasted in 
doing nothing before a match. The same spirit may be 


inferred from Mr. Charles Marriott's 'usual' kindly ex- 
postulation, well remembered by Ronald (p. 211). 

The feature of Ronald's seventh match, v. Ireland, was 
the failure of the place-kicking. England won by 15-0, 
the points being gained by 5 tries, not one of which was 

The eighth match, v. Scotland, was lost 3-8. The Times 
considered that 

' of the three-quarter backs only R. W. Poulton added 
to his reputation ; his tackling and touch-kicking were 
admirable, and he was half the English defence through- 
out. He made what he could of a bewildering variety of 
sloppy passes, and on several occasions one of his short 
swerving runs would have set a dangerous attack going 
but for the blunders of the other backs.' 

Before his next International, Ronald played twice 
against the South Africans for the East Midlands at 
Northampton, Nov. 2, 1912, and for London at Twicken- 
ham, Nov. 16. In these and all later International matches 
he played left centre. Of the second match, won by 
London 10-8, The Times considered that the South 

' neither gave nor took their passes well ; and, as their 
back division trusts entirely to speed, any inaccuracy was 
fatal. . . . This weakness in tactics was emphasized by the 
ingenuity of Poulton, who has never wanted more looking 
after. Time and again he beat two opponents, and it was 
to the fact that three had to be told oft to stop him that the 
success of London was largely due. His defence also was 

This must have been the match about which his friend 
Dick Dugdale wrote to him from Bombay on Jan. 3, 

' Your football : Very different accounts from your own 
reach me at intervals, my dear old man, + a full-page 
illustration or caricature in the Tatter : with the usual 
overlong chin development. They never will give you 
a decent chin piece.' 


Ronald's ninth game for England, the third consecutive 
match v. South Africa, played at Twickenham Jan. 4, 
1913, was his greatest up to that time, and the third 
and last of his Internationals to be lost 3-9. His two 
famous runs in the first half, one of them scoring the 
only points made against the South Africans in any Inter- 
national match during their whole tour, have often been 
described and will be long remembered. 

We were in Switzerland at the time, but his uncle 
George was present and full of enthusiasm. He had 
quite got over his feeling that International play would be 
inconsistent with Ronald's position in the Factory. At 
first indeed my brother-in-law felt this so strongly that he 
wished Ronald to defer the beginning of his work until 
after the 1912 match v. Ireland, and assumed that it would 
be his last. But he soon came to see that the play was a 
source of pleasure and pride to the men and increased 
Ronald's influence, also that the only cause for anxiety 
was lest he should work not too little but too much. 

The memories of Ronald's friend, Capt. S. E. Whitnall, 
cluster round this match : 

' Great days at Twickenham I remember : it was made 
the annual gathering of our intimate group. I remember 
going up in a crowded taxi and ragging mat they'd have 
to wait till we got through with him anyway! Then 
sitting and listening to the comments till the teams poured 
out eager heads stretched forward : "That 's Brown and 
Lagden ! " then the roar " Poulton ! Ronnie ! " ; and oh ! 
to have seen the sight of him in his wonderful baffling 
swerving run broad shoulders, head crouched back be- 
tween ; the fine limbs curiously high-lifted knees faster 
really than he looked arms at length swinging the ball 
from side to side. That never to be forgotten run that 
just failed on the very line to score after a superb and 
absolutely typical " Poulton " run all the field seemed 
stationary gazing at him and McHardy in outstretched 

'Then there were days when he and Lagden walked 
over here on an early Sunday morning for breakfast, 
tennis, and a bathe ; and when we sat in the sunshine on 


the lawn and talked of great questions of the future and of 
social problems. I remember Maclagan 1 killed also in 
France who had never met him away from football before, 
saying afterwards, " Well, that young fellow has got great 
and good ideas, and a great and good mind ! " 

' All my remembrances are clothed in the spirit of his 
gaiety and joy of life his ready laughter, his cheerfulness, 
his happiness, his extraordinary modesty.' 

A fortnight after the South African match came Ronald's 
tenth International v. Wales at Cardiff, Jan. 18 another 
of his greatest games. I have been told that on the morn- 
ing of the day Cardiff was placarded with the exhortation 
to ' watch R. W. Poulton '. Over 20,000 spectators were 
present who, in the most sportsmanlike spirit, cheered the 
good bits of play even when they meant the defeat of 
Wales on a ground where Wales had learned to expect 
and had hitherto gained nothing but victory. England 
won by 12-0, all the points being made in the second half. 
Ronald scored 4 by a dropped goal. 

E. W. Ballantyne wrote in the Sunday Observer : 

' Poulton was the most remarkable man on the field. 
Whether attacking or defending he won the highest 
admiration, and the 1913 Wales-England match might be 
referred to in years to come as roulton's match' the 
third game in succession of which these words were used. 

A story, told in the Oxford Times for Feb. 22, 1913, 
perhaps refers to this match. A man set to mark Ronald 
and reproved for not stopping him is said to have replied : 
' How can one stop him, when his head goes one way, his 
arms another, and his legs keep straight on ? ' 

To conclude the account of Ronald's International play 
during his residence in Reading, a part of his own review 
of the 1913 games including the three v. France, Ireland, 
and Scotland, not hitherto referred to is reprinted below. 

' " Oh, there you are, my dear fellow. Hurry up, you'll 
miss the train ! you're always late ! " 
1 In these words (as usual), I was welcomed by our 

1 G. S. Maclagan, Lt. R. Warwicks, killed Apr. 25, 1915. 
P 2 


anxious Secretary, Mr. Charles Marriott, on joining a 
merry party of some two dozen souls bound on January 
lyth tor Penarth, there to obtain the rest necessary for our 
great encounter with Wales at Cardiff the next afternoon. 
On assembling at breakfast the next morning we found 
that rain was falling steadily, and all hope of a dry ground 
and ball was given up. The morning was spent in 
animated discussions of numerous devices for winning the 
match, none of which by any chance came off during the 
game itself, except the oft-repeated injunction of our 
Captain, " Remember your feet and use them, and don't 
forget the watchword" but that, I fear, is unprintable. 
However, after a game played on a ground where the 
blades of grass seemed with difficulty to be holding their 
heads above the ever-rising flood, England emerged 
unrecognizable but victorious by 12 points to nil. 

' On February 8th England met Ireland at Dublin. The 
passage of the Channel (the sea was perfectly smooth) and 
a troublesome wind during the game, are not sufficient 
excuses for the poor display given. England, it is true, 
won by 15 points to nil l , but the remark of a member of the 
English Selection Committee, at tea after the match, was 
perfectly true, " Well, I've only seen one team play worse 
than you did, and I've seen that team this afternoon." 

' The Scotch match, or, as the papers love to call it, " the 
contest for the Calcutta Cup ", was played at Twickenham 
on March i5th. After a poor game England, though often 
in desperate straits, won by a try to nil. A less satis- 
factory match, from the point of view of the three-quarters, 
can hardly be imagined. The almost total lack of com- 
bination among the English outsides stopped many 
promising movements, and the Scotch three-quarters, 
though snowing fine defence, were never dangerous in 
attack. The Scotsmen, however, deserve great credit for 
the close fight they made, as they had numerous dis- 
appointments in the composition of their team. 

'Against France, at Twickenham, on January 25th, 
England, playing poor football, won by 20 points to nil. 

'The Rugby Football Season of 1912-13 was made 
memorable by the visit of the South African team. I 
suppose, to be in keeping with Imperial imagery and ideas, 
we must call the members of this team our children, and 
fine, strapping children they were ! You feel there must be 

1 Ireland made 4 points, by a dropped goal. 


something extraordinary about the climate of South Africa, 
when you are easily given twenty yards in a hundred by 
a McHardy or a Stegmann, when you see the ball propelled 
infinite distances with perfect accuracy by a Morkel, and 
when you feel the weight of a Morkel, a Van Vuuren, or 
a Shum deposited on your chest. 

'On January 4th, England met South Africa in a 
desperate effort to avenge the defeats of the three sister 
countries. It was the first International of the season, and 
certainly produced the finest game. The English team 
was fortunate in finding; itself in the best of form, though 
perhaps not experiencing the best of luck in the field. 
I have not space here to give an account of this match, 
with its many thrills and incidents, and can only state that 
South Africa won by i try and 2 penalty goals to a try. 

' Every Rugby Football player will join me in congratu- 
lating Mr. Millar on the success of his team, and not a 
few, in meeting them, have added considerably to the circle 
of their friends.' (Rugby Football Annual, 1913-14, p. n.) 

Ronald's football in the Reading period came to an end 
with one of the games into which he always entered with 
special zest. The village team at St. Helens plays the 
Soccer game on the Green and is very successful in 
winning its matches with other Isle of Wight teams; but 
Bugle-major C. Jacobs, custodian of the Golf Club and 
active organizer of the village sports, the Territorial sports, 
the cadets, the rifle range, and other movements to benefit 
the community, felt that it was not for nothing that the 
village owned, and that he had known from childhood, 
a Rugby International already spoken of as the probable 
English Captain in the forthcoming season. So, to aid the 
Territorial Sports Fund, he got up a Rugby match at 
St. Helens, to be played in the Easter Vacation of 1913, 
between the masters of the R.N.C. at Osborne and a team 
selected and captained by Ronald. 

Hilda had vivid memories of the great gathering of 
Rugby Internationals and other players that assembled for 
the week-end at St. Helens Cottage : 

1 In the evening we had the most amusing dumb charades. 
One scene was very funny : it was a debate in Parliament 


on the " Naval estimates ". Bruno [L. G. Brown] was 
Winston Churchill and Ronald his opponent, and they 
kept on jumping up alternately and gesticulating wildly, 
Bruno holding up a toy boat. It is impossible to describe 
how funny it was, but bowler hats came into it. Bruno 
has a very large head and he had Ronald's small hat and 
Ronald his big one, and they kept bobbing up in turn to 
" speak " and taking off their hats. 

' On the Sunday evening Ronald firmly set us all on to 
paper games, and I remember noticing how different the 
atmosphere was from the first night before Ronald had 
arrived, and I should never have dared to suggest anything 
so childish.' 

During his residence in Reading Ronald raised the 
burning question of ' payment for broken time ' in the 
following letter to the Sportsman : 


' It is with much apprehension that I read this morning 
the finding of the General Committee of the Rugby Union 
concerning the charges brought against certain players in 
Devonshire clubs of having received money for "broken 
time". If it is the desire of the Rugby Union Committee 
practically to limit the game to players who learn it at the 
rublic Schools, and in the Services and Universities, such 
a finding is reasonable. But I cannot believe such is 
their desire. Was not this, then, the opportunity to put 
the game on an immovable basis among all classes of the 
community by making an alteration in the laws of the game 
relating to professionalism, so as to legislate for a carefully 
arranged payment for " broken time " for men who are paid 
weekly or monthly for the hours they work ? And it is 
difficult to see how such an offence can be construed as 
professionalism. A man does not, or under careful regu- 
lation would not, receive any addition to this normal 
weekly wage, but would be paid merely for the hours of 
work missed through football. Such hours of work would, 
of course, not include " overtime ". 

1 He would then be exactly in the position of many busi- 
ness men who, in the enjoyment of a settled income, leave 
their work an hour or so earlier to catch the necessary 
train to the match. 

' The most optimistic must feel that such an action as the 


R. U. Committee have taken will do much to prevent 
the expansion of the Rugby game, and so reduce the value 
to England of the most democratic of sports. 

' I only venture to write this to find out if there are 
any other present or past players of the game who think 
as I do. 

' Yours truly, 

' 16 Portland Place, Reading, 
1 December 2.' 

Ronald talked with me on the subject, and I know that 
his feeling was that, since expenses were repaid to Rugby 
Union players, it was only just that working men should 
be repaid for the loss of wages, to them very necessary 
expenses, without which many of them could not play. 
He was eager to increase the facilities which would bring 
more and more men under the influence of this noble 
game. He believed ' that Rugby was too good a game to 
be confined to any particular class ' (' Ixion ', in the Sports- 
man, May 8, 1915). 

These were his motives in raising the question, motives 
in harmony with his whole outlook on life ; but there was 
the object-lesson provided by other sports, and the problem 
whether grave dangers could be avoided if this concession, 
reasonable as it seemed to be, were made. A writer in the 
Yorkshire Evening Post for May 15, 1915, states that ' the 
arguments laid before him sufficed, I know, to make 
Poulton change his mind', and the fact that the subject 
never reappeared in our talks together supports the same 
conclusion ; for Ronald would not, I think, have dropped 
the subject if he had retained his opinion. 

The four International matches of the last season before 
the War, under Ronald's captaincy, were played during 
his residence in Manchester. When he went north in 
September 1913 he found so many old friends in the 
Liverpool Team that he was glad to accept the invitation 


to play with them. There was Dum Cunningham, one of 
his greatest School House friends at Rugby; Freddy 
Turner, his Oxford Captain in 1910 ; Tracey Fowler, who 
had played against him for Cambridge and also at hockey 
for Seaview ; and Dick Lloyd, the Irish Captain, who had 
played against him in International matches in 1912 and 

Thus Ronald became one of that wonderful northern 
team, captained by F. H. Turner, a former Scottish 
Captain, and including the captains of England and Ireland, 
as well as International reserves for England (Fowler) and 
Scotland (Ross). The team, in the season 1913-14, scored 
the record number of 838 points against 229. 

His Manchester friend, Mr. Delahunty, remembers that 
Ronald 'had great praise for the excellent treatment 
received from the trainer attached to the Manchester 
United Club ground '. The hours of work at Mather and 
Platt's were sometimes a difficulty ; for the rules prevented 
him from leaving the workshop before 12.30 on Saturdays, 
the very time at which the train started for Liverpool. 
' W. L. S.', in the Athletic News for May 10, 1915, tells of 
one occasion when Ronald made the journey in a taxi, 
accompanied by his foreman, Mr. J. Mundy, strict enforcer 
of rules but enthusiastic lover of football, and of how, just 
as Ronald was in the middle of changing his clothes, they 
were held up at a level-crossing in a crowd of factory girls 
waiting to cross the line. Mr. Mundy, so Ronald told us, 
was rather shocked at the effect of Trial matches and 
Internationals on the hours of work, and on one occasion 
asked him what his people thought of it. ' Oh, they don't 
mind', was his reply. The foreman thought a moment 
and said, ' Well, I'll let you go, Ronnie.' 

In the Trial matches of the season Ronald played at the 
top of his form, and before Christmas it became known 
that he would captain the English Team. 

The first of the four great matches was that against 
Wales, played in the presence of 30,000 spectators at 
Twickenham, Jan. 17, 1914, and won by England by 


a single point, 10-9, viz. by 2 goals to i goal and i dropped 
goal. Ronald's play in this, his fourteenth International 
match, is thus spoken of by The Times expert : 

' In the circumstances of this game England's victory 
was alone made possible by the soundness and resource of 
the greatest three-quarter back that the country has had 
for a quarter of a century. . . . Did ever man do so much 
for a side as Ppulton ? When over and over again England 
looked to be in extremis it was some wonderful kick by 
Poulton, some electrifying cut through, some clever steady- 
ing influence among the backs that kept the Fifteen to- 
gether. . . . Wales, the better team of the day, retired beaten 
by fate and Poulton.' 

This match is one of the few in which I am able to quote 
Ronald's comments. He wrote to his brother-in-law, 
Dr. Ainley Walker, from Manchester, Jan. 19 : 

' Yes, it was a baddish game, at least the play was not 
very high class, but there were purple patches, especially 
when I kicked the ball into the other fellow's stomach, 
and he only had to walk over!! Howeyer on the game 
I was satisfied personally, though not with the forwards 
by any means. Got back yesterday. Millions of letters 
to write and I fear the Curate is going to call ! I must try 
and get to Oxford at time of Irish match.' 

Ronald's fifteenth International was the match v. Ireland, 
Feb. 14, 1914, the last International played at Twickenham. 
The attendance is said to have been a record, The Times 
estimate being 40,000. Ireland made 7 points in the first 
few minutes and was leading 7-6 at half-time. Although, 
as one of the critics said, this ' would have broken the back 
of many a side', England finally won by 17-12, viz. by 
i goal and 4 tries to i goal, i dropped goal, and i try. 
Referring to the anxious moments in the first half The 
Times remarked : ' It was inspiriting to see how the winded 
men pulled themselves together, encouraged by the voice 
and nursed by the touch-kicking of their captain.' 

Capt. R. A. Lloyd, ist Liverpool Scottish, the Irish 
captain, player in seventeen Internationals of which five 


were v. England (1910-14), has written from the front his 
memories of Ronald and of this great match : 

' I think, as I have probably played more games both 
with and against Ronald Poufton than most men, I may 
be permitted to pen these few remarks about his play. 
I think that during my experience of Rugby Football, 
Ronald Ppulton was the greatest player I ever came in 
contact with : it was the glorious uncertainty of his play 
which always appealed to friend and foe. I think I might 
sum him up in saying, it was not what he was doing, but 
what he was going to do which made him the great player 
he was. I studied his play very carefully, and I don t ever 
remember him doing the same thing twice. 

' During the Season 1913-14 when I played in the same 
Liverpool XV I used to try and follow his movements 
when once he got hold of the ball, and I am perfectly 
certain that it was only by being a born footballer he could 
do the things he did. I never knew where he would be or 
what he would do when once he got the ball : his swerve 
made him so hard to follow even if you were playing with 
him, not only if you were unfortunate enough to be playing 
against him. 

'We had a great trick together which we used to call 
the " Scissors " : it brought in many tries and I am sorry 
to tell it for it is against myself as he played it on me 
once too often. 

'The "Scissors" trick was this: when I had the ball, 
and Ronald was running beside me just as if he was going 
to take an ordinary pass, he would suddenly change his 
direction and come racing straight across at me and 
practically take the ball out of my hands, and breaking 
clean through would run right across to the opposite wing. 
It was a favourite trick and nearly always brought a try, as 
I used to try and follow him up and take the pass if he 
could not beat the back. Well, the Irish-English game at 
Twickenham in 1914 came off and I warned the two Irish 
Centres to watch for the " Scissors" as he was sure to try 
it, and well on in the 2nd half Ronald worked it on us as 
well as ever he did. He took the ball from Davies the 
English outside half and cut through beautifully, and we 
never saw the way he went till he handed the ball to the 
ever-handy Pillman to score the try which practically 
decided the game. This try was one of the best I ever 
saw him make and we always used to rag each other about 



From a photograph by the late D. Cunningham, at West Derby, near 

Liverpool, March 1914. 

Facing />. 218. ] 


it afterwards, as before the game we both said we each 
knew the other's favourite tricks. 

' He was a player who always played for his side and 
never for himself, and he loved his football as it ought to 
be loved. It will be a very long time before a Rugger 
crowd will have the pleasure of seeing another Poulton, as 
he was a born genius when once he got that ball into his 
hands. It was as much a pleasure to play against him as 
with him, for he was always the same fascinating figure, 
apparently doing nothing but always doing a great deal.' 

It is as it should be that memories cling round the last 
International on the London ground of the Rugby Union. 
Mr. Alfred Ollivant wrote May 24, 1915, of an incident 
described later on in his beautiful picture of Ronald ' The 
Cost' in the Atlantic Monthly for February 1916: 

'Last year in the spring when I heard that England 
v. Ireland was to be played at Twickenham I went to see 
him play. It was the last International played there, and 
everybody agreed that it was his day. A little incident 
of the game stays with me. Ronald and an enemy three- 
quarter emerged out of some kind of death-grapple ; and 
the enemy three-quarter gave Ronald a little pat that was 
clearly a caress as he retired to his lines. Another man 
might have evoked a caress but not of the peculiar kind 
that lingers with me still. There was more than friend- 
ship in it : there was affection.' 

Before the game the teams lined up and cheered the 
King, and the captains were presented and shook hands 
at the interval. The ceremony had its humorous side, 
described by Ronald to Mr. Delahunty : ' He seldom spoke 
of football, though I am keenly interested in it. But he 
did speak with evident relish of one occasion when he was 
called from the field to be presented to His Majesty, and 
all he had time to do was to wipe his hands, which were 
very dirty from handling the ball, on the back of his shorts. 
He would smile delightfully when he demonstrated exactly 
what he did, though he confessed to feeling very nervous 
at the time.' 

This was also the match after which Ronald, while taking 


his bath, discussed theology with his friend the Rev. W. J. 
Carey, who has described the incident in the Church 
Times of May 14, 1915. I can imagine the scene as if 
I had been present; for it was my privilege, as the 
captain's father, to visit more than once the English 
dressing-room after a match and to see fifteen of the finest 
young men the country possessed, some taking baths, 
others strolling about or sitting, chatting and smoking 
cigarettes, displaying the while a magnificent muscular 
development in all its glory. I remember, too, Mr. Carey 
joining us at tea, laughing heartily at the scene he had 
just left, and telling us of the systematic soaping of 
Ronald's head during the discussion. 

The match v. Scotland, Ronald's sixteenth International, 
was played at Inverleith, March 21, and won by England 
16-15. It was tne forty-first match between England and 
Scotland and attracted the biggest crowd, over 25,000, 
ever seen at a Rugby game in the north. In the first half 
Will gained an unconverted try for Scotland and Lowe one 
for England. In the second half England with two con- 
verted tries by Lowe and one unconverted by Ronald was 
leading by 16 points to 6, for Scotland had meanwhile 
scored only 3 from an unconverted try by Huggan. Then 
came a mighty effort, and with a dropped goal by Bowie 
and a converted try by Will the Scottish score rose to 15, 
and the great game came to an end in a desperate struggle 
in the course of which Pillman's leg was broken. The 
English team was also unlucky in that Maynard had 
strained his knee early in the game. 

Dr. Edward Gane, who saw the match, has written of 
Ronald's leadership : 

' In the early part of the match the English team seemed 
quite disorganized and a thorough beating seemed likely. 
But the Captain rose to the occasion. It was thrilling to 
me to see the coolness and resource he exhibited. The 
effect on the team, quite apart from his brilliant play, was 
obvious, and an experienced Rugby player and I came 
away from the match (won at the last moment) with an 
increased admiration for a player in whose Rugby career 


I had always been interested. And it was his personal 
influence over those whom he led, even more than nis play, 
that won my regard. ' 

Ronald's old Rugby friend Lt. C. C. Watson, R.F.A., 
wrote from the front Feb. 21, 1917: 

' The last time I met Ronnie was at the Rugger Inter- 
national at Edinburgh in 1914. My wife and I had a long 
talk with him before the match, and he was the same 
unaffected boy as ever, though captaining the English team 
at the time. I little thought it was the last time I should 
see him. ' 

The correspondent of the Morning Post, in the issue of 
May 8, 1915, expressed his belief that this was the cap 
Ronald prized most, and said of the match that it was ' one 
of the most brilliant games ever played '. There is this 
evidence to show that the game had a special place in 
Ronald's memory: it was the only International Team 
since his sixth, v. Wales on Jan. 20, 1912, of which he 
obtained a photograph. It shows him without the ball, 
and with L. G. Brown in his usual position on Ronald's 

A few days before the match v. France, Ronald was the 
guest of the evening at the Annual Dinner of the Clifton 
Rugby Football Association, on April 4th. The following 
report of his speech from the Bristol Times and Mirror of 
April 6, I owe to the kindness of Mr. E. S. Bostock-Smith 
and Mr. J. Evans. In reply to the toast of his health 
Ronald said : 

' In his early days he was nearly discouraged from 
playing football. When he was eight he got into parental 
disfavour for kicking stones along the road, and later, at 
school, there was the son of a South African Chief who 
believed the principle of the game was to regard the ball 
as of no importance, but rather when the two sides were 
drawn up to lay out all his opponents and most of his own 
side. He remembered very clearly being chased down the 
field by the fierce black, and he was faster than the speaker 
(laughter). He was now the ex-Sultan of Zanzibar. 
Referring to the International matches this season, he said 


he did not think there had been any captain of an Inter- 
national team which had won the triple crown by such 
a narrow margin of points. In a way it was a misfortune 
they should have won by only the narrow margin of seven 
points ; but he thought in the three matches they were the 
oest side. He pointed out that one of the best signs of 
prosperity of Rugby in England, and other countries as 
well, was that the Selection Committees had such great 
difficulty in picking their teams. In their own case they 
could have picked two or three teams, which he believed 
would have gone as far with one exception, and that of 
a gentleman* present whose name he would not mention 
in order to spare his blushes (applause). As another 
indication of the Rugby revival, he instanced the re-starting 
of the Tyldesley Club one of the oldest clubs in England, 
which was resuscitated two years ago. It seemed the 
game, as played by certain clubs, was tending towards 
playing rather to score tries than to prevent being scored 
against. Whether it was good or bad he did not know, 
but he had watched Northern Union clubs, and he certainly 
thought that method made the more attractive game to 
watch, and he believed it was the more attractive game to 
play. In conclusion, he made a plea that in districts where 
clubs were numerous and strong they should help the 
clubs in outlying districts.' 

Ronald's seventeenth and last International Match was 
that v. France, played at Colombes, about 8-10 miles from 
Paris, on Easter Monday, April 13, won by 39-13, viz. 
6 goals and 3 tries to 2 goals and i try. Ronald made 4 
tries, 2 in the first half and 2 in the second, all converted 
by Greenwood. His fourth try was the last score in the 
last International match. 

The Field of Apr. 18, after discussing the game, says of 
the English Team of 1914 : 

4 ... As, in spite of changes, the character of the team 
was maintained, it is difficult to ascribe this to anything but 
athletic ability combined with good generalship. This last 
quality was particularly exemplified by R. W. Poulton. . . 
. . . who may challenge comparison with any English 
international player for general utility. His chief quality 

1 W. R. Johnston, of Bristol, the full back. 


has this season been his quick apprehension of every 
emergency and opportunity in defence and attack. Much 
has been said of his dodging, but his effectiveness has 
really lain more in his promptitude in discovering the 
right direction for his runs and the point at which he could 
best support his comrades. ' 

' With England's victory over France,' said the Sporting 
and Dramatic, ' . . . the curtain may be rung down on the 
most successful Rugby season of recent years.' 

Full accounts of the match appeared in the French 
journal Sporting for Apr. 15, and I'Aero for Apr. 14. A 
few paragraphs quoted below are sufficient to show the 
generous spirit in which the French accepted the defeat. 
The first three extracts are from I' Aero : 

' S'il peut etre pour nous une consolation au desastre 
d'hier, nous la trouverons dans le fait que nous avons eu 
devant nous une merveilleuse equipe, qui comprend 
quelques joueurs qui resteront dans les annales du rugby 
britannique ! ' 

' Ce Poulton, notamment, est impressionnant, magnifique, 
charmant. Et 1'envie vous prend de lui chanter: "Cest 
Poulton charme que je t'aime. " 

' Poulton est bien reellement le plus joli attaquant que 
nous connaissions, et ses feintes, ses crochets, ses trouees, 
rapides et elegantes, font de lui le meilleur centre operant 
dans une equipe europeenne. A cote de lui, 1'etoile de 
Watson ne paht nullement, et ce joueur fut bien le digne 
auxiliaire du grand Poulton. Comme lui, il attaque dans 
un style eblouissant. ' 

The following are from Sporting: 

' Les spectateurs de ce match ne s'en plaindront pas. 
Vingt mille personnes ont enfin pu contempler du beau jeu, 
du vrai jeu classique, simple, emcace du rugby de grande 

' Certes, cela faisait mal au coeur de voir cette ligne 
anglaise penetrer dans nos rangs avec une facilite derisoire 
et une quietude complete ; mais quelle sensation n'eprou- 
vait-on pas a admirer cette rapidite de conception, cette 
surete a'execution, ce chic, ce fini dans tous les mouve- 
ments ! 

' Pas une faute dans la position des hommes, pas un 


rate : le ballon partait raide de la melee, parvenait a Davies, 
lance a toute voice, qui filait droit dans un trou et sans 
feinter, par une simple deviation de course, ce dernier 
amenait sur lui toute notre defense, Caujoles compris. 
Une autre fois, c'etait Poulton qui redressait d'un seul 
temps 1'attaque et semait nos pauvres trois-quarts en 
"swerwant" au milieu d'eux par des dehanchements de 
buste des plus harmonieux. 

' La demonstration fut vraiment splendide, elle fut con- 
duite par des virtuoses, et nous devons nous incliner 
devant ces maitres qui rappellent les plus grands tenors 
de 1'ecole Galloise/ 

' Eh bien, Messieurs de France, dont j'excepte Andre, 
avez-vous vu comme ceux d'Angleterre " ils s'en allaient ", 
comment un Poulton ou un Lowe, ils " savent courir en 
premiere, deuxieme ou troisieme vitesse a volonte". 

' Comment 1'un des " huit" de la melee sait, a 1'occasion, 
piquer un sprint, fut-il de 50 metres. 

1 Avez-vous vu ? ' 

The front page of Sporting bears the illustration, repro- 
duced opposite page 230, of Ronald swerving away from 
Andre. The great French three-quarter was for long 
a prisoner at Erfurt, having been captured, wounded in 
the heel, in an ambulance, during the early weeks of the 
war. Ronald was so pleased with this instantaneous photo- 
graph that he wrote to the office of the journal in order 
to obtain copies, ' parce que c'est la plus belle representa- 
tion de ma "swerve" que j'ai jamais vue.' His letter is 
reproduced in the issue of April 29, p. 272. 

As a further comment on the match, Sporting of April 15 
published, on p. 242, the amusing illustration here repro- 
duced. The three pupils, accompanied by the Gallic cock, 
are the leading members of the Central Rugby Committee 
of the ' Union de Societes fransaises de Sports athle- 
tiques', the foremost being M. Charles Brennus, President, 
the second M. Bernstein, and the last Allan H. Muhr, 
Secretary. Bernstein went to the front ; Muhr, an Ameri- 
can, entered his country's Ambulance Field Service; 
Brennus is above the age of military service. 

Accepting seriously the hint of the humorists, Sporting 



invited Ronald to contribute a criticism of French Rugby. 
This article, in the issue of May 27, p. 340, summed up an 
experience going back to the Anglo-French match of 1909. 
The French forwards, he considered, had made the most 
rapid progress far more so than the three-quarters. 


Entrez-donc, vous n'etes pas de trop. 

' Us ont appris la valeur de la vitesse dans le jeu ouvert, 
ils savent pousser des " rushes" tres effectifs et leur jeu a 
la main est en tres gros progres. Ils savent, en un mot, 
aider de parfaite fa$on leurs trois-quarts.' 

On the other hand, in the formation of a compact scrum 
and in getting hold of the ball in the scrum they had much 
to learn. 



' Les avants paraissent ignorer les principales regies de 
la melee, qui sont : une formation rapide et compacte, une 
dure poussee, en meme temps qu'un talonnage rapide et 
enfin une sortie de ballon tres nette, nullement ggnee par 
les talons. En appliquant ces regies, seulement vous 
pourrez donner une chance a vos demis.' 

The three-quarters, he considered, were excellent in 
defence and had greatly improved in their passing. Their 
failure was in attack. 

' Je reproche aux trois-quarts deux fautes tres graves. 

' La premiere : une tendance a courir en travers du 

' La seconde : un manque de " personnalite ". 

' Certes, les combinaisons sont indispensables au succes 
d'un team, mais il est reconnu que c'est une erreur, une 
tres grosse erreur, de passer le ballon a un partenaire, 
quand Ton n'est pas certain que ce dernier est dans une 
position plus favorable que la sienne. 

'Je dis une tres grosse erreur, car c'est donner a un 
autre homme la responsabilite d'un mouvement qui ne 
sera peut-etre pas conduit comme vous pouviez le faire. 

' Dans chaque mouvement, il est essentiel que 1'une des 
deux methodes suivantes soit mise en pratique. Ou bien 
le demi fera une ouverture pour son centre, ou bien le 
centre rendra ce meme service a son ailier. 

' II n'est pas difficile de faire une ouverture si vous 
suivez certaines regies. 

' La plus importante consiste a courir a toute vitesse et 
" droit" sur 1'homme que vous voulez annuler et de passer 
le ballon, quand vous le voulez. II est difficile alors a 
votre adversaire de savoir de quelle facon vous le passerez 
et cjuand il le voit il lui reste trop peu de temps pour se 
decider. Mais si vous courez en travers du terrain, il est 
tres facile de vous arreter, car il suffit de vous pousser 
simplement en touche.' 

He had no criticism to pass on the play of the back, 
M. Caujolles, to whom he offered respectful congratu- 

In conclusion, Ronald spoke of the pleasant memories 
of the match, the hospitality of the French Rugby Union, 

From a photograph by A. W. Wade of St. Helens, I. W. 

[Facing p. 227. 


and the generous attitude of the French Sporting Press. 
He felt, however, bound to answer the criticisms on the 
referee printed in some of the papers. 

'J'ai lu des critiques sur 1'arbitre dans plusieurs jour- 
naux; on Taccusait d'avoir favorise 1'Angleterre et Ton 
reclamait pour 1'avenir un arbitre fran9ais. Quoique je ne 
sois pas enthousiasme pour cet essai, je tiens a protester 
centre la premiere insinuation. Tous les arbitres anglais 
sont de bons sportsmen. Us ne pourraient arbitrer s'll en 
etait autrement. Et tous les veritables sportsmen arbi- 
trent le jeu honnetement, pour la cause et le bon renom 
du rugby et sans aucune consideration des clubs ou des 
nationalites des teams opposants.' 

Three days after the match v. France, i.e. on April 16, 
the Thursday in Easter week, Ronald was playing his last 
game of football before the War and visiting St. Helens 
for the last time. For the same excellent purpose he 
desired to help the year before, Bugle-major Jacobs had 
persuaded Ronald to get up and captain a scratch Isle of 
Wight Rugby team against a visiting team, captained by 
R. Watney. The weather was fortunately a great contrast 
to that of the year before, and the attendance was good. 
The visiting team won, but it was a hard struggle. Ronald 
always threw himself into a game of this kind, got up on 
the spur of the moment and including many inexperienced 
players, just as keenly as into an International match, and 
it was fitting that his last game before the War should be 
of this simple kind. It was the last time that any of the 
family saw him play, and on that small ground the looker- 
on could appreciate the methods of his leadership. ' Now 's 
your chance ' I remember hearing him say, as he saw an 
opening in front of one of his men, and then ' Too late ' 
as the inexperienced player failed to take advantage 
of it. And in this and all that he said and did there 
was the quietness spoken of by Alfred Ollivant in ' The 

4 The strain, the ferocity, the contortions and grimaces of 



others who indulge in that heroic and elemental tussle 
which is Rugby football were not for him ' words amply 
supported by the illustration facing p. 230. 

He was with us at St. Helens Cottage from the i4th 
to the 2oth, and in the evenings there were the usual 
family charades. A counterfeit Ronald picked his team 
and a member of the family was shown playing a trick 
on his anxious wife in order to become a member of 
it ; while another scene took us to Mather and Platt's, 
where Joe Mundy expostulated with Ronnie but finally 
let him go. The ' Ronald ' of the charades was Dick 
Dugdale, whose likeness to his friend always marked him 
out for the part when he was with us. Simple happy 
memories are recalled by thoughts of Ronald and Dick at 
St. Helens, and it is fitting that the doings of these last 
days there should be of them. 

In bringing to a close the account of Ronald's Inter- 
national play it will be of interest to summarize the whole 
in tabular form. 

This account of Ronald's career as an International 
player may be fitly concluded in the words of his friend 
Mr. Marriott, quoted from British Sports and Sports- 

Royal Berkshire Regiment (T.F.), was the most con- 
spicuous figure in the Rugby football world at the close 
of the season immediately preceding the outbreak of war. 
In addition to his great personality as a player, he had 
just captained the English team which had been victorious 
in all its four International matches. The following 
excerpt from the Rugby Football Annual for that season, 
when war was undreamt of and therefore the description 
is not influenced by posthumous regard, conveys some 
idea of his capabilities : " As a three-quarter back he is 
unique, and his name will be handed down as an epoch 
maker in that department of the game. Already he has 
had many imitators, but no one has equalled him in his 
distinctive style and opportunism. As a captain he is a 
born leader, never overwhelmingly confident, never flurried, 













as 3-qr. 


i. France 

Jan. 30 





R. centre 


2. Ireland 

Feb. 13 





11 11 


3. Scotland 

Mar. 20 





11 11 


4. Wales 

Jan. 15 





L. wing 


5. Scotland 

Mar. 18 




R. centre 


6. Wales 

Jan. 20 





11 -i 

1 1912 

7. Ireland 

Feb. 10 




3 (i try) 

11 11 


8. Scotland 

Mar. 16 





11 11 


9. S. Africa 

Jan. 4 





3 (i try) 

L. centre 


10. Wales 

Jan. 18 




4 (dr. goal) 

11 11 

ii. France 

Jan. 25 


f j 


3 (i try) 

it ' 


12. Ireland 

Feb. 8 







13. Scotland 

Mar. 15 






14. Wales 

Jan. 17 




11 11 


15. Ireland 

Feb. 14 





11 11 


16. Scotland 

Mar. 21 




3 C 1 try) 

11 11 


17. France 

Apr. 13 




20 (4 tries 

11 11 

near Paris 


Totals . . . 




and always at his best in pulling his team together when 
the score is against them. These attributes were fully 
seen in all our international victories last season, as in 
each match at certain periods of the game the points were 
against England." He was in wonderful form all through 
what proved to be his last season. Against Scotland and 
France we have vivid recollections of his initiative and 
combination with Watson, Oakeley, Dingle, and Lowe. 
Alas! only one of the five is now alive. . . . 
'Well, nis useful life, so full of promise, has been 


ungrudgingly given for us. ... Sans peur et sans reproche 
may well be written of him. Though carried off m the 
flower of his age, his pure, unselfish life leaves a high 
standard for future generations at Oxford to aim at.' 

R. W. P. P. 

(Killed in the Trenches.) 

Ronald is dead; and we shall watch no more 

His swerving swallow-flight adown the field 

Amid eluded enemies, who yield 

Room for his easy passage, to the roar 

Of multitudes enraptured, who acclaim 

Their country's captain slipping toward his goal, 

Instant of foot, deliberate of soul 

'All's well with England; Poulton's on his game/ 

Aye, all is well: our orchard smiling fair; 
Our Oxford not a wilderness that weeps ; 
Our boys tumultuously merry where 
Amongst old elms his comrade spirit keeps 
Vigil of love. All's well. And over there, 
Amid his peers, a happy warrior sleeps. 

The Spectator, May 22, 1915. 

Facing /. 230.] 




Ronnie is not the only University footballer who has got 
his International cap before his Blue. The distinction is 
shared by W. Cobby of Cambridge. Both were markedly 
individual players, and in neither case does the action of 
the English Selection Committee prove beyond possibility 
of controversy that the judgement of the University cap- 
tains was badly at fault. Ronnie's selection to play against 
France at Leicester, on Jan. 30, 1909, was based on his 
play for the Harlequins, which had made a deep impres- 
sion on the captain, Adrian Stoop, who rightly carried 
much weight in the Council Chamber of the Rugby 
Football Union. The English team did not exactly cover 
itself with glory in the match. Several of the men seemed 
to be on the look-out for opportunities of ' stunting ' and 
were inclined to omit the solid work which is essential as 
the preliminary to a display of fireworks. It was quite a 
long time before the three-quarter line got going, and all 
through the game the quickness of the French forwards 
was liable to spoil their movements. Ronnie played inside 
right, the other centre being Tarr. Simpson and Mobbs, 
the latter destined to earn high distinctions in the War, 
were the wings. Simpson played outside right during the 
first half, but subsequently changed places with Mobbs, 
and the rearrangement worked well. Tarr was easily the 
best of the four. He scored a couple of tries himself, and 
had a hand in two others, nor were any of the mistakes in 
passing obviously due to him. Ronnie was generally 
regarded as showing immense promise, but it was con- 
sidered that on some occasions he trusted too much, on 
others too little, to his own peculiar powers. A player of 
his type is always open to criticism of that kind. Although 
French teams have frequently shown that their attack is 
formidable there still exists a feeling that the selected 
representatives of the older unions ought not to allow 


them to score. On this occasion they several times came 
unpleasantly near to crossing the line, and the English 
team owed its clean sheet at the finish to the opportunism 
in defence which brought Poulton and Mobbs to the 
assistance of Jackett, the hard-pressed full-back. 

Ronnie's retention of his place for the Irish match was 
due at least as much to the defensive work done by him in 
his first International, as to the success which he achieved 
in attack. Tarr could not play against Ireland, and his 
place at inside left was taken by C. C. G. Wright, who 
always played outside for Cambridge. But, as has already 
been noted, a great three-quarter can play anywhere on 
the line. The match was won by the pace of the three 
wingers, and Ronnie, who might almost be considered a 
fourth. Again the inside left was the star artist. Wright 
played magnificently, and the other three gave him capital 
support. Ronnie had no chance to score himself, but he 
pleased the critics greatly by his persistency in stopping 
the rushes of the Irish forwards. He helped to get one of 
the three English tries by joining in the manoeuvre which 
he enjoyed above all others. Wright got away and by all 
the rules of strategy should have passed to his fellow- 
centre. Ronnie encouraged the opposing three-quarters 
to mark him, and when they were all on the top of him, a 
wide pass to the outside, Palmer, did the trick. 

The result of the Irish match raised confident hopes 
that Scotland would have to leave the Calcutta Cup 
behind them at Richmond. But the tradition that Scottish 
teams play more effectively in England than they do at 
Inverleith was followed; and, after England had estab- 
lished a lead of five points, the Scottish forwards took 
charge for some twenty minutes. Tennant, their brilliant 
half-back, and others of the outsides, joined in the swift 
fierce rushes of the forwards, and three apparently soft 
tries were scored against England. For the rest of the 
time the English three-quarters were constantly trying to 
wipe off the adverse balance of points, but the tackling 
was strenuous and what luck there was favoured the 


defence. It was not a game in which three-quarter backs 
had much chance of distinguishing themselves, and all that 
can be said of Ronnie's share in it is that if he did nothing 
to increase his reputation, he could not justly be blamed 
for dangerous unorthodoxy or expensive mistakes. When 
he did get the ball it was generally after slow heeling 
by the forwards and subsequent slow passing. But, even 
so, the Scotsmen found him slippery to hold. 

In accordance with the form shown during the season 
1908-1909, and with his performances for Oxford, especially 
in the great game at Queen's, Ronnie was duly selected to 
play against Wales in the first International match decided 
at Twickenham. It was a vigorous and rather unpleasant 
game, frequently interrupted by the referee's whistle and 
ensuing free kicks. Ronnie figured at outside left, with 
Solomon as his centre and Birkett and Chapman on the 
other wing. As sometimes happens, the English line of 
attack went entirely one way. Whenever the forwards 
managed to give the ball to the backs the preliminary 
scrummage had invariably been formed close to the left- 
hand touch-line. Consequently the passing was to the 
right: Ronnie got not a single pass the whole afternoon. 
When he was in action he spent most of his time stopping 
the Welsh forwards. Mostly his job was to fall on the 
ball, but twice he managed to pick it up and elude a 
number of tacklers in his inimitable way, and several times 
he got in useful kicks from awkward positions. To one 
thinking things over after the game it was rather remark- 
able that Wales had lost. The probable explanation is 
that the English team was man for man considerably the 
faster. It was also very well served by the strategic 
moves of Stoop at outside half. It was a most thrilling 
spectacle to watch, but the incidents of it are not of 
surpassing interest for the purposes of this book. Possibly 
because Ronnie was, through no fault of his own, out of 
the picture against Wales, he was not chosen for the Irish 
match, which resulted in a pointless draw, nor did he play 
against France in Paris when England had quite a hard 


match and won by a comparatively small margin. He 
had no share in the victory over Scotland at Inverleith 
which gave England the championship, even though a 
substitute had to be found for one of the originally selected 

In the next season, 1911, Ronnie did not appear in the 
team until he was welcomed back to his place at inside 
right in the Scottish match at Twickenham by his 
colleagues and by an enormous crowd of spectators. 
The game started in surprising fashion, Scotland scoring 
a rather fortunate try in the first few minutes. The 
Englishmen might easily have got rattled, but they were 
very shrewdly captained by Gotley, who had Stoop, 
Birkett, and Poulton immediately behind him and all at 
the very top of their form. The two centre three-quarters 
had to do more than their fair share of defensive work, 
but their speed and stamina soon enabled them to turn 
defence into attack, and then it was all up with Scotland. 
Ronnie made one mistake of judgement : he passed once 
when he probably had the better chance of scoring him- 
self. Otherwise his play was technically perfect. It was 
also characterized by his own peculiar and baffling tricks. 
The crowd fully appreciated his play and fairly rose at 
him during and after the match. This was the first Inter- 
national in which he had been enabled by circumstances 
and opportunity to give of his very best. Thenceforward 
his place in England's best Fifteen was absolutely assured. 

The English team won their first match of 1912 against 
Wales at Twickenham comfortably enough at the finish. 
But for a long time the outsides, acting, no doubt, under 
instructions, tried to make their superiority in pace tell by 
kicking into the open instead of running with the ball. The 
result was that Bancroft, the Welsh full-back, seized his 
opportunities to play the game of his life. There was less 
than twenty minutes to go when they began to mend their 
ways. Then Ronnie, who was still playing inside right, set 
Chapman going, and backed him up to take the return pass 
and change the line of attack to the left. As a matter of 


course he found Pillman lying handy to pick up anything that 
might be going, and Brougham intelligently cut in behind 
Pillman to take a pass on the right and leave the defence 
standing. That settled the issue, but England scored again 
when Ronnie found touch a yard from the line and Pym 
dived over it from one of the ensuing scrums. This was the 
match before which Stoop solemnly buried a leek thrown at 
him by a Welsh spectator while his team was being photo- 
graphed. Although England's first try was a perfect beauty, 
the outstanding feature of the back play was the defence of 
of the centre three-quarters, Poulton and Birkett. The 
Welsh outsides made no mistakes, but they were never 
allowed to put into practice any of the artful and complicated 
movements which they had undoubtedly prepared and 
practised. They simply had not the time. Their opposite 
numbers were on to them in a flash, and forced them either 
to act where they stood or to run sideways into the bottle- 
neck. Welsh cleverness has seldom been reduced to such 
complete impotence. 

After this victory it was natural that practically the same 
team should be chosen for the match against Ireland, also 
played at Twickenham . But two changes were made outside 
the scrummage. Chapman could not play and Roberts took 
his place, while Coverdale was substituted for Stoop at out- 
side half, as being better suited to cope with the rushing 
tactics of Irish forwards. And the Irish forwards did rush 
that day, at least for the first half of the game ; in the second 
they had more or less exhausted themselves, and England 
scored four tries after half-time, a substantial addition to 
the one which was all they could manage previously. That 
try was the result of the tactics which had failed against 
Bancroft. Ronnie, playing inside right, punted high and 
Roberts followed up to secure the ball and fall over in the 
corner. Possibly more points might have been scored before 
half-time if Coverdale, Birkett, and Poulton had not been 
a trifle inclined to hang on to the ball too long. But that is 
hypercriticism. The great merit of the English back play 
was the really amazing speed with which attacks were 


delivered. For instance, there was one movement started by 
Coverdale and Poulton which seemed to have culminated 
in narrow failure when Brougham was downed in the left- 
hand corner. But before the spectators quite realized what 
had happened Roberts was in on the extreme right, and 
Coverdale and Poulton had again been active in the interval. 
On the whole Ronnie played even better in this match 
than he had against Wales, and it was appropriate that he 
should score the final try with one of his most delightful 

After this the English team were hot favourites against 
Scotland, but things went wrong for them, and it must be 
admitted that the majority of the men played just a trifle 
below par. Moreover they early lost King, one of their most 
useful forwards. Although they had the wind against them 
in the first half Scotland did most of the attacking, and at half 
time there was no score. So far Ronnie had done well in 
defence and had also made four or five characteristic dashes 
through the Scottish forwards. Unfortunately his passing 
was less accurate than usual and all possibly useful transfers 
to Roberts were ruled ' forward '. After half-time England 
scored first, Brougham making an extraordinary run from his 
own goal line to the other end, but Scotland were soon at it 
again and ultimately won by a goal and a try to a try. The 
quickness of the Scottish forwards and the unusual slowness 
of the English halves gave the three-quarters few chances 
to get off before the tacklers were on to them. Ronnie did 
not play in the match against France in Paris, and was 
not unlucky to be out of it, for the ground was grassless and 
as hard as iron. 

So far Ronnie's career as an International player had 
been successful without being extraordinarily remarkable. 
Henceforward he was to be the dominating personality of 
the English team in every match. The first played in 
1913 was the memorable game between England and 
South Africa at Twickenham. The pace, weight, and 
muscular strength of the South Africans were quite 
unusual. They were perfectly trained and they required 


no teaching in the science of Rugby Football. Against 
this combination of qualities the English backs were on 
the whole ineffective, though Lowe and Coates, the wing 
three-quarters, played with any amount of fire and dash, 
and the halves, behind beaten forwards, did as well as 
could be expected. But Ronnie was inspired that day. 
The South Africans knew all about him, and marked him 
for all they were worth, but times and again he slipped 
them. They had to guess and guessed wrong. Who that 
saw it will ever forget that run of his which produced the 
first score of the match. The opening was made for him 
by quick heeling from the scrummage and smart passing 
by the halves. But two South Africans reached him 
almost simultaneously with the ball. They found only 
themselves when they dived for his heels. In a flash he 
was through the three-quarters and had left the full-back 
standing on the wrong foot to watch him gallop under the 
posts. Shortly afterwards he made a similar, but longer, 
and, if possible, more brilliant run. He got the ball at 
a place short of half-way, and somehow slipped through 
the forwards. A feint to kick beat one three-quarter and 
a swerve another. He was clear and men's pulses were 
beating in time with his flying feet. But the swerve had 
lost him a yard or two of ground, and McHardy's great 
pace and fine resolution enabled him to overhaul him and 
pull him down from behind. Things had happened so 
rapidly that no Englishman could get up to complete the 
barely missed try. Shortly afterwards the South Africans 
equalized and finally a couple of penalty goals gave them 
the match. They never played quite so well again, or 
came so near to being beaten by the individual efforts of 
one supreme player. 

After this the English team had to go to Cardiff and play 
on a ground which looked like the entrance of a water- 
meadow after a herd of cows had been forced to pass 
through it against their will. England had never won at 
Cardiff, and the conditions underfoot were all against them. 
But they did the trick this time. Ronnie dropped a 


beautiful goal, and was the prime cause of a try by a piece of 
dribbling worthy of G. O. Smith. Even when he was not 
personally engaged in an attacking movement he contri- 
buted indirectly to the success attending it, because at 
least two Welshmen had to be kept out of action to watch 
him. This enabled Davies to present Coates with a try by 
missing out the heavily-marked centre three-quarter and 
slinging a long high pass to the wing. Neither in defence 
nor attack did Ronnie make a mistake throughout the 
match, and the way he kept his feet and retained his power 
to start quickly and swerve bewilderingly on the slough of 
mud, caused the Welsh critics, as severe as they are well- 
informed, to become quite lyrical in their eulogies of his 

In the match against France the Englishmen were 
successful in proportion to their superior strength, and had 
an afternoon's bad practice. The effect was apparent when 
they met Ireland in Dublin. Certainly they won by 
a handsome margin of points (15-4), but their display was 
by no means convincing. We have now arrived at the 
' even Poulton ' period of Ronnie's football history. 
Henceforward the critics, commenting on an unsatisfactory 
exhibition given by his side, invariably put the qualifying 
word before his name when they record that his play was 
not immaculate. This time ' even Poulton ' dropped some 
passes. But of course he did all sorts of brilliant things 
as well, especially when he put Coates in at the finish of 
a long corkscrew run. The International season finished 
with a narrow victory over Scotland at Twickenham, and 
Ronnie was as hard worked as ever he had been in a game 
of football. The halves played to him exclusively, and so 
did the opposing tacklers. The pressure caused him to 
misfield a pass or two, but otherwise he was up to his 
normal standard of excellence. He it was who made the 
run which produced the only score of the match, and his 
tackling was superb. The crowd were wild with delight, 
for England had not beaten Wales, Ireland, and Scotland 
all in a single season for many years. None had any 


doubt about the individual player best entitled to wear the 
4 Triple Crown ' if it had actual existence. 

The first of England's matches in 1914 was played against 
Wales at Twickenham, and a very remarkable match it was. 
The Welshmen had the ball most of the time, and rarely did 
the wrong thing with it. Yet England won by 10 points to 9. 
Pace was the determining factor in the result Pace and 
Poulton. Players, spectators, and Press agreed with singu- 
lar unanimity that the victory of the English team was mainly 
due to its captain. And yet he nearly had the bad luck to 
give the game away. Wales scored first, Hirst dropping a 
wonderful goal from the touch line. England soon took the 
lead with a goal kicked from a try which shall be described 
later. The Welsh forwards, who packed and dribbled mag- 
nificently, worked the ball into the English 25, where one of 
the English halves, neither of whom was equal to the great 
occasion, passed wildly. Ronnie did good work by securing 
the ball, but he did not get enough loft on his punt, which was 
charged down by Watts. The ball bounced kindly for the 
charging forward, who fell over the line for a try near the 
posts. Thenceforward England always looked to be the 
more likely to score, partly because the Welshmen, having 
got the lead luckily, were trying their utmost to sit on it. 
They even condescended to give away free kicks in places 
out of range of their goal, sooner than let the English out- 
sides have a chance to get going. Time was slipping away 
and attack after attack broke down. Suddenly Ronnie 
punted high and followed up his kick. He rushed Bancroft. 
Pillman, Brown, and Watson carried on until Ronnie got the 
ball again and punted sideways. This fairly tied up the 
Welsh defence, and Brown put a clever foot-pass over the 
line for Pillman to touch down after outpacing Bancroft. 
That was a clever bit of opportunism, but it was nothing to 
England's first try, which resulted from one of Ronnie's 
most unforgettable efforts. The Welsh forwards had the ball 
in the middle of the ground, and his first attempt to stop their 
combined rush failed. He doubled back and picked it up 
off their toes. At the moment he was running the wrong 


way, but somehow he slipped the men who apparently had 
him at their mercy. The next thing anybody knew was that 
he had flitted through the thick of the Welsh team like a 
butterfly and was bearing down on Bancroft. He beat the 
back with a sideways punt secured by his own forwards, who 
passed back to him. Again he slipped the defence and on 
the line gave the ball to Brown, who carried it, and incident- 
ally two Welshmen, overfor aglorious try. Ronnie's defence 
was as good as his attack that day. Thanks to him, Chap- 
man, and Watson Lowe never got a chance of doing 
anything remarkable the Welsh three-quarters were made 
to look very mediocre performers. The forwards were 
the danger ; but their rushes, their dribbles,and their passing 
movements were stopped at the earliest possible moment 
by intuitive anticipation, absolute accuracy in fielding, and 
it goes without saying unfaltering courage. 

Against Ireland, also at Twickenham, the team was 
strengthened by the inclusion of the Navy halves, Oake- 
ley and Davies. The game was a contest between old- 
fashioned and modern methods. The Irishmen relied on 
the driving power of their pack, supported by a succession 
of kicks into touch by their outsides. Contrariwise, the 
English team constantly endeavoured to get the ball loose 
and to score by a series of quick passes delivered and 
taken at full speed. But they rather overdid their tricki- 
ness on this occasion. It is impossible for the members 
of an International team under present conditions to 
acquire that intimate knowledge of one another which 
was one of the great assets possessed by Gallaher's New 
Zealanders. When a man passes in the less obvious 
direction, his dodge must be expected by his own side, 
unexpected by the opponents, if it is to succeed. Another 
cause that kept the English score down was the fact that, 
with the exception of their captain, the English three- 
quarters were not quite at their best. While they were 
fresh the Irish forwards took charge, but at the finish 
they were run off their legs, by their fierce rushes and 
their persistency in getting back to help the defence 


against the combined runs of the Englishmen. Lloyd 
soon dropped one of his extra-special goals, and wild 
passing between the English halves their one mistake 
of the afternoon gave the opportunity for a fifty yards 
rush to the Irish forwards, from which an unconverted try 
resulted. Then from a scrummage Oakeley passed back 
to Davies. By the time the ball reached the outside half 
Ronnie was at his side. Together the two charged 
straight forward and at the right moment Davies handed 
the ball to his partner. The defenders, with the exception 
of Lloyd, who knew what was coming, streamed to the 
right ; a reverse pass to Davies and a long throw to the 
wing gave Roberts a clear run in at the corner, Lloyd 
arriving to tackle him just as he crossed. Then another 
try, gained by bewildering back-play before half-time ; and, 
after the interval, so soon as the slightly refreshed energy 
of the Irish forwards was exhausted, England took charge. 
Although they threw away numberless chances they 
scored three more tries, one by Ronnie's pet trick of 
getting himself missed out by his fellow centre. Ireland 
were consoled by a surprise try gained after some particu- 
larly fine kicking by Lloyd, who, in spite of Ronnie's 
presence on the ground, was perhaps the star player of 
the day. By the way, one of England's later tries was 
gained by an unfulfilled threat to repeat the 'scissors' 
trick (p. 218). Davies beat the defence by a whole series 
of dummy passes to the supporting Ronnie, and went 
through on his own. Meanwhile, Lloyd was hurriedly 
occupying a strategic position to stop the wing three- 
quarter in the corner. 

No such crowd had ever been seen at Inverleith as that 
which assembled to see Scotland tackle the best Fifteen 
which had represented England for many a long day. 
The issue was decided by a single point, England scoring 
two goals and two tries to a goal, a dropped goal, and two 
tries. But an unprejudiced spectator must admit that the 
winners might easily have had a more substantial margin 
of points to their credit, and never were in any real danger 



of being beaten, although the Scots made a remarkable 
rally in the closing period of the game. The English 
centre three-quarters gave a wonderful exhibition. Ronnie 
was at his best, and Watson was at least as good as he, 
equally quick and guileful. Whenever they got the ball 
there was always a chance that a try would result, par- 
ticularly as Lowe on the right wing was at his fastest and 
slipperiest. The strong wind which blew straight down 
the ground was all against the visiting team, because the 
more complicated the machine, the more likely it is to be 
put out of gear by comparatively trivial causes. Scotland 
had the wind at their backs in the first half, and all the 
ground which England could gain by a series of half a 
dozen quick passes, perfectly timed and unerringly fielded, 
would be retaken by a single long punt into touch. Scot- 
land scored first, but Ronnie and Watson put Lowe in for 
the equalizing try before half-time. Immediately after the 
interval Scotland got the lead again through a typical 
forward rush. But during the next twenty minutes the 
English team gave a dazzling exhibition of modern Rugby. 
Lowe twice and Ronnie once scored at the finish of move- 
ments in which practically every Englishman bore some 
part, and the match seemed all over. But Scotland twice 
reached the enemy's 25, and each time scored. Once 
Bowie, their scrum half, dropped a clever goal, and the 
other time he fairly bamboozled the English centre three- 
quarters with a dummy pass and slipped between them to 
put Will in under the posts. All through the game Bowie 
had played quite extraordinarily well. There was now 
but a short time to play, and before a couple of minutes 
had passed Pillman broke his leg. A badly led side might 
have broken down, but the Englishmen carried on with 
supreme confidence and kept the Scots on the defensive 
till the whistle blew. At least twice they came near to 
increasing their one-point lead. 

At the end of the season France was decisively beaten 
in Paris. But the match had to be taken quite seriously. 
The French forwards were fast and heavy, and the whole 


team showed great improvement in tackling and marking. 
In point of fact their three-quarters marked Ronnie and 
Watson almost too well for a time, with the result that 
Davies was able to give the wings some pretty chances. 
Towards the end of the game the defence distributed itself 
more evenly, and Ronnie skipped through twice. In this 
match the Frenchmen had the satisfaction of scoring first, 
and of regaining the lead after England had equalized, 
while their third try was the result of a passing movement 
which could not have been better executed by the English 
halves and three-quarters. 

This account of Ronnie in International football has failed 
dismally unless it has brought out clearly his gradual but 
sure progress from strength to strength. He was given his 
cap while he was still little more than a boy, and lacked 
experience. But he never played a bad game for England, 
though at the outset he was occasionally left out of the 
side after being included for one of the earlier matches. 
Latterly, when the extent of his powers was fully realized, 
the English team went on to the field purposing to play to 
him whenever they could. In match after match he jus- 
tified their confidence. In fact it is generally believed that 
they had not in five years plumbed the depth of his 
capacity, or fully tested his gift of leadership. Nor in all 
those five years had any opponent caused him to lose his 
temper, or any referee found him question the correctness 
even of an obviously wrong decision. 

A. C. M. C. 

R 2 

READING: 1912-1913 

Many hopes perished with him. He seemed destined to become 
the first citizen in Reading and to exert upon a large community his 
singular influence for good. The Reading University College Review, 
Sept. 1915, vii, No. 21, p. 146. 

IN January 1912, just before he went to Reading, Ronald 
joined us for a few days at Miirren, to enjoy alpine winter 
sports for the third and last time. He was very successful 
in ice-hockey, and won, I think, every event he competed for 
in the assorted sports got up one evening at the hotel. 
I remember well his desperate struggle in the pillow-fight 
with Tom Gillespie. 1 Dr. Bullock, the Rugby forward, sud- 
denly appeared at Miirren and I happened to be present 
when Ronald came upon him all unexpectedly : ' Why it 's 
old Bulljohn ! ' he said, with a few good blows on the chest, 
given and received in that quiet spot as a token of the 
camaraderie of the team. 

One of the scenes in that happy time is shown on the 
accompanying plate, from a snapshot by Capt. N. Whatley. 
' Good fun it was ' in the words of another of our party, 
the Rev. W. J. Carey ' It isn't really gone ; it 's a per- 
manent possession of happy memory.' 

After returning from Miirren for the match England v. 
Wales on Jan. 20, Ronald was engaged in packing and 
going over to Reading to arrange his little house at 
16 Portland Place. When on Jan. 27 he first went to 
sleep there we walked together to the station, going by 
the canal paths and talking of his future life and of the 

1 Lt. K. O. Scottish Borderers, killed Oct. 18, 1914. 

From a photograph by N. Whatley, Jan., 1912. 

Facing p. 244.] 

1912 245 

past. We were both feeling the big break in his life and 
prolonged the little walk as much as we could. 

Ronald's account of 1912, the last written by him, was read 
on Christmas Day, all the family being present and reading 
their accounts, except Edward and his wife, who had left 
the day before. Ronald wrote to his friend Neville Gorton 
on Dec. 24 : 

' We have here now for the first time all the family five 
children and three in-laws and a baby and four dogs. Not 
a bad crowd ! 

' We had a jolly time at the 'Varsity match. Keith, Billy, 
Stephen, G. M. Hamilton, self, and Henry Bowlby went 
with Stephen's people to The Eldest Son Galsworthy 
very interesting. 

' To-night I am going with father to the Magdalen Carols, 
a most ripping evening. 

' Goodbye and good luck. If you are ever down south 
remember that I live at 16 Portland Place, Reading, and I 
have two spare beds.' 

This was the last of three Christmas Eves on which 
Ronald and I had gone to the Carols, and it was Ronald's 
last Christmas at home. His story of the year gives a good 
account of his new life in Reading : 

' This year has seen the end of my Oxford days and the 
beginning of a more or less definite business career. 
I must at the outset confess that certain misgivings that I 
had at the start as to whether this work would be congenial 
or interesting to me, have been removed after some ten 
months' experience of it. The personal side of the work 
appeals very greatly to me, and of course, working side by 
side with large numbers of men and boys day by day 
tends to emphasize this side in one's mind. At the same 
time the business itself is very interesting. The methods 
of manufacture, the various ingredients, the ideas of the 
managers, and the peculiarities of all and every person on 
the place, have to be studied. The work, all manual, and 
often extremely mechanical, tends at times to become 
monotonous, but when this is so, one can move on. For 
instance, I have done for the last three weeks an operation 
which is performed eight times in five minutes and this 
without a pause of any kind, while I am in there. 


' But the work of the year, in the Factory, has been one 
of training, and of picking up in a practical manner all the 
knowledge, obtained apparently experimentally, and often 
in a somewhat haphazard way, which cannot be found in 
books or elsewhere. At the same time I have come to 
know a fair number of men and boys, and to find a large 
number of good friends among them. I have also had 
chances now and then of seeing something of the engineer- 
ing side of the work, and I am looking forward greatly to 
doing more of this. 

' Outside the Factory, I have been engaged in various 
ways in Reading. It was not long before I was roped 
into various jobs too many as I now find. I am at 

Captain of the Reading Athletic Club. 

2nd Lieut, in the 4th Koyal Berks. 

Connected with College Boys' Club in Newtown. 

On Committee of N.U. of Old Scholars Club for Reading. 
And all these take up too much time. 

' My real interest is the College Boys' Club. This is 
run theoretically by the College, practically almost entirely 
by myself. Here I have the opportunity of getting to 
know the factory boy away from his work (the necessary 
discipline of a factory preventing one doing anything in 
work hours), and incidentally I get a large amount of know- 
ledge of what the typical boy thinks of his work and his 
employers, and of his general outlook on life. They don't 
realize my position, and most of them think I am destined 
in the distant future to be an under-manager. So luckily 
they are delightfully unrestrained in their remarks and 

' The constitution of the Club had to suffer some recon- 
struction, so as to allow me to take part in it, and I was 
put on the Committee. What really happens is that I go 
down twice a week (it is only open twice) and the College 
sends down some helpers with more or less regularity. 
But it is sadly hampered by want of helpers, and better 
accommodation. The week-end camp was a great success, 
and I hope we may have another this next summer. 

' St. Giles' School has recently started an Old Boys' Club, 
and I had to make a speech at the " Kick off". It will be 
interesting to see how it works. 

' I have found the Factory Recreation Club very interest- 
ing and useful. During the summer we had lots of 
splendid cricket games, and it was very pleasant going 

1912 247 

down there in the late evenings, practising at the nets, and 
playing rag stump cricket matches. 

'The Reading Athletic Club was very busy during the 
summer. We had a Committee meeting almost every 
fortnight, and about five evening sports meetings, and also 
a dinner in the summer. This club is flourishing chiefly 
in its old grey-headed members, who tell us their experi- 
ences in the early forties. The young members, for whom 
the Club should exist, are not very numerous. But we 
console ourselves by saying that track athletics is dead all 
over England ever since betting on the course was abolished 
and fathers ceased to train up their sons, like whippets, to 
run in boys' races, going round about the country, and 
dyeing their boys' hair a different colour every day. 

' The 4th Berks. Battalion is a highly efficient battalion 
of Territorial Infantry, but if compared with any other 
standard than that of the Territorials, it must fall far short. 
I joined it, with the mistaken idea that in no other position 
could I so place myself that my training at Oxford might 
be made use of in a future war. But soon after I bought 
my uniform I discovered that I could have enrolled myself 
with one of Haldane's numerous reserves, one of the 
many patches, comprising old volunteers, old soldiers, 
Crimean veterans, and any living Pre-Napoleonic and 
Pre-Waterlooan Centenarians, which go to make up the 
Volunteer Territorial quilt. 

'I fear to confess that I have little interest in things 
military, and thus it is fortunate that I warned the C.O. on 
joining that I should have no time to help in the Head- 
quarters work. A territorial officer is bound by regulations 
to do ten drills a year, to attend camp for a minimum of 
eight days, and to shoot a simple musketry course. Besides 
he is expected by the War Office and by his Commanding 
Officer to do the following things : 

(1) Pay uniform 35 (Govt. returns 20). 

(2) Pay innumerable subscriptions to Goose-funds, Prize 

shoots, Boot Clubs, Sergeants' Mess, &c., &c. 

(3) To go to one or two staff rides of four days a long 

week-end. These take place usually in the Mid- 

(4) To go to two week-end camps, Friday to Monday, at 


(5) To appear every Tuesday to help in the drill, after 


(6) To lecture N.C.O's periodically. 


And several other extras. I ask is it fair? Anyhow 
I foresee that in my case the War Office regulations will 
be my guides, philosophers, and friends. The camp, how- 
ever, was the best of fun, as the officers are a verypleasant 
lot, but it is slightly embarrassing to command a Company 
which includes two Sergeants with South African war 
experience, and a Colour-Sergeant with a Volunteer long- 
service decoration. 

4 Large numbers of evenings were spent in going to 
dinner parties, &c., in Reading, though I am glad to say 
that lately I have got fairly clear, chiefly I venture to think 
because I have never replied with a call, such a thing 
being impossible for me. 

' Indoors the house needed a certain amount of arranging 
at the start, and slight improvements are always being 
made. I was always bothered with correspondence, which 
is annoying as my spare time is so limited. Even on my 
spare evenings, I only get about two hours, as one must 
go to bed early, when one has to get up at 6.0. My free 
evenings worked out on an average about two every three 
weeks, so I was only able to get a little serious reading 
or writing done. But in the New Year I hope to make 
arrangements so as to get two evenings a week to myself. 

' This gives a rough idea of a very busy year. Full it 
has been, but everything has taken place in one spot, and 
so every day one's interest increases. There is certainly 
plenty of room in Reading in which to do things, and this 
year has only shown that unless one is careful, one gets 
saddled with too many jobs, and one appears a fraud in 
most. The New Year is an exciting thought for me, and 
with the hope that we shall all surmount its difficulties 
I shall close this account.' 

To Ronald's remarks on his Army experiences it is only 
necessary to add that his Commission as Second Lieutenant 
in the Territorial Force attached to the 4th Battalion, 
Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regiment), 
was granted June 3, 1912, and dated from Apr. 30 of the 
same year. The Report of the O.C. dated July 27, 1912, 
gives 'Very Good' for ' Industry, punctuality, and! attention ' 
and for ' General proficiency attained in the subjects of the 
course ' of instruction from July 1-27, at the Depot of the 
Regiment, at Reading. 

IQI2 249 

Ronald was gazetted Lieutenant July 24, 1913. 

In accordance with his uncle's wishes Ronald rented 
1 6 Portland Place and engaged a man and his wife to look 
after him and it. With his strong desire for simplicity he 
was at first unwilling to take a house and to be looked 
after so thoroughly ; he would much have preferred going 
into lodgings. He often spoke to his friend Dick Dugdale 
and to me on the subject. But in the end he saw the 
wisdom of his uncle's advice, and, as he wished to entertain 
and put up friends as often as they could come, it was 
obviously by far the most convenient arrangement. Then 
there was the motor-bicycle to be cleaned, and later on the 
motor-car to be cleaned and driven, and in all these things 
as well as the garden Brown was able to give him very 
necessary help. The association meant too an addition to 
the large circle of his friends. The words written by 
Mrs. Brown when the sad tidings came ' We loved him 
well 'summed up memories of the three years in which 
they had been with him. 

No. 16 Portland Place is a small 36 house, with the 
dining-room opening into a little garden at the back, just 
800 yards from the Factory gates and less than 200 from 
the Reading College, formerly 'The Acacias' where his 
mother had lived from childhood till her marriage. 

From Alfred Ollivant. 

4 The last time I saw him to speak to was at Reading in 
1913. I was standing in an archway on a wet day with 
a little crowd of others waiting to go over Huntley and 
Palmers' works when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It 
was Ronald. He asked me in to supper. I remember he 
was delightfully shy and apologetic about the luxury of 
the very humble little house in which he was living. He 
<quite clearly thought that I should expect him to be living 
in a doss-house ! ' 

With all these feelings about the house in which he 
lived by himself, Ronald had thoughts of the time when he 
should be married and would need a permanent home, 


which he had quite determined should be as near as 
possible to the Factory. Mrs. Harrison Jones remembers 
a conversation with him in 1912, in the course of which he 
said that he "had been thinking of an old house, Watlington 
House, opposite St. John's Church, and only 350 yards 
from the Factory main entrance, and that he would very 
much like to have it at some future time. 

Settling down in his little house in Reading, with endless 
work and engagements filling up and over-filling his time, 
Ronald had hardly any opportunity, outside his Boys' 
Club, for the fun and games with children and young 
people which had entered so largely into his earlier life. 
He told us of some pleasant talk with two little girls he 
overtook on their way to school when he was walking to 
the Factory after breakfast. But this delight was soon 
ended when it became evident from their cold standoffish- 
ness that they had been told not to enter into conversation 
with a strange man ! Things improved later on as he came 
to make many friends in Reading. The following letter 
written in the summer of 1912 shows a friendship, which 
I am sure gave him much pleasure, with a little girl of 
twelve, Joyce Haslam, who had written to him on fancy 
note-paper. He had asked her to go in for a Jack and Jill 
race with him at the St. John's Gymkhana, but she had 
sprained her ankle and had written to tell him of another 


' I don't see why you should be the only person who has 
beautiful birds on the top of her paper, so here are mine. 
This is the greater Dodo. They are very wild, but 
delightful when you make pets of them. But their beaks 
take up too much room ; and must always be left with their 
umbrellas in the hall, when they come out calling. 

' Yes, please thank your mother very much and say that 
I shall be round as quickly as possible, but I fear I shall 
have to go off early to do a drill you see I am a soldier of 
the King (now and then). 

' But will you bring or get my fair and beautiful lady 
partner, or will she not be there ? 

1912 251 

' What very beautiful writing you have got. I suppose 
that comes from learning the guitar. And now I know 
how to spell Gwyneth. 

' Now you know I haven't time really to write all this, 
but I feel that it is bad luck that you can t run in the sports 
(like this. [Pen and ink sketch.] This isn't very good. 
You see your hair is not really half so long and beautiful 
as this, and altogether this is too flattering of you ! !) 

' Well good-bye and give my respects to your sisters, and 
accept love from 

' Your obedient servant, 


Living so near Oxford it was easy to see a good deal of 
his old friends. Keith Rae was still in residence, but 
thinking of his future career. Ronald wrote to him from 
Marlston, June 9, 1912 : 


' Thank you ever so much for your little letter. I feel 
I must answer it, and I want you to realize that such 
feelings are at any rate reciprocal. 

' It has been good to know you, good purely from the 
point of view of enjoyment of your society, and good from 
the strength it has given me, at various times. That is 
particularly why it would be a crying shame if you were 
not to undertake some walk of life in which the personal 
relationship was of great importance. I don't know what 
the result of the Maryborough interview is, but what I say 
is only do the Public School idea if you are keen on it. 

( If not do the job you are keen on, i. e. what Alec 
suggested. Those are my humble opinions. And now 
we must take care, that though possibly far away we see 
something of each other now and then. We aren't good 
letter writers so we must make it up by actual visiting. 
I shall see you next Sunday if I can, to find out how you 
got on. 

' Yours affectionately.' 

Their letters evidently crossed, for the next day Ronald 
wrote from Reading, having heard that the Maryborough 
mastership was decided : ' So you've taken it on. Good. 
It will show you how you like it, won't it ? I am so glad 
anyhow that you have something definite settled. ' 


A few days after writing to Keith, Ronald came to us 
for the week-end and played a part in an amusing well- 
remembered scene. It happened that on that Saturday 
night Keith Rae and W. T. Collier, who shared rooms, 
were expecting a raid from some men to whom they had 
administered a well-deserved reproof. Stephen Reiss 
helped them to get together a defence party, three of whom 
came late and were mistaken for the raiders by Mr. Rae, 
who was staying with his son and happened at the moment 
of their arrival to be alone in an outer room. With icy 
politeness he asked the leader, Norman Smith of Balliol, 
what they wanted. 

' Rae. ' 

'/am Mr. Rae.' 

' I want Keith Rae.' 

' I am sure my friends will be delighted to see you. ' 

The cold and dignified tone, heard through the half-open 
door, revealed the misunderstanding to those within, who 
could not restrain their laughter, thus leading to further 
misunderstanding, for Mr. Rae thought they were jeering 
at the discomfited invaders. 

' Perhaps my son will introduce me to these three 
gentlemen ', he said. 

Keith began, ' This is Mr. Smith, father '. 

' And is this another Mr. Smith ? ' said Mr. Rae, pointing 
to one of Norman's companions then he realized his 

But other mistakes were to follow, for soon noises were 
heard as though a dozen men were running upstairs. At 
last they thought the time had come. The door was 
thrown open and an apparently drunken man with his hat 
over his eyes rushed for Keith. Stephen, sitting next the 
door, hit him as hard as he could on the side of the head. 
It was Ronald, who could not resist the fun of impersona- 
ting the enemy when he heard that his friends, unaware 
of his presence in Oxford, were waiting expecting an 
attack. I well remember his glee in telling me the story 
and how I was rather surprised, for the humour was more 

1912 253 

Hibernian than was usual with him. Mr. Rae remembers 
Ronald seizing Keith round the legs, and was much 
impressed by the instantaneous revelation of ferocity in 
a quiet man such as he believed Stephen to be. 

Touching memories of Ronald in the summer of 1912 
were recalled by his mother's nurse : 

'June 8, 1915. 

' I too, dear, have a very sweet memory of the last time 
I saw him. It was at Marlston. There was a large party : 
a storm was coming, the visitors all hasting away. I was 
on the lawn ; Mrs. Palmer called " Nurse, come in, it's going 
to rain ". Mr. Ronald at once came to me, said " Let me 
help you, Nurse ", drew my arm within his, helped me up 
the little hill, and took me right in, then wished me 
good night. Can I ever forget that bright happy face? 
Oh, he was good and kind to every one. How proud you 
both must be that you were parents of such a son ! No 
one that knew him can ever forget him I am sure. 

' Reggie cut his photo out of the paper and framed it. 
Of course, dear, it is not very good but we like it. 

1 Ever yours affectionately, 
' Nurse Bitmead. ' l 

There is no doubt that Ronald attempted too much in 
Reading, keeping at high pressure for too many hours 
in the day and getting insufficient sleep. His brother 
writes : 

1 The strenuousness of playing for England required his 
keeping in first-class training. Instead of having long 
nights in bed, he had to get up at quite an early hour for 
his factory work, which lasted the whole day. In the 
evening there was frequently the boys' club, and when he 
got back home, he had to begin his private correspondence, 
which was pretty considerable in amount, as he did not 
employ a secretary ; as far as I remember, he rarely got to 
bed before midnight, and I remember on more than one 
occasion remonstrating with him for this.' 

1 ' Mary Bitmead, . . . for 50 years the faithful and devoted friend 
and nurse in the family of the late Mr. George Palmer, M.P., of 
The Acacias, Reading, in her Qgth year ' (Times, Mar. 2, 1918). 


After a year and a quarter he broke down and had to 
take a complete rest. Hilda wrote : 

'A few weeks after our Easter at St. Helens Ronald 
came to us in Holy well for a week-end and we noticed 
that he was not looking well, being very thin and hollow- 
eyed. For a long time he had been short of sleep, sitting 
up very late and then haying to be at the Factory early 
I think 6.30. Then too it was quite an ordinary thing for 
him to act as he did on leaving St. Helens. He, Waldy, 
and " Wally " [Ronald's West Highland terrier] did not start 
till after dinner, and rode all through the night, getting to 
Reading just in time to be at the Factory the next morning. 
On the Sunday in Holy well, after a great deal of persua- 
sion, he had breakfast in bed and stayed in with us through 
the day instead of rushing off to the river with Billy Collier 
and other friends as he had planned. Some University 
Rugger players were, as it happened, coming to lunch that 
day, and their delight at meeting Ronald was of course 
very great. ' 

From W. T. Collier to Keith Rae at the Institute Tilley, 
Berlin : 

' May 9, 1913. 

' Ronald did not come with us. They have come to the 
conclusion that he is suffering from a year of " late to bed 
and early to rise " which I snould think is probably true. 
His sister therefore kept him in bed in the morning and 
they were trying to induce him to take three weeks off- 
advice which I think he will probably take. It is remark- 
able that he should have stood a year of it so well, for he 
seems to manage to get all sorts of things in. Even two 
nights a week at his Club must be a considerable strain.' 

His uncle was much perturbed by Ronald's breakdown 
and at once arranged the journey described below. Italy 
was a new experience in Ronald's life and his first intro- 
duction to the world of art. 

From his Mother. 

4 1 naturally jumped at the idea of having Ronnie all to 
myself for a fortnight and also at George's attractive plan 
for us that we snould visit the Italian Lakes where he 
had so often been. George took the greatest interest in 

19*3 2 55 

our journey and arranged all the details for us. We 
travelled straight through to Cadenabbia on the Lake of 
Cpmo. It was perfectly delightful being and travelling 
with Ronald. He never got disturbed over any little 
contretemps which is bound to happen now and then on 
a long journey and one felt so absolutely contented and 
happy with him. And to me he was always sweet con- 
siderateness itself. I often used to think what a lucky girl 
she would be who became his wife. 

' Ronald was not really ill ; he only wanted plenty of 
sleep, and he got plenty on the journey for we passed all 
our time reading and sleeping. We were unlucky in the 
weather at Cadenabbia for it rained nearly every day of 
our week there. One day I persuaded Ronald to leave me 
and go for a scramble up the hillside at the back of the 

Ronald wrote on a picture postcard to his brother-in-law 
Dr. Ainley Walker, on May 15 : 

' This is the great place ! It is bung full of people and 
I think we shall have exhausted its possibilities by to- 
morrow. It is very amusing trying to keep up appearances 
here. I think we can only do it by dint of coming down 
very late for meals.' 

His mother's account continues : 

1 Ronald had always loved beautiful scenery but on this 
journey he began for the first time to take an interest in 
pictures and old furniture, starting with the contents of an 
old palace, now a museum in Cadenabbia. I had always 
hoped that he would begin to study the Old Masters, and 
now his first chance had come when we were together 
alone. It was this which determined us to visit Milan 
before our return. But first we went for a day or two to 
the Lago d'Iseo which Mr. Cyril Bailey had told Ronald 
we ought to see. We here had a lovely view of the little 
lake and the mountains all round. Ronald used to read in 
the large verandah and once I took a photograph of him 
with his pipe. Here too the walks were more interesting. 
I remember once when waiting at the landing stage for 
a returning steamer I told him of incidents in my early 
childhood and of his Uncle George's youth and how 
intensely interested he was. 

'We then went to Milan, leaving the clouds and rain 


behind us. Here we studied with the greatest energy, 
beginning with the early art in the great galleries and 
working our way up to the modern examples. 

1 We used to test each other's memory of what we had 
seen by asking questions. The whole study was a great 
delight and indeed a revelation to Ronald. At the Cathedral 
I actually struggled once more up on to the roof. One day, 
never to be forgotten, we went to the wonderful monastery 
Certosa de Pavia with the paintings in its marvellous 
Church and the old monks' dwellings. It is unique, and 
our love of it together is one of my most cherished 

' I remember on our last day, Corpus Christi Day, Ronald 
said he must go once more to the Cathedral ; so he went 
off alone while I was packing. 

' On our way back we stayed in Paris and spent a day 
at Versailles which Ronald had never seen. We looked 
at the pictures pretty thoroughly and then drove to the 
" Farm " and the " Petit Trianon " and tried to conjure up 
the ghost of Marie Antoinette. It was very sweet going 
over the familiar ground with him. I shall never want to 
go there again. 

' In Paris we made quite a study of the Louvre, trying 
to trace the development of art as we had done in Milan. 
We had great talks about his going to Manchester in the 
autumn and the coming interview with Sir William Mather. ' 

The Italian journey was not the only relief from the 
stress and rush of Ronald's life in Reading. There were 
brief delightful intervals of rest and play at St. Helens in 
the spring and autumn of both years, when he would 
generally bring his friend C. T. Waldy with him. There 
were great hockey matches on the sands in April 1912, 
when all the family were at St. Helens except Margaret 
and her husband, who were close by at Seaview where the 
games were played. Then in the autumn Ronald with his 
chief friends Claude Evers and Dick Dugdale played golf 
and swam and helped us shift trees and shrubs with huge 
and weighty masses of earth round their roots. For the 
autumn of 1913 I specially reserved for his visit the moving, 
and raising to a higher level, of a large bay tree with an 
immense disk of earth and clay. These feats of garden 

2 57 

engineering strongly appealed to Ronald, and I always 
looked forward to the joy of doing them with him. This, 
on Aug. 27, less than a year before the War, was our last 
piece of holiday work together. 

Ronald's letter to Janet printed on p. 265 shows clearly 
enough that, when once he was well again, he could not 
help working at high pressure. 

Hilda remembered a walk by the Thames in July 1913, 
and how interested Ronald was in the Fours rowed by 
Reading men ; she ' could feel that he had thrown himself 
heart and soul into the interests of the town and how much 
he already loved it '. 

When he had been a few weeks in Manchester, Ronald 
wrote to his mother, on Oct. 28, words with which the 
general account of this happy strenuous section of his life 
may be brought to a close : ' I hear from Waldy about the 
Club which is going on well, but I do wish I was back 
there. I do love Reading.' 


The Rev. William Temple has recalled impressions of 
Ronald's thoughts about future work and responsibilities. 
He first noticed that Ronald's mind was thus occupied soon 
after his visit to Repton in September 1910 (see p. 132), 
that is when his future career had been decided for several 
months and he had had time to think about it : 

'At first it was merely an anxiety to use his oppor- 
tunities rightly. The fact that he was likely to have 
a large income seemed to him so unreasonable that this 
alone disposed him at first to a socialist view. Probably 
the sympathies evoked by, and expressed in, his work 
at the Rugby and Balliol Boys' Clubs encouraged this. 
Consequently when he first got to Reading and became 
familiar with the employers' point of view, the mere 
novelty of it carried nim right away. Of course it was 
necessary and right that he should go through this phase, 
even if for the moment he was carried away by it. 


' In the natural course of events I was seeing less of him 
at this time. He had started on his work and no longer 
had vacations coinciding with school holidays. He came 
to me at Repton for one night on September 14, 1912 ; for 
two nights on Nov. 22, 1913; for one night on March 6, 
1914. Also he took me out for a drive in his two-seater 
car on the afternoon of a Sunday in July 1914 when I was 
preaching both morning and evening in Manchester. These 
meetings were so short that we hardly got beyond the 
inevitable gossip about our friends, our own doings and 
old reminiscences. But he was plainly recovering his 
balance of mind and eager for some means of bringing the 
different classes of society into such contact as would lead 
to mutual understanding. He was increasingly clear that 
our social evils are not due to deliberate wickedness, nor 
necessarily to a bad system, but to ignorance and conse- 
quently lack of sympathy between employers and employed. 
Consequently his earlier interest in socialism did not 
return ; he was quite prepared that a changed spirit (due 
to better mutual knowledge) should lead to a changed 
system, but he did not care to tinker at the system until 
the spirit was altered. 

' It must have been about the spring of 1913 that he first 
fully realized the possibilities of the W.E.A. as a means to 
what he most desired. He had been interested in its work 
before, but I think I am right in saying that the farewell 
supper to Mr. and Mrs. Mansbridge on the evening of 
April 22 of that year, when they were about to start for 
Australia, was a revelation to him. The health of the two 
guests was proposed by Sir Robert Morant and Mrs. Bar- 
ton a working woman from Sheffield ; " National Educa- 
tion " was proposed by Mr. A. L. Smith of Balliol, and the 
Lord Chancellor of England Lord Haldane replied ; 
Mr. Clynes (the Labour M.P.) proposed "The W.E.A.", 
and the reply was made by the Bishop of Oxford and 
Mr. Goodenough (organizer and "agitator among colliers) ; 
the Secretary of the General Federation of Trade Unions 
Mr. Appleton proposed "The Universities" and Sir 
Henry Miers replied. It was a wonderful gathering which 
witnessed strikingly to the power of the W.E.A. to over- 
come class-distinctions and create real fellowship. Ronnie 
had come to London to attend it, and I am pretty sure that 
it clinched his growing belief that the W.E.A., more than 
any agency of which he knew, could help him and others 
in the great aim which was now consciously before 

1912 1913 259 

him. His experience of its work in Manchester greatly 
strengthened this belief and hope. 

' In the small opportunity which was all that time allowed 
him he had got wonderfully far himself. I have heard that 
one of the most prominent men in the Factory who at that 
time were adopting an antagonistic attitude towards the 
management, said that Ronnie's death was to him the loss 
of a personal friend. It is impossible to doubt that just by 
being his own lovable self in his dealings with them, he 
would have allayed all bitterness and suspicion, have 
understood their point of view while enabling them to 
understand that of the employers, and so have healed any 
wounds in that industry at least and have shown the way 
to heal them in others.' 

I may add for I saw its instant germination and rapid 
growth that the recognition of the employers' point of 
view meant that Ronald realized, for the first time in this 
new sphere, the essential importance of pride in the 
traditions of a great business, and the inestimable value of 
a sense of responsibility the conscience of power. What- 
ever may be true of Germany, the power to manage his 
own show will always command an Englishman's best, 
while the socialistic ideal of a State-directed industry will 
very often command his worst. 

The change in Ronald's views spoken of by Mr. Temple 
is indicated in the following passage in a letter to Neville 
Gorton, written Dec. 24, 1912 : 

'This is to wish you a very happy time, next year at 
Mirfield. Your letter was very interesting and gave me 
quite an idea of your life. Quite the reverse of the hard, 
commercial conditions of my existence (vide all Socialist 
press). But really I have a very pleasant time. There is 
an extraordinary amount of the personal element in my 
work. I am with the men all day, and have really learnt 
to appreciate them. And the boys are simply ripping. 
Besides the business itself is deeply interesting : perhaps 
you don't realize how exciting the manufacture of (biscuits 
can be.' 

Ronald's interest in the W.E.A. was greatly deepened 
by his experience in Manchester. Early in his time there 

S 2 


I have heard him criticize the principles of a business 
management which considers the provision of general 
comforts of more importance than the payment of 
generous wages. He maintained that the employees only 
required the means in order to provide comfort and re- 
finement for themselves. But later on he mixed with 
numbers of men for whom organized labour had secured 
ample wages as well as power and independence, but he 
looked in vain for refinement and comfort in their home life. 
The remedy for this, he felt, could never be found in 
management or anything that it might do. A change of 
heart was required in the worker, and for this Ronald 
looked to the W.E.A. 

A few of the men with whom Ronald worked have 
written of his friendship and all that it meant to them. 
The following memories are recalled by Mr. W. Povey, 
who has worked in the Factory for over fifty years. I have 
often heard Ronald speak of the writer and his regard for 

' From our first acquaintance your son and I were on 
very friendly terms. My first experience of a ride on his 
motor-bike was when we were at Broadmoor at a Cricket 
Match, and he told me I should have the ride he had 
promised me. I told him I wouldn't trust myself on that 
thing. He said, "Well, Bill, I thought you were a good 
old English sportsman : I often used to take my little sister 
on the back of that bike." I consented at last and he gave 
me a cigarette and said, " Light this fag, Bill ", and I put it 
in my mouth and we then started off, and I shall never 
forget it. I hung on to him like a leech and he said 
I nearly strangled him. And when we came back they all 
shouted " Good old Bill!" 

'On another occasion we were leaving the Cricket 
Ground and he said, "Are you going home, Bill?" 
I said "Yes, Sir," and he asked me if I cared to ride with 
him, and I said I didn't mind riding through the town with 
him, and he said " where shall I put you down ? " and 
I replied, " at the pump where all teetotallers stop ". 

' One Saturday we were in a hurry to get finished at our 
work, and he came down to me and said, " Bill, I am come 
down to help you " ; and I said, " I beg your pardon, sir, 

1912 1913 26 1 

but I don't require your help. " But he said, " I am going 
to help you " ; but I said, " I am in a hurry and you must 
clear off" ; and he said, " I am not going to clear off till 
I like ", and I said, " If you don't go you will soon be on 
your back ". Then there was a tussle and we both came to 
the ground. After dinner when we were on the Cricket 
Ground and he was dressed in his flannels he said, " Bill, 
I am going to get my own back." And we had another 
tussle, and of course I came off second-best. " Never 
mind, Bill, " he said. " You have got plenty of life in you 
yet, and it is a case of youth against age." 

' One night I was leaving the firm at 7 o'clock and he 
said, " Bill, are you going home?" I said "Yes, Sir, and 
you will feel it an honour to walk home with me, won't 
you ", and he said, " I shall, Bill ", and he told me to walk 
on up Sidmouth Street and come in if I liked. By the 
time I got to his house he came out dressed in his sweater 
ready for a run, and we walked up Kendrick Hill talking 
about Rugby. When we got to the top of the hill he said, 
" Good night, Bill, " and set off for a sprint from lamp to 
lamp, and down Redlands Road, indoors, and changed his 
clothes and back into the factory again. In the morning 
I asked him if that was how he trained for Rugby, and he 
said, " That 's it, Bill, and I am in the pink of condition now 
and ready for you if you like " ; but I said " No thanks, 
Sir, I am not taking any. " 

' I once told him that I had a good Old Dutch at home 
who looked after me, and he said, " Bill, I don't quite 
understand you " ; and I told him I meant my wife ; and 
he often used to ask me afterwards how my good Old 
Dutch was, as you will see he did in his letter. 

' In all my eighteen years' experience as umpire to the 
first team at our firm I have come in contact with a great 
number of gentlemen, but never one whom I loved more 
than I did your dear son, and I cannot even now get him 
out of my memory. I have in my possession several letters 
which I have received from him, one of them congratula- 
ting me on my anniversary of fifty years' service. 

'I am afraid I can't remember all his kindnesses to me. 
I was first introduced to him by Mr. G. W. Palmer, whilst 
acting as referee at a cricket match at Heathlands, and 
Mr. Palmer asked me if I thought he would be of value to 
us in the cricket field, and I replied that I thought he 
would, and I soon found my surmise was correct, for he 
proved a very valuable asset to our team. I have a photo- 


graph of him and Mr. Howard Palmer taken on that day 
by Mr. G. W. Palmer which I shall keep as one of my 
proudest possessions. 

' I next came in contact with him in the firm when he 
came into the mixing department to learn the work, and 
I found him to be a very amiable and pleasant young 
gentleman. During the time I was working with him 
I fell sick and he very kindly came to visit me at my home, 
and on one occasion he stopped to tea with me, afterwards 
having a tune on the piano, and singing a song. On our 
week-end cricket matches, he often took me to and fro on 
his motor-cycle or his car, once taking me to Newbury, 
when we were met by his Uncle and Aunt, Mr. and Mrs. 
G. W. Palmer. You will probably remember, Madam, 
when he introduced you to me at the mixing pan when you 
visited the firm. He also introduced your daughter to me 
on another occasion. 

' As we were leaving work one night it was raining very 
fast and he told me I was in for a wet shirt, as I had no 
overcoat with me at the time, but he asked me to wait for 
him, and we could go out together, and when we got out- 
side the Factory, it was still raining, and he insisted upon 
my having his waterproof, remarking, " Take this, Bill, as 
you are an elderly man, and I shall soon be home and get 
a good rub down, and shall take no harm from a wetting ", 
and he himself put his waterproof on my back, telling me 
to bring it back when I liked. You must admit, Sir, that 
there is not another gentleman in a thousand would have 
done this to a workman, but it was his nature to be kind 
and generous to all with whom he came in contact. 

' I have a grandson who spent some very happy times 
with him in his boys' camp at the seaside on two occasions.' 

I have also heard that a man at the Factory once asked 
Ronald why he was not at overtime the night before. 
Ronald, who had been at the Boys' Club, replied, ' Because 
I was looking after your children'. Others too have 
spoken of his visiting the men and taking tea with them. 

The following letter was written by Ronald to Mr. Povey, 
from Manchester, on March 16, 1914 : 


1 This is written in a train so it may be difficult to read. 
I have been meaning to write to you a long time to send 

1912 1913 263 

you word as to how I was getting on. I heard from 
Mr. Waldy that you had retired in favour of Bert Owen, 
to whom please give my best wishes, and were cutter 

' Are you down in the corner with Viner ? I hope it suits 
you, though I expect it 's a hard job after your slack one at 
the pans ! ! I don't think ! 

' I am doing engineering up here. I get up at 6.30 and 
get to work at 8.0 and work till 12.30, and then from 1.30 
to 5.30. I have been doing fitting and turning, and now 
I am doing work in the electrical department. It is 
interesting work. And I find time to play a bit of 

' Do your best for the old factory at cricket next summer. 
I wish I was going to be with you. 

' Well, goodbye and good luck. Remember me to my 
friends in the South Factory. How is the Old Dutch? 
Well, I hope. 

' Ever yours, 

' You see my name has been changed from Poulton.' 

From a prominent worker in the Factory unknown 
to me : 

' It was not my privilege to be personally acquainted 
with Mr. Poulton Palmer, but I can give you the impression 
he made upon me, and I think I may say upon many others 
employed in the great Firm of which he was qualifying to 
become a Director. 

' When he first came there he was only known to the 
majority as one of the finest athletes in the Kingdom, 
a reputation which was more than confirmed. 

' I think one thing that struck most of us was his quite 
natural unassuming manner, his lack of pride, and his 
infectious laugh, also his evident desire to brighten and 
edify those with whom he came in contact; for not only 
was he a good sportsman but he saw there was something 
in this world for him to do ; there were others who, though 
living in a lower sphere of life than himself, he thought it 
his duty to assist, and there are now many lads who will 
sorely miss him ; especially I have in mind the boys of 
Albert Road ; they have indeed lost a good friend, but the 
good work done by their late benefactor will not lie 


dormant in them but will bear fruit and be the means of 
making them grow up to be better men and worthy citizens. 
' Probably no event in the war caused more consternation 
and regret than when his untimely fate was reported ; and 
it was realized that in responding to his Country's call he 
had made the greatest sacrifice it was possible for man to 
make, he had given his life.' 

Another Reading working man, also unknown to me, 
said of Ronald that he would not ask any one to do anything 
he was not prepared to do himself. 

Mr. Cyril M. Byham, the then manager of the Engineer- 
ing Department, writes : - 

' Ronald had great ideas as regards the social side of 
the big concern in which he would have taken such a 
prominent part, and had already interested himself in the 
Recreation Club, and instituted a Departmental Cricket 
League ; and now, owing to the war, tnese Departmental 
matches are the only ones being played. We made no 
programme as regards matches with other teams. Still it 
was felt that for those of the employees who had not 
joined the colours and some 25 % have already done so 
[Aue. 15, 1915] one should keep the ground open, and we 
are nolding these Departmental Team Matches, as I am 
certain he would have wished.' 

When Ronald had been at work for fourteen months, his 
uncle and he had a talk about his future movements and 
plans. He wrote to his mother April 10, 1913 : 

' Uncle George lunched yesterday, and we had a good 
talk. He suggests that after coming back from Manchester, 
I should do a three months' trip round the world, finishing 
up with three months in Byham s department. This sounds 
very cheery but it will depend a lot on whether I can get 
a congenial soul to go abroad with.' 

As regards his work at Reading it was estimated that 
Ronald would have completed his training in the manu- 
facturing processes by Aug. i, 1913. Notes of the conver- 
sation with his uncle, preserved by Ronald, show that he 
was to have worked in Manchester from mid-October 1913 
till about mid-December 1914, and that he would start in 

1913 265 

the Engineering Department of Huntley and Palmers on 
Jan. i, 1915. On Feb. 6 of that year he would have 
completed three years' training from the day when he first 
entered the Factory. The programme as shown in his 
notes must have been modified, if three months' travel 
were to be included. His uncle's death in October 1913 
made it necessary for Ronald to shorten his time in 
Manchester, and, if war had not broken out, he would have 
settled down to regular work at Reading in the autumn 
of 1914. 

His uncle wrote, April 22, to Sir William Mather, whom 
he had known in the House of Commons : 

' During the last eighteen months Ronald has been at 
work in our Factory, starting at 6.30 a.m. and with his coat 
off (as I did 44 years ago ! !) and learning the practical details 
of our business. I want him to get some practical know- 
ledge of engineering, a wider experience ol men, &c., and 
also attend some classes in the evening at the School [now 
College] of Technology in Manchester.' 

An interview, arranged for the end of May, led to 
Ronald's residence and work in Manchester, which forms 
the subject of a later section of his life. 

The following letter from Ronald in Reading to Janet at 
the British Association in Birmingham gives a graphic 
picture of his work at the Factory within a week of the 
date when he left Reading for the north : 

'Sept. 12, 1913. 

1 16 Portland Place. 

' On this, the auspicious occasion of the 2ist anniversary 
of your birth, allow a brother to pour out the depths of his 
fraternal heart in earnest congratulations, and all that sort 
of stuff! 

' May you have a happy day full of presents, and full of 
promises of presents (like mine), and may you never look 
older than you do to-day, and when your hair must come 
white, let it come white suddenly (i.e. stop dyeing). 

' You seem to be having a gay time from your letter. 
For which many thanks. I haven't read O. Lodge [Presi- 


dential Address] for which please thank mother with her 
letter, but I hope to soon. My birthday was thus spent : 

(1) Got up sleepy at 6.20 : Factory till 8.20. 

(2) Breakfast: paper. 

(3) Factory till 12.50. 

(4) Lunch : Bruno, Cuthie Holmes, and Kirby at lunch : 

very jolly : port and cigars. 

(5) Factory till 6: very hot baking petit beurre! with 

brother of the butler at Wokefield ! whose grand- 
father was the first original helper to grandpa at 
the very start ! 

(6) Bath 6.10 to 6.20. 
6.20-6.30, writing this letter. 

i) 6.30-7.10. High tea (very high : the partridge whiffs 

like anything); 
(9) Committee of Boys' Club 7.15-8. 
(10) Boys' Club 8-10. 
(n) 10. Look in Factory on overtime. 

(12) Bed 10.45. 

(13) Alarum at 4.0. 

(14) In Factory 4.30 a.m., &c. 

4 1 will write a line to mother on Sunday. Much love.' 


- r.~ 



Ronald, with his terrier ' Wally ', near centre. Rev. R. W. Morley beside 
him in upper, with W. Dimbleby at top of lower group. F. Covey against 
R. lower window pane. At least 13 of the 29 have been killed. 

[Facing f. 267. 



His memory is as fresh as ever here. It cannot pass ; even though 
his old boys are all away sadly many now away with him. The 
Rev. R. W. MORLEY. 

IT has been shown that one of the last things Ronald did 
before leaving Oxford was to attend a meeting of the 
Balliol Boys' Club Committee, on Jan. 21, 1912 ; and he 
had no sooner gone to live at Reading than he got into 
touch with a Boys' Club there. Mr. W. Dimbleby has 
kindly written the following note about its history : 

' The Reading Boys' Club existed before Ronald came 
to the town, but his advent and association with the 
Factory, added to the fact that the Club was situated in 
a district largely inhabited by Factory workers, resulted in 
fully 75 % of the members being Factory boys. But the 
Factory had absolutely nothing to do with the Club and had 
no possible control over it. There was no restriction as to 
the district or parish, but boys living in St. John's parish 
were given preference as members; and as there was 
always a waiting list, residence in the parish came to be 
regarded as a qualification for membership.' 

Of this Club no log or other record existed at the time, 
and Ronald, who knew the value of tradition as well as of 
information on all the details of club management, deter- 
mined to supply the deficiency. 

Boys' Clubs, such as this, had begun, by August 1914, 
to play an important part in the development of the best 
type of citizen animated by a spirit of brotherhood, 
friendliness, and fair play, eager to defend the cause of 
justice and right, as the records of the War abundantly 
prove. And the same influence will be needed, more 
needed than ever, in the years of trial and stress which the 


future surely holds in store for us. It will, I believe, help 
on this good work if Ronald's methods in the management 
of the Club, as described in his own words, are made 
available for those who are inspired by his ideals. The 
same trials and difficulties encountered in the future will 
surely yield to the same patience and good sense, the same 
faith and hope securely founded on love. 

As regards the doings of the Club in 1912, a week-end 
Camp was arranged by Ronald in a field at Sonning, July 
26-28. Ronald and his friends Dick Dugdale and 
C. T. Waldy were in charge, and 10 boys were present. 
Writing to his mother Ronald said : ' It was a roaring 
success, even though it rained a great deal ; particularly at 
night. We bathed lots of times, and played cricket and 
football ; and had a singsong, and on Sunday a little service.' 

It was of this camp that the Rev. T. Guy Rogers 
wrote : 

' I remember in the early days, when I knew him first, 
going out one Sunday afternoon to a week-end Camp 
which he was running for the lads near Sonning. After 
a glorious bathe I lay on the grass with the fellows while 
Ronald took a short service and spoke to them so straight 
and so well. He was able to touch their lives at every 
point and to touch them with sincerity and truth.' 

When the Club was reopened, after closing Aug. i to 
Sept. 6, Ronald took nearly all the evenings and was in 
entire charge. The attendance was excellent, an average 
of 32 being kept up for some weeks. The usual games 
were played, varied by occasional concerts, charades, and 
a mock trial. In November troubles began and some boys 
had to be turned out, but were later on readmitted. On 
Jan. 29, 1913, an entertainment was given to the parents of 
the boys in the Club. ' If you can't leave the baby, bring 
him or her with you ' was printed on the invitation card. 
His friend Mrs. Haslam kindly helped in making up the 
actors and in preparing the humorous programme. 

Mr. Dimbleby tells me that this entertainment, ' Lost in 
the Wash ' was, he believes, written by one of the Rugby 

BOYS' CLUB: 19121913 269 

masters, but Ronald touched it up for the occasion, intro- 
ducing local allusions and topical songs. It was such 
a success that the company was asked to repeat the 
performance a fortnight later for the Factory Recreation 
Club, when they were helped by some of Ronald's Oxford 
friends, composing the ' Flannel Fools' Band '. 

A letter to his sister in Manchester shows how immensely 
pleased and proud Ronald was at the spirit with which the 
boys played their parts and the keen enjoyment of actors 
and audience. His mother writes : 

' One night, towards Christmas time, in 1912, Ronald had 
invited 8 or 9 special boys to his house ; they were learning 
their parts for a play, to be performed to the parents. 
The object was to encourage interest in the club on the 
part of the parents, and to help the boys to collect money 
for their summer Camp. We gave them cocoa and cakes. 
Ronald had marvellous influence over them. He never 
allowed too great familiarity, and yet one could see how 
friendly they felt towards him. On another occasion 
(Feb. 24, 1913), I gave the whole club a lecture on our South 
African journey in 1905, showing them slides. How I had 
looked forward to telling them about our Australian trip ! 
After the lecture, to which the boys listened very well, 
I played the piano for the closing hymn, and Ronald said 
the prayers. I could see a great improvement in the boys' 
behaviour, since my former visit. One evening we had 
arrived rather too early, so we walked about the roads, 
and he told me about certain boys who had given trouble. 
He was always keenly sensitive to the particular difficulties 
they had to contend with, in order to keep straight.' 

The regularly kept log, beginning Feb. 3, 1913, was 
preceded by a series of photographs taken at a camp held 
in the summer of 1911 by Mr. Heaton. On most nights 
there were games and competitions of various kinds. An 
air-rifle was very popular and one of the boys was put in 
charge. ' This was a great success, and encourages me to 
think of making some officers among the boys, which is my 
present ambition* a scheme soon put into operation. 
Then there were competitions with teams from other 
associations, his mother's lecture on South Africa, and 

2 7 o READING 

Janet's playing on the violin. Nearly the whole log up to 
Sept. 15, 1913, the last meeting before he left Reading 
for Manchester, is in Ronald's handwriting. The numbers 
crept up to 37 on Apr. 28, with this entry : ' The club is 
now as large as we can hold. As it was to-night there was 
a bit of ragging.' On Apr. 19 W. T. Collier was present 
and ' said afterwards that it was the most cheerful Club he 
had been to, which was high praise '. He not only used 
these cheering words to Ronald, but wrote of the Boys' 
Club to Keith Rae on May 9: 

' From what I saw of it, I think it could give quite a 
number of points in some directions to the Salliol Club, 
although he runs it practically single-handed.' 

Then just before Ronald left for the north, Stephen 
Reiss's name appears in the log for September 5. This 
was no doubt the visit to Reading of which he spoke in his 
letter (p. 19). 

Ronald's account of an unsuccessful evening, with the 
suggestion of a remedy, appears under June 6 : 

' Nothing much on : consequently noise and ragging. 
I must get some new things up. Prayers were very noisy, 
and I told them what I thought of them. Afterwards they 
said they wouldn't play cricket tomorrow to spite me we 
shall see.' 

All the boys except two turned up for a cricket match on 
June 9, when the Club was 'nice and quiet, and prayers 
were splendid.' 

The Camp at New Romney, discussed and planned on 
many a Club night, was held June 21-28, 1913. The 26 
boys who took part are entered under their names, nick- 
names, and reference numbers for the group fixed in the 
log-book, which also contains photographs of the sports 
and each of the 5 tents with the boys who slept in it. 

The Rev. C. S. Donald and Mr. A. D. Stocks, of the 
Rugby Club, Notting Hill, came down to prepare before- 
hand and help at the start, and the Rugby Club allowed 
the use of equipment at a reduced rate. Two members of 

BOYS' CLUB: 1913 271 

the Reading Club, Mr. Tucker and Mr. Dimbleby, had 
also arrived by an earlier train and were found hard at 
work when the party arrived with Ronald in charge on 
Saturday evening, June 21. The cook, Frank Covey, a 
member of the Balliol Boys' Club, was very friendly with 
the boys and extremely popular. 

Ronald's very full account of the days in Camp is in 
large part reprinted below. Some of the paragraphs have 
been placed in a different order, and here and there the 
wording has been slightly changed, but the few alterations 
are only such as Ronald would have made if he had had 
time to reconsider a report hurriedly written down just as 
it came into his head. 

' Cheerful and hungry we arrived at No. 27 Station in 
the evening, made beautiful by the setting of the sun 
beneath a bank of dark grey clouds, by the tassled grass 
fairly smothered by a gorgeous blue purply flower (called 
Bugloss), and by the singing of numberless larks, whose 
nests we were for ever finding round our camping ground. 

' Having eaten an enormous meal of ham, bread and 
butter, cocoa and jam, we had prayers, and were soon 
in bed. 

' Having elected to sleep with Stocks on the straw stack 
we were both woken about 3.0 a.m. by the shouts of the 
boys as they woke and rushed off to the shore. Apparently 
Dimbleby and Tucker (who chose the beach) were in the 
same plight (Tucker afterwards confessed that he never 
slept a wink all night), for on turning my head towards 
the bungalow about a quarter of an hour later, I saw 
Dimbleby busily tidying up, and Tucker completely dressed, 
even to a pair of bicycle clips, gazing mournfully out to sea ! 
This was highly refreshing, and later Stocks supplied 
sufficient amusement for the day by describing the scene, 
and speaking of Tucker as "my immaculately dressed 
young friend opposite ". 

'After the first day it was always necessary to rouse 
the tents, and not content with the night, they often slept 
during the day, showing the effect of food and a bracing 
climate upon them. 

'How to describe those days! That Sunday was 

gloriously fine, and everybody got burnt brown. That 
athe will always be remembered ; how Burt began to 


learn to swim, and Bushell and Fred Harding tried to 
emulate the feats of Burgess. 

' A short evening service closed the day. The weather 
kept fine though the wind was cold. 

' We lost Stocks the Sunday evening and Tucker Monday 
morning. That morning Maurice's knees were swollen 
and on the doctor's advice I had to take him home. 
Luckily catching a friendly traction engine we caught an 
early train and after a few changes I saw him in a Reading 
train at Redhill and returned alone to Camp. On the 
way he and I made up a topical song the only effort, 
and a poor one at that, made auring Camp. And to think 
I missed the stew ! Morley had arrived before me and our 
staff was three strong again.' 

The topical song, written at the end of the Camp diary, 
is printed below : 

(Tune: Yip-i-addy) 


At Reading one morning, 'bout six in the morning 

Some boys were just going to work, 

They were awfully sleepy, and always were yawning, 

Their work, they felt ready to shirk ; 

But suddenly one of 'em, I don't know which one of 'em, 

Which it was, I do not care a hang, 

Awoke with a start, and stepped out from amongst them, 

And these were the words that he sang : 

Chorus. We're going to Romney, to-day to-day ; 
We're going to Romney to stay, 
We shall play games, we shall eat, we shall sleep, 
We even shall swim on the blue foaming deep, 
Yes we're going to Romney to-day 
Yes we're going to Romney to stay. 

Think of joy, think of bliss, but there's nothing like this, 
That we're going to Romney to-day. 


At Romney, next morning, well I s'pose it was morning, 
If it was I'm not ready to say ; 
But I'm perfectly certain the day was not dawning 
When their shouts woke me up as I lay, 

BOYS' CLUB: 1913 273 

As I lay on that straw stack, so cold on that straw stack, 

Oh what did I hear on the shore 

It was brought on the wind, that came, whistling down my 

And these are the words of their roar : 

Chorus. (Same as I, substituting 'are' [or rather 'now'] 
for 'shall'.) 


At Rpmney, this morning, that's Monday, this morning, 

A quite different tale I've to tell. 

If tney woke me again, I had given them warning, 

I'd give them one hard on their well ! 

But breakfast was ready, yes perfectly ready, 

Before any boy thought to appear. 

Their eyes were all sleepy, their heads were all heady, 

But these were their thoughts, I am clear. 

Chorus, as II. 


On Saturday morning, next Saturday morning, 

And we're packed, and quite ready to clear, 

When we're leaving for Reading, hearts dismally mourning, 

And hardly restraining a tear. 

Then thoughts of the future will slowly come o'er us, 

We'll look forward to Romney, again, 

As we're leaving the station, I hope it won't bore us, 

If we hear this again, in the train : 

Chorus. We've been to Romney to stay, to stay, 

We've been to Romney to stay, 

We have played games, we have slept, we have 

We even have swum in the sea (oh so wet !) 

Yes we've been to Romney to stay, 

We've been to Romney to stay, 
Think of joy, think of bliss, but there 's nothing like this 

That we've been to Romney to stay. 

'Tuesday [when the staff was increased to five by the 
arrival of Mr. Truelove and Ronald's old Oxford friend 
Gerald Fisher] was to be the day of the Marathon, but 
slackness was in the air, and mere were not enough 
entrants. So we had a tent shooting match which was 


won by No. 2 Tent. The shooting was curious, as all 
those who thought they were some use obtained noughts 
(shouts of "Tinno" or "Woodo" referring to the wood 
outside the target, tin in the Club room), including the 
quasi-military members of the party who are qualified to 
teach musketry to Territorial Recruits. After tea football 
was always the order of the day. Horace appeared to be 
a great exponent, and his tricks with his legs left us less 
skilled people standing gazing. Why doesn't he have his 
half day on a Saturday, and we should have a good team 
next winter ? Singsong followed and bed. 

' Wednesday was the great cricket-match with the New 
Romney Club. Their class was too high for us, and their 
kind Secretary Mr. Williamson will give us a team more 
suitable the next time we meet. Our chaps said " That 's 
no go why there was a chap there who 's been tried for 
Kent (a slight exaggeration), but we could take them on 
at football ". We had a fine singsong that night arranged 
by Mr. Fisher, and he told us his tiger stories in India. 

'Thursday was the day put aside to go to Folkestone, 
but suddenly the previous day they seemed to have changed 
their minds. It is difficult to understand this sudden 
change. One chap said it was because they weren't 
pressed enough : others that they couldn't afford the 
necessary shilling. Thursday accordingly became the day 
of the sports, held in the morning on a strip of sand. 
They were quite well contested, but I don't think the 
Reading boy is as vigorous as his London brother. 

' Friday was spent quietly, bathing and playing football. 
The boys made great journeys to New Romney to buy 
mementoes of the Camp, and staggered back with large 
numbers of china vases, &c. The evening was spent in 
a grand and final singsong. At the end Princess Henry 
ofbattenberg (Mr. Dimbleby tastefully attired in a skirt of 
a military rug, a plumed hat, and short jacket) gave away 
the prizes for the sports. She was greeted by the 
guard of honour under the command of Lieut. R. W. 

1 Everybody seemed to be rather sad and quiet. 

' The next morning we were up at 4.0, and soon hard at 
work. By breakfast time everything was cleared away 
and we caught the train comfortably. A hot stuffy journey, 
during which we mostly slept, brought us at last to 

' So ends a Camp enjoyed by all, which encourages us 


/M4< I/ 








in ^CtU-*^- /frtw-*i-y 

[Facing p. 275. 

BOYS' CLUB: 1913 275 

for the future, and makes us realize that our friendship for 
each other is no unreal and formal bond.' 

The menu, drawn up by Mrs. Dimbleby and written out 
by Ronald, is reproduced on a smaller scale on the opposite 
plate. With slight alterations it was used for the 1914 

Ronald's words about friendship recall Hilda's memories 
of a walk with him in July 1913, when they came across 
a number of boys, quite twenty of them, fishing along the 
Thames below Reading. He knew all their names and 
talked to all of them ; and afterwards told his sister how 
important it was to take an interest in the men and boys 
outside their working hours and in all their lives. He said 
that it was a great mistake to look on this as any special 
merit or even as an act of kindness. The gain was his, he 
said, for he found them full of interest and loved them for 
themselves. He told her of one consumptive boy he had 
been to see at his home a boy who was just then without 
any medical help, as the panel doctor was away, and how 
brave and splendid he was. Going back through Newtown 
Ronald showed her the homes of the young fishermen 
and especially pointed out that of a red-headed boy and his 
brothers who were particular friends of his. 

Ronald entered in the log a full and detailed account of 
the expenditure (31. 195. lod.) of the Camp, accompanying 
the statement by remarks which would be of great help in 
other years. Twenty-six boys contributed 6s. each, the 
remainder of the sum being chiefly provided by his uncle, 
his friends, and the Vicar's Allotment Fund. 

I think it was a letter from Frank Covey, written from 
Cromer on Aug. 17, that was Ronald's happiest reminiscence 
of Romney Camp in 1913 : 

' I expect the boys will think of Camp for some time to 
come yet : I know I very often think about it and it often 
cheers me up when I am feeling a bit downhearted.' 

The first Club meeting after the Camp was on June 30, 
and the excellent results are apparent in the entry : ' Very 

T 2 


excited after Camp. This Camp has made an enormous 
difference in our relations. We really begin to know each 
other. They already want to begin paying in for next 
year.' Then a few days later there was all the excitement 
of looking at the proofs of the photographs taken in Camp. 

The Club was now evidently on its way to success, and 
Ronald was anxious, especially in view of his departure 
for Manchester in the autumn, that its continued growth 
should be assured. With this object he attended a meeting, 
held at Wantage Hall on June 30, of members of Reading 
University College who were interested in the Club. The 
history was briefly outlined by Childs and then Ronald 
gave an account of its recent progress, of the Camp and of 
the position in the following October when he as well as 
Childs would be leaving. He urged that, being a Club 
connected with Reading University College, it should be 
managed by a College man. As a result Mr. B. Perkins 
agreed to undertake the position, and other members 
volunteered for occasional visits. Ronald's note concludes 
with the words' The tone of the meeting was sympathetic 
and augurs well for the future.' 

Sept. 15, 1913, just before Ronald's departure for Man- 
chester on the i8th, was the last time he took charge of 
a Club evening and the last time he wrote the entry. He 
spoke ' a few words describing what the future of the Club 
was to be and how important it was to keep order'. 
Following the entry is this paragraph : 

'[Personal note: I can only say that it is with great 
regret that I write here for the last time for I hope that 
when I return, the Club will be so firmly established in 
the thoughts of the Reading College, that one of the 
students will always be found to take the helm. But these 
records hurriedly written, remind me of a lot, mostly 
pleasure at an occasional successful result, while the dis- 
appointments at many failures soon grow dim. So I pass 
this on the record of things achieved, and things attempted, 
and I hope to find in it, when I see it again, a record of 
many more things attempted, and many more achieved. 

R.W. Poulton.]' 

BOYS' CLUB: 1913 277 

The following words were written to Ronald by 
Mr. Benjamin Perkins, on Nov. 12, from St. Patrick's 
Hall, Reading: 

' Before I close my letter I will thank you personally 
for your untiring work for the Club, and on behalf of the 
minute passed by the Committee, I can assure you as one 
who has now learnt the inward working of the Club 
generally, things could not have been left in a better 
condition, and my success with the Club if there proves 
to be any will be entirely due to the state you left things 
for me : everything was ready for me to take up and I only 
hope that I snail follow your example. 

' My one hope now is that before long we shall have you 
again down here to help us.' 

At this point, which marks the end of Ronald's manage- 
ment, I place the following notes kindly made by Walter 
Dimbleby : 

'As I only came to live in Reading at Midsummer 1914, 
my experience of the Club prior to that date was confined 
to an occasional visit when I stayed with Ronald for the 
night and my going to Camp with the boys to New 
Romney in June 1913. 

' Ronald's influence with the boys was very remarkable. 
With the type of lad to be found in such Clubs physical 
prowess carries great weight. Almost all of them were 
keen football players ; their game of course being ' Soccer '. 
Ronald's fame as a Rugby International gave him a great 
hold over the boys in the early days of their acquaintance. 
When they became more intimate with him this fame 
rather receded into the background, and his sympathy and 
charming personality made him beloved by all the boys. 
Ronald was endowed with the gift of adaptability. He 
was equally at home and his own unconscious self with all 
sorts and conditions of humanity. 

' The following is a fair description of an average Club 
evening: The boys would come in about 8 or 8.15, 
crowding into the little room where Ronald would be 
ready to mark off their names in the register, he giving 
a smile, a word of chaff or a nickname to each. If a Friday 
evening, the half-penny for the week's contribution was 
demanded. There was little probability of getting this 
except on pay day (Friday). 


'As long as Ronald was with them the boys seemed 
reluctant to leave the little room, the atmosphere of which 
by this time would be decidedly "thick". However, Ronald 
would order a move to the big room and arrange sides for 
football or cricket, devising many novel rules to add to the 
interest and excitement. 

' Strenuous games of football were played, many of the 
boys being remarkably clever in "footwork". Quieter 
games would be in progress in the small rooms upstairs. 
At 9.45 all those remaining in the Club would meet in the 
big room for prayers, the rule being that every one wishing 
to leave before prayers must be out of the Club premises 
by 9.30, after which time the doors were closed and all had 
to remain and be present at prayers. 

' Ronald usually took prayers himself. A hymn would 
be sung, then either a few verses read from the New 
Testament, or a word or two of advice and helpfulness, 
and finally three or four short prayers. Ronald preferred 
that these should be extempore and adapted to the neces- 
sities of the Club and its members. 

' Tournaments of games would be arranged and carried 
out. Camp was always a fruitful source of conversation 
both for many weeks before the event and for several 
weeks after. 

' The boys contributed 75. each to the 1914 expenses. The 
cost per boy averaged aoout 205. or so ; the difference in 
the 1914 Camp fell chiefly on Ronald. He was the life 
and soul of the two Camps at which I was present. 

' Ronald's interest in the boys was not confined to 
Club nights and Camp. He made a friend of each and 
endeavoured usually successfully to gain his confidence 
and obtain knowledge of his home life and surroundings 
and his ambitions for the future. Practical help was 
frequently given, and each boy knew that in any time of 
difficulty he would have in Ronald a sympathetic helper.' 

I may add to this account some evidence of the serious- 
ness with which Ronald considered and sought advice 
upon the most suitable parts of the Bible to read to boys 
and the right things to say to them. He asked the help of 
his friends, the Rev. W. J. Carey, as recorded in The 
Church Times for May 14, 1915, and the Rev. J. G. Bussell. 
We may be very sure that his ever-present sense of 
humour guarded him against a too-great length and a too- 

BOYS' CLUB: 1912 1913 279 

excessive solemnity. The following words were written 
at Aldershot, May 18, 1915, by Mr. J. G. Bussell (Capt. 7th 
Bn. Roy. Sussex Regt.) not many weeks before he was 
killed, on June 28 : 

' His loss has saddened me more than any in this war. 
Such a life as his is a lasting inspiration. I am going out 
in a few days and I know I shall fight the better for him 
not of course in mere revenge. 

4 It annoys me so much to see a notice of him as a mere 
player of Rugby football. He was so much besides that. 
I have had talks with him which I shall not forget talks 
which showed that there was in him a sort of anxiety for 
others, and especially the working classes, and that the 
desire to serve them was almost a passion with him. 

'"What do you say to boys?" he once exclaimed, 
speaking of his club, and of the best way to help them to 
some idea of God. 

' No, he will not be forgotten, either by them or any 
other of his friends/ 

Among those who helped Ronald at the Club and whose 
names are recorded in the log, were the three elder sons 
of Mr. Leonard Sutton of Hillside, Reading, of whom two, 
Eric and Eustace, have, with their younger brothers, 
Victor and Alex, given their lives for the liberty of the 
world. Noel, the eldest, after three years in the East, was 
saved by swimming when his ship was torpedoed on the 
voyage home. In June 1915 Eric wrote that he and 
Capt. J. G. Bussell had just visited Ronald's grave together. 


MANCHESTER: 1913-1914 

Although he was only with us for a short time, Mr. Fanshawe and 
I both loved him. I often used to think how proud his mother must 
be of him. Mrs. FANSHAWE, in whose house Ronald lived at Man- 

RONALD'S residence in Manchester was at the very outset 
overclouded by the death of his uncle. On Sept. 30 
Mr. G. W. Palmer, who the day before had never seemed 
stronger, was prostrated by a stroke which came on as 
he was dressing in the morning. He died without fully 
recovering consciousness on Oct. 8. 

Ronald seemed to feel from the first what the end would 
be. He wrote on October i to his mother from 
Manchester: 'It is so heavily on my mind. Oh, I do 
pray for good news. I don't think I realized before how 
much he meant to me. And there is such a lot that I hoped 
he and I would do together in the factory in a few years 
time.' Very soon he was at Marlston to be a great comfort 
and help to his aunt in her sore trial. 

The will was a great surprise to Ronald and at first 
rather a shock. He felt very deeply the responsibility of 
his position as well as the much greater responsibility that 
lay in the future. His brother well remembers walking 
with him along the drive at Marlston and how Ronald said 
more than once 'It is awful'. He also remembers, after 
the funeral on Oct. n, going towards the little Marlston 
church that they might revisit the grave together, and that, 
when they saw from the gate many of the villagers and 
members of the household, paying their last respects, 


Ronald at once turned back, saying that if they went on 
the others would not like to remain. 

So many inaccurate and conflicting statements about the 
will have appeared in the papers that it is well to set the 
matter at rest. 

His uncle had no power to confer on Ronald any 
position in the firm of Huntley & Palmers. The decision 
lay with the Board of Directors. There was, however, an 
understanding between his uncle and the other Directors 
that Ronald would be made a member of the Board after 
three years apprenticeship. 

Under his uncle's will Ronald would have become the 
tenant for life of the Marlston Estate only on his aunt's 
death, but tenant of the residue of his uncle's property, 
real and personal, on his aunt's death, or when his aunt 
should determine, or under any circumstances in twenty-one 
years. In the meantime the income of the estate was, 
subject to the payment of annuities, to accumulate at 
compound interest, and, during this period, Ronald was to 
receive an annuity of 3,000 a year as well as the interest 
on 25,000 bequeathed to trustees upon trust to pay the 
income to Ronald during his aunt's life. This latter 
provision, the cause of much misconception, is, I under- 
stand, a well-known legal precaution viz. to set aside upon 
trust a portion of an estate, so that, whatever may happen 
to the residue, an income will be provided, so far as human 
foresight can ensure, for a particular purpose in this 
case for the maintenance of the future tenant for life. 
The practical result was an immediate income of 4,000 
a year. If the estate had accumulated for the maximum 
period of twenty-one years, the income would have been 
such that Ronald, at the age of 45, would have had oppor- 
tunities given to very few ; and that he would have used 
them wisely and well is the confident belief of all who 
knew him, young and old. 

Sir William Mather remembers 

'a long conversation in the course of which the matter 
of Ronald having inherited his uncle's large fortune 


caused me to remark that this would probably make him 
alter his career. His reply was that it would make no 
difference, for he knew his uncle's wishes, and having 
promised to carry them out before his uncle's death, the 
fact of being heir would make no change. He regretted 
having been left so much money and did not need any, as 
his determination was to make a career for himself and 
earn his own fortune.' 

Mr. C. J. B. Marriott has written in British Sports and 
Sportsmen (London, 1917, pp. 19-20) : ' We well remember 
his wise and modest rejoinder, so characteristic of the 
man, when offered congratulations on his good fortune. 
" Yes," he replied, "but what troubles me is the responsi- 
bility of how to use it for the best. " This was probably 
the true form of a rather bombastic remark, very unlike 
Ronald, attributed to him in some of the papers, at the 
time of his death. 

His uncle's sudden and unexpected death prevented any 
discussion of the will with Ronald. If happily he had 
lived and the older and younger man had worked together, 
understanding and sympathizing with each other more and 
more fully as the years went by, they would no doubt have 
talked over the will and Ronald would have had the 
opportunity of expressing his thoughts, which were all in 
favour of equality and the free use of wealth, and all 
opposed to the monopoly and the restrictions of primo- 
geniture and entail. But the opportunity was denied by 
fate and Ronald became the instrument of a system with 
which he had little sympathy. He therefore felt free to try 
any legal means by which the situation might be changed, 
and he told me that he hoped, if he had a son, to bring him 
up in his own way of thinking, so that they could cut off 
the entail. 

On Oct. 21 Ronald wrote to me from Manchester, 
referring to a conversation at Oxford with his brother-in- 
law Dr. Ainley Walker : ' Now Father dear, after think- 
ing over the present financial position, I had in my mind 
a vague idea which curiously Ernest struck exactly, in 

1913 283 

a suggestion to me last Thursday morning.' And then 
he developed the idea that he should transfer a certain 
proportion of his income to his brother enough to 
render him free to pursue his work without anxiety on 
financial grounds. This payment he wished to be put on 
a legal basis so that ' once settled it would be nothing to do 
with me '. He said that he knew his uncle George would 
like the idea. His brother, he went on, ' has worked far 
harder than I have and while he has not had much finan- 
cial recompense, I have had an undue amount '. He spoke 
with much delicacy of feeling of his brother, hoping that 
there would be no awkwardness of any kind between them, 
and expressing anxiety that no one should know of the 

In reply to my letter he wrote again saying how happy 
he felt that both his mother and I were so happy at his 
proposal. The whole matter was soon settled, and, as it 
was necessary to secure the permanence of the yearly 
payments to his brother, he insured his life for a capital 
sum sufficient to yield the amount. The effect was to 
absorb considerably over a quarter of his income. 

Ronald's determination was entirely unexpected by his 
brother, who writes : 

' I can well remember my surprise at suddenly receiving 
his letter suggesting and even pleading that I would take 
a share of his annuity. It was a surprise because any such 
thought had never entered my head, but it was no longer 
a surprise when thinking over his generosity to all sorts of 
people. This generosity was very characteristic of him, 
and it was shown in his work for the Boys' Club at 
Reading, which was a matter of sheer altruism.' 

Four years earlier Ronald had written from Balliol, 
congratulating his brother and speaking of a possible long 
engagement: 'After all, three years isn't so very long. 
Nothing like me who won't be able to think of being 
married till I am about 55, as I shan't have more than 2d. 
a week till then ! ! ' 


His friend the Rev. W. J. Carey wrote from Pusey 
House, Oxford, on Nov. 15 : 


' I see by the paper to-day that you are quite a rich man. 
I don't suppose you'll alter your personal mode of living, 
I hope not, but I congratulate you on having the means to 
do things which otherwise you couldn't do. Most of us 
have aspirations and no means to carry them out. 

' I'm afraid that you'll now make acquaintance with a new 
class of people beggars high and low it is a great thing 
if one can prevent oneself becoming cynical when one 
finds how many there are who try to exploit one but 
I don't suppose you'll ever get cynical. I don't know 
exactly why I am writing except that this will make some 
difference to your life, and therefore it interests me because 
may I say it ? I have much affection for you and a deep 
interest in your welfare. There ! 

' Luckily you've still got your old friends who care for 
you equally whether you are rich or poor nothing would 
alter them. 

' Goodbye and the best of good luck in all ways ; I do 
hope that all this may bring its blessings to you. 

' God bless you. 

' Always yours affectionately, 


'I see you've got to change your surname. Luckily 
" Ronnie will remain ! ' 

To the Rev. W. J. Carey. 

1 Marlston, 

' Nov. 16, 1913. 

' Thank you for your very kind letter. It is just what 
I would have expected from you. I don't know if anybody 
else will write, as yours is the first, but none will please 
me so much. 

'The responsibility of it has, at times, rather overwhelmed 
me ; as I have not been brought up to spend large sums 
of money. But anyhow I don't want to alter my scale of 

1913 I9 J 4 28 5 

living at all, if I can help it, and I shall simply save, till 
some really worthy object comes along. But I think it is 
rather difficult to live as a Christian when you are very 
rich or very poor. You have to spend so much time 
thinking of money, and what is to be done with it. How- 
ever as you say it is an enormous opportunity, and I do 
pray I may not utterly throw it away. 

' And it is splendid to think of the people in this world 
whom I may call friends, and from whom I can always get 
at any time comfort and advice. 

' I am down here with my Aunt who is a very wonderful 
person, and we are, I think, getting to know each other 

'Thanks again, and I have not forgotten your great 
scheme l for next February. 

1 Ever yours affectionately, 


The use which Ronald made of the income which had 
suddenly come to him may be gathered from his cheque- 
books, which show that, acting on the principles de- 
scribed in his letter, he continued to live simply and 

Ronald's assumption of his uncle's and his mother's 
maiden name of Palmer took place in the Spring of 1914. 
A letter to Keith Rae, with post-mark of April 21, is signed 
' R. W. P. Palmer, late Poulton ', and he referred to the 
change when writing to Mr. W. Povey (p. 263). Many of 
Ronald's friends wondered that he did not hyphen the two 
names and become ' Poulton- Palmer ' an arrangement 
carried out for him pretty generally in the Press. Before 
deciding, he discussed the subject with me, and we agreed 
in preferring the greater simplicity of a single surname. 

Mr. P. Delahunty, assistant to Mr. Grant, head of the 
Sub-Department of Fermentation Industries in the College 
of Technology, saw much of Ronald when he was working 
there. They used to leave the College together, and 
discussed many subjects as they walked and at other times. 
Mr. Delahunty remembers how delighted Ronald was with 

1 The Mission to Undergraduates. 


his motor-car and how much he admired the Cheshire 
roads. He also recalls a visit to a music-hall when 

' there were several interruptions from some students who 
occupied a box. Ronald, who recognized one of them, 
expressed his disgust at their behaviour in very strong 
terms, and felt much tempted to go up and eject them : 
indeed, I think he would have done so had not the manage- 
ment descended on the party and managed to subdue them. 
I don't think music-halls appealed to Ronald, though he 
seemed to enjoy the strictly musical turns. He told me 
the same evening that he once visited a night club in 
London and that it had bored him to death.' 

To Hilda. 

'April 29, 1914. 

' I have been thinking of you often, when it gets espe- 
cially hot in the works about io.oa.rn., sitting in the garden 
reading, and being amused by Janet, while the birds are 
singing and all that sort of thing. But in case Mother has 
not got as many flowers out as she should have, I am 
sending a few carnations to-morrow. I hope they won't 
be dead. To-day there has been a thick fog all day, so 
good old Manch. has hardly looked at its best. Next 
week I will tell you about my chemistry work, and about 
a Boys' Club I am going to this Friday.' 

' May 6, 1914. 
4 Thank you so very much for the photos which I am so 

flad to have for my book. They remind me of one of the 
est week-ends I have ever had. 

4 1 am so glad the carnations are nice. I am sending 
you a novel which I loved, and perhaps you will like it 
also, though I am a little frightened, as you seem so 
interested in Egyptian History ! But perhaps you can find 
a spare moment to read it ! ! ' 

The account of Ronald's work at Mather & Platt's is 
introduced by memories of his old friend Claude Hardy: 

'Work started at 8.0 a.m. which meant getting up at 
about 6.45 in order to have breakfast and get down in 
time. At 12.30 there was an interval of an hour for lunch, 
and we knocked off at 5.50 p.m. On the top of that Ronald 

J 9 X 4 287 

used to go to the College of Technology for two hours, 
two nights a week. Sometimes in the summer we used to 
lunch off sandwiches, &c., on a plot of land outside the 
works. The surroundings rather spoilt the picnic effect. 
It was rather a monotonous life at times, and I was very 
glad to have Ronald's companionship. He never seemed 
to feel depressed, and always had a cheery word for every 
one. His friends know well enough what his loss means 
to them ; and they also know what it means to his country. 

' Ronald was very popular at the works among all 
classes. Of course there were some who made up to him 
because he was rich, but he knew how to deal with them. 
He took a great interest in the boys and used to go and 
see their clubs, and sometimes he would take a party of 
them to the Victoria Park swimming bath. 

' One of the funniest recollections I have of our time in 
Manchester was one morning catching the early tram 
down to the works. I left the house just before Ronald, 
and just as I got on the tram it started off. I looked back 
to see if he was coming and saw him sprinting along with 
both hands full and an apple in his mouth! He caught 
the tram all right. 

' One week-end Ronald went to a dance at Chester, and 
towards the end K. G. Macleod, who was one of the party, 
bet that he could give Ronald 5 yards start in a hundred 
and beat him. So then and there in evening dress they 
adjourned to the main street and put the matter to the 
test. I am not sure, but I believe Macleod just won 
the bet.' 

Ronald soon took to the work at Mather & Platt's and 
had only been in Manchester a few weeks when Margaret 
wrote to me that he already looked ' the typical engineer, 
with perfectly filthy hands ! ' And Mr. Grant, who taught 
Ronald fermentation, remembers how he would laugh 
heartily as he held up his oily hands and say 'a nice pair 
of paws to go into a lady's drawing-room with '. 

The following extracts from three letters to his mother 
describe Ronald's first impressions of work and workers : 

'21 Sept., 1913. 

' Friday we went to see Mather's : and I was introduced 
to my foreman, in the textile machinery department where 


I am going to start. This machinery is most allied to the 
biscuit-making machinery, so it will be interesting seeing 
a bit of work on it. The foreman, a man named Mundy, 
said I was a "fine lad", but seemed disappointed when 
I said I hadn't done any work of this kind before. We 
start in to-morrow. Yesterday afternoon I went over and 
played for Liverpool at Liverpool. We won 48-0, and 
nad quite a jolly game. I have also fixed up 2 evenings 
a week on bread-making and confectionery at the School 
[now College] of Technology/ 

' 28 Sept., 1913. 

1 1 have done nothing this week except chipping and 
filing cast iron! But I am going to have a change next 

' I am greatly struck with the class of mechanic up here. 
He is very superior, and you can't spot which is the work- 
man and which the gentleman apprentice. A boy goes 
into apprenticeship at 14, and at 21 is earning about 155. 
and comes out, and in 2 years time from then earns 395. a 
week. This is how organized labour scores. Then again 
the Union steps in and says no man shall work later than 
8.30 on overtime, and a hundred employers can't do other- 
wise than agree. At the same time if say ten men were 
working on a job, which is estimated to take a week to do, 
and they succeed in doing it in say 5 days, the difference 
in amount between their total wages for 7 and 5 days is 
divided between them as a bonus, in proportion to their 
wages. So they are encouraged to work fast. 

'The bread-making class on Tuesday and Thursday 
evenings is very interesting. I am at present analysing 
Standard bread ! ' 

' 28 Oct., 1913. 

' It is more interesting now, as I have a machine of my 
own to build, so you get a good variety of jobs. I have 
just started the sugar analysis.' 

Ronald's later experiences at Mather and Platt's are 
described in letters to Hilda, who, having taken the 
Preliminary Science Examinations as an Oxford Home 
Student, was interested to know some of the details of 
his work. 

1914 289 

' 29 April, 1914. 

' We had a rather fine blow-up to-day. Outside our 
little cabin, in which are all the instruments for testing the 
machines, is a big switch-board. On it are the bus bars 
connected with the different mains. At one spot there are 
two bars thus : [drawing] A. is at 220 volts, B. is at Zero, 
i.e. is earthed. 

* A fellow was making some connections and by mistake 

put a connection across A B. Now you remember Ohm's 

Law I = ^ ? Well, E = 220 volts, and R = about say 

oooooi ohm, as it was a big copper connecting piece 

220 ill 

I = = 220,000,000 amperes a dead short 



' All I heard was an enormous bang and a big flash, and 
another bang, as the large switch (automatic) came out. 
When the current gets very big, the switch comes out 
automatically, and breaks the circuit. The connection was 
burnt right through. It 's quite exciting work. We test 
insulations with anything up to 10,000 volts. You know 
500 volts will often kill a man. But we are very careful, so 
it 's quite safe. It 's very interesting.' 

'6 May, 1914. 

' I have just been to the baths near here with several 
chaps from Mather's. They are fine baths. 

' Next week I am going to do a week's night work to try 
what it is like. It means going in at 9.30 p.m. and out at 
8.0 a.m. I'll write and tell you about it next week.' 

1 13 May, 1914. 

' You will be surprised at this paper, but you know that 
I am on night work this week. It is now 2.30 a.m., and 
when one comes to think of it, it is a curious place to be in. 
Here I am sitting at a table in our test room. The 
tester with me is snoring, lying across three chairs ; 
above are the quivering needles of the recording instru- 
ments, outside the drone of the machines we are testing, 
and beyond perfect blackness, broken here and there 
by solitary lights which light up certain machines on 
which men are working all night. It is quite an eerie 



' You see, the process is this. You take your motor or 
dynamo and fasten it on its bed, and connect it by a belt 
or pulley to a dynamo or motor. Then you make your 
correct connections on your switch-board, and start the 
machine and give it its full load. And then you simply 
take readings of your instruments every hour for 4, 6, or 
8 hours. After that you stop it and measure the tempera- 
ture of its various parts. You do sundry other tests, but 
they are all much the same. 

' We are pretty slack to-night, and shall get away about 
6.15. Yesterday I got in at 10 p.m. and did not leave till 
8 a.m. Then I went home and had a large breakfast, and 
read the paper. Then I felt sleepy and went to bed at 10, 
and didn t wake up till 4.15!! Then I dressed, went to 
see Margaret, came back, had some dinner, and went down 
to the Tec. for 2| hours, and then came back here. So 
you see there was not much time over to spare. That 's 
why I am writing letters to-night. 

' Hullo, I must take some readings. 

4 Will you show this to the family ? ' 

Mr. Delahunty remembers Ronald's 'keen interest in 
engineering. The last time that I spoke to him on the 
subject he was busy making a complete working model of 
one of Mather and Platt's fire extinguishers, and I made 
for him a few glass bulbs containing acid to use along 
with it. He was also very fond of the slide-rule and 
could not understand why chemists so seldom made use 
of it.' 

The following letter was written by Sir William Mather 
to Ronald's uncle, Mr. Alfred Palmer, the senior director 
of Huntley and Palmers. It is dated 30 July, 1914, a week 
after Ronald had left Manchester. 

' It is extremely gratifying to have your assurance and 
that of your nephew Poulton that his sojourn with us was 
not only a pleasant experience, but also useful in some 
degree in widening his views and knowledge. 

' On the other hand I can truly say that we never have 
had so charming a personality in our works as he proved 
to be. Every one from my son downwards deeply regretted 
his leaving and will never forget his visit. He attracted me 
in the highest degree on the few occasions when I had the 


opportunity of talking with him. It would have been 
a very happy result of your nephew's sojourn had he 
been so circumstanced that his future career had not been 
determined by fortune and connections before he came to 
us. In that case perhaps he might have remained with us 
to make a career ! 

' It was a pleasure to us to meet your lamented brother's 
wishes and I regret deeply that he has passed on without 
realizing, though I am sure he must have felt, that your 
nephew would be a success.' 

From Sir William Mather. 

'The tragic, yet heroic, death of your noble son has 
deeply affected me, and I feel it would be a relief to write 
you a few lines of appreciation. 

' In the course of a long life, closely associated with 
young men of all classes in many ways, but especially as 
pupils in our Engineering Works, I have never met any 
one, whose character, capacity, manliness, and charming 
personality have made so lasting an impression as that of 
your lamented son Ronald. At first sight, when my old 
friend Palmer introduced him with the request that he 
might enter our Works, I heartily consented under the 
influence of irresistible attraction. 

' After he had been at the Works a short time, I heard 
from my son and others of Ronald's extraordinary influence 
on our young men, and the high regard for him shown by 
the workmen in all the departments. 

4 1 regretted that he was not following the career of an 
engineer, as nothing would have pleased me more than to 
afford him every opportunity in our Works of reaching the 
highest position, of which I truly believed he was capable. 
His modesty, and total absence of self-consciousness, his 
refined and gentle nature combined with fine physique and 
moral strength are qualities which would have carried him 
far in any career he might have chosen.' 

Mr. G. W. Palmer's will, appearing prominently in the 
papers a few weeks after Ronald had entered as a pupil, 
made a considerable impression in the Works. Indeed, 
Mr. Delahunty tells me that he heard of some disappoint- 
ment being felt that Ronald did not signalize the occasion 
in some obvious way, such as paying the fares all round 

u 2 


when going home in a tram ! One action that he took has 
only come to my knowledge through his correspondence, 
among which I found the following letter from his foreman, 
Mr. J. Mundy. It is dated January 5, 1915, when Ronald 
was training his men at Chelmsford and could not be 
present. The 250 parcels were sent to the wives and 
families of all employees in the Army or interned in 
Germany. The inclusion of Capt. L. Mather's son, 
symbolizing the community of partners and work-people is 
especially characteristic. 


'Will you please accept my apologies for not writing 
before to thank you for the very handsome photos you 
were so kind as to send ; they are the best I have seen, 
and you look exceedingly well in them. The military 
moustache suits you very well indeed. 

' The proposed party for the children fell through as 
a party, as, on going round to visit every wife and family 
wnich we did within a radius of twelve miles from the 
works we found that most of them could not afford even 
the small amount it would cost to come to one central 
meeting place in Manchester. Therefore the Committee 
arranged to make a parcel up and present them personally 
on Christmas Eve to every one within the twelve mile 
radius. This was arranged and done, but it meant a good 
deal of work for the Committee, but we were well repaid 
for our trouble for the pleasure it gave to the wives and 
children. The parcels each consisted of : 

i patriotic enamelled box with three " Excelda " hand- 
kerchiefs, i tin of garden roller biscuits, with either knitted 
jerseys for boys or skirts etc. for girls, i book for each 
child, an assortment of Christmas cards, three new pennies, 
and i box of chocolates. 

'I must again thank you most heartily for your very 
generous gift, which added so much to the pleasure of the 
youngsters. We had all the parcels on show in the dining- 
rooms for two days previous to the distribution and they 
looked very well indeed. Sir William came down to have 
a look at them and was so well pleased that he kindly 
insisted that he must be allowed to do something, so he 
presented each wife or female dependent with a knitted 

1913 i9 T 4 2 93 

woollen vest which we had to present to each of them on 
New Year's Eve. So there was another busy time. All 
who lived beyond the twelve mile radius were posted. 
Lt. Loris Mather is at Southport with the Engineers, so 
there was a parcel for his young son like the others, except 
that there was a Teddy-bear instead of jersey. 

' Hoping you are keeping in good health as I am myself, 
and wishing you every fortune and success in your career, 
with kindly remembrances from all who knew you at 
M. and P.'s. 

1 1 remain, 

'Yours sincerely, 

' J. MUNDY.' 

It has already been explained that in addition to his 
work at Mather & Platt's, Ronald attended evening classes 
at the College of Technology, Manchester. 

Mr. James Grant, head of the Fermentation Industries 
Sub-Department, has recalled memories of Ronald during 
the time that he was working with him. Mr. Grant has 
consulted Ronald's fellow-students, but the assistant, who 
saw much of him, died in January, 1913. 

4 Whilst with us he endeared himself to all, both staff 
and fellow-students. He helped the students in their work 
whenever he could, was always unassuming, and made 
himself quite at home amongst them. He was always 
hard-working and set a high standard to those about 

'The students often wished to discuss Football with 
him, but on this subject Poulton was not to be drawn. He 
appeared to avoid it as much as possible. One man, a 
Scot, bothered him very much for his autograph, saying 
" Meester Poulton, you might gie us your signature ". To 
this Poulton shook his head ; but one evening after constant 
requests, he sat down and wrote : 

" Dear -- , I never give any one my signature. 
" Yours faithfully, 

" R. W. POULTON." 

' At first the man was dumbfounded and then, grasping 
the fact, shouted out "Man, ye hae done it". How the 
fellows in the laboratory enjoyed the joke! 


' To his future in the Works at Reading he looked for- 
ward with a certain amount of anxiety and trepidation : for 
he felt that the responsibility was very great, and he had 
high ideals. 

' I told him once about his uncle coming to see me to 
talk over his work in my laboratory and how he laughed 
when he heard of the words with which Mr. Palmer ended 
the conversation : "I don't mind telling you about our 
place, but you shall never go over it in my life-time." 

' Poulton told me just before he left Manchester that his 
work had been very happy and enjoyable, and that he 
hoped to come again and spend more happy hours in the 
Laboratory. But that was not to be. 

' By his death the country has lost a man possessed of 
the power and ability as well as the ardent desire to leave 
the world better for his sojourn in it.' 

To Hilda. 

' 6 May, 1914. 

' I said I would say something about my work at the 
Tec. Well I am analysing butter and margarine. 

' Margarine can be made from any oil pretty well, i. e. 
beef fat, cocoanut oil, linseed oil, cotton-seed oil, herring 
oil, whale oil. In each case a white substance consisting 
of stearin, palmitin, and plein is made in most cases by 
boiling the oil and driving hydrogen through it in the 
presence of a catalytic agent like spongy platinum or 
nickel. The substances so formed are ethereal salts of 
stearic, palmitic, or oleic acid and they have a formula of 
the form C 3 H 5 (O.OC.C 17 H 35 ) 3 . The hydrogen is picked 
up by the unsaturated compounds in the oils, and this 
substance is then formed. Then you melt this white solid 
(it looks like candle tallow), and add 10 % butter-milk, and 
some colouring matter and some butter flavour and there 
is margarine ! ! It is easy to test it, to show its difference 
from butter. But it is nearly impossible to discover from 
which source the stearin etc. has been produced. The 
tests are very interesting and quite simple, but it would 
take rather long to describe.' 

After his regular work at Mather and Platt's and the 
College of Technology was over, Ronald spent a few days 
in visiting firms and gaining varied experience. On June 
22, 1914, we left Liverpool for the Australian meeting of 

1914 295 

the British Association, and Ronald came to Oxford to say 
good-bye on June 12-13. On July 15 he wrote from 
Oxford, where he had gone to play in the lawn tennis 
tournament, to me at the Reception Room, Melbourne, 
telling us of the Manchester doings : 

' I finished up at Mather's and said good-bye etc., and 
then I went and inspected various firms. I went first to 
the Lancashire Dynamo Company, and compared their 
works with ours at Mather's. There are a lot of their 
motors at the Factory. Then I went over the Stuart St. 
Power Station. It is a wonderful place, great engines 
doing about 50000 horse power, roaring away. Then on the 
Tuesday, Max, Margaret, and I went to Barlow and Jones' 
big spinning and weaving mill. It was extremely interest- 
ing, and it was a fine 1000 B.H.P. [Brake Horse Power] 
horizontal engine that ran their works. Then on the 
Wednesday I spent the day at the Birchenwood Colliery 
near Newcastle-under-Lyme. It is electrically equipped 
with M. and P.'s gas engines and motors, and they make 
entirely bye-products, Ammonia, H 2 SO 4 , Benzol, Pitch, etc. 
I went down a shaft and saw 2 M. and P. pumps doing 
1800 gallons a minute and lifting the water loco ft. 

' I go to Manchester to-night.' 

On July 22, he wrote to his mother at the Sydney 
Reception Room : 

' Here I am spending my last evening in Manchester, 
and, having written to you, I am going to spend it in a 
" picture palace " with Hardy as a farewell show.' 

After describing the tennis tournament he continued : 

' Then I went to Rugby and played cricket against the 
School and stayed with Claude Evers, and came up here on 
Monday. That day I spent at Cammell Laird's ship- 
building place : Tuesday at Vickers where they make the 
big guns 15 inch and shells. It was a wonderful place. 
You should have seen the armour plates, 13 inches thick, 
cut like cheese by an oxyhydrogen flame which simply 
burnt the steel through ! I believe the burglars use the 
same apparatus against safes. This morning I went with 
Max to see a cotton-printing Mill of Mr. Godlee's. And 
this afternoon I spent at Crossfield's Soapworks very 



exciting, as I got hold of their Social Secretary and talked 
to him for 3 hours on their social schemes, and got lots 
of tips. The soap-making was very interesting, and I carry 
a smell of soap on me which will never leave me, as I 
dropped by mistake a drop of ottar of roses (concentrated 
solution) on my coat. To-morrow I go to Westinghouse, 
and then to Reading, ready for Camp.' 



He was one of those to whom we looked forward to be a leader of 
'Industrial England' in the near future. He had the world before 
him and the world is the loser by his death. JAMES GRANT, of the 
Manchester Municipal College of Technology. 

RONALD took the keenest interest in the working-men of 
the north, and he had the opportunity of studying them 
under very favourable conditions during his months of work 
with a firm whose senior partner, Sir William Mather 
an employer for over 50 years is one who holds very 
strong and hopeful views on the harmonizing of Capital 
and Labour. 

Mr. James Grant remembers Ronald telling him, in the 
intervals of some analysis in his department, about his 
machine work at Mather & Platt's and the long hours it 

1 Yet he appeared to enjoy it very much, especially the 
spirit of comradeship exhibited by his fellow-workers who 
often helped him, for they were proud to be associated 
with him. Ronald loved telling how one of them would 
often say " Here sonny, let me show you how it is done". 

Ronald told me of a talk with one fellow-worker at 
Manchester who had subscribed to the Memorial to Alfred 
Russel Wallace and wanted to know whether the Poulton 
concerned with it was a relation of his. ' A friend of the 
working-man ' was his companion's description of Wallace. 

Mr. Delahunty recalls an incident that took place soon 
after Ronald bought his motor-car : 

' He had the misfortune to run over and hurt a dog. 
The accident was quite unavoidable and the fault was 
certainly not his, for ne was travelling at about six miles an 


hour. However, the owner commenced to abuse him; 
whereupon the passers by who were witnesses of the 
accident took up the cudgels on Ronald's behalf, and slated 
the dog's owner unmercifully. I mention the little incident 
because Ronald was so pleased at the proof that work- 
ing folk were inspired by a strong sense of justice which 
they were not afraid to express, even at the expense of 
one of their own class.' 

The same friend has kindly recalled memories of other 
talks about working-men with Ronald : 

' He seemed particularly anxious to study the workman 
in his relation to the employer, and to understand the 
attitude on the part of the employer which would be most 
likely to produce harmony. When I offered the opinion 
that there should be no familiarity between the employer 
and any employee during working-hours, as it would be 
almost certain to lead to jealousy and lack of discipline, 
he agreed with me, but only after a considerable pause, 
and he seemed rather sorry that I should hold such an 
opinion. And I am sure that, had he been an employer, 
he would have cultivated the acquaintance of his employees 
after business hours, and would have made the comfort of 
the workpeople and their families one of his first considera- 
tions not in any spirit of condescension, but as a duty 
and a pleasure. He fully realized the responsibility 
brought by the possession of money, and maintained that 
it could not be better spent by an employer than in study- 
ing and providing for the comfort and well-being of the 

' He did not fail to admire what he termed the sturdy 
independence of the workmen of the north, and I remember 
him contrasting it with the dependent position of the agri- 
cultural labourer and farm hand in the south, where he 
maintained that conditions were still akin to serfdom, and 
where the Lord of the Manor was practically the controller 
of their every action. 

' He was certainly an admirer of Trades Unionism, but 
he agreed that it had a tendency to kill individual merit, 
which was the reason I gave to him for being partly 
opposed to it. His contention was that if all employers 
were just and honest the working man would be better 
without Trades Unionism, but that, as things were, it was 
the workman's only redress against exploitation by the 


employer, and that as such it was a very valuable weapon 
to hold.' 

Incidents and words already recorded will show that 
Ronald would be sure to listen with regret to the opinion 
that it was sometimes right to restrain the spontaneous 
expressions of good will and comradeship which were 
a part of his natural self. But I am confident that he 
recognized the soundness of the conclusion, just as he 
came increasingly to realize as his friend R. W. Dugdale 
has told me the essential importance of discipline in 
Boys' Clubs and the necessity for restraining any words 
or actions that might tend to weaken it. 

As regards Trades Unions I remember a conversation 
with him on one of the recent occasions when the men had 
thrown over their own officials and repudiated engage- 
ments entered into by them. ' That 's hopeless ' was his 
comment the same spirit and the same words with which 
he once met an attempt to dispute the ruling of a referee 
at football. On the subject of strikes I once suggested to 
him that men working on the railways, on coal, or some 
other essential industry had an unreasonable advantage in 
the pressure they could put upon the community. He did 
not say much at the time, but later on, when he was 
returning to Manchester and I was seeing him off at the 
Oxford station, he suddenly returned to the subject and 
said that he agreed the advantage was unreasonable and 
that such strikes should be prevented by the scale of the 
wages and compulsory arbitration, involving, I think he 
suggested, nationalization ; although, in this country, 
nationalization is unlikely to lead to financial success or to 
wages as good as those paid by enterprise independent of 
government control. 

Mr. Delahunty and no doubt many other friends con- 
sidered that Ronald too much idealized the working-man. 
But belief in an ideal is the surest step towards gaining it. 
It was a wonderful thing in one so young that Ronald's 
ideals were never lowered nor his belief lessened by 
a growing experience of human failure. He never shirked 


the facts ; he looked things in the face, and still believed 
that man was essentially what he wished him to be, and 
that, given conditions that were fair and just, his ideal 
would be realized. Love which thinketh no evil was the 
firm foundation of his faith in his fellow-men and on this 
again was built his sure hope for them. 

The Boys' Clubs of Manchester were studied with the 
deepest interest by Ronald. Mr. Delahunty tells me that 
they formed the chief topic of his conversation, and that he 
continually dwelt upon their influence for good. I found 
among his papers nearly four pages of foolscap covered by 
notes which he intended to use in the foundation of a new 
Boys' Club in Reading. Although under 25, he had had 
nine years' experience in London, Oxford, Reading, and in 
summer Camps : he brought a fresh and sympathetic, and 
yet singularly mature and balanced judgement to bear on 
the problems which were the central interest of his life, 
and I do not doubt that his notes and comments on the 
Manchester Clubs, printed below, will be of value to those 
who seek to strengthen and extend these powerful forces 
for the well-being of the community. 

' Some Notes on Manchester Boys' Clubs, from visits to the 
Adelphi, Crossley \Openshaw Lads' Club], Ancoats, 
Hey rod St., Salford. 

' I am just noting the following points. 

' i. Club Buildings, Some of tnese are very ideal and 

Eerhaps the Salford one is the best. Here the main 
uilding is formed round the large gymnasium. The 
objection urged is that it is noisy for the Classes, and also 
for the gymnasium instruction. 

' Fives Courts are almost universal, and should be copied : 
also a rough room is nearly always present, i.e. in 
Heyrod St., Crossley, for playing football ; but the point 
is raised Is it good to free people from discipline when 
you are trying to instil it into them ? 

' Gymnasiums are universal and very well equipped 
(except Heyrod St.). There is also nearly always washing 
and bathing accommodation. 
'2. Size of Clubs. These clubs are nearly all too large, 


varying from 1700 (Ancoats) to about 300. This usually 
includes a number of boys at school, and even as young as 
10 (Ancoats). When as young as this there is usually 
a separate department. But this large size prevents the 
personal feeling between staff and boys which is the most 
important thing in a club. In Crossley this feeling is 
absent, and everywhere it seems reduced because of the 
small number of staff. Boys are often divided into rooms 
(13-16) (16-20) i. e. at Salford. 

' 3. Discipline is very good worst at Heyrod St., perhaps 
best at Adelphi. It is perfectly easy to leave any room 
alone, and mere will be quiet. The Gymnasium Class 
(especially Adelphi) showed great discipline : there was no 

'.4. Type of Boy. This discipline was largely due to the 
regulations enforced (and of course to the old standing of 
the Clubs). These regulations stopped or drove out the 
rougher boys, and from enquiries I find that none of these 
clubs caters for or touches the poorest boy. This is 
significant. They are largely apprentices in the skilled 
trades (in Crossley 90 %), and more often than not sons of 
tradesmen 1 parents (i.e. Trades Union men). This is 
reflected in their dress (especially at Crossley, and the old 
members of Salford and Heyrod St.). 

' Such Clubs have the immense advantage that they can 
call upon these members, who can do something definite 
and useful for their Club i.e. printing Souvenir for 
Adelphi, and painting Club premises, making switch-board 
at Salford, and putting down concrete, and in many other 
ways. They also have the advantage of dealing with the 
north-country boy who strikes me very greatly to be more 
independent, and full of initiative, and more capable of 
doing a job by himself, without much prompting and 
pushing. Their loyalty is a real thing, and is made much 
use of i.e. at Salford certain boys take turn and turn 
about to tend the gas-engine, and a boy of 15, three days 
a week, looked after the cloak-room ; at Adelphi they give 
out games and look after draughts room. At Adelphi an 
old member teaches carving which he himself learnt there, 
and the Gymnasium instructor is an old boy. 

1 In Manchester, and generally in engineering circles, a ' trades- 
man ' does not mean a shopkeeper, but a ' man who works at a skilled 
trade ', who would generally, but not necessarily, be a member of a 
Trades Union. 


' At some Clubs Rosette Boys or Instructors are tried 
i. e. at Adelphi where they are successful ; at Heyrod St. 
(they are Sergeants in the Boys' Brigade) ; tried and failed 
at Ancoats; at Salford they have a successful Workers' 
Committee, which is entirely elected by the Club. They 
use their old members a good lot, but officers among the 
boys do not seem to be successful except at Adelphi. 

'At Salford their old members are kept on till they 
marry or leave. This is much the same at other Clubs, 
there being a special room for them. Heyrod St. alone 
has a regular Old Members' Club. 

' 5. All the usual [games] with Fives and Ping-pong 
both very popular, and a good game of Football with 
2 goal-posts, 2 draughtsmen and 2 pieces of stick. 

'6. Classes are shown in pamphlets. Outside book- 
classes there are fretwork, carpentering, &c. See papers. 

'7. No prayers on week-days; voluntary service on 
Sundays. This seems universal. 

'8. Relations between officers and boys satisfactory in 
all but two ; but large clubs make it difficult. They do not 
seem to me to be so sympathetic to one another as down 
South. But they are of course naturally more reserved. 

' 9. Subscriptions : see Reports.' 

Ronald had noted a few figures showing, at Ancoats, 
6d. entrance and 6d. per month for Seniors, 2< entrance 
and id. weekly for Juniors, id. and \d. for Schoolboys ; at 
Adelphi, 6d. entrance and zd. weekly for the Men's Club, 
and for members under twenty-one %d. and id. Roughly 
everywhere subscriptions are about as above. 

The receipts of various kinds from the boys themselves 
were noted down by Ronald from the accounts of the 
previous financial year. The total contribution from the 
members was about two-thirds of the year's expenditure at 
Adelphi; 401 out of .1,036 at Ancoats; .642 out of 
1,430 at Hugh Oldham. 

' Interesting points about Clubs. 

' Adelphi. i. A Club motto, and a new motto for each 

2. Rosette boys. 

3. Caps not to be worn in Club. 


4. Cards of membership are given, and are 

exchanged for games, when games are 

5. Weekly news. 

6. A Christmas party is held. 

7. Old Boys Association. 

[Also added in margin] Boy-Scouts, Bank, Chess, 
Library, News Room. 

Hugh Oldham [largely run by the Manchester Grammar 

1. Penny Bank. 

2. Orchestra. 

3. Prefects. 

Ancoats. i. Week-end cottage. 

2. Swimming Club. 

3. Poor man s lawyer. 

Crossley. i. Qualification for Camp attendances at 
Sunday School and 30 attendances of two 
full hours each at Evening Classes. 
2. Private Sports Ground. 

Salford. i. Junior Branch run entirely by Old Boys. 

2. Fives Court. 

3. Dances. 

4. Male voice choir. 

5. Labour bureau.' 

I am indebted to the kindness of the Secretaries of the 
Clubs in clearing up any uncertainties and correcting any 
errors in these hurriedly written notes. It has not been 
thought necessary to indicate the few corrections that have 
been made. 

I am informed by the Secretary of the Adelphi Club 
that on Oct. 21, 1917, he knew of 824 members serving and 
1 16 killed. 

On another sheet of foolscap Ronald had noted down in 
pencil some chief points to be emphasized in the new Boys' 
Club he hoped to assist in founding at Reading. It will 
be seen that his Manchester experience was fully utilized 
in these notes, which may yet help in carrying out his 
dearest wishes for the town he loved. 


' Thoughts for New Club 1914. 

(1) We must have new premises. 

(a) In them we mignt get a troop of Scouts attached 

to reinforce our ranks. They could come in 
on the other nights when we were not open. 

(b) We must arrange about Evening Classes and the 

formation of hobbies. 

(c) Penny Bank, Library and papers. 

(d) Ping-pong, billiard-table, football, fives, draughts 

and chess. 

(e) Swimming Club. 

(2) Club motto and badge. 

(3) Prefects if possible. 

(4) Caps not to be worn in Club. 

(5) ? Cards of membership and weekly news. Premature. 

(6) Promise of lantern (3). 

(7) Christmas party. 

(8) Labour bureau. 

(9) ? Qualification for Camp.' 

To this list of important points to be aimed at in Club 
management and Club life I am able to add the principles 
which Ronald came to look upon as most essential. They 
are well remembered by his friend Capt. C. P. Symonds, 
who writes : 

'After our first meeting at the New Romney camp of 
1909 I saw a good deal of him at Boys' Clubs, and later on 
talked with him quite a lot on the subject. 

' He was imbued with the idea that one of the first 
lessons a boy needed was that of self-respect, and this 
engendered in him two principles : (i) His Utopian Boys' 
Club should be self-supporting in all things, and with this 
end in view he would nave the members pay their weekly 
subscription or forfeit their membership. This not only as 
a first step towards his ideal, but as a practical economic 
measure : pauperization was a bad thing : and so from 
both sides he combated the great desire of the slum boy 
to get " something for nothing ". 

' (2) His second principle was that a Club should be really 
democratic : he was always in favour of rules made by the 
boys for themselves, and was much impressed by the 
autonomy of the Clubs he saw in Manchester. 

'I often talked with him and consulted him about the 


difficulties I found myself in helping to organize the Rugby 
Boys' Club, and I remember very well his saying what 
I felt at the time to be very true, that a member of the staff 
should not be satisfied with going down just to talk to the 
boys he liked : any one who liked boys at all could get 
plenty of amusement out of that. We, with the advantages 
of our position and education, ought to do more for them. 
I had always felt this myself, and to hear this from him 
gave me at the time much encouragement. 

' He believed in showing the boys plainly that we were 
going out of our way and giving up something to try and 
help them, and he believed that they should feel that it was 
the Christian spirit that led us to do it. This sounds prig- 
gish, but nothing was farther from him : he had the good 
sense to know that the more intelligent boys would ask 
themselves why the toffs came down evening after evening 
when they might have been enjoying themselves "up 
West ". And it was right that they should have the true 
answer. He wanted them to feel that a higher influence 
was at work, and partly for that reason also ne would have 
prayers every evening: it was a constant regret to him 
that this was not the custom at the Rugby Clubs.' 

The following recollections of the Rev. W. Temple no 
doubt refer to the new Club which Ronald hoped to 
found : 

' Ronnie once consulted me on the question whether the 
Boys' Club at Reading should be limited to boys in 
the employment of the firm. To this he objected on the 
ground that it made the work, which should have been one 
of personal friendship, into an extension of discipline, and 
he desired that the Club should be open to all Reading 
boys, though naturally the majority of the members would 
be in the employment of the firm. In the Club he did not 
want at all to be the benevolent employer but simply the 
friend of any boys who came. I strongly upheld him in 
this but I was merely supporting a decision which he had 
already reached. The point illustrates however his whole 
attitude with regard to the relations of employers and 

Mr. Dimbleby has also written on the same subject : 

' Ronald spoke to me at one time about starting a Cen- 
tral Club in Reading, open to boys in any parish, but this 



meant a big responsibility, financial and otherwise. Had 
Ronald lived, I mink the scheme would have matured no 
doubt chiefly at his expense but the building, equipment 
and maintenance of such a Club would have involved 
a large outlay. 

' Ronald's attitude to boys was certainly that indicated 
by Mr. Temple in his letter. ' 

The love of Reading and his work there, his memories 
of it and his hopes for it, penetrated Ronald's whole life in 
Manchester; and he knew that he was not forgotten. He 
kept in touch with the Club and heard that, under the 
management of the Rev. R. W. Morley and Mr. B. Perkins, 
the numbers were keeping up well, and occasionally he 
was able to be present. In addition to the letter from 
Mr. B. Perkins from which I have quoted on p. 277 he 
received numbers of letters from Reading boys telling him 
of doings in the Club, of their football matches and 
especially of a great Christmas performance, ' The Birth- 
place of Podgers ', for which they were preparing. More 
than one of them wrote out the whole list of characters and 
the names of those who were going to play them. A few 
words which must have given him great pleasure are 
quoted below : 

From F. Harding. 

1 1 am glad to see that you are again chosen to represent 
England. This tells me you are still in form. Shall be 
glad to see you down the Club again.' 

From W. C. Bushell. 

1 We hope to go down to New Romney again and we 
mean to enjoy ourselves like we did when we went with 

From A. Alway. 

1 Every boy of the Club sends his best wishes to you, 
and hopes to see you again before long.' 

Only recently, nearly three years after his death, I have 
been told one of those little things which endeared Ronald 
to the boys of Manchester no less than to his young friends 


who wrote from Reading and longed for his return. It 
comes to me through Mr. T. Gear Williams of the China 
Inland Mission, who has kindly written : 

' The incident about which you inquire was told me by 
a young friend of mine, Duncan B. Hogg, who was for 
some time a gentleman apprentice at Mather & Platt's and 
was working in the same shop with your son. He told me 
what a splendid fellow he was, and one who possessed 
such a large-hearted interest in young lads and boys. He 
also bore testimony to the beautiful simplicity of his 
character, and absence of " side " or " swank . My young 
friend said to me: "This little incident will show you the 
greatness of his character : one day in leaving the work- 
shops and going down the street, a little chap who was 
attached to him was awaiting his coming. He immediately 
joined hands and walked down the street with this small 
companion, and then with all the pride of hero-worship, the 
little youngster pulled out of his grimy pocket a sweet, and 
said ' Mr. Poulton, I have had some sweets given to me 
and I have kept this for you ' : and like a regular man and 
a gentleman, he took it from the little lad and ate it! "' 

X 2 



His was the sweetest disposition I have ever known, and there are 
few left like him in the world. We are like the officers and men : 
we both adored him. Mrs. GRIPPER, Ronald's hostess at Redcot, 

THE outbreak of war found our family scattered, my 
wife, Janet, and I in Australia with the British Association, 
the others in England. As soon as we were informed by 
cable that Ronald had volunteered for foreign service, we 
looked for a speedy voyage home, selecting the Suez and 
Mediterranean route by the 'Malwa', sailing from Adelaide 
Aug. 27. Thus, after five weeks we left the brilliant air 
and skies of the southern continent where everything that 
hospitality and wise forethought could give had been 
splendidly achieved, although overcast all the time by the 
darkest cloud of human history. With lights dimmed and 
150 miles out of our course we steamed northward, learn- 
ing on Sept. 4 from the Cocos Keeling wireless of the fall 
of Lemberg and the French Government's removal to 
Bordeaux. At last, on Sept. 20, Aden, and a letter from 
Ronald written Aug. 28 from Chelmsford. It was the first 
we could have received since the outbreak of war. The 
earlier part, given in greater detail in other letters, is here 


' At Swindon, Margaret and Teddie came up as they had 
the same idea as that in your wire, i. e. the great responsi- 
bilities, &c. But my mind was made up, after thought. 
Nothing counts till this war is settled and Germany is beaten. 
You can't realize in Australia what is happening here. 
Germany has to be smashed, i. e. I mean the military party, 

From photographs by W. Dimbleby. 



B. PERKINS (standing) 

The cook, Sergt. Warren, standing by window, was called up and left 
early on Friday, July 31. 

[Facing p. 309. 


and everybody realizes, and everybody is volunteering. 
And those who are best trained are most wanted, and so I 
should be a skunk to hold back. No more now as we live 
a very strenuous life, and I must go to bed. I am 
extremely fit, and we are a very cheery party.' 

After the cable message we knew what the letter must 
tell us, and now we had received it we had nothing left to 
long for except home. The ' Malwa ' reached Plymouth 
on Oct. 5, and five days later we were at Chelmsford. 

I must now go back to Ronald in England and describe 
the part that he played in the momentous events of 
August 1914. 

He left Manchester on July 23, stayed the night at 
Rugby, and joined the Reading Boys' Camp at New 
Romney on July 25. From the account written by Mr. B. 
Perkins in the log, the Camp was evidently a great success. 
Thirty boys were present. Ronald 'was the life of the 
place. His previous experiences of New Romney being 
very numerous, his advice was very welcome. Unfor- 
tunately for us all he was away for the Wednesday, the 
day we spent at Folkestone.' This was the day on 
which Ronald had arranged to meet some old friends he 
had not seen for a long time, and Lord's, on the first day 
of the Rugby-Marlborough match, was fixed upon as the 
meeting-place. His friend Cecil D. Webb remembers it 
as their last meeting, and his last sight was of Ronald 
congratulating a young member of the XI on a plucky 

W. Dimbleby recalls ' the delight of the boys and the 
cheer they raised when they saw him coming across the 
links to the Camp on his return '. 

A few more passages describing Ronald's last Camp at 
New Romney are quoted from the log : 

' Fortunately this shadowing cloud of war just missed 
the marring of our Camp. 

' The happiest of spirits and the truest feeling of sports- 
manship were the marked features of that long (not long 
enough !) happy hour.' 


The end of the account spoke of the Camp as one ' that 
brought us very close to each other and taught us that 
after all one of the best things in life is a true and real 
friendship '. 

Ronald returned to Reading on Aug. i, the Saturday 
before the War, and he and C. T. Waldy spent the greater 
part of the evening with their friend Mr. Dryland Haslam, 
who recalls these memories of their talk together : 

' I wish I could tell you much about that Saturday even- 
ing, but those days were so full of happenings that it is 
difficult to recall details. The two men took the matter of 
the war very differently in a sense. Cuthbert was, as it 
were, " mad " to go, should war be declared. Your boy, 
feeling, I am sure, not a whit less patriotic, saw further 
than Cuthbert and realized I fancy more of what it would 
mean, not to himself for a moment (for I knew that he 
always thought of others first), but what it would mean to 
others, and, from what he said, I gathered that his chief 
regret was because of the delay it would mean to his 
projected work at the Factory. But they both very clearly 
stated that if war was declared they would do what they 
could for their country and so they have, and a grand 
"bit" too.' 

It has been clearly shown (p. 149) that Ronald was by 
no means unprepared for a European war. It is also 
stated in the Reading Mercury for May 15, 1915, that in 
1912 he told an employee at the Factory that every man 
ought to become a soldier, as he was fully convinced that 
within two years we should be at war with Germany. 

A fairly continuous history of the doings of the 1/4 Berks 
(i45th Bde., 48th S. Midland Div.) and of the part taken 
by Ronald himself is given in his letters. 

To his Brother-in-law Dr. Ainley Walker. 

'Aug. 4, 1914. 16 Portland Place, Reading. 
' We left Reading at 3.45 p.m. Sunday [Aug. 2] and got 
to Marlow, 12 miles away, at 7.0 owing to an engine being 
off the line. We then walked 2 miles to camp in the 
pouring rain : we got to bed about 12.0 and were awakened 
at 2.30 a.m., breakfasted at 3.30, left at 4.15, and got to 


Reading at 6.30, were shut in the Drill Hall till 9.0, and 
then dismissed to our homes!! Such a bathos. Now 
to-day all is excitement. We have been preparing for 
mobilization all day at head-quarters, and we are quite 
ready when it comes. We have got billets for the men in 
houses in the town. We go for 2 days to Cosham on 
mobilization, and then to Swindon. But I think we go 
straight to Swindon. There I expect we train hard, but I 
know no more. All my 35 Ibs. of kit is ready. Now I must 
stop and go down to a drill.' 

To his Brother Edward at St. Helens. 

1 Cosham [undated, but probably written Aug. 7]. 

'We were mobilized by wires on Tuesday night at 
8.0 p.m. and arrived here on Wednesday 930 strong 
out of 1,000 50 being left at Reading at n p.m. I 
got to bed at 2 a.m. as I was transport officer and had to 
see all the stores in. Since then I have been transport 
officer, which has meant daily journeys into the Recreation 
Ground at Portsmouth to draw bread, meat, fuel, and 

'We are billeted here on the houses round about us 
and the Bucks so it 's a good crowd. I share a bed with 
the quarter-master. 

' We are a part of Section No. Ill Portsmouth defences : 
i.e. on the land side, to protect the town from an attack 
from say Hayling Island. We are also protecting the 
Naval Wireless Station and some ordnance places. There 
is an anti-airship gun here which is quite interesting. They 
seem awfully frightened about airships. 

'We leave here on Sunday for Swindon, I think, where 
we shall probably be in a standing camp for some weeks, 
getting together. I expect we shall get pretty sick of 

' It is an interesting life, but not too exciting, as I am 
chiefly concerned with getting stores all the time.' 

About the same time he wrote from Cosham to his 
mother in Australia: 

'Of course this war is the overshadowing thing here, 
but the papers are heavily censored and no news leaks out. 
But there must be a big naval engagement soon. It is 
a terrible thing, but it may end in good, as it may put an 
end to armed enmity in Europe.' 


To Hilda. 

'Aug. 12, Swindon. 

' We have a head-quarters here at an Elementary School 
and are billeted round. We get up at about 6.15 a.m. and 
have breakfast, and then parade about 9.0 a.m. for about 
five hours and do drilling. I usually go riding in the 
evening which is great fun. Then we have mess and get 
to bed early. That is a rough outline.' 

To his Brother. 

' Aug. 13, Swindon. 

' In answer to your wire I have volunteered for foreign 
service with the Battalion. 

' Kitchener wants 100,000 men, and he has written to 
ask if Territorial units will volunteer complete to go out 
as units. 

' The Divisional General wanted his Division out. Now 
a Division, besides guns, &c., has 12 Battalions of infantry 
12,000 men. The Colonel paraded us, made a perfectly 
unbiassed speech, saying nobody would be thought worse 
of for refusing, and gave us 5 minutes. Result 211 men 
and 14 officers. 

' Disappointment as 75 % is required to take us as a 
unit. In the meantime me Colonel gets news that all the 
other Battalions have volunteered almost complete, and so 
we are again paraded. Great Speech " If you refuse to 
go you can never hold [up] your headjs] among the Ox- 
fords, the Gloucesters, the Warwicks, again. Follow your 
Colonel and his Company Commanders." Result over 
70 %, so if we do not lose any, and many are not medically 
unfit, we shall go. But I can't tell yet whether we shall 
go as a unit, so I don't think it 's any use wiring mother : 
as anyhow I suppose they'll come home the shortest way. 
I don't know what you think. But I feel at present that I 
shall certainly volunteer any way, even if we don't go as 
a Battalion. But I am not sure of this so keep quiet 
about it. But anybody with a military training is bound 
to turn up and offer himself.' 

After this letter his brother and Margaret went to see 
Ronald at Swindon. Edward writes of the visit : 

' I asked him at what point he had volunteered ; i. e. 
whether after the first or second speech. He seemed 
rather surprised at the question, and said that of course he 
had volunteered with the first lot, saying that there could 

S WIN DON 313 

be no question about it in his case. He was trained and 
the country required his services, and every one must obey 
his own conscience. He would not determine any other 
man's course for him. 

4 He also said that this war had proved that the Con- 
servatives possessed the true spirit and were the foundation 
on which England rested. The Radicals in comparison 
were nowhere.' 

Dick Dugdale also remembered Ronald saying that 
there must be something in the Church and Conservatism 
alliance although he could not bear the thought of their 
conventional association for those who held such views 
had come forward for their country more freely than others. 

Margaret has also recalled memories of the visit to 
Swindon : 

'When the great and awful war came Ronald was in 
Camp as a Territorial and he wrote early in August to tell 
us he had volunteered for foreign service. One can hardly 
realize one's feelings at the time, when only the Regulars 
had gone and the war was spoken of as to be over by 
Christmas, 1914, and now when I think I actually know 
more men " on the other side " than in this visible world. 
It came as a great shock to me personally that Ronald 
might go abroad, and Teddie and I, staying at St. Helens, 
decided to go and see him at Swindon, where his Battalion 
was quartered. It was a pathetic little visit, walking in 
streaming rain and shining roads, trying to find the way 
in a strange network of little streets, to the Head-quarters. 
However at last we arrived and found Ronald, who was as 
bright and cheery as ever. He gave us tea in the Mess, 
which was in an Elementary School, and then we pro- 
ceeded to the station and had our long talk in the refresh- 
ment room. Teddie and I slept the night at Reading in 
Ronald's little house and the Sunday night at Marlston. 
While walking to Bucklebury on the beautiful Sunday 
evening and during the service in the lovely little old 
church, the tragedy of the whole thing overwhelmed me 
with terrible force : I seemed to see the end then.' 

Ronald's movements between Swindon and Chelms- 
ford are described in a letter to his Oxford friend Miss 
Marjorie Fisher, his partner in the Tennis Tournament: 


' Sept. 3. Cavendish Club, Piccadilly, W. 

4 We arrived at Swindon on the Sunday [Aug. 9], Here 
we were billeted and had 6 days' training, and route 
marching, to get the feet hard. Then on the following 
Sunday [Aug. 16] we went by train to Leighton Buzzard 
in Bedfordshire, by Oxford and Bletchley. We marched 
from there to Dunstable. There we stayed 5 [apparently 
3J days, and were suddenly shifted by route marching to 
Chelmsford. That was 63 miles, wnich we did in five 
days, stopping the nights at Stevenage, Hoddesdon, 
Waltham Abbey, and Fyfield. We lost about TOO with 
sore feet, but they came on, and are well again now. 
Billeting is an amusing game. I was billeting officer at 
Waltham Abbey. I went on there by motor-bike the day 
before they were due to arrive, and interviewed the police 
and said I wanted billets for 950 men and 30 officers. 
Then I went to the Surveyor's office and got a map of the 
town, and saw how the streets ran. Then I went down 
the streets and found the number of houses in each street, 
and fitted in the eight Companies with 2 men per house. 
Then I found houses for the Colonel, and officers, and 
the head-quarters and orderly room. They were " Billets 
with subsistence " i. e. you pay the householders 3/4^. a day 
for each man, gd. for bed, i/7?d. for dinner, 9^. for breakfast 
and %d. for supper ; and they have to feed the men. 

' Now we are at Chelmsford, where we arrived last 
Monday week [Aug. 24]. We have quite settled down 
and are doing hard training : 6.30-7.30 ; 8.30-12.30 ; 2-3.0 ; 
7.30-8.30. There is not much time over. Yesterday we 
had the final division of the Battalion into those who have 
volunteered to serve abroad and those who have not. We 
have about 700 out of the 1,000 going abroad, and we shall 
be 1,000 shortly, as we get about 50 recruits from Reading 
every day. But we need a lot of training yet, and I don^ 
expect we shall go for another 6 weeks or 2 months. It 's 
a strenuous life, and one gets a bit short of sleep, but I am 
tremendously fit. I am staying with some awfully kind 
people, who can't do too much for you. The only trouble 
is that when you want to go to bed you have out of polite- 
ness to sit up and talk. 

' You ougnt to see my moustache, it whacks Gerald's all 

On Aug. 24 Ronald began the long and, towards the 
end, wearisome seven months of training at Chelmsford 


a period unbroken save for a machine-gun course at 
Bisley and short visits to his family and friends. Capt. 
Blandy and Ronald were billeted with Mr. and Mrs. 
Gripper at Redcot, Chelmsford, until Sept. 24, when the 
Battalion H.Q. was established at Broomfield, about 3 
miles away, and Ronald and Lt. Cruttwell were billeted 
with Miss Copland at Broomfield Place. A little later 
Ronald, Lt. O. B. Challoner, and Lt. G. Moore were 
billeted with Dr. Smallwood at Little Waltham, where he 
was living when we were with him on Oct. 10-12. During 
these weeks Ronald still went to Mr. and Mrs. Gripper on 
Sundays, and, on Oct. 16, when the H.Q. was moved back 
into Chelmsford, he, with Lt. Challoner, returned and 
remained with them until the Battalion left England. In 
February the mess was closed, owing to an outbreak of 
measles, and from this time, except for a few days when it 
was re-opened, the two friends lived altogether at Redcot. 
How happy they were with their kind host and hostess, who 
soon became ' Uncle Jim' and 'Auntie', may be gathered 
from Ronald's letters from Chelmsford and the front. 

The nature of Ronald's work at Chelmsford may be 
learnt from his correspondence, although his time was so 
fully occupied that he could not write often or at any length. 

To Hilda. 

1 Sept. 9. Redcot, Chelmsford. 

' ' I am very fit but desperately busy. Just on a week's 
engineering course digging trenches. We are all being 
inoculated this week. 

1 1 hope you will have a ripping time at Marlston. Give 
my love to Evelyn.' 

To Dr. Ainley Walker. 

' Oct. 5. Little Waltham. 

' I am desperately busy, though very fit, as I have just 
been given the most backward Company in the Battalion, 
and it will be a rare struggle to get them right in time. 
But it 's tremendously exciting to have one's own show to 
run, after being a subaltern for so long.' 


To the same. 

' Nov. 8. Chelmsford. 

' No, we have no rumours, and in fact I think we are 
fixed for a long time: we don't get any news. Please 
thank Hilda for the mittens. They are very comfy and 
I much appreciate them. Things go on quietly here. 
We are getting up some games, Soccer and Rugger, and 
Cross Country Runs. Otherwise same old game/ 

To Hilda. 

' Nov. 15. Chelmsford. 

'Teddie and Frida are here and we have been round 
looking at the London defences. Jolly fine trenches they 
are, and very well concealed, provided the enemy have not 
aeroplanes. If they have, they will show up in a moment. 
We are shooting this week, and the noise on the range 
makes one deaf. I am so glad Ernest keeps fit. It is fine. 
And my dear I hope you are pulling along well. I often 
think of you.' 

To Hilda, a birthday letter. 

1 Nov. 25, 1914. Redcot. 

' Here I am just too late, as usual. Anyhow my dear 
I haven't forgotten you, on this day. It is sad for you, first 
not to be in your usual health and then to be oppressed, as 
all of us are, at this awful time, but I pray that next year 
will see you absolutely right, and us all out of this ghastly 
gloom. Thank you awfully for your letters, which are 
very cheering to read. You do seem so splendidly better. 
We scratch along here, but this inaction is a bit trying, and 
I don't think we improve much. 

' Poor Waldy, or rather poor me without Waldy. 

' This war makes me a nide-bound socialist. I believe 
International Socialism could stop war, and that alone. 

' Thank you immensely for the mittens. I like them with 
or without thumbs, and with you and Aunt Lily working 

1 shall soon have plenty for the men. How splendid to 
see Ernest in uniform. 

'The European History must be interesting; we had 

2 good lectures on it. There is extreme importance 
attached to the fighting at Cracow because that is just in 
front of the " Moravian Gate ", and here, the Austrians and 


Germans must split the former to defend Vienna, and the 
latter Berlin. [Rough map.] ' 

The next letter is undated, but was evidently written 
early in Dec. 1914. 

To Margaret. 

' Sunday. Redcot. 

' Your pathetic letter quite wrung my heart, and so I am 
merely writing p.c.s home and to Aunt Nellie, so that you 
might have the letter. I hope you are all well. And how 
is little Peggie ; you never spoke about her. I do wish 
I could have a week or two of old Manch. again. This 
job is pretty dull. And now that they are afraid of invasion, 
our chances of doing anything real sensibly diminish. 
They certainly seem very scared. All week-end leave is 
stopped i. e. all leave. Anybody who leaves the mess for a 
meal has to put where he is to be found on a slate ; all our kit 
is ready packed or arranged to be put together in a moment. 
All the arrangements for an alarm are made, and we shall 
be in the special train complete in 2 hours from the time 
message is sent to us of an alarm. I have seen some 
of the trenches that have been dug out near Maldon, on the 
Blackwater. They seem quite fine ones, with underground 
rest-rooms, lavatories &c.H 

' I ran 2nd in a Battalion cross-country run of 3? miles 
yesterday : 250 ran. 

' We are still training, and doing a good deal of shooting 
on the range. We also have 4 aeroplanes permanently 
attached to us. And we are getting much more completely 

' I hear Max is doing some drilling, which is a fine thing. 
My love dear and I often think of you all. 

' Ever your loving brother.' 

Ronald's next letter refers to a visit to Marlston and 
Oxford, just after Christmas. He could not leave Chelms- 
ford for Christmas itself ' Merry Christmas to all. 
Delayed writing by duties on guard ' was his telegram 
and so could not go for the family walk to Port Meadow 
and keep up the traditions he loved ; but a few days later 
he was with us and was able to spur us to the observance 
of another family custom, and we went in a large party to 
the pantomime at the Oxford theatre. Since these words 


were written the origin of the tradition has been found in 
a letter written in Dec. 1907 by the eldest sister to the 
youngest, towards the end of her first term away from 
home at Wycombe Abbey : 

' When I read out your proposal to go to the Pantomime, 
each one of the family in turn thought it most suitable that 
they should take you ! ! ! So I expect it will end in our 
all going.' 

To his Mother. 

1 Jan. 5. 1915. Redcot. 

'Just a line to say that I am back and very well. I had 
a very nice time with Aunt Nellie, and thoroughly enjoyed 
it. She seemed so well and keen. 

' The concert was very well received, and they seemed 
amused by my song. 

' Everything here is much the same. Various rumours 
fly round. 

' (i) We shall not go abroad for a long time, because of 
invasion scares. 

' (2) We go to Egypt at the end of the month. 

' (3) We go to France at the end of the month. 

' But I expect they are all lies. 

'We do Brigade training to-morrow, i.e. 4 Battalions 
against each other. We have breakfast at 7.15, so it's an 
early start. 

' It was sweet seeing you all. My best love to you and 

To his Mother. 

'Jan. 17. Redcot. 

' Thanks for your letter. I know, the idea of England 
after this war without one's friends is not very attractive. 
I shall miss them all. Fred Turner was one of the best, 
and of course last year I saw so much of him. 

' I am afraid you have had very rough weather. We are 
trying to do Brigade training in it. This means manoeu- 
vring over the country with 4,000 men. We had an attack 
on Friday and I spent half an hour lying in a furrow of 
a ploughed field wnich was full of water. Brown looked 
very gloomy when he saw what he had to clean ! 

'About going nobody knows anything. The rumour 
is we are leaving Chelmsford this month for some other 


place in England. But my impression is it's no good 
believing anything, and so don't you believe anything. 
Anyway we have just had a bicycle shed put up outside 
our mess which will cost 4. Of course that may mean 
we shall move! 

' Will you thank Father for his sweet letter ? 

' I have the Company this week to look after, as the 
other half under the Captain has gone on Marconi guard. 

' Goodbye darling.' 

To Hilda, who had gone to Marlston with Evelyn : 

' Feb. 21. Redcot. 

' Just a line to wish you good luck. I hope you are 
much enjoying yourself* 

' I am having a quiet Sunday here, as I am Subaltern 
of the day, and have to stay in the area. I have to inspect 
the Rations at 12.0, post the quartermaster's guard at 
5.0 p.m. Then I am helping another officer by takingpart 
of his Inlying Picquet job from 5.0 p.m. to 9 p.m. Then 
I collect the Reports of those present at 10 p.m., and turn 
out the quartermaster's guard at n p.m. to see if they 
are awake. 

'The Inlying Picquet is an Officer, a Sergeant and 
22 men, who live in a house from 5 p.m. till 8.0 the next 
morning, to be available in case there is a surprise, and so 
they are quite ready to do anything that is required at 
a moment's notice. No more now. very much love. 

' P.S. Give my very best love to Evelyn.' 

A few days later, on Feb. 25, Ronald was at Bisley for 
a three weeks' course of Machine Gun Instruction, or, as 
he said in a letter, ' to learn the 150 parts of a Machine 
Gun '. Three note-books contain his exact and careful 
notes. The course ended on March 16 when Ronald 
qualified as a 'First Class Instructor'. 

To the Rev. R. W. Dugdale. 

1 March i, 1915. The Press Club, 
' Bisley Camp, Surrey. 
' My V. D. O. M. [very dear old man] 

' Only time for 2 lines. Here I am in [this] place, full of 
thoughts of you. I am on a machine gun course of 16 


days living in A 5 hut. It 's great fun and very hard work. 
Lectures and drill 9-1, and 2-4, and exams, and notes to 
write up. I am hard at it, as I want a distinguished 
certificate. So I've got a stove and am quite warm. The 
work is very interesting. 

' Good-bye D. O. M. Quite right about Clergy serving. 

' Your 1. f. [loving friend].' 

During the time at Bisley Ronald met for the last time 
his Balliol Boys' Club friends Keith Rae and E. C. Crosse. 

' To Mrs. Gripper. 

1 March 6, 1915. Marlston. 

' Better late than never. But I have been desperately 
busy, and am now up to eyes, preparing for exams, which 
go on every day from Monday. The time has gone by 
very quickly and I shall soon be home. It has been an 
interesting course, and I am jolly glad I went. I expect 
Bossie [Lt. Challoner] showed you my letter to him, so 
you know our mode of life. I am just over here for the 
night. About my return I am trying for leave till Sunday, 
but I doubt if I get it. I will let you know. 

'We have had a game of hockey against the motor 
bicycle machine gunners, and we beat them. One of their 
team, an officer, Tost his wool badly and was reproved by 
the padre, who was the referee. 

'I went to see some friends of mine at Bordon. They 
are in the 8th Rifle Brigade, the ist Bn. of the ist Brigade 
of K's Army; and I might [class] them honestly streets 
worse than us. They thought they were soon off, but 
they had wooden machine guns still. 

' How 's Uncle Jim ? Give him my best ; I am afraid he 
must have had a time looking after Bossie. Bossie's letter 
gave bad news. I hope he is no worse. 

' I am looking forward to seeing you all again. 

' Yours afFectly. 

' Tell Boss to send me a line.' 

At Christmas too Ronald left a note with New Year's 


greetings for Mrs. Gripper, who was away. It ended : 
' Look after Bossy, now I'm not here to look after him.' 

Looking back on our few last meetings at Chelmsford, 
London, and Oxford, the first feeling is one of regret that 
it was impossible to speak of the thoughts that were within 
us. But if we had, the only effect would have been to cast 
a shadow over memories that are now for ever bright. 
He knew how dearly he was loved ; he knew the fears we 
felt. Speech was not needed to tell him this, and so he 
talked, as he had always done, of the things that had 
interested him in his work and he well knew would 
interest us. 

I remember his explaining to me at Chelmsford, draw- 
ing a diagram on the road with his stick, the proper method 
of trench formation in a dangerous zone how the first 
night a long wavy trench, 2 ft. wide and 3 ft. 9 deep, 
should be dug with a parapet of 9 inches only, the rest of 
the earth being scattered behind. Then on the first day 
T-shaped excavations were to be driven from the front 
wall of this trench. The heads of these T's, each holding 
three men, then become the actual firing trenches, each 
head being protected by big traverses formed by heaping 
the excavated earth between it and the head on either side. 
Then, later, shelters are built in the stem of each T, the 
wavy trench is widened, latrines dug in its back wall, and 
communication trenches made, stretching to the rear. 

Then, too, he would speak of things he had learnt and 
opinions he had reached which were contrary to his 
natural prepossessions how the men who had done best 
of all in the great retreat from Mons were those who had 
been most efficient in works of supererogation as he had 
deemed them before the War; how the Germans were 
right in their contention that the spirit of war was not the 
spirit of sport and right in their attacks with massed forma- 
tions. On the other hand he had learnt that they had been 
wrong in their rifle practice and wrong in underestimating 
the effect of ours ; they had prepared their attack in three 
lines, of which the first and second were to act as a screen 


to the third with the machine guns. They calculated that 
by the time the two screens had been swept away the 
machine guns would be within 500 yards of the enemy 
who would then be swept away himself. But with our 
practice at long ranges all three lines went down at 800 to 
1,000 yards. 

At one of his visits to Oxford in February he told us 
that he was to be Works Manager at the Front, and I well 
remember the fear that oppressed me as he spoke of it. 

From his Brother. 

' There are one or two incidents of this war period that 
may be mentioned here. Ronald was very amused when 
guarding the Wireless Station near Chelmsford, to hear 
the Christmas or New Year's message sent out by 
Germany by wireless. " Germany sends Christmas greet- 
ing to all nations of the world, except England, France, 
Russia, Japan, &c." 

' Ronald was rather amused by the addresses given by 
the Chaplains to the forces. Every address seemed to 
lead on to the subject of immorality, and Ronald thought 
that the subject was so hammered at as rather to put it into 
the minds of the men than otherwise.' 

But although as Janet said of their last meeting, at 
Chelmsford a few days before he went out 'we were not 
able to talk of those things that mattered and of the 
thoughts that burned within us ', it was not the same with 
all his friends. William Temple writes of the night of 
March 12, 1915: 

' Our last meeting was and is a sacred time. But not 
much can be said about it because not much was said in 
it. I have neyer felt nearer to him, nor to be having more 
intercourse with him. But for most of the time we were 
silent. He was very sad, for he had quite lately lost 
several close friends. He mentioned their names. Then 
he said, " It makes a future life pretty essential, doesn't it ? " 
I asked if he had any sort of doubt about it ; " No," he 
said, " because then life would be absurd." We were 
silent for a long time. Then he said " What do you 
suppose it 's like ? " I said one had no ground for even 
guessing, but that no doubt there was both activity and 


growth ; the only thing we knew was the Love of God, 
and perhaps the reason why everything else was hidden 
was mst to make us concentrate on that. Then there was 
another long silence. Then he said, " I don't want to be 
killed yet ; there is such a lot I wanted to do, or try any- 
how." I asked if he felt that he would be killed ; " Oh 
yes," he said, " sure of it." I said nothing and again there 
was a long silence. Then he suddenly said, " Of course 
it 's all right ; but it 's not what one would have chosen." 

' I think that was all that was said. But I felt that we 
had somehow shared thoughts about the other world which 
for both of us were below the level of consciousness and 
certainly beyond the reach of speech ; and I knew that, 
with some sadness but with perfect calm and confidence, he 
was accepting what he believed was in store in place of all 
his plans for giving and sharing happiness on earth/ 

Hilda also remembered asking him if he wanted to go to 
the Front. ' I certainly don't want to be killed,' he said, 
' but I do want to see how our men get on after training 
them for so long, and to visit the places where so many 
friends have gone.' 

Mr. W. Dimbleby writes : 

1 You ask if Ronald spoke to me about his views on the 
war and his feelings as to going out. Yes, he did. His 
heart was not in the business at all. He went solely from 
a sense of duty and as an example to others. He felt 
very strongly on the utter folly of civilized nations resorting 
to such methods for the settling of their differences, but 
above all I know he felt that by going to a war from 
whence he would probably not return, he was shattering at 
a blow all those hopes of being of some real use to humanity 
in the future. Of course his personal comfort or con- 
venience did not enter into the question for a moment. 
All who knew him would be sure of that. 

1 In a sentence as impossible to be appreciated by those 
who did not know him intimately, as it would have been 
impossible of realization: His potential value to the 
nation was so great that he should not have been allowed 
to go.' 

Then, added to the strong inmost conviction that he 
would never return to the work he loved there was the 

Y 2 


weariness and a feeling of the uselessness and staleness 
of the last months of training. As early as Oct. 28 
W. T. Collier wrote to Keith Rae : ' My mother met 
Ronald in Oxford the other day. He has grown a magni- 
ficent red moustache and is expecting to go out before 
long.' And yet by Oct. 28 nothing like half the period of 
training and waiting was over. The last time his old chief 
in the O.T.C., Capt. H. C. Wace, met him Ronald told 
him how weary his men were of the long delay in getting 
out, and how his French lesson to them had died away 
from inanition. 

But it must not be supposed that the shadow of coming 
events or the weariness of useless waiting had power to 
bring lasting depression to his gay bright spirit. He 
remained to the end as he always had been happy himself 
and the cause of happiness in others. Miss Legge writes 
of his last visit to Oxford and the last time she and 
Mrs. Collier saw him : 

' I shall never forget his laughing shout to Nancy and 
me, as we caught sight of him standing in the trench in the 
Parks on Sunday, Feb. 28 " I'm defending the whole of 

He was as quick as ever to see the humorous side of 
things. Hilda remembered how he roared with laughter 
' What a gift of laughter he had ', she said when he 
told her of the non-commissioned officer's words at the 
machine-gun examination ' Now, gentlemen, you will be 
sure and not copy from each other's papers ! ' And a few 
days before he left England I wrote, to amuse him, an 
account of the well-known journey to St. Helens and of 
how, as we waited on the Oxford platform and a train 
came in from the north, the soldiers it was carrying 
began distributing badges to our maids. He replied on 
March 28 : 

* Your letter made me howl with laughter ! The funny 
thing is there is a serious punishment for giving away 


And the dominating memories of his kind friend and 
hostess at ' Redcot ' are of happiness and gaiety : 

' Aug. 20, 1915. Redcot, Chelmsford. 

' It is a year on Monday since your dear boy and Captain 
Blandy came here : one can hardly realize it. We are so 
quiet now, so different from what it was. Ronald was 
always doing something there was constant fun and noise. 
He was very fond of my little niece who lives at Sutton. 
She was thirteen, and when she came down for week-ends 
or half terms, they played charades and all sorts of games, 
turning the house upside down. My embroidered quilts 
were used for trains, and I shall never forget him as Elinor 
of Castile, or as Dick Turpin, with Bossie for his horse.' 

Ronald was of course prevented from taking any part, 
even the smallest, in the business at Reading during the 
period of training, but he longed for the time when he 
would be back at the work he loved. In the meantime 
memories of him during his short residence were not 
without their effect, for I have been assured that many 
Reading men volunteered because he had done so. 

How deeply he felt for the death of his friend Cuthbert 
T. Waldy, killed on October 20, may be gathered from 
the letter he wrote to the Reading friend who had told 
him of his loss : 

' Nov. 18, 1914. 

' Your letter has come as a great blow, as I did not know 
Cuthbert was abroad. I thought he was Territorialing in 

' I am very low at heart, these days. I have lost so 
many good friends, like many others, but Cuthbert's at 
present is my biggest loss. He was very dear to me, and 
I had great hopes of him in our business. I am so glad he 
behaved as I knew he would, but why, oh why all this 
ghastly waste of youth ? 

' We tarry on Here expecting and hoping to be allowed 
to do our bit. But while there is a chance of a raid, I don't 
think we shall go abroad. But we are all ready, and my 
Company is having voluntary French classes, and in view 
of recent fighting a lot of bayonet fighting instruction. 


1 1 hope you are all well. Give my love to Mrs. Haslam 
and the children. 

' Could you send me a line 

1 (i) When you get any confirmation of his death, 

' (2) In what regiment he went out, and when.' 

To Mrs. Waldy. 

1 Dec. i, 1914. 

' I have meant to write to you for some days of the sad 
news I heard from Mr. Haslam, but as nothing absolutely 
definite was known, I thought I would wait. But I now 
cannot wait any longer, and I am writing to tell you how 
much I feel the loss of Cuthbert, and how I dimly realize 
the loss you have sustained. Cuthbert was very dear to 
me, and I counted him among my best friends. We were 
united in the same business, and in particular, in the social 
side of industry, we were tied by the same ideals. I used 
to tell him all my ideas, and we used to discuss them 
together. So I cannot look forward to Reading without 
him, except with a very blank feeling in my mind. He 
used to come and help me in my Club, and of course all 
the time he managed nis own " Church Lads ", and I know 
how fond all the boys and men in the factory were of him. 

' I remember so well, shortly after we met in March 1912, 
I said I had joined the Territorials : he said he couldn't 
manage that, as he thought he would not be allowed 
to by the Firm, but he had joined the Territorial Reserve 
of officers, by virtue of his O. T. C. training at school. 
He said, " I don't know what it will involve, I expect they'll 
shove me off somewhere, some day." And so they did. 
But his death is a fine story, and it is glorious for you and 
for his friends to know he has died the finest death of all, 
because such a death is one so untinged with thoughts 
of self. 

' And we who hope to be allowed to go to the front when 
we are wanted have his example to follow. 

1 My people, who were very fond of him, join me in send- 
ing our great sympathy.' 

C. T. Waldy was working in Reading with the prospect 
of taking part in the management of the Factory before 
Ronald went to the town, and the two men became great 
friends directly they met. 


In some of their schemes Waldy took the initiative, as 
with the starting of a Sports Club for the Factory girls. 
Hilda remembered Ronald collecting hockey-sticks for 
this club. Shortly after Ronald's death Mrs. Waldy wrote 
to his mother of the influence which this friendship brought 
into her son's life : 

' I have been thinking much of you, ever since I read the 
sad news that your son had fallen in France. 

' Personally I only met Mr. Palmer one afternoon at 
a friend's house at Reading, but I feel I knew him through 
my son Cuthbert. In a few weeks [after their first meeting] 
we heard much of him ; and from that time I know a great 
development in character began in my son. I twice spent 
a week with Cuthbert at Reading and on both occasions 
I was deeply impressed by what I learnt of his thoughtful- 
ness for tnose with whom he worked, his interest in their 
games and the Boys' Club, and above all his deepening 
thoughts on religion and social problems and I know it was 
" Poulton " who was guiding and helping him. 

' I loved him for all that he was and did for my boy.' 

Away in Chelmsford with little time for correspondence 
Ronald did not at first hear of the war bonus given to 
employees at Huntley and Palmers, but he finally heard of 
it in the way that pleased him most. He was passing 
through Reading in his car, on Feb. 27, 1915, on the way 
to Oxford, when he saw his old friend W. Povey, who 
shouted ( Good-night, sir '. Ronald pulled up, asked if he 
could give him a lift, and took him to Caversham to his 
daughter's house. On the way he told Ronald about the 
bonus and remembers how extremely pleased he was 
' as pleased ', Mr. Povey wrote, ' to hear of it as we were 
to receive it. This was the last time I had the pleasure 
of speaking to him and I wished him Good-bye, Good 
Luck, and God Bless him.' 

I well remember Ronald telling me of his meeting with 
the ' dear old man ' and how delighted he was to hear of 
the bonus in that way. 

Ronald had but little time to give to Boys' Clubs while 
he was in training, but they were often in his mind, as the 


following letter to his Reading friend W. Dimbleby will 

show : 

' Sept. 12, 1914. Redcot, Chelmsford. 

' The photos [of the Boys' Camp] were fine. I am look- 
ing forward to having some. If you could let the boys see 
them, and let them buy them at id. each, I will pay for the 
balance cost. You're quite right " Those also serve " &c., 
and your job for me is to look after the boys. I do pray 
the Club may keep open. Please tell the Vicar that I will 
finance it, and if you want money, ;ip or so, just send me 
a card and I'll write a cheque. And if you want to move 
elsewhere, I'll finance that also ; though I think that would 
be hardly wise, as you will be short of help, unless indeed 
the Vicar refuses to let you have the room, which I cannot 
believe will be the case. We must keep the ^Reading] 
College sympathy, and unless they have a share in running 
the Club, the enthusiasm must drop. I should be delighted 
to hear occasionally how you, Reading, and the Club get 

Ronald was also able to visit his beloved Boys' Club at 
Reading during one of his leaves. After the return from 
the summer Camp the Club closed till the autumn session, 
opening under the management of B. Perkins, until he too, 
on Dec. 4, left in order to join the Army, writing in the 
log a farewell message of confidence and hope. The 
management was then undertaken by the Rev. R. W. 
Morley. Ronald came down on Dec. 28 : 

' An awful night outside, but a gala night within. Every 
one delighted to see Palmer again especially in uniform. 
Martin, of the Rifle Brigade, also came in. Of course we 
all shot under the spell of the khaki. Palmer very pleased 
with the new equipment; and the numbers who have 
enlisted. We must put up a Roll of Honour. We had 
a few strong words at the close from R. W. P. P. re duty in 
war time.' 

The Rev. T. Guy Rogers writes : 

' I have in my private memorandum book, in which I put 
down for prayers those who have gone to the war, the 
names of 19 members of that club. These names were put 
in by Ronald in his own handwriting the night he stayed 
with me shortly before he left for the front.' 


Then there was the Rugby Club in Netting Dale: 
Ronald would be sure to spare some of his leaves for this. 
The Rev. C. S. Donald writes : 

' Since the war began I saw him three times. He 
motored over twice from Chelmsford and had tea here with 
other subalterns. The last time was just before he went 
out. He talked of his Club and what he meant to do when 
he came back. I rejoiced to see him, but as I heard his 
car start off, a feeling of profound misery came over me : 
" Shall I ever see him again ?" : 

Among the many friends whose loss was such a grief 
to Ronald during his period of training were some of his 
comrades in Rugby Football. On the death, Jan. 10, 1915, 
of F. H. Turner, his old Oxford and Liverpool captain, 
Ronald wrote the notice which appeared in the News of 
the World for Jan. 31. I knew nothing of the authorship 
until it was acknowledged by the paper in the issue of 
May 9, 1915 : 

' One International Captain's tribute to another. 

' A very well-known International captain has written us 
as follows : 

' The death of F. H. Turner has been a sad blow to his 
many friends, and to one unused to writing character 
sketches it is indeed hard to put down on paper the effect 
that his cheering presence had upon those with whom he 
was acquainted. Thousands of those who have watched 
his play in 'Varsity, Club, and International matches must 
have realized the strength he was to his side, quite apart 
from his own individual efforts, which were of a very high 

' I have played behind many packs of forwards, but never 
have I been so free from anxiety as when those forwards 
were led by Fred Turner. Those who saw last year's 
Scotland v. England match could realize what an anxiety 
to his opponents his peculiarly infectious power of leading 
was. His play, like nis tackle, was hard and straight, and 
never have I seen him the slightest bit perturbed or 
excited, and in this fact lay the secret of his great power 
of control. 

' His kicking ability is well known, and his tenacious 


determination to stick it was well shown in the 'Varsity 
match of 1909, when he returned to help his scrum in great 
pain with one knee useless owing to a displaced cartilage. 
' Off the field he was the same. Whetner one saw him 
at his home, at his old School (Sedbergh), at the 'Varsity, 
or walking on the hills, his face always snowed his cheery 
satisfaction with the world at large. At any moment he 
would burst into that cheery and infectious laugh. He 
was always ready to take his part in any harmless practical 
joking, on tour or elsewhere. His loss is part of the heavy 
burden of war, and England in defending her honour will 
have to face the loss ofthe very best of her sons.' 

Only a few days before he left for the Front Ronald 
heard of the death of his football and hockey friend of 
Oxford days, Capt. Ronald Owen Lagden, reported 
wounded and missing in a night attack at St. Eloi, on 
March i. He wrote to Sir Godfrey Lagden on March 21 : 

1 1 saw that Ronald was missing, but I had no idea that 
you considered that there was no hope for him, till I saw 
G. C. Vassall in Oxford last week. I am very very sorry 
for you in your great sorrow. Ronald was one of my 

food friends, and I can realize what a son he must have 
een to you, a man you could indeed be proud of. In him, 
Tom Allen, and Kenneth Powell I lost three good friends, 
and the world lost three great-hearted men. 1 

' I am off next week, and I can only say that I go there 
buoyed up by the knowledge of the part he has played 
for England.' 

Sir Godfrey in his reply addressed Ronald as : 


' If I still call you by this name it is because you are best 
known by it to me and my boys and their young sister ; for 

1 Ronald was associated with the two last-named friends by Lt. A. D. 
Stoop (R. W. Surrey Regt.), writing to Mrs. Ainley Walker from 
Lucknow, May 13, 1915: 'So many ofthe best men have gone under 
that one feels that the most satisfactory thing would be to follow their 
example. The gaps among one's friends will be too awful when the 
war is over. The Harlequins also have Tom Allen and Kenneth 
Powell to avenge, and I do not think we shall forget when the time 
comes.' Tom Allen, 2nd Lt. Irish Guards, was killed March, 1915. 


were you not the friend and comrade on the field of our 
own dear Ronny in those lovely Oxford days which he 
used to call the " Heaven " of his life.' 

Sir Godfrey's words about the two Ronalds may, I hope, 
bring comfort to other parents : 

' These dear boys of ours have died as they would wish 
in following the call to duty on behalf of their country. 

' It is glorious to have fived to witness the grit of our 
British boys, and to know that there is no lack in them of 
the chivalry which has been handed down to them through 
the ages. They will be honoured and blessed by the 
generations to come.' 

I believe that the two friends will always be associated 
in the minds of those who remember the Oxford of that 
time so distant as it seems to-day and that they will 
echo the words written to a friend by a great Rugby hero 
of earlier years, Harry Vassall, when he heard of our 
Ronald's death ' Yes, that and Ronny Lagden's death are 
two great shocks to me. I thought them the best type of 
Oxford young men I had come across for many years.' 

In spite of all the sadness Ronald had other and cheer- 
ing associations with the Rugby game in the period of 
training. Mr. Charles Marriott in British Sports and 
Sportsmen says of the last letter received from him that 
it was ' typical of the man, being concerned with obtaining 
football outfits for his men.' Then there was not only 
the pleasure of encouraging this noble game among the 
soldiers but the fun and excitement, almost recalling old 
times, when he met the friends who came down to help 

Pte. Sydney F. Bourton, who joined the 1/4 Berks, at 
the outbreak of war, writes : 

I 1 did not have the good luck to be in Lieut. Palmer's 
Platoon or Company, but I knew him by name and repu- 
tation before the war, being a Reading man. Whilst at 
Chelmsford Lieut. Palmer was to the fore in everything to 
do with sports ; he organized football, cross-country runs, 
and of course a Rugby team. Lieut. Palmer was one of 


the few men who could talk and mix with the men as 
a comrade, and yet still keep his position as their officer. 
He was never known to lose his temper or to say a harsh 
word to us. He would arrange concerts for us and come 
forward to fill a gap in the programme with a rousing song.' 

To his Father* 

' March 28, 1915. 

' We are definitely off 7 p.m. Tuesday ; the transport 
goes 3 a.m. tomorrow. We are all pretty busy. Now 
good-bye dearest and say good-bye to mother and Janet. 

' Don't worry about me especially if you don't hear regu- 
larly. Pll write as often as I can, but I may not always be 
able to.' 

To Dr. Ainley Walker. 

1 March 29. 

' Thanks awfully for yours. As you imagine I have 
little time, as we are off about tea-time to-morrow. The 
transport has already gone, and we are busting around 
paying billets, inspecting houses, &c. 

' Thanks for notes on water, &c. I'll take care, but of 
course we aren't allowed to drink any but what comes from 
the water-carts which are carefully filtered. Good-bye old 
soul, it will be an interesting story to tell when it 's all over. 

' Yours affectly.' 

To Hilda. 

1 March 29. 

' Thanks awfully for your letter. It is splendid to get 
two. Please write nice ones to me when I am over the 
other side. I am awfully pleased to hear that you are so 
much better. It is splendid news. It was nice seeing 
Janet and mother. Janet certainly asked lots of questions. 
Now darling I must stop. When I come back I nope you 
will be ever so fit. 

' Ever your loving 


His great friend Dick Dugdale was unwell and Ronald 
was uncertain whether he would be able to come to 


say good-bye. He therefore wrote on March 28, to 

'If you can't manage lunch, good-bye Dick; it will be 
exciting and interesting, but I'd much rather be making 
biscuits ! ' 

The letter ended ' B.L., Y.L.F., R.' and then 'Give my 
best love to Claude.' 

But his friend was able to come after all and has recalled 
memories of Ronald's last day in England : 

' I got down to Chelmsford on the Monday evening in 
Holy Week, Mch. 29. Ronald as usual met me at the 
station. As the visit was an unexpected one to both of us 
we were frightfully keen to meet. As usual we shared 
a room : Bossy Challoner had turned out for me. Ronald 
had suggested going to the 7.30 Celebration next morning 
at the Cathedral so we set the alarm for 6.45. We 
exchanged New Testaments : he took mine and I took his 
khaki one (or did we do that at a previous visit ?). Bossy 
came in later and scrapped with Ronald ; and decided to 
come with us to the Service. Next morning we walked to 
Church and Bossy came on a bike : young Willink was 
also there. The Celebrant was rather High Church and 
I spotted him as an "Ely" man. Ronald was much 
amused at my knowing, and we discussed the question on 
the way home. After breakfast Ronald had to go on 
parade. We walked to their Mess, and then to his 
Company parade, where we said "Cheero" and I came 

The last meetings with members of his family are 
summed up in Janet's first letter to the Front : 

' You were so splendidly cheerful all through our 
Chelmsford visit that we could not but be cheerful too.' 



What a magnificent life Ronald's was he 's died just when it was 
most glorious a great life, given, just at its prime, for an ideal. 
I can't write about it, but I want you to realize that I think too that 
no finer man ever lived. 

It just makes me long to get back to France ' to do my little bit '- 
and to get on with the work he was doing. Lt. KENNETH GORDON 
GARNETT, R.F.A., M.C., Croix de Guerre, No. 5 in the 1914 Cambridge 
Eight. Written May 8, 1915, when at Cambridge, wounded. Died 
Aug. 21, 1917, of wounds received Aug. 24, 1916. 

THE story of the march to the Front and the few weeks 
of life there was written by Ronald himself in his journal 
from March 30 to April 24, and in his letters between and 
after these dates. The journal has been slightly modified 
in a few places in order to include information contained 
in the letters. A few obvious slips, due to hurried writing, 
have been corrected, and a few additional details, kindly 
supplied by Capt. C. R. M. F. Cruttwell, who was in the 
same Company, D, as Ronald, have been added in square 

Among the few papers Ronald took with him from 
England was a letter written to him, when he was training 
at Chelmsford, by the Rev. W. J. Carey : 


' I find God very near, thank goodness: I feel that He 
regards this murderous war with horror and aversion : it 
is so plainly the result, not of His will, but of human sin 
the grotesque and awful military pride and dominance of 
the Germans : and I fear our own carelessness and unpre- 
paredness have contributed a bit too. But it was bound 
to come. The Germans meant to dominate the world. 
It's Napoleon over again. 


1 So I can go to Him with great comfort and tell Him 
how I hate the whole thing although one must fight and 
do one's duty. Of course I don't feel it for myself 
like I do for all this mass of splendid youth, ruthlessly 
sacrificed. I've lived a long time and have had many 
friends and know the happiness of true human friendship 
and loyalty. And I've had a chance of saying openly 
what I believe to be true. So I shan't complain anyhow. 
And you too have known true human friends and have 
found God imperfectly no doubt, like all of us : still 
you've met Him and that is the greatest discovery of all 
life. I am so sorry for all the boys who haven't made that 
discovery yet. 

4 Like you, I'm full of beans lots to do : and the service 
of one's Country is all right ! 

' God bless you, dear boy, 

' Always yours affectionately.' 

Another letter which he kept, although it was necessary 
to destroy most of those received, was Keith Rae's farewell 
and good wishes, written April 5 from the 8th Battalion 
Rifle Brigade, Rushmoor Camp, Aldershot : 


' I wish I could have seen you again before you went 
out, but it was not possible. I thought of you very often 
on Monday and Tuesday. You know, I hope, that you 
are and will be always in my prayers. I believe very 
firmly that " all things work together for good ", and that 
there will be a bright Beyond after this war. It would be 
too horrible to think of this war, if we did not feel certain 
that we can trust ourselves entirely to God and know that 
all will be well. 

' And how lucky it is that we can go out knowing both 
that we ought to go and also that we could never forgive 
ourselves later on were we not to go. In fact one really 
almost wants to get out. There is a splendid spirit among 
every one, as you have already doubtless discovered. 

' I will try and write again soon. We are going abroad 
as soon as our equipment is ready. 

' My love to you, and God bless you. 

' Always your affectionate friend, 



Tuesday, jothMarch. 

We paraded in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford, at 6 p.m. 
and amid great enthusiasm from the populace, entrained 
for the unknown port. We said good-bye to the Grippers, 
who had been so kind to us during our stay, and were soon 
off. The train ran to Liverpool Street, and then backed 
out again to cross under the Thames to New Cross. This 
confirmed our suspicions of Dover or Folkestone. The 
latter it was. We found ourselves boarding the ' Onward ', 
the ordinary traffic steamer Folkestone to Boulogne. 
[Left Folkestone n p.m.] I believe I crossed in it for 
the French match this time last year. The embarkation 
was very well done, the men being quiet and orderly, and 
our time of embarkation only just second to the Bucks who 
easily beat the record for the port which has seen 55,000 
troops cross over. It was an eerie crossing, a full moon, 
a smooth sea, and a torpedo boat zigzagging about in front 
of us troops all over the ship, very quiet and orderly. 

At Boulogne we disembarked, and I found the Port 
Commandant was old Col. Eastwood of the Oxford O.T.C. 
We formed up and marched up the hill to a camp [the Blue 
Base] placed about two miles above the town, in a beautiful 
situation, and splendid view. Here we fitted the men and 
got in ourselves and spent a very cold night [under canvas 
with only one blanket per man. They awoke to driving 

Wednesday, jist March. 

There was not much sleep last night because of the 
cold. However, an al fresco meal cheered us up. The 
morning was spent in inspections, &c., and I had a talk 
with Eastwood who did not know me from Adam. I forgot 
that my name had been changed. After lunch several of 
us walked down to Boulogne, where we met several 
people, and understood that Boulogne was very much 
impressed with us and with our disembarkation. Back up 


the hill in a Red Cross motor van to supper. Then we 
fell in and marched off to the Pont des Briques, a matter 
of four miles. The men found the pack rode very heavy 
and two or three fell out. At the station the Battalion was 
divided into parties of 42 each party to go in a goods van. 
When the train arrived we found the latter half full of our 
transport, with Jack l and Holcroft z in charge. They had 
lost two men just down the line, who had been kicked out 
by a horse.. There was a ghastly crush in the train, since 
we were one truck short, and as many as 50 were in some. 
They could not sit down, but had to stand on the six hours 
journey. Off we went about n p.m. and arrived at 
St. Omer, via Calais ; then on to Cassel which was our 
detraining point. A ghastly cold night and little sleep. 

Thursday, April z. 

About 5 a.m. the train stopped with a jerk, and we 
found ourselves at Cassel, which turned out afterwards to 
be the headquarters of the South Midland Division. The 
men seemed none the worse for their close travelling, and 
were soon out and formed up. After a long wait, during 
which an English aeroplane flew over, apparently to guard 
us, we got off. It soon got very hot, and the first three 
miles were steadily up hill, so the men felt it a good deal, 
as they are not yet used to their packs. The men too were 
very silent, apparently being a bit strange in the new 
country. The view up the hill at Cassel was very lovely 
[ the Flemish plain, glittering with hoar-frost, and looking 
singularly peaceful, although the guns could for the first 
time be faintly heard]. About a mile before we reached 
our destination, the village of Winnezeele, eight miles from 
Cassel, on the Cassel- Ypres road, I rode on, on Thome's 
horse, with the Colonel and other Company Commanders, 
and the Brigade interpreter, and met the Mayor in the 
centre of the village. Here we saw where we were 
billeted, and a dirty old man and one small boy led us off 

1 Capt. (now Maj.) J. M. Aldworth, M.C., O. C. Transport. 
3 Capt. E. S. Holcroft, in charge of M.G.'s. 



to our Company billets. These were a good mile further 
east, and the Platoons were in farms lying round a public 
house, at a cross roads called Drogland. 

The farms were found to be very comfortable, especially 
that one inhabited by my Platoon. The woman in charge 
supplied them with eggs, milk, &c. very cheaply, and the 
barn they slept in had plenty of clean straw. They had 
a pond to wash in, and a field to play football in, so they 
were all right. All these farms had been visited by the 
Germans during the time the English divisions were 
detraining at Hazebrouck; but they appear to have 
behaved quite well. I lived in the pub., and was quite 
comfortable though the room and bed were very dirty. 
We dined at a pub., the mess, in Winnezeele, and were in 
bed early that night, after visiting the guards outside each 
Friday, April 2nd. 

After breakfast the Battalion marched three miles to 
Steenvoorde, the Brigade headquarters. It was then 
inspected by Sir Horace Smith Dorrien who commands 
the army to which we belong. He afterwards addressed 
the officers in a very complimentary strain. He seemed 
very optimistic about the army, and said we were to be 
attached for instruction to the III Corps of the II Army. 
We then marched back to billets, and had a slack finish of 
the day. 

To the Rev. R. W. Dugdale. 

1 2. iv. 15. [Drogland.] 
' D. O. M., 

' How I wish you were here with me in this little rather 
dirty French pup., which is my billet. It reminds me very 
much of pur trip in Touraine. But it 's not so clean and the 
cooking is not good, and the bed pretty flea-ridden. 

' . . .Well there 's no more, my dear old man, but I always 
wish you were with me. The very best of love. 

'Y. 1. f. 

' Show this to Claude.' 


Saturday, April ^rd. 

This day passed quietly with parades in morning, spoilt 
by rain. The beautiful weather of the last few days seems 
to have broken up. We had several interesting talks with 
French soldiers who had just been relieved from the 
trenches. They were very cheery, but not very smart. 
Franking the men's letters is a great nuisance, though 
unavoidably one gets some interesting lights on their 
characters. The men were paid five francs this day. 

To Mrs. Gripper. 

'3. iv. 15. [Drogland.] 
' Dear Auntie, 

' . . . Very much love to you both, and very many thanks for 
the very great hospitality you showed me during my stay. 
When we get back in peace, yours will be the first house 
after my people I shall come to, and you will be also, I hope, 
my first guests in Reading. 

' Yours affectly.' 

[Easter] Sunday, April 

We left the billets about 12 p.m., and marched by easy 
stages along the road to Fletre via Steenvoorde and 
Caestre. At Caestre we struck the great main road to 
Armentieres. It is broad pave, and is lined with ammuni- 
tion parks of different divisions on motor buses. In Fletre 
we took a side road, and landed in our new billet two 
farms. They turned out quite nice, but the people were 
not so pleased to see us, and seemed anxious to make what 
they could out of us. 

Monday, April jth. 

All this day it rained appallingly, and we did nothing 
except inspect in the barn. At evening the flares were 
clearly seen and looked very weird. At tea time Geoffrey 
Palmer [his cousin] came [from Strazeele] and had a 

z 2 


To his Father at St. Helens. 

'5-iv. 15. [Fletre.] 

'Just a line to you while we still have leisure. Please 
send it to Margaret and to Hilda. I think I wrote to 
mother on Saturday or Friday and I have not received any 
letter yet. We are all extremely fit, and my Platoon is 
still at absolutely fighting strength, with nobody even sick. 
We left the place we had been at yesterday and came here 
after an eight mile march. We came on one main road 
which is very congested with motor transport, and all pave 
which is very bad for the feet. There were some ripping 
motor van workshops hard at work in any corner of the 
street. We passed several of the Queen's Own Oxfordshire 
Hussars, and I spoke to the Squadron Sergeant of 
Geoffrey's Squadron. 

' Our Battalion H. Q. is a big house which was the H. Q. 
of General von Kluck in October. The Germans mounted 
machine guns in the tower of the church : 200 Germans 
were billeted in the farm I am at. Everybody is extremely 
cheerful. We shall stay here a bit I expect ; but of course 
we may have our first lessons in trench work from here. 

' The people round here in the farms are very much on 
the make. My French is coming on. by leaps and bounds, 
and I am doing my best to stop the fellows getting cheated. 
The food is very plentiful and good, but mostly tinned and 
biscuit ; so they will buy bread at exorbitant prices. 

' It is much better fun than at Chelmsford, because, 
though the discipline is more strict in lots of ways, and the 
punishments much more severe, yet one can be much 
more friendly with one's men and it 's rather humorous to 
receive compliments unofficially by reading the men's 
letters, as we have to censor them ; and they are meant 
because the writers do not give their names and you only 
know that they come from the Company, but do not know 
which Platoon. 

' Now I must stop. I am very well and am most im- 
pressed with the vastness of the whole scheme, and with 
the wonderful arranging of the troops so that there is no 
collision on roads or in billets. Much love to all. 

' We have had no news of any kind since we came out. 
I hope the Germans haven't landed ! ! 

' P. S. 6. iy. 15. All your extraordinarily welcome 
letters just arrived. You can't think how excited we get 


about letters. It was an enormous mail ; and I had eight. 
Please thank Mother, Margaret, and Teddie so much. It 
is lovely and fine this morning.' 

Capt. Geoffrey H. Palmer (Oxf. Yeomanry) writes of 
their talk on April 5 : 

' I suppose I was the last of the family to see him ; we 
had a good hour's talk together. I remember how greatly 
I was struck by his fitness and the eagerness with which 
he questioned me as to my experiences, and when I went 
with him to see his men, many of whom I knew, I saw 
there that same spirit of keenness and the cheerful bearing 
which was such a characteristic of their leader.' 

Tuesday, April 6th. 

A better day. We inspected and had a short route 
march. In the afternoon Challoner and I strolled round 
and came on several graves of the Warwicks, who were 
cut up here, during the retreat of the German advance 
guards in October. The farm we were billeted in was 
held by Germans at one time, but there are little or no 
signs of war as yet. People pick up spurs and German 
money now and then, and there are some trenches near 
here that have been used. 

To W. Dimbleby. 

'6. iv. 15. [Fletre.j 

' . . . Give my best love to the boys, and say I often 
think of them/ 

Wednesday, April jth. 

This morning we left billets and proceeded by the main 
road towards Armentieres. We, my Platoon, No. 13 of 
D Company, acted as rearguard to the whole Brigade. 
This meant marching behind all the train and field ambu- 
lance : and it caused a long series of checks. We marched 
through Bailleul, where there were thousands of soldiers 
resting, and through Meteren, where the Warwicks suffered 
so severely in October. Then at a corner called Rabot, 


we turned to the left, and arrived at Romarin in Belgium 
[two miles W. of Ploegsteert], about three miles behind the 
firing line at Messines. There was any amount of mud 
and water about, and the billets were very close, but my 
Platoon was lucky in having a good barn. We had quite 
a nice little house, but the woman was a shrew. And so 
to bed. [The woman kept several canaries whose singing 
drove them wild.] 

Thursday, April 8th. 

This day was spent quietly till the evening. I lunched 
with D. Burt-Marshall [Capt. 2nd Seaforths, 4th Div., later 
Maj., D.S.O., on the Salonica front] at Xth Brigade head- 
quarters. About 9.30 p.m. my Company paraded for night 
digging- We marched to a point about 1,000 yards from 
the German lines, and as we came over the hill, and down 
the avenue, we heard several stray bullets flying overhead. 
My Platoon was detailed to complete an all-round defence 
of a farm in the second line of the defences. Apart from 
occasional bullets there was no excitement. The rest of 
the Company were digging trenches rather in front, and 
had more bullets over, but with no loss. We got back 
safely about 3.0 a.m. [The night digging on Apr. 8 and 9 
was behind the front line, on the E. bank of the Douve, 
near the ruined farm La Plus Douce.] 

Friday, April gth. 

We were again paraded for night digging, the morning 
having been spent in the usual inspections. This time it 
was to complete a breastwork between two of the actual 
British fire trenches, about 150 yards from the German 
lines. When we arrived at our rendezvous, the Engineer 
officer in charge said he could only take 50 of my 100 men, 
as the Germans were shelling and firing on the working 
parties. We then proceeded down the road towards our 
object in fear and trembling, as it is covered by a German 
machine gun. On arrival at the reserve trenches of the 
firing line I got my men into a communication trench and 
awaited orders. There was a lot of firing and shelling 


going on, and finally he decided not to send out a party, 
which was a considerable relief to us. 

I sent the party back and went on with the Engineer to 
see the breastwork, but his Engineers met us on the way 
and we returned together. On our way back we had to 
fly for safety to a ditch full of water, because they suddenly 
opened rapid fire in our direction. I then went into the 
Battalion headquarters of the Battalion lining the trenches, 
and saw a very cheery lot of Seaforths who were talking, 
eating, and drinking in a ruined house not 300 yards behind 
the lines and in full view of the Germans. The Engineer 
and I then found our way home in safety. 

On the morning of this day, I and Burt-Marshall rode 
up to a hill [Hill 63] near by and saw a fine view of the 
German and English trenches for about three miles. It 
was a wonderful sight, absolutely still and calm, and not a 
sign of life. [Ronald was greatly impressed by the sight 
of Germans walking about in Messines village on the hill 
opposite, and the distant view of Lille, with its tall chimneys 
smoking for the benefit of the Huns.] On our way up we 
saw several graves, among them Malcolm Hepburn's. I 
lunched at XI Brigade with Keppell the Irish trials 

Saturday, April loth. 

At 6 p.m. the Company paraded to go into the trenches 
[on left of 4th Div., near La Plus Douce]. Platoons were 
taken and intermingled with Companies of the Dublin 
Fusiliers. These had a breastwork just in front of where 
we were digging on the first evening. We had a long 
slow march down an avenue road. The Dublins were 
very humorous all the time and quite cheerful. We were 
a bit apprehensive ! We then had a long march on what 
are called ' Corduroy ' roads. These are short pieces of 
boughs fastened to planks, to make a rough pathway over 
the mud. This path leads roughly parallel with the 
trenches in the valley about 600 yards behind. We passed 
several ruined cottages, which are full of dead, and the 


whole atmosphere was tainted with the smell of death. 
Occasional bullets flew over, but they were mostly high. 
After about half a mile we moved diagonally up to the 
brow of the hill and just over the top came to the first of 
the breastworks where we were to live. The ground 
behind was riddled with shell holes, and broken with 
communication trenches full of water. The breastworks 
were dug about one foot into the ground and were made 
of sandbags and earth. There were frequent traverses but 
the works were not continuous, there being three separate 
works for the one Company. They had parados, but not 
all of them were sufficiently high to be much good. After 
a prolonged wait outside the trenches we all squashed in. 
I found the dugout of the nearest Platoon commander, and 
sat with him. The dugouts were mostly in the front of 
the trench, though some were in the rear. The men were 
divided up for duty with the Regulars. They did ordinary 
sentry duty and also went out on the listening post, some 
few yards in front of the trench. The night was very 
quiet, there being only sniping, to which the Dublins never 
replied. Later in the evening I went to see the Captain, 
and went out with the second in command on a recon- 
noitring patrol. I carried a rifle and 15 rounds. We 
climbed through the wire and went a few yards forward 
and lay down, in the formation Corporal and Officer 
together, and two men in rear, interval ten yards, distance 
from Officer about ten yards. They watched the rear and 
flank. I was lying for a quartet of an hour by a very 
decomposed cow ! After listening hard we moved forward, 
and again lay doggo. This went on for about an hour, 
during which time we were perhaps 100 to 150 yards out. 
Then we returned, each pair covering the other two. 

Sunday, April nth. 

We all of course stood to arms at dawn, and the Germans 
started a tremendous fusilade, as is their custom. But 
soon after all was quiet, and you could see the smoke 
rising from the fires all down our line, and the German 


line. About n a.m. our field guns put 12 shells on to 
the German trenches in front of us. Immediately the 
German guns opened on us, putting 10 high explosive 
6 in. shells and the two last ' White Hope ' shrapnel 
their back-blast shrapnel. The result was 8 ft. of parapet 
blown down, another bit shaken down, one man with 
a dislocated shoulder of ours, and five men of the Dublins 
wounded, one seriously. As they were all within 3 yards 
of me, I was lucky. The brass head of a shell shot 
through the parapet, missed a man by an inch, and went 
into a dugout where we obtained it. The shelling is 
very frightening the report, the nearing whistle and the 
burst, and then you wonder if you are alive. Crouching 
under the parapet is all right for the high explosive, but 
for shrapnel it is no good, so that is why they mix them 
up. The men the Dublins were quite as frightened as 
we were as a rule, but some didn't care a damn. Some 
were praying, some eating breakfast, one was counting 
his Rosary, and another next door was smoking a cigarette 
and cheering up our fellows. After a prolonged pause, 
we rose from our constrained position, and went on with 
our occupations ; but it unnerved me for a bit. 

After lunch the sun shone gloriously, and we had three 
or four aeroplanes (British) over us; these went right 
over the German lines, on reconnoitring trips. They 
were heavily shelled and I counted 134 shrapnel shells 
round one aeroplane. It was a beautiful sight, only em- 
barassing because the shrapnel kept dropping round us. 
Soon after, just as it was getting dark, one of our aero- 
planes came flying low along our line. All the trenches 
opposite opened a furious fusilade, hitting our parapet 
frequently. Our guns then opened on their trenches and 
I was afraid they would start on us. The evening ended 

Monday, April I2th. 

At 2.30 a.m. I had the Platoon out of the trench, and 
formed up and found all present. This was a bit ticklish, 


as it had to be done standing just behind the trench. 
Then we met Thorne and got back to the road, met the 
other Platoons and so home to Romarin to breakfast. 
No sooner arrived than we were ordered to move in an 
hour and march with the rest of the Battalion to Steen- 
werck, where we arrived at n a.m. and went into excellent 
billets in farms [at the S. end of the village, by the Estaires 
cross roads], and lay down at peace. 

To his Mother. 

1 12. iv. 15. [Steenwerck.] 

' We have just returned from the trenches and so I will 
tell you a bit about it. [Describes movements up to 
Romarin where] the billets were very close but it was 
quite comfortable. That evening two Companies went 
into the trenches, being split up for instruction, and we 
dug reserve trenches about 1,000 yards behind the trenches. 
Here I first heard the stray bullets from the firing line 
flying over us. Of course it is very difficult to avoid 
having a certain amount of loose bullets about, but they 
are always high. 

' The second night I took another night digging party 
out to put up a breastwork a very short distance from the 
Germans. But they knew about it and shelled the place 
and put machine guns on it, so it wasn't a very healthy 
place and we crept off. 

[Describes ride next morning with Burt-Marshall.] ' It 
is an extraordinary sight the two lines running across 
the face of the earth at varying distances from 100 to 
500 yards apart ; and back from them run the enormous 
series of communication and reserve trenches. And the 
funny thing is the absolute stillness and lack of move- 
ment and almost of sound, as the snipers are not very 
vigorous here. All the houses and farms near by are 
rums, so it is a curious sight. Saturday night we went 
up to the trenches. We arrived up there of course after 
dusk. It is an eerie feeling, as me flares go up every 
minute or so, and you have to freeze, as you are 01 course 
in easy range ; but they can't see you if you freeze. The 
ground is absolutely broken by shell holes full of water, 
so it is easy to have a bathe at any moment. It isn't very 
savoury on the way up, as there are still a good many 
dead horses and cows unburied. We had an exciting 


day yesterday, being shelled in the morning. It isn't at 
all pleasant but luckily they did little damage. They sent 
12 shells. One knocked about six feet of breastwork down, 
and another wounded five men, but quite slightly. So 
you needn't worry, dear, as they do very little damage ; 
but they are a bit disconcerting to the nerves till one gets 
used to it. We watched our guns shelling their trench 
just before, and they simply retaliated tit for tat, which 
was rather hard lines as we didn't ask the gunners to 
hit their trenches, and were quite content to live in 

[Description of aeroplanes.] ' One had 134 shells put 
up against it, but without effect. You see the little ball 
of white smoke, as each shrapnel bursts. Then their 
trenches were shelled again but we luckily escaped. 

' We came out this morning about two, and at 9.0 
marched here, where we rest for three or four days and 
then I expect we take over a line of trenches. 

' Will you tell Margaret that I saw in a wood suddenly 
the grave of Malcolm Hepburn. The Seaforths are in 
the Brigade to which we are attached, and they are very 
careful of their graves. It was beautifully turfed over, 
and planted with primroses and surrounded with a rough 
palisade of wood. The cross was plain deal painted white 
with " In Memory of 2nd Lieut. M. Hepburn, &c., Killed 
in action, Nov. 1914." If his sister wanted I could get it 
photo'd I expect. 

' We are all very fit. The battalion only had two 
casualties wounded, the whole experience. But we want 

' Good-bye darling. This is written in a jolly little farm- 
yard in the open air.' 

Tuesday, April ijfh. 
Still peacefully in billets at Steenwerck. 

To /?. W. Dugdale. 

' IQ. iv. 15. [Steenwerck.] 
' D. O. M., 

' I am sitting outside a little farm in a rest billet some 
ten miles back : I have to stay out as the room stinks so 
inside. We are all full of beans, though why we haven't 
had any casualties I can't think. I suppose in this war 


one bullet hits in three or four million fired. They snipe 
all the time and hit nothing. We go up to trenches again 
Thursday. I have at least 11813 things to tell you. You 
say you don't know where I am. Write mother for any 

'To-morrow we play Rugger for the South Midland 
Division against the 4th Division. It ought to be quite 

' I5th. [" Tourist Lines ".] I couldn't finish this the other 
day, so now I am doing so in a most ideal position. We 
came in here last night and are in a wood, holding a kind 
of outpost position, not exactly a line of trenches. The 
wood is full of wire and is very impregnable. You can 
move about safely, as you have cover from view, except 
in the advanced posts, but of course there is no cover 
from fire except in the dugouts. But they are not sniping 
much and so it is very peaceful, sitting at a table behind 
my dugout writing these letters. 

' This wood was taken after a hell of a fight, and only 
during the Christmas truce could many of the bodies be 
buried. So they are buried very shallow, and in about 
a month it should be pretty evil. As it is it stinks 
abominably and close to one advanced work there is 
a poor fellow only half buried with his bayonet scabbard 
sticking out. 

'The match was quite amusing. We won 14-0 [17-0], 
and there were millions of Generals there. I must stop 
now. I will write later. 

' Ever your loving Ronald.' 

Wednesday, April i^fh. 

After breakfast drove into Nieppe in a motor-lorry to 
see an exhibition of bomb-throwing. After that we drove 
in a motor ambulance to Armentieres to have lunch and 
to shop. This town seems none the worse and there is 
plenty of business, though everything is expensive. After 
lunch we moved to Nieppe, and I played Rugger for the 
South Midland Division [48th] against the 4th Division. 
It was an amusing game; we had opposite us players 
like W. J. Tyrrell [Ireland : Captain], H. J. S. Morton 
[Cambridge and England], J. G. Keppell [Ireland : Trials], 
W. P. Hinton [Ireland: Full Back], and were refereed 


by Basil Maclear l [Ireland]. I had a goodish side, chiefly 
5th Gloucesters 2 and we won 14-0, but they stuck it well 
considering their condition. Several of the Liverpool 
Scottish from Ypres came over, including Dum Cunning- 
ham and Dick Lloyd. It was splendid to see so many 
Rugger players about. I changed in the room of the 
Captain of the 4th Divisional Staff. They lived in great 
style, quite unnecessary I thought. In fact they rather 
bored me. They ought to do a turn in the trenches with 
us all. Back to bed. 

Thursday, April i$th. 

We left Steenwerck about 8.30 a.m. and marched to 
a farm about one mile behind Ploegsteert. Here we 
stayed all day, and moved off about 4 p.m. for Ploegsteert. 
We then moved straight on to the wood, and took a 

1 Capt, R. Dublin Fusiliers, killed a few weeks later, about May 28, 
the first Irish International to fall. 

* Lt.-Col. G. F. Collett, D.S.O. (Cambridge and Gloucestershire), who 
was one of the Touch Judges, has kindly obtained a list of Ronald's 
team. The Rugby Teams of the players are printed in italics, and 
when none is mentioned Gloucestershire is to be understood. When 
no military unit is given the 1/5 Gloucesters "is to be understood. 

Full Back: Pte. C. Cook (wounded) ; Three-Quarters: Pte. Wash- 
bourne, Pte. S. Hamblin, Lt. R, W. Poulton Palmer (R. Berks., 
Liverpool, English Captain, killed), Pte. F. Webb (wounded) ; Half- 
Backs: Pte. S. Sysum (killed), Lce.-Corpl. A. Lewis (Capt., M.C. and 
bar) ; Forwards: Lt. C. R. M. F. Cruttwell (Capt., R. Berks., Oxford 
Trials), Lt. L. R. C. Sumner (Capt., Act. Maj., M.C., wounded), Capt. 
F. H. Deakin (Warwicks, Midland Counties, Capt. ofMoseley, wounded), 
Pte. J. Harris (Gloucester City, wounded), Lce.-Corpl. Millard (Sergt, 
killed), Pte. A. Cook (Gloucester City, wounded), Pte. S. Smart 
(Gloucestershire and England, wounded), one uncertain. 

Col. Collett writes : ' My recollection of the match was that the 
combination of the 48th was much superior to that of the 4th and this 
gave the former victory. Although your son did not actually score 
he was the "pivotal" man of the three-quarters and made many 
beautiful openings. As the 4th had been in trenches it was decided 
to play 25 minutes each way only. The score was not J4, as your son 
thought, but 17, to nil.' 

Lt. R. Cunningham remembers that the 4th Division team included, 
in addition to the names mentioned by Ronald, R. Fraser (Catnbridge 
and Scotland], and J. N. Thompson (London Scottish : three-quarter). 


corduroy path called Regent Street, through the wood. 
After about 2,000 yards walking, passing various breast- 
works in the wood, we came up to our reserve breastworks 
held by two reserve Platoons. We Platoon 13 pushed 
up to some breastworks called the ' Tourist Lines V and 
from these sent out advanced posts to breastworks in the 
edge of the wood. There was a further position, a ruined 
house [' second German house '], right in the edge of the 
wood, about 200 yards from the German trenches, which 
were plainly visible. It was quite amusing walking about 
in the wood apparently in full view of the Germans who 
however could not see us. There was continuous sniping, 
but fortunately no one was hit. The change over from 
the Hants Regiment was soon accomplished and we 
settled down for the night. I had to take out a listening 
post to a house [' first German house '] across a stream 
about 100 yds. further than the house mentioned before. 
This was a bit ticklish, as it was very near the Germans, 
and the flares fell right among us. But it was a quiet 
night and nothing of event happened. 

Friday, April i6th. 

In the daylight we saw our position, and learnt the 
various intricate paths through the wood. The wood in 
front of the ' Tourist Lines ' was thoroughly wired, and so 
there was no continuous defensive position, but really 
a series of breastworks, making a kind of outpost position, 
with the picquet in the ' first German house ', and breast- 
works, and the support in the ' Tourist Lines ', and the 
reserve where our two reserve Platoons were. It was 
ticklish work getting up to the advanced posts by daylight, 
but the Germans were very quiet, and only an occasional 
sniper interfered with our repose. A certain amount of 
shelling went on, but it was beyond us into the woods. 
That evening was dark and raining, and the going on the 
corduroy paths very difficult. We had to use electric 

1 So called because reporters were taken along them and shown 
the German lines. 


torches, with a certain amount of risk, but the night turned 
out quite quiet. I had arranged to take out the relief for 
the listening post, but it was so dark that I decided to take 
out only the Lance-corporal and tell the post they must 
stick it till dawn. On arrival I found that all was well, but 
they thought they had seen a man in front, but after 
listening a long time it seemed to be nothing. While 
there a German flare fell within a foot of us, so it was close 
work. On returning, before crossing the stream, I thought 
I saw something move, so had to wait five minutes till 
a flare came up. Then I found it was a barrel ! On my 

way up to the post I found , Lance-corporal, asleep 

at his post on duty. I had him arrested and I fear a Field 
General Court-martial for him ; but his nerves are quite 
smashed by the shelling, and that should count in his 

Saturday, April ijth. 

A beautiful morning. No event except aeroplane shell- 
ing. I had to attend twice at Battalion headquarters for 

court of inquiry on . It is a beautiful walk to the 

farm where the headquarters are, through the wood, 
blooming with cowslips and bluebells, past two or three 
beautifully kept graves. On arrival there I attended the 
funeral of a man in A Company shot by a comrade by 
mistake in the trenches the previous day. It was in 
a pretty little cemetery in a field, entirely a military one. 
The losses round here must have been very high mostly 
East Lancashires and Hampshires. About 5 p.m. the 
7th Worcesters arrived to take over from us. I got the 
Platoon off and stayed behind to see the officer in. I had 
to furnish him with a Lance-corporal to show him the 
listening post. Then I got off to Romarin where we found 
our old billets in the barn, the officers in the farmhouse. 
Slept like a log. 

[The Battalion having now finished relieving the 4th 
Division, who marched off to Bailleul and soon afterwards 
took part in the Second Battle of Ypres entered upon 
the normal course of trench warfare.] 


Sunday, April i8th. 

Woke expecting to have a peaceful day. About midday 
was warned to go up to our new trenches, at present held 
by the 4th Oxfords, as we were taking them over tomorrow. 
I was to go up to see round them. You can enter these 
by day, so I went up in the afternoon, and got a guide 
from the Oxford headquarters. A short walk along the 
edge of the wood brought us to the communication trench, 
and so into the trench well to the right of our line. Moved 
down to this and got to our trench. This is a top-hole one, 
strong in front, apparently good wire, good parados in 
parts, not bad dugouts, and apparently never shelled by 
the enemy. There is also a farm called ' Anton's farm ' 
[so named after an Engineer officer] which is held by 
a Platoon, and fortified (badly), as a supporting point 
a bit of a shell-trap I thought. Had some food with 
Dashwood and Rose and then went back home the short 
way across the fields to the Messines Road. Then to bed 
at 12.30. 

To Hilda. 
' 18. iv. 15. In the village [of Romarin]. 

' We are all well. We came out last night and are in 
a village we haye been in before just out of shell-fire, 
resting. I am still in bed my valise full of straw writing 
these letters after a hearty breakfast. There must have 
been a big battle about six miles north of us last night, as 
the gun-fire was terrific. Good-bye dear. Thank you so 
much for your letter.' 

[Capt. Cruttwell writes that, as they left the trenches 
about 7 p.m. on the lyth, the Battle of Hill 60 began very 
suddenly and with great violence. The sky to the N. was 
lit up and the rattle of machine-gun fire and rapid rifle fire 
was terrific.] 

Monday, April igth. 

A beautiful morning. Basked in the sun at Romarin all 
day. Moved off about 6 p.m., and marched to Hyde Park 
Corner : there picked up rations and guides, and moved to 


the trenches. Met Dashwood half-way there. A few 
bullets about, but nobody hit. Soon in and relieved 
Oxfords, who left No. 13 [Ronald's] Platoon in the house 
[Anton's Farm] : this is a poor job, for they cannot come 
by day, as the Germans must not know it is occupied or 
they would shell it. So I have to work them all night ! 

Quite a quiet night, we did two hour shifts by night and 
four hour by day. I now take up second in command in 
trenches, and am in charge of work entirely. 

[The Battalion, after relieving the Oxfords, relieved 
itself, i. e. two Companies were in the firing line and the 
other two in support in the wood. 

D Company were on the left and relieved by A. Their 
line consisted of two trenches called Sutherland and Oxford 
or, by numbers, 39 and 40 from right to left. Ronald's 
Platoon, 13, was first in the cellars of Anton's Farm, a ruined 
building with a pond, which divided the two trench 
sections : afterwards on the extreme right.] 

To his Mother. 

1 19. iv. 15. Out of the Trenches. [Romarin.] 

' I got your letter just as I came back from the trenches 
where I went up yesterday to look at the bit we take over 
tonight. We go there tonight instead of Wednesday. 
They are very safe, beautifully made, 300 yards from the 
Germans, and have not been shelled for months. So the 
prospect is rosy. 

' It is so hard to write lying on the grass on one's front ! 
It is a gorgeous day. We go in tonight for four days 
then into local reserve for four, then in again for four, then 
back here for four days rest. You can get up to these 
trenches by daylight individually, but a whole Company 
goes up by night to save going along the communication 
trenches. We hear no news. I haven't seen a paper for 
ten days, though they do come up to us, but there are very 
few of them.' 

Tuesday, April 2oth. 

We got little work done last night, though I went out 
with two others and carefully examined the wire. I found 

A a 


it very good, though it wanted a certain amount of work on 
it. The morning was quiet and fine, and we simply basked 
in the sun. Later in the day we were rather bothered by 
a sniper called Sir Charles who made very good shoot- 
ing but did no damage. We had no loopholes in his 
direction, and so could not spot him. That night I got 
a certain amount of work done, but it is not yet suffi- 
ciently systematic. Quiet night. The plan I am going on 
in the trench, is as [in drawing] on opposite page. Wire, 
parapet, parados, with dugouts inside and spaces behind, 
with communicating passage, carefully screened from front 
and flank, where we can lie, cook, &c., so all work must fit 
in with that idea. 1 

Wednesday } April 2ist. 

Another lovely day. These days are much the same, so 
I shall take a survey of the whole time. The work is the 
most important thing, as I am in charge of it, and my time 
is filled up with it by day getting the work organized for 
the night. This has got better and better, and now I have 
a good system. Of course it is nearly all done at night. 
It is curious, at ' stand to ', at about 8 p.m. to hear the 
sniping dying down, and then suddenly the ' tap tap ' of the 
German party starting. Then we know we are safe, as 
there is a kind of mutual agreement not to fire on each 
other's working and ration parties. So out we go and 
hardly a shot is fired. The men betray the usual good 
humour at it all and are in perfect spirits, only betraying 
annoyance at the absence of biscuits, and the presence of 
biscuits (not H. and Ps' !) They have grown quite callous, 
and you hear them whistling and shouting while working 
on the parapet, in the full moonlight. We did a good deal 

1 Among the ' Routine Orders' in Ronald's ' Field Message Book ' 
for April 20, signed by Captain H. U. H. Thorne, is the following: 

4 Lt. Palmer will be in charge of all repairs and improvements to 
the Trench and works. Platoon Commanders will report to him by 
3 p.m. daily their suggestions. They will detail such N.C.O.'s and 
men as Lt. Palmer may require.' 


of work in our four days. My plan was to superintend 
till 12.0 or 12.30, then to sleep till ' stand to ' at 3.0 a.m., 
then sleep till breakfast at 9.0 a.m., but at times I was on 
duty at 4.0 a.m. or 8.0 a.m., so sleep was a bit short at the 
end. The sniper was active and we haven't got him yet. 
He knocked a hole in three periscopes, and one shot 
glanced off and wounded one man in Platoon 14 Bennett. 
There was some shelling of farms in rear and the chateau, 
but none of our trenches, and we had a kind of dress-circle 
view of it, so it was quite amusing. 

To his Father. 

1 22. iv. 15. The Trenches [Tr. 40]. 

' Just a line before I turn in to sleep at 9.0 a.m. Here 
we are in our third day in the trenches. They are the 
ones we have permanently taken up, and the whole Brigade 
is now on its own with the two other Brigades of the 
Division on its right and left. We have splendid breast- 
work trenches, extremely well made, parapets beautifully 
bullet-proof. This was the result of three months occupa- 
tion by a Territorial Regiment. They admittedly work 
much better than Regulars ! It is a very quiet part, and 
has not been shelled for two months (touch wood). The 
last Regiment only had 22 casualties in three months. 

1 But there is lots of work to be done, and I am works 
manager for our Company. So it is interesting. You 
would simply love all the schemes for improvements and 
making dugouts and improvements for drainage, &c. 

' Rations and material come up each night to us, though 
as a matter of fact we can get away from the trenches by 
day along a devious route. But we always relieve and 
ration across the open at night. 

1 Sniping is all tnat goes on, and in this at present they 
have an absolute superiority. We have constructed steel- 
plate loopholes but cannot find the brutes. When we do 
we shall have them, as we have some wonderful shots. 
They got one of our men in the throat last night, but it is 
not a bad wound. The trouble is to locate the snipers. 
We reconnoitred to where we thought he was last night, 
but he wasn't there. Aeroplane shelling and the shelling 
of farms is the only other excitement. I'll write better 
after we are relieved to-morrow night. We then go into 

A a 2 


local reserve for four days, and that means any amount of 
digging parties at night. 

' We heard the battle at St. Eloi last week, when we blew 
up a mine and captured some trenches. The sky was 
illuminated, and the noise of the French 755 was tremendous, 
also the roll of musketry. 

' Your loving RONALD. 

1 We haven't shifted from the neighbourhood.' 

Friday, April 2$rd. 

This evening we came out. The maxim was a bit busy, 
but it quieted down and all got out safely. We had to go 
straight back to Ploegsteert, and then back 150 of us to 
dig at a part of our line, on the right, where it is being 
joined up and strengthened. It is only about 100 yards 
from the Germans, but the same good feeling prevails and 
we weren't fired on. In fact it is safe to walk anywhere 
by night. Home to Ploegsteert. 

Saturday, April 24th. 

Here we are placed in the local school, close to the 
Church. The Church has been badly shelled, and is 
terrible to see inside. The school has had all its windows 
smashed by shrapnel, but is otherwise all right. The men 
are very comfortable. Challoner and I lay on a mattress 
in a ground-floor room very comfortably. This period of 
four days passed very much in the same way from day to 
day, so I will lump it all together. On the first day I had 

to attend the Court-martial of who was asleep at his 

post in the ' Tourist Lines '. He got five years' penal 
servitude, commuted by the Brigadier to three months' 
Field Punishment No. i ; and now he 's off to hospital with 
his nerve quite shattered. Each night we had to dig in 
the same place. This was always uneventful, though one 
night one man had his hat shot through. By day we sat 
about and slept, and on one occasion we had a football 
match between two Platoons. I took part and we took 
a beating. Occasional aeroplane shelling was all we saw. 
This brings us to 

Tuesday, April 2jth. [Journal ends here.] 


To R. W. Dugdale. 

1 24. iv. 15. In peace : Reserve Billets. 

[Ploegsteert Village.] 
'D. O. M., 

' We came out, after four days in, last night, and imme- 
diately went off digging, after hour's rest. The whole 
thing as a war is a screaming farce. This is honest fact. 
We went up to a part of the line near here which has a gap 
of 200 yards in it. Here Territorial Engineers are building 
a magnificent breastwork and parados, and Territorials 
supply working parties. The joke is we are 120 yards 
from the German trench and about 80 from the German 
working parties. And we make the hell of a row, laugh, 
talk, light pipes, &c., and sing and nobody fires a shot, 
except one old sniper who seems to fire high on purpose ; 
and yet when the flares go up, we stand stock-still so as 
not to be seen ! ! And we of course dare not work there 
by day. It is a farce. If you were here now, i miles 
from the firing line in one direction and goo yards in 
another, you would never know there was anything unusual 
on. There is no sound of guns or rifles. 

' The Germans are about 550 yards away [from our front 
trenches] and are very quiet. They sometimes blow a 
motor-horn, and sometimes sing the Marseillaise and 
Tipperary. They started firing a maxim just before we 
filed out last night, but they let us go in peace. 

'You will have seen in the papers about the taking of 
Hill 60, SE. of Ypres. The sound of the 753 firing and 
the musketry was awful, and the shrapnel bursting in the 
sky was a terrible sight. Show this to Claude and say I 
will write jolly soon. Y. 1. f. R.' 

To his Mother. 

' 25. iv. 15. In Reserve. [Ploegsteert.] 

' Here we are very happy and peaceful. The mail didn't 
come in yesterday owing to great movements of troops (we 
are told), so I don't know if I have got any letters from you 
to come. But you have been awfully kind in writing so 
often, and it is THE great thing to get the mail in the 
evening in the trenches. We are in a village very much 
battered about with shells. The Church is in ruins though 


the altar has escaped damage and the spire still remains. 
They shell the village at times, but haven't done so since 
we were here. We came out on Friday night, and go in 
again Tuesday evening. 

' Every evening we take out vast working parties to work 
at a big gap in our trenches, which has to be filled. We 
furnish about 750 men a night, and we work in a two hours 

' It is Sunday to-day, and we had Holy Communion in 
the school-yard the altar a pile of ammunition boxes, 
covered with a mackintosh sheet. It was not quite ideal 
because we couldn't kneel down. I should have liked it 
better in a field behind. 

' I had a fine bath and change yesterday, not having 
removed my clothes for five days ! nor washed, as water is 
a difficulty in the trenches. 

'The snipers are very good shots. We had three 
periscopes smashed, and yet they only show 3x3 inches 
over the parapet and the German trenches are quite 500 
yards away. But we think they have snipers in the clover 
in front. We hope to be able to silence them soon. But 
at present we can't spot them at all. We are all very well. 
But I don't gather the idea that the War will be over soon. 
I believe the Germans are very strong opposite to us. 

' All your letters about St. Helens were very interesting. 

' Please thank Jane for her letter, and say that I hope 
she will enjoy herself at Guy's. It will be lovely for her. 

' Good-bye dear. 

'P.S. There's a gun of ours popping off just behind 
this village. It makes the most awful bang each time and 
nearly jerks me out of the room ! ' 

To Capt. C. P. Symonds. 

1 25. iv. 15. In Reserve. [Ploegsteert] 

' Thanks awfully for yours. Yes the whistle of the 
approaching shell is pretty terrifying. I don't think I shall 
get used to it in a hurry. Luckily the trenches we hold 
are very quiet. They don't shell us but they smash all the 
farms about 400 yards in the rear into small bits, trying 
to find artillery observers and Batt. H.Qs. It is a pretty 
peaceful existence. There are a lot of gaps to fill in our 
line, and we work away cheerily, and the old Germans 150 


yards away do the same. The Bucks are only 70 yards 
away in one part. As they came in the other day they 
heard them shout " Hullo Bucks, you've got a damned 
good shot in No. 15 Platoon." And so they had. The men 
are splendid ; I have had one breakdown, a poor fellow 
who was twice shelled, once in the open, with fifteen 
shrapnel on him. His nerve went and he couldn't sleep. 
He never reported sick, but I found him asleep on Sentry 
Go. He got a big sentence but will be in hospital, and 
will probably be discharged. But I am PROUD of the 
Territorials. Their work in the trenches is INFINITELY 
better than the Regulars. Any good trenches have always 
been built by them. The Engineers say that their working 
parties do three times the work of Regulars. I know we 
always finish the job f hour before time. They never 
grouse and in fact I'd rather have them than anybody else. 
I wish I had been playing hockey with you. Well Good- 
bye, Charlie. Try to see me when you are out. I under- 
stand May 8th is the day you arrive. And you know where 
I am. 

' Yours affectly.' 

To W. Dimbleby. 

'27. iv. 15. In Reserve. [Ploegsteert.] 

' We go back to the trenches to-night. All quite quiet 
here. The Germans shout out " Don t shoot, we are sick 
of this. I am a waiter at Lockhart's, Edgware Rd." ' 

To his Father. 
'29. iv. 15. In Reserve. [Hunston North.] 

' Please note that I number my letters from today, so 
please do the same ; then you can see if all arrive. 

' (i) It is of course quite impossible to expose yourself 
during the day. The sentries, of which there are very few 
by day, use periscopes, and they do not keep them up in 
the same place too long, otherwise they are shot through. 
But at night sniping stops. At "stand to", i.e. at dusk, 
when everybody is up at the parapet, sniping stops. Then 
you know it 's safe to start, and also it 's safe for the ration 
parties to come up, as they do right in the open. It's 
simply a mutual agreement I suppose. 

' (2) There is then no sniping by night hardly. There 


is a certain amount, but it is very wide, and you don't 
worry about it. 

' (3) Yes I think they have had the advantage of knowing 
the ground. We can't trace their whereabouts yet at all. 
There is a house just behind our lines, and we can get 
there in daytime, and we have men in the roof for hours 
with telescopes trying to trace them. But they can see 

' (4) As you say they [snipers] must come out at dawn 
and go back at dusk, if they are in front of their trench. 
But that is not certain. If we can't find them by move- 
ment we shall go out at night, and try and see if they 
come out, and generally reconnoitre the ground in front. 
This ground is getting very thick with long grass, and 
will soon be very good cover. It is quite absurd to see 
the quite immovable landscape, with no movement of any 
kind on it, and yet to hear the most accurate shots on our 
parapet, shots which have killed two men dead in the last 
two days, who foolishly put their heads up carelessly in 
a low part of the parapet to look back. Don't worry about 
me in this respect. I am in charge of the work and the 
parapet is being raised, and immensely strengthened and 
thickened. We are doing 50 men at it during every hour 
of dark, and during the day I am always thinking of it, 
and keeping my head down. It is only one bit of the 
trench about 50 yards long. 

' (5) The bullets come in through the top of the parapet 
in one piece I think. But that is being rectified now. 
The rain has eroded the front face and left it a bit thin. 
And of course they come just over the top. Some of the 
shots look as if he was perched up high. But we have 
examined every tree with a telescope, and can't find 

' (6) It is simpler to go out at night and conceal your- 
self than go up by a Sap head, though of course they 
often enter that way. We have a German Sap some- 
where near us but it is full of water and disused. We 
have had instructions issued about obnoxious gases. It 
is a clever wheeze on their part. 

' About work, I am Works Manager. During the after- 
noon I go with the Platoon Commanders and consider 
the work in their particular Section. All this work has 
to fit in with the general policy of the trench which we 
have outlined, and placed in the log-book of the trench. 
This work includes wire, parapet, firing steps, parados, 


dug-outs, and rear communication trench and drainage. 
The rear trench is important as then I shall have a rear 
safe path by day along the trench, instead of going into 
the fire trench and so round the traverses. 

1 No, we have no instruments to detect sappers, but it 
is very easy to hear them, so say the Engineers. Yes, we 
have traced bullets by bits off two sandbags, in parapet 
and parados. 

' How splendid of you to have a Passport. If I ever 
get leave I will wire and you will come. But at present 
all leave is out of the question. They want all the troops 
up at Ypres, and we have a long line to hold. Snipers 
are not behind our line we are sure. But you get stray 
bullets from behind (not in our trench luckily) because 
just here our line goes thus [Drawing]. But we may get 
bullets from A (our own men), as A is higher ground, or 
possibly B, but both are unlikely. You can't imagine 
what a wiggly line it is. In our trench I can see flares 
in the directions of these lines, and this indicates the line 
of trenches. 

I Now I'll stop and write a line to Mother. 

I 1 know the kind of flint implement you mean, they are 
funny things. 

' What a sweet letter you wrote.' 

The implement referred to was a curious Neolith found 
by Janet on Cumnor Hurst. I had sent -a drawing of it. 
My reply, written April 28, was the last letter Ronald 
received from me it was noted in his book ' Father 2nd, 
written Apr. 28 ' although two were returned unopened. 
In that of April 28 this passage occurs : 

' I should have thought that kind of war dangerous as 
well as a farce. Yes I quite thought the German snipers 
must be hiding somewhere outside your trenches, so that 
it would be very dangerous to search for one. I should 
think bullet-proof armour for use when searching for 
them would be a very good idea.' 

To his Mother. 

1 29. iv. 15. In Reserve. [Hunston North.] 

'You will perhaps wonder why (if you read Janet's 
letter) we are again in reserve. Well we went to the 


trenches Tuesday, and were only there one day when we 
were relieved by another Company and sent to reserve for 
three days. There has been a rearrangement, and we are 
now taking over a stretch of trench (the same as we were 
in the last four days and a bit more), and relieving by 
Companies, so that it is always the Berkshires who are 
in. So we are in a beautiful wood about 1,700 yards back. 
It is perfectly lovely here, absolutely boiling. I bathed 
today in a very dirty pond just outside the wood. We 
live in log shanties, 1 and eat all our meals out of doors. 
Our only diversions are making various wood things, such 
as hurdles, chairs, bowers, shelters, and pegs and stakes, 
and watching the aeroplanes being; fired at overhead, and 
hearing the German shells buzzing leisurely over the 
wood to burst beyond us, trying to find our guns who 
reply as leisurely. It is funny hearing them buzzing 
gently overhead and then bang ! Yesterday the Germans 
shelled a big farm about 600 yards behind us, and set it 
on fire. It was a fine sight to watch. 

' Yesterday was a most extraordinary day. I went out 
of the trench after breakfast (you can get out along a 
communication trench by day) to see some bomb-throw- 
ing and then came back, watched this shelling, then a poor 
fellow [Pte. F. W. Giles] was shot and fell right on to me. 
Then I stayed behind to show the relieving Company the 
work to be done. . . . Your sweet letter of the 28th 
I think you wrote it the 27th just arrived. What a sweet 
letter. . . . Then I came back here, and in the wood 
I heard a nightingale singing more perfectly than I have 
ever heard it before. And so home to bed in this lovely 

' Good-bye darling. I am awfully well, and quite safe. 
. . . Yes, Battcock and a man in my Company have had 
a cap shot through. . . . Yes I love the little bits of 

' Your loving son, 


1 Capt. Cruttwell writes that these huts were built by the Rifle Bde., 
at Hunston North, in the centre of the wood, on the E. side of 
Messines Road, between Ploegsteert and Hyde Park Corner. ' Here 
we planted a garden round the log hut which served as sleeping 
place and mess, wire bunks in two tiers being arranged round the 
walls. This was the best camp in the wood, and the safest, though 
bullets came along occasionally. Fatigues when in support consisted 
mainly of building up a gap at the NE. angle of the wood, where no 
defences existed.' 


There is some repetition in the following three letters 
but they are left unchanged, being the record of the last 
day of Ronald's life. 

To Mrs. Gripper. 

' 4. v. 15. In the Trenches. 


' Thank you so very much for your nice letter and for 
the splendid parcel. As you can imagine Bossie is already 
on to the filberts! The almonds and raisins are a God- 
send, as fresh fruit of any kind is very scarce ! We are 
all very well. I was woken up this morning by shelling, 
and found we were being shelled. Kauenhoven's dugout 
was completely smashed in by a " little Willie ", but luckily 
he was the one officer out of his dugout on duty. Old 

our old drunk cook too was just out of his dugout 

and it was blown in. They were aiming at a house 
[Anton's Farm] which is part of our line, and which we 
use for sniping from. But they hurt nobody as nobody 
was in. They knocked the chimney down, and there's 
another big hole in the roof. 

' We are doing our usual time in, and then we come out 
for a sort of rest, though we have digging parties every 
night. The weather is perfect now, and I am sitting in 
our dining room, which is dug well down and faces the 
rear. I am getting a little tired of the view of the cabbage 
field to our rear ! The front view is more interesting but 
also more dangerous to look at. I hope you and Uncle 
Jim are all well. Give my love to him. I hear Bossie 
has had a letter from him. 

' Yours affectionately, 


To Margaret. 

' 5W- v< I 5- 1 tne Trenches. 

' Thank you so much for the lovely chocolate which 
arrived last night up here. It was sweet of you to write 
and also your letters are most welcome. Just as I was 
proceeding to open them at about 12 p.m., as I was at 
work all the early part of the night, we had to " stand to " 
as a Brigade order that meant all being out. It was 


maddening three hours messing about doing nothing. 
Then I got to bed at 4.0 [a.m.] and was woken up and 
pulled out, because we were being shelled and it is safer 
to be under the parapet than in a dugout. They were 
shelling a house just in the middle of our trench which they 
think we use for sniping (and so we do). But the first 
four shots hit our trench. The first went right through 
one officer's dugout, but luckily he was the one officer on 
duty; so he wasn't hit. Luck! He'd have been in tiny 
bits! Another smashed the dugout of our cook, but he 
was out too. The house had what was left of its chimney 
piece [stack] removed, and another large hole in the roof. 
That's about all. Now it's lovely, as I sit in our mess, 
which is dug down out of sight, but has a lovely back view 
of the country to the rear a large root field, a typical 
avenue main road to the right, a hill with a ruined chateau 
in front. I am getting a bit tired of the view. But it's 
safer than looking in front. 

' Much love to Max and Peggie, 

1 Your loving RONALD.' 

The following, the last letter Ronald wrote, was not 
posted, but found addressed among his papers returned 
from the front. Ronald had entered it on the list he was 
keeping ' Father 2 4. v. 15 '. 

To his Father. 


1 4-V-I5- In the Trenches. 

' I am afraid I have been bad at writing, and I shall 
answer your letter properly on Thursday when we are 
back at rest. We are now in our third day in the trenches, 
and go out tomorrow. We have had a quiet time, only 
haying about 15 shells the first evening, aimed at the house 
which lies just behind the middle of our line. They 
suspected a sniper in there, and gave it boko. They did 
no damage much but one or two fell short, and one went 
straight into the dug-out of our Junior Subaltern who 
fortunately was on duty. Another fell into the cook's 
dugout, and he was peeling potatoes five yards away! 
They were " Little Willies " about 3 in. quite little 
fellows. Otherwise we have been very peaceful only it 

MAY 5, 1915 365 

rained a lot, and that doesn't make things very pleasant. 
But we have installed a splendid French oven, stolen from 
the aforesaid [Anton's] farm, in a kitchen dugout, by the 
officers' mess, and we have all kinds of roast joints and 
Red wine and Apollinaris water! at i fr. 15 a bottle! 
Arranging the work keeps me full up all day. Thank 
mother immensely for the parcel of socks, cap, &c. But 
the cap, though very nice, is not what I want. I want 
a. forage cap thus: [drawing]. The London messenger 
boys wear them Fatigue Caps. 

' Your loving RONALD.' 

Ronald was wearing the cap at the time of his death and 
it was buried with him. 

Telegram from Hazebrouck received 6.12 p.m., Oxford, 
on May 6 : 

' Regret your son killed last night. Death instantaneous. 
Colonel Serocold.' 

Ronald was as usual in charge of the working party from 
D Company on the night of May 4-5 the last night of the 
four, and he would have gone into rest on the following 
day. It was exceptionally dark, for the moon had not yet 
risen and there was a slight fog. One other Company with 
its own Works Manager was working simultaneously in 
the firing line. Sergeant Perrin, since killed, told me that 
Ronald had just spoken to him and had then moved on to 
look at another group of workers near the new officers' 
mess dugout in Trench 40, a prominent structure covered 
with corrugated iron, but never shelled. It was here, 
while standing on Capt. Thome's dugout and super- 
intending the completion of a dugout immediately in front 
of the mess, that Ronald was shot, at twenty minutes past 
midnight. The bullet entered at about the level of the third 
rib on the right side ; Ronald said ' Oh ! Oh ! ' and fell into 
the arms of Sergeant Brant. His friends Capt. Thorne 
and Lieut. Challoner who were with him almost at once, as 
well as the doctor who arrived soon after, were sure that 
death was instantaneous and that he suffered no pain. 
His expression in death was peaceful and happy. 


Ronald was the first officer in his Battalion to fall, and 
remained the only one until the Battle of the Somme, 
nearly a year and a quarter later. Remembering the 
German methods and organization, the prominence of 
Ronald as a sportsman, the ease with which his unit could 
have been learnt, and the presence close to the front of 
a civilian population, through which the Germans had 
advanced and retired, I am unable to believe that his death 
was, as many have thought, an accident of war. 

Ronald's body was carried, on the morning of May 5, 
to the Field Ambulance in the Nunnery on the Le Bizet 
Road in Ploegsteert Village, a mile behind the front, 
passing through the lines of the 1/7 Warwicks on the way. 
Sergeant A. C. Tomlinson of this Battalion wrote to his 
people in Rugby on May 9: 

'You have no doubt learnt of the death of Capt. [Lt.] 
Poulton Palmer. I can tell you it cast a gloom over the 
whole Division. In our Company he was looked upon as 
a personal friend and I think Be was known by every man 
in the British Army. It cut me up terribly, the more so as 
he was carried through our lines. It happened as follows. 
Every night during our four days out of the trenches our 
Battalion had to be on outpost duty all night, on a barri- 
cade and in the reserve line of trenches, returning to our 
barn at 6.0 a.m. One night a party approached the post 
and was challenged. It proved to be a stretcher party. 
One of our officers inquired who they were carrying and 
the reply was Capt. Poulton. " Oh, " he said, " I will go and 
speak to him," but when the man told him he was dead it 
upset him frightfully, as he knew Ronald well. He it was 
who told me, so I learnt of poor Ronald's death almost 
immediately after it occurred.' 

Ronald was buried at 6.30 on the evening of May 6 in 
the little 1/4 Berks. Cemetery in Ploegsteert Wood. The 
Bishop of Pretoria wrote to us on May 7 : 

1 You will be getting many letters at this time, all bring- 
ing you, I know, comfort and strength in your sorrow, in 
the knowledge of what your boy was, not only to you but 
to all those he was with : we buried him yesterday evening 


in a wood where everything told us of the Resurrection 
and New Life in the glorious outburst of a new spring. 
It was a beautiful service because so simple and so real : 
just his Company and his brother Officers and a few others 
who could get away. 

' Before the service I consecrated the plot of ground 
they are fencing off for a burial place, and we sang " Let 
saints on earth . Then the body was brought on a motor 
ambulance and we laid it to rest enclosed in a coffin, simple 
and severe, with a crucifix on the top of it such as these 
good pious folk use in this part. We sang " Jesu, Lover 
of my Soul " and " Abide with me " at the end. For though 
our hearts were heavy and our eyes filled with tears, it was 
a message of hope which our Blessed Lord had brought us 
through the grave of hope and inspiration to be our best 
and to reckon nothing as of moment joy or sorrow, sick- 
ness or health, success or failure, life or death, except just 
one thing: to do the right thing and see it through to 
a finish. I don't think there was a man in the Regiment 
that didn't feel that if there was a man ready to go at any 
moment it was your boy. It was tremendously touching 
to see the men's faces as I spoke, and I felt it such a privi- 
lege to be there. It was only last week that I had been 
seeing your boy and his Company in Plug Street Wood 
and had had a little service for them there. Their 
chaplain, Mr. Helm such a good fellow was telling me 
what a tremendous help and stand-by your boy was to him 
in his work. " He 's just a glorious chap to have by one," 
were his words. 

' I've been out just for a few weeks and go back again in 
a fortnight. It 's been a great inspiration and a wonderful 
bit of experience. 

1 May God help you and yours (as we prayed by the 
grave) to carry your load and make your sacrifice in the 
same spirit of forgetfulness of self as your boy made his 
and it 's a bigger one for you, but God will see you through, 
and it 's all worth it.' 

'After the service', Lieut. Challoner wrote, 'the Company 
presented arms and the Officers saluted. The Officers 
then went and saluted individually and said a little prayer 
for the dear fellow.' 

It was a great comfort to us that the Bishop who as 
Mike Furse had been a don of Trinity, Oxford, and a dear 


friend of Eustace Palmer, the cousin whom Ronald loved 
so well was able to conduct the funeral service. 
The simple white wooden cross on the grave bore the 

inscription : 

R. I. P. 


I N 


5- 5- 15- 

There was at the time of Ronald's burial only one other 
grave in the Cemetery, that of Pte. F. W. Giles, No. 3053, 
killed by a sniper (p. 362). 

The first cross was later on replaced by one of greater 
strength by Ronald's Marlston friend the Rev. Frank Ford. 
Still later, in 1917, my son-in-law Capt. C. P. Symonds 
found that the Cemetery and the grave had suffered from 
shell-fire. He replaced the damaged and loosened cross 
by a still stronger one of oak. 

Ronald's Oxford friend Capt. Whitnall happened to be 
present when the cross was first replaced. 

' In August, 1916, a detachment of the Oxford Yeomanry 
had been sent up north of Armentieres, dismounted, as 
a " working party " to dig trenches, gun emplacements, 
ammunition shelters all to add, had we known it, their 
infinitesimal part to General Plumer's taking of the 
Messines Ridge. We were under Major Villiers, camped 
by Romarin corner, near Nieppe. Parties went out in 
various directions, happily relieved from stable parades 
and with the encouraging feeling that the sooner the roof 
was on the better shelter from desultory shelling. We 
visited them either on foot, but it was too hot to walk far, 
or by bicycle, and there was a mount, the water-cart horse, 
available at times. 

'On the i8th I was bicycling along the bumpy pave 
which leads from the dead ruins of Ploegsteert village with 
the shattered red brickwork of its church, along the straight 
tall avenue to the foot of Hill 63, where the Messines Road 
turns and rises to the right a sentry up towards the sky- 
line : to the left a much shelled road serving the sheltered 

o S' 
w I 

O S 


' a 
W o 



< <L> 






Facing* p. 368.] 


regimental H. Qs, stores, aid posts and other safe dugouts, 
and from which point starts the long communication trench 
by which you could gain the summit and spy from a 
gunner's observation post the clear-cut panoramic view 
of spectral Messines itself across the barren valley of No 
Man's Land. Wonderfully made trenches with a duck- 
board raised high above the flood of rain and revetted with 
corrugated iron, reflecting sweating heat as you toiled up. 

' At the parting of the roads at the foot of the hill was a 
notice board " Hyde Park Corner ". Short of this close on 
the edge of the main road and lying in part of Ploegsteert 
Wood itself was a little Cemetery of neatly arranged brown 
wooden crosses. At the very moment of passing I turned 
my head at seeing two men replacing one simple cross by 
another as simple, but painted white and caught the 
name. An officer of the 3rd Hussars with me exclaimed 
" Why, that 's the name of a fellow I was with at Rugby ! " 
and so we helped. 

' One of the soldiers digging said, " The boys were very 
fond of him, sir, by the way his grave has been looked 
after, and I never missed seeing him play in London in 
days gone by, sir ! " 

Ronald's dear friend Dick Dugdale also tried to obtain 
a cross to replace the original one which he intended to 
erect at the foot of the grave, but was prevented by the 
want of material ; and now he too has joined his friend, 
killed instantaneously by an Sin. shell, in a Regimental 
Aid Post of the Norfolks, near Le Cateau, on the night of 
October 23, 1918. ' You know I loved him more than any 
one else in the world,' he wrote to us when he heard of 
Ronald's death. His sister Mrs. H. H. Hardy remembers 
that ' Dick used to say, every anniversary of Ronald's death, 
" one year less to wait for Ronald," ' and she loves ' to think 
of them making up now for the three years separation.' 

The Cemetery lies on the right-hand side, going north, 
of the Messines-Armentieres Road, about 200 yards south 
of the well-known cross-roads called ' Hyde Park Corner ' 
and | mile north of Ploegsteert cross-roads. It is 60 miles 
in a direct line from Boulogne, 7-8 east of Bailleul, and 
3! north of Armentieres. The map reference is Sheet 
No. 28 B. 1/40,000 U. 19. b. 2. 4. 



When I visited it on Dec. 20, 1918, the Cemetery, which 
had been fought over and in German occupation earlier in 
the year, bore many scars of war craters filled with water 
and trees splintered and broken off. The fence and 
rustic gateway put up by Sergt. Beasley had disappeared. 
Ronald's grave was uninjured, although there were four 
shell-holes within a few feet of it ; the oak cross was intact 
save for two scratches from shell splinters. Mr. Ford's 
cross was still there and I re-erected it at the foot of the 
grave. In that little plot of ground 18 units of the army 
were represented, including Canadians and Australians, 
Scotch and Irish, English of many Regiments, north and 
south an epitome of the War and of that far-reaching 
brotherhood to which it has given new life and strength. 

From Col. O. P. Serocold, C.M.G., V.D. :- 

' Poor Ronald was shot through the heart : I do not 
think the bullet was aimed particularly at him, but he was 
with a working party in a spot regularly fired on by day 
so there may have been what we call a " clamped rifle " 
laid on the place, let off regularly at intervals, or it may 
have been one of the many stray bullets always flying 

' Naturally Ronald was the most beloved and popular 
officer with all ranks, and one of those whom we could 
least spare. I shall miss him sorely, as he was a most 
trustworthy and capable officer, and would have gone high 
in soldiering, had he been spared. 

' His death has been a terrible loss to us : he was the 
very best type of the young officer, always ready to do a 
bit more than his share of the work, and always with a 
smile and a joke for the men, who adored him. I see his 
picture, cut from newspapers, pinned up in our trenches 
now : they all want souvenirs of him.' 

From Capt. H. U. H. Thorne, D Company (Lt.-Col., 
commanding i2th Battn. Roy. Scots, killed Apr. 9, 1917), 
writing to Mr. J. M. Wright. (From Reading Standard, 
May 15, 19*5) :- 

' By the time this reaches you you will have heard of the 
death of poor Ronald Poulton, my senior Subaltern and 


second in command. A German sniper shot him dead on 
the roof of my dugout the night before last. Mercifully 
death was instantaneous. I reached him a moment after 
he fell, but he never spoke or moved again. 

' It was a very nasty blow for us, and I personally feel 
intensely about it. He was idolized by the men and their 
grief is very severe. . . . 

4 ... He was one of the finest fellows I ever knew, and 
the only consolation is that he died doing his job and that 
he suffered no pain.' 

From Capt. and Adj. Gerald M. Sharpe, in a letter to 
his wife : 

' He will be an awful loss to us as he was a fine officer, 
and the most popular officer in the Regiment with officers 
and men, and his place cannot be filled again. 

' I shall miss him horribly and feel his death acutely. I 
liked him the best of all the officers : he was such a real 
good chap without the slightest bit of conceit and always 
ready to do anything to help anybody. He was in Thome's 
Company, and will be an awful loss to him, as he was his 
right-hand man. He died the finest death any man could 
wish for, and he suffered absolutely no pain. 

' I saw him yesterday a few hours after his death and 
he looked quite peaceful and happy. We buried him this 
evening (6th May) in the cemetery. We have suffered and 
he is now at rest. 

' The Bishop of Pretoria who is out here conducted the 
service and gave a most beautiful address about him. He 
knew him quite well and said that he was a man of superb 
character, and that whenever he was with one, one felt that 
you were in the company of a man who was doing you 
good (which is absolutely correct). He also said that " if 
there was anybody in the regiment who was absolutely 
prepared to meet death at any moment it was he ". 

' I wept like a child at his funeral, as did many of us, and 
the Regiment to a man will mourn his loss to the end. I 
was censoring a Sergeant's letter yesterday and will tell 
you what he said, just to show how much he was loved by 
his men. His words were more or less as follows : " I 
have just heard that Mr. Palmer has been killed and we 
are all mad about it and have vowed a vengeance on the 
Germans. He was our most popular officer and every- 
body loved him, and when our turn comes to charge the 

B b 2 


Germans we shall do so with the name of Palmer on our 
lips." That is the feeling of us all. One feels more when 
one is on the spot, and only a few hours before he was 
killed I was talking to him. But it is war after all, and we 
must expect to lose officers and men, and the best always 
seem to be the first to go/ 

From Lt. (now Capt.) Oscar B. Challoner, writing to 
Mrs. Gripper : 


' I have awfully bad news to tell you in this letter. Poor 
dear Ronald was shot last night (early this morning 
=jth May) at 12.20 a.m. He was working on a dugout and 
I feel sure it must have been an aimed shot, and not 
a stray one as some say it was. It hit him on the right 
side just below the arm-pit and did not come out again. 
He died without any pain at all. Death was instantaneous, 
thank Heaven. It is an awful shock to me as he was my 
greatest pal in the Regiment and also out. Six months at 
your home made me realize how kind he was. The whole 
world has lost a friend and an upright man. If things go 
on as they are now, I am afraid my nerve will not last long. 
It has upset me as you can well guess. 

' I must end now. I feel so miserable.' 

From Lt. (now Capt.) C. R. M. F. Cruttwell :- 

1 Those of us who have known him for a long while, and 
loved him, can enter just a little into the grief of his own 
people. You will have heard the details of his death. It 
is a great consolation to know that he died painlessly for 
England, beloved by every one in his Regiment. When 
I went round his old Company as they stood to, at dawn, 
almost every man was crying. He will always be an 
inspiration to those of us who remain. He will be laid in 
the wood this afternoon in soil which is already consecrated 
to the memory of many brave soldiers. The oak-trees are 
just coming out, and the spring flowers; and the place 
would remind you much of the woods round Oxford.' 

Only a few letters from the men of the Battalion are 
quoted below, for the same thoughts are repeated again 
and again that he was ' one of the best ', always looking 


after the comfort or the safety of his men, that he treated 
them like a comrade, a friend, or a brother. 

Sergt. W. Towner, No. 54, of Ronald's Platoon, writing 
to us on June 13, 1915, recalls the very spirit with which 
Ronald entered into the simplest of games. The words 
will awake echoes in the mind of many a friend who has 
played with him or watched him playing : 

' We have just finished a four days' rest, and it is at these 
times we miss our late esteemed Commander. 

' Nothing he enjoyed better than a game, and it did not 
matter how simple the game was his whole energies were 
put into it, and every one playing had to enjoy it. 

Sergt. Towner also wrote to Mrs. Palmer, on behalf of 
all N.C. O.'s and men of the Platoon, to express their 
sincere sympathy ' in the loss you have sustained at the 
death of our most dear comrade ', and speaking of Ronald's 
work ' for the comfort and safety of others in the trenches. 
This was always his special care ever since coming out 
here and whilst we were in Chelmsford/ 

A Private in Ronald's Platoon writing to his people : 

' We all feel the loss deeply, as he was such a fine man, 
a splendid example of what a soldier and a gentleman 
should be. No better man breathed. He was more like 
a comrade than an Officer. We feel absolutely lost 
without our brave leader's cheery smile and fearless 

From Pte. Norman W. Hambridge (No. 2574), in Ronald's 
Platoon, attached H. Q., writing to a friend in Huntley and 
Palmers : 

' I cannot tell you how us fellows who have been under 
him for the past eight months felt it. He was a real 
gentleman and to each one of us not only our leader but our 
friend. I have been out with him myself at nights between 
the trenches at work. He was always first over and last 
back, and when he met his death was still hard at work. 
Several times since we have been out here he has had a talk 
with me about the firm and the people working there.' 

Another letter to a friend in the same firm written by 


Pte. W. G. Atkins (No. 1553), C Coy., contains these 
words : 

' We would have followed him into the jaws of death if 
need be, for he was a brave soldier and a gentleman and 
would ask no man to do any job that he dared not do him- 
self, and was always in the front with his men when we 
were over the parapets sand-bagging at nights.' 

That Ronald's power as a leader was founded on the 
love of his men is also shown in Sergt. J. Watson's few 
words quoted in the Reading Standard for May 15 : ' He 
was the finest and best loved officer in the whole Brigade, 
and I pity the Germans who run across his Company when 
there is an attack.* 

The last of the memories I have selected carries us back 
to the trying march to the Front : 

' I can see him now in my mind cheering his men up on 
the awful marches we had, when first in France, upon the 
endless cobbled roads of Flanders, carrying a man's rifle 
because he was done up, and, when the march was finished, 
running about looking after their comfort before thinking 
of his own. Such a man and officer was Lieut. R. Poulton 
Palmer. His memory will always live with those few who 
may be left of the original Battalion of the 1/4 Berks.' 

Pte. SYDNEY F. BOURTON (No. 2429). 

The property over which Ronald had the power of 
disposition by will included only the sum for which his 
life was insured, the amount he had saved in a year and a 
half, and the contents of his house, including his car. 

He left to his brother a sum to provide for the continu- 
ance of the income transferred during his lifetime. This 
sum had been calculated more than a year earlier, but in 
the meantime the rate of interest had risen considerably, 
and his brother transferred a portion of the bequest to his 
three sisters, who had been left 250 each and were the 
residuary legatees. 

Ronald also bequeathed to the Workers' Educational 
Association 500 ; to the Rugby School Mission, the 
Huntley and Palmers' Benevolent Fund, the Huntley and 


From a photograph by Rev. C. S. Donald at New Romney, probably 

[Facing p. 375. 


Palmers' Recreation Fund, and the Vicar of St. John's, 
Reading, for a Boys' Club or other similar institution in 
his parish 100 each ; to the Balliol Boys' Club and the 
Oxford and Bermondsey Mission 50 each. 

His motor-car he left to the Rev. R. W. Dugdale and 
Claude P. Evers jointly, ' in remembrance of a friendship 
which has given me the happiest hours of my life '. When 
the friends met, as they often did, at New Romney, ' the 
delight of living ' of which Ronald wrote in 1909 must have 
reached its climax. The record of one hilarious moment 
is preserved on the opposite plate. 

It is possible, I hope, that some thoughts which have 
brought comfort to me may be helpful to others. We 
have needed all the comfort we could find. Two years 
and a quarter after Ronald's death we lost our eldest 
daughter Hilda as the result of an obscure and dangerous 
illness Graves' Disease contracted in the early months 
of 1914. Less than two years later our youngest child 
Janet was killed by a fall from her bicycle due to a broken 
front mud-guard, the sharp hind end of which cut into the 
tyre and brought the machine to a sudden stop. The 
guard must have rusted away beneath and out of sight, for 
nothing wrong was noticed when, less than a fortnight 
before, the front tyre was replaced. 

It is often said that those who have died young have 
escaped the sorrows of the world, but, since Aug. 4, 1914, 
these words have lost much of their meaning. Our dear 
children did not escape the deepest sorrow, but they were 
strong to endure and never allowed their grief to prevent 
them from being a joy and strength to others. It was with 
them all as Janet expressed it to me soon after Ronald's 
death 'Terrible! But I'm not going to allow it to spoil 
my life.' And it would have been the same with the sorrows 
and trials that future years would have brought them. 

'It is God's will' is another thought often offered in 
kindly sympathy. I find no comfort in it and do not 
believe it to be true. On the contrary I entirely agree 


with what Walter Carey said in his letter to Ronald that 
God regards the War with horror and aversion and that it 
is so clearly the result not of His will but of human crime 
and human folly. And it is the same with our dear 
daughters. Until a disease is understood we shall never 
know how to prevent and how to cure it. Is it God's will 
that any disease should be obscure that man should not 
give to its study the necessary amount of time and skill ? 
Can any one believe it was by God's will that the 
treatment for phthisis in Keats's day was bleeding and 
starvation ? And so with accident. What we call accident 
is the unforeseen result of a train of causation. If foreseen 
there would be no accident. Can it be held that it is 
unforeseen by God's will? 

There is comfort in the thought that these and all 
such tragedies are incidental results of the working of 
a benevolent system, a system which would cease to be 
benevolent if there were interference for the benefit of 

It is consistent with the hypothesis of a benevolent 
control of the universe to believe that man bears his part 
in a world where the same causes, under the same 
conditions, always produce the same results. These 
causes can then be studied and understood, evaded, 
modified or antagonized >by calling other causes into 
operation, in fact controlled. Consider what would be 
the effect of interference with the links of natural causa- 
tion. It would mean that the same cause under the same 
conditions would at one time produce one effect, at another 
a different effect. It would mean a world of chance 
chance in truth, not what we wrongly call chance a 
world where study would be useless and experience no 
guide. And without experience as a solid ground on 
which to build, how could man learn from his own short- 
comings to make the world a better place for those who 
come after him, thus playing his part that of a fellow- 
worker with God in the development of the benevolent 
system in which he lives ? 

1919 377 

Even as it is, and without, as I believe, any positive 
evidence, man is only too prone to follow phantoms 
and actually to prefer a non-natural to a natural inter- 
pretation. How would he act if he had good reasons for 
the indulgence of these strong tendencies? He would 
be always appealing to the supernatural and looking for 
the supernatural instead of doing his duty, which is to 
make the best, for others as well as for himself, of the 
natural conditions in which he is placed. 

The same line of thought carries us further and yields 
further help. Twice in his recently published letters l the 
late Prof. H. S. Holland spoke of the great trial of 
bereavement: 'The awful silence grows deeper and 
deeper ', and again' It seems as if it must be broken. Yet 
never a sound '. And in each utterance he spoke of the 
death that must be expected in the course of nature. Far 
more terrible is the silence of youth, with its joy and 
laughter and strength and with all its splendid promise the 
silence that rends the hearts of thousands upon thousands 
to-day. I believe it to be a real silence, and find no 
comfort in the supposed instances of communication with 
the dead. Nothing that I have heard carries any con- 
viction, and much of it, if true, would be humiliating. Nor 
is any confidence inspired by the apparatus with its human 
mechanism. We do not, in my opinion, require to go 
beyond the working, conscious or unconscious, of the 
human brain on earth to find a complete explanation of 
every supposed message. 

And if the silence were broken, what then ? Should we 
be helped or hindered in doing our duty in the world? 
I cannot doubt that we should be hindered. If there were 
real contact with our loved ones gone, above all with the 
young, how could we give to our life here that continuous 
concentrated attention which is essential if the best is to 
be made of it? We have for our comfort all the happy 
memories of the past and even these at times may be too 

1 A Forty Years' Friendship. Letters from Henry Scott Holland to 
Mrs. Drew. London, 1919, pp. 173 and 191. 


poignant and may cause weakness. Human nature being 
what it is, if the veil were not impenetrable, we should be 
living in another world and could not do our duty in this. 
I know that it would, be so with me and I do not doubt 
that it would be equally true of others. 

We have then the comfort of feeling that the tragedy 
could not have been averted by a supernatural power, 
nor the silence broken, without disastrous change in the 
conditions of terrestrial life. 

But we crave for more than this, we long for some- 
thing more human and more intimate, and we may find 
it in the knowledge that to be weakened by grief is the 
poorest tribute to our dear ones, and that it might be 
so the thought that would have pained them most. 
At the time of Ronald's death I was numb with despair 
until, in a few days, this thought arose in my mind, and 
since then the comfort of it has never failed me : if any 
there be who have not yet found it, I am sure that it will 
never fail them. I have read of a schoolboy not yet 17, 
who, on the death of his brother, wrote from home, where 
he had gone to comfort his sister, to his father : ' I have 
been over [to school] every day to do the rowing, as I knew 

would wish that and you too. . . . would not 

wish us to grieve, but only to think of him in his peace 
and great glory. We are all trying to think of him here as 
we know he would wish us to think. . . .' 

The same thoughts are finely expressed in a letter 
written to a friend by Lord Milner : 

' You will not fail those who are gone, and whom, could 
they see us now, nothing would pain so much as to know 
that their loved ones were overcome by grief, devastated 
by it. Not that they would not wish to know themselves 
missed, mourned. . . . 

' The greatest terror death presents, in fact I think the 
only terror to brave men, is the fear that those they love 
might be crushed by losing them. We owe it to the dead, 
above all to the heroic dead, not to let ourselves be 
crushed ; saddened we must be ... but not broken, not 

1919 379 

weaker, or less resolute to fight out to the end what is 
truly the Battle of Life.' 

We cannot fail to find help when we realize that the 
comfort we receive is, on its other side, loyalty to our 
loved and lost. 

The story of Ronald's life is brought to its close with 
the words of the Master of Balliol in his time the late 
J. L. Strachan-Davidson : 

' Thank you very much for sending me the little notice 
of Ronald. It is most comforting to see how in new 
surroundings he was still the dear boy whom we know, 
and that his personality impressed itself so deeply on his 

1 1 have expressed my feelings as to those who have 
fallen in a short prayer for our morning Family Prayers in 
chapel. Perhaps you may care to see it, so I have written 
it out. 

' O God with whom do live the spirits of just men made 
perfect, we give thee thanks for our brethren, the members 
of this College, who have willingly offered themselves and 
have laid down their lives for us and for our country and 
for the liberty of the world. Give us grace so to follow 
their good example that we may never lose heart, but may 
bear with patience and courage, as these have done, what- 
ever thy Providence calls upon us to endure. Comfort the 
bereaved, and grant to all of us that our afflictions may 

purify our hearts and minds to thy glory. 
' Through Jesus Ch 

rist our Lord.' 


IT has been explained in the Preface that the contents of 
this Appendix, intended to be included in the sections to 
which they rightly belong, were in the end regretfully 
omitted in order to prevent the too-great length of any 
part. They are here placed under headings corresponding 
with their sections and arranged in the order of the book. 

THE O.P.S.: 1897-1903 
From G. C. VassalL 

4 My own grief is so great that nothing comes to my 
mind except the one thought that Ronald has gone. Indeed 
I loved him. He was one of the first boys with whom I 
really felt the wrench of parting when he left the O.P.S., 
and we have sat next each other at every Old Boys' Dinner 
he has attended since then. I can never hope to fill the 
gap in my life which the loss of one of my best friends 
has made, but his memory will live for ever to help and 
strengthen us in many weak moments. What a life his 
has been. My admiration and love for him have increased 
each time we met, and I realized what the growth in 
Ronald had been since the last time we had talked together. 
It is too sad to think of his unrealized dreams and 
ambitions. Of course one knows that he himself would 
have been the last person to complain in any way at what- 
ever might have happened, and I try to comfort myself 
with that thought. 

' His genuine interest in the School and the loyal and 
devoted way in which he came back at any and every 
opportunity, left its mark on many Dragons : he was a hero 
to them all, and the small boy is never mistaken in his 
estimate of his seniors. 

1 My many conversations with him later in life when he 
came to me time after time for advice during his years at 
Balliol and afterwards were too intimate and are too 

O.P.S. 381 

precious memories for me to be able to detail them. The 
Honour he did me in coming to me helped, I hope, to make 
me feel very humble. I know I am a better man for 
having known Ronald, and I am more than proud of 
having been admitted into the circle of his friends. 

' I nave two very vivid recollections : (i) The keen 
delight with which he told me (and I listened to) his account 
of a motor-bike ride from somewhere to somewhere, during 
which he used a wayside heap of stones as a bed [p. 154]. 
It was splendid. (2) Of an Old Boys' Dinner (I kept a 
place for him next me whenever he was present) at which 
I had to propose the health of and he had to reply for " Our 
Blues ". His reply began with " I have only had one 
piece of advice about the making of speeches, given me by 
an American, ' If you don't strike ile within two minutes, 
stop boring '." It brought down the house. The speeches 
were described in the subsequent " Draconian ", as " the 
rottenest of the evening as speeches, if speeches meant 
well rounded, well balanced sentences, etc., but the success 
of the evening if speeches were intended to promote good 
fellowship and cheeriness ". 

' Another vivid memory is of an " iron " shot of 140 yds. 
at Frilford, out of a bunker in which I had landed him. It 
placed us within two feet of the pin, and won what looked 
like a lost hole. His smile was as good to see then as it 
was when I found him in a steaming hot bath after his last 
International Match at Twickenham. 

( How I loved him : as far as I was concerned, it was 
like losing a brother.' 

RUGBY: 1903-1908 

I expect it would be impossible to count the people who are the 
better for having known him. MRS. ST. HILL. 

The day is very depressing. We need your good spirits to enliven 
us. From his MOTHER in the Advent Term of 1904. 

One who often raced against Ronald and was for two 
years next to him in the competition for the Athletic Cup, 
recalls memories of him as an athlete. 

From the Rev. S. E. Swann, C. F., formerly President of 
the Cambridge University Boat Club and Bow in the 
University Eight of 1911, Stroke in 1912, No. 2 in 1913 : 

' My first memories of him are when he won all the 


shorter under 16 events at the sports ; but the first time he 
spoke to me I believe I held my head two inches higher ! 
All we fags made him our hero at sight. 

' My first year in the open events, quite unconsciously, 
I turned up for the half mile in Running-Eight clothes 
(I chose them as being lighter). When we were lined up 
for the start all the stewards fell upon me and I should 
have been sent home very disconsolate and shame-faced 
if Ronald had not most energetically refused to have me 
disqualified. He thereupon beat me soundly by 20 yards ! 
But from that moment I more than admired him. It was 
just the same generous spirit which made him stop for a 
moment in the open steeple-chase and apologize for a 
collision which was entirely my fault. Where he got the 
breath to do it I don't know my reply was no more than 
a grunt ! He was priceless. He was always doing that 
sort of little thing. 

'As small hero-worshippers we always fondly believed 
that inside his " all black " football boots (a sensation, then, 
in themselves) were fitted springs to help him round those 
stupendous swerves of his ! Oh, yes, we knew it for a fact 
a School House fag had told us so ! ' 1 

From the Rev. William Temple. 

1 1 knew Ronald first iust before he went to Rugby ; we 
met, I think, in the Parks ; he was with Teddie, wno intro- 
duced us. I believe I was beginning my third year at 
Balliol ; he was about 14. I did not think much about it 
at the time, but later on I realized that from the very start, 
and in spite of our totally different ages, that very close 
understanding, which was to be so great a treasure, already 
existed. Looking back on our friendship I realize that a 
great deal of our intercourse was unspoken, and one can't 
record conversations that did not take place. The spoken 
words between us were very largely far too light-hearted 
and flippant to bear being even written, much less printed. 

* One of Ronald's fags at Rugby writes from Africa: 
1 The myth you mention, that he had springs in his boots, probably 
arose from his wearing studs instead of the usual bars on his boots. 
These studs saved him from "skidding" in his swerve along the 
touch-line in wet weather when the ground at Rugby became a sea of 
mud. Among school boys this sort of myth springs up very easily 
round a local hero.' 

RUGBY 383 

' From the first I saw him at steady intervals, both at 
Rugby, where I was still in the habit of going at least 
twice a year, and in Oxford where both of us had our 
homes. But the first time that I saw much of him for any 
continuous stretch was, I think, the first time that he came 
to the Rugby Mission Camp at New Romney in 1905 and 
the first time that he was in the Lakes with Harry Hardy, 1 
in 1907 [p. 93]. It was the Lakes and New Romney 
together mat finally assured our friendship. 

' His success at Rugby was, of course, extraordinary. 
He was, very early in his career, a conspicuous figure. 
Early prominence at school is a great test of character. 
One feared for the moment that his head must be turned. 
And for a short time it was to a very small degree. I 
remember that in the Lakes I thought I detected some 
signs of self-centredness which were quite new. It was 
natural to him to be the centre of every group that he was 
in because people naturally and spontaneously accepted 
his leadership. Before and after this time he took this 
position with a complete lack of self-consciousness; but 
just at that time he was disposed to assume, and even to 
claim it, consciously. I remember my fears that his success 
would spoil him, and my hopes that when responsibility 
was added to success it would be enough to restore the 
balance. Whether it was responsibility or not he became 
one of the two captains of the School XV in Advent Term 
1907 that did what was needed, the symptoms I had 
feared entirely passed away during the next year. That it 
should have appeared and then vanished is, I think, more 
wonderful than if it had never appeared at all.' 

From C. P. Evers, Ronald's greatest friend among the 
masters : 

' I have often thought it strange that people who come 
to know each other very well often live quite close to each 
other for a long time without either being aware of the 

1 H. H. Hardy, who arranged the party, thought what a good oppor- 
tunity it would be for bringing Dick Dugdale and Ronald together. 
He found Dick in the San. and told him that he was thinking of 
asking Ronald. ' I've never met him,' said Dick, ' but I know that 
he 's a topping fellow.' Ronald, who was watching his side playing 
cricket, replied in exactly the same way he had never met Dick but 
knew that he was ' a topping fellow*. 


other's existence. Ronald and I talked of this once or 
twice. For I was at Oxford for five years and was con- 
stantly near to him in the Parks without knowing of him 
and then three years later he came to Rugby, and an 
acquaintance began which grew to a lasting, and to me a 
very precious, friendship. 

4 For his first two years at Rugby I did not see a very 
great deal of him. I had only been a School House tutor 
for a year when he came, and a large number of new boys 
came the same term as he did ; so being conscientious I 
tried to get to know all of them just a little, and I did not 
see more of him than of others. Moreover, he seldom, if 
ever, was in " Prep " in the evening, so there was no 
chance of seeing him at his work. But his promise at foot- 
ball of course marked him out among his contemporaries. 
Also, he appeared very determined about his work and he 
went ahead steadily. I remember discussing him and his 
promise with other School House tutors. I can recall too 
the way he used to walk. I can see him now coming out 
from under the School House arches, with his books, to 
go into school. It was rather a shy kind of walk I have 
often since seen him go in to bat in just the same sort of 
way. In these early days he struck me as being very 
quiet, though that may only have been because I did not 
know him very well. He was always a very jolly boy to 
ask out to meals on the sort of occasions when three or 
four School House boys used to come to breakfast or tea, 
and I remember talking about him with my wife in this 
connexion when he had been at Rugby a term or two. He 
was always perfectly simple and natural with older people 
and seemed to have the knack of being able to say the 
right thing without any effort. With many perhaps most 
boys of 15, a master does not find it easy to hit on a 
fruitful topic of conversation. But with Ronald there was 
never the slightest difficulty : both of us used to find it 
perfectly easy to talk. 

' I think I must have got to know him well during the 
summer of 1905, for I remember thinking that he would be 
an excellent fellow to get to join our Mission Camp at 
New Romney. So I suggested this to him, and he came. 
I think he would have come in any case, for his brother 
came that year and one or two more Rugbeians whom 
Ronald knew. 

' From 1905 onwards I began to see more and more of 
Ronald. I always took an interest in the games, and when 

RUGBY 385 

he began to play for the XV I naturally used to see a good 
deal of him. And I often, in the Summer Term, used to 
bowl to him, sometimes at his invitation, at the nets. He 
used to come in to meals as often as I could decently ask 
him which was not very often and I always used to look 
forward to his visits. I gradually became more and more 
attached to him and in a variety of ways contrived to see 
a good deal of him. This was not very easy, because 
masters and boys can't see much of each other individually 
at school without exciting comment. I hardly ever, during 
the whole time, went into his study in the School House, 
though as one of three School House tutors I was con- 
stantly in the house. He was not my own pupil and when 
he " specialized " in Science he ceased to have a regular 
House tutor, but I remember arranging surreptitiously 
with the School Marshal that his particular half term report 
should always be sent to me, so that I should have a chance 
of a talk with him about it in the School House : so on one 
or two occasions I went and sat in his study. 

' Gradually he became the most prominent boy in the 
school, but no successes ever made then or later the 
slightest difference to him. He was entirely unaffected by 
fame : it came to him unsought and he accepted it at its 
proper value. I kept what I think was the first letter he 
ever wrote me [see p. in] because I was touched at the 
idea of his wanting me to meet him at the station at Camp. 
It was, I think, unusual for a boy to ask a master a good 
deal older than himself to come and meet his train. But 
from him it was perfectly natural and I loved him for it, 
and tramped the two miles, after a hasty lunch, gaily, to 
have the first chance of seeing him. 

' Whether Ronald was " popular " at Rugby, in the boys' 
sense of the term, I am not sure. I am inclined to think 
that he was not. Of course he was tremendously admired, 
especially for his athletic prowess. But he never courted 
popularity ; he kept very much to a small circle of friends 
and he was always inclined to be shy with those whom he 
did not know well. The result was that he appeared to be 
rather aloof. Moreover he worked hard, a thing which 
popular heroes don't do. Perhaps more than all he was 
very strict, almost Puritanical, in his views. He was looked 
upon as being " pi ", and he, unconsciously, exacted the 
same standard from those whom he made his friends. 
Nothing that was the least bit questionable could even be 
hinted at in his presence. He always did his duty sternly 

c c 


as a member of the Vlth, but, as he himself told me after 
he had left Rugby [see p. 66], he had no real knowledge of 
any of the moral dangers at school from which he might 
have to guard himself or others. He left Rugby as 
innocent of all knowledge of evil as he was when he went 
there. In a way too his very success as an athlete pre- 
vented him from being popular. The School House, by 
reason of its size and traditions, is always disliked by the 
rest of the school and there is always rejoicing when the 
School House is beaten in games. But often Ronald gave 
other Houses no chance. Three years in succession (if 
my memory is not at fault) he won the Wrigley Cup for 
athletics for the School House. Other competitors were 
almost invariably beaten. And the same thing was true 
during his last year in football and cricket as well. He 
was such a giant that he made every one else look and feel 
very little dwarfs. 

'I did not often discuss serious subjects with him in 
those days not nearly as much as I have done since with 
boys whom I knew less well. Perhaps this was because 
I was then rather a junior master the youngest of the 
School House tutors and myself only beginning to feel 
my way. Besides, Ronald's presence always induced 
brightness and light-heartedness. We had lots of jokes 
and fun. I remember his look of amused surprise when 
he came in to supper one Sunday and found that I had 
put his knife at the left of his plate. He said that for two 
years or more he had sat next the same fellow at meals in 
the School House, and his neighbour had never noticed 
that he used his left hand for his knife. We had great fun 
too in the summer at the cricket nets. 

' Another little memory was the pace at which he dressed 
for early Chapel in the morning. His dormitory looked 
down on to the quad, and when I entered it at about 3 
minutes to 7 on a summer morning I used to see Ronald 
through the open window in all stages of undress, anxiously 
looking down from time to time to see whether he was 
going to be in time. How he managed to escape being 
late I don't know, but he always arrived in time by the 
smallest possible margin. I believe " quick dressing ' was 
one of the many records he held at Rugby. 

' By the time Ronald left Rugby I had got to know him 
very well ; but, though we had lots of pleasant intercourse, 
our relations remained quite formal and official. I don't 
think I ever called him by his Christian name all the time 

RUGBY 387 

that he was at school. But the following letter which he 
wrote to me from St. Helens on Aug. 7th, 1908, a few days 
after he left Rugby, completely swept away all barriers of 
formality : 


"(I don't see why I should call you Mr. Evers any 
more), I hope this letter will find you, tho. unshaven and 
unwashed, and perhaps eaten by gnats, yet enjoying your- 
self all the same. The weather has been topping, tho. it is 
rather stormy to-day. And I only hope it will be fine next 
week. I won't miss a train as I did last year if I can help 
it. But if I should do so I shall be able to telegraph in 
time to you. Don't bother to meet me if you have anything 
better to do. But if you have nothing it would be awfully 

" I really can't thank you enough for the good time you 
have given me at Rugby. For I have had the best five 
years that I can imagine, and the pleasure depends entirely 
on the people one comes across. And thank you so much 
for the gold match box. It was awfully kind of you to 
give it me, and it is a pleasant remembrance. 

" I hope you left Sybil and the baby very well. I hope 
Sybil won't have forgotten me when I come down next. 
Bye the bye will you have room to spare to put me up for 
the House Supper Saturday to Monday as I should 
like awfully to come and stay. 

" Yours affectly.. 


' I kept the letter I wish I had kept every letter that he 
wrote me because it was such a delight to get it. The 
opening sentence was really, under the circumstances, a 
very extraordinary thing. I was 13 years or so older than 
he was, and a married man with a family. I had been 
until about a week previously in a position of official 
authority over him, and (as far as I know) he had not met 
many people then who called me by my Christian name. 
But it was he and not I who began this mark of intimacy. 
If such a letter had been found in a novel or a school story 
it would have been regarded as quite impossible and hope- 
less drivel! But, naturally, I did not like him love him I 
should more truly say any the less for it! So, by his 
action, we jumped at once to a very close and intimate 

c c 2 


' Whenever I was depressed, as I often used to be by 
overwork or failure of some sort, Ronald's presence even 
for an hour or two was like a tonic. I can remember this 
happening over and over again. He was always the one 
person whom I wanted to see at such times. I could talk 
to him quite freely about everything, for though he was so 
much younger he always seemed iust the right age. And 
he always understood and sympathized. 

'We had some delightful times together though they 
were generally all too short after he left Rugby. I 
remember well coming over to Wvkeham House for lunch 
just before the beginning of his first Oxford term and 
spending an afternoon with him in a canoe near (I think) 
Marston Ferry; we talked a lot of the past and future. 
Then came his first visit to us at Rugby, and a delightful 
week at St. Helens at Easter 1909. Several times I 
stayed with him at Oxford, and I used to go to 'Varsity 
matches or Internationals to see him as often as I 

' More than once also we stayed together in London 
for the Rugby and Marlborough match, and we had a few 
days' golf at Hayling Island three years ago. That was 
almost the last time that I was with Ronald for any length 
of time. We shared a bedroom. 

' Ronald on these occasions was always just as he had 
been when he was a boy just as simple and unspoiled. 
The only difference noticeable was a steady mental 
development, a growing breadth of view and a power of 
mastering all kinds of subjects. 

' I am proud and glad to know what I did not ever 
doubt that he valued our friendship, which had been to 
me for years past one of the great joys of life ever since 
I first remember him here as a small boy. Rugby is 
full of happy memories of him, as we knew him and loved 
him as a boy and as a man. And to these memories 
we shall always cling, for, thank God, no evil that can 
befall us can ever take them away. They at least are 

' And the thought that Ronald lived and was what he 
was, and brought such joy to so many is a fact to buoy up 
one's faltering faith just now. Such as he could never be 
the creation of chance or any blind force. 

1 He is in my thoughts all the time, and I feel that he 
can't somehow be far away even now. 

' There will never be another like Ronald.' 

RUGBY 389 

From the Rev. Dr. James, President of St. John's 
College, Oxford, Ronald's Headmaster and House- 
master : 

1 1 could not have had a greater affection for him if 
he had been a son instead of a pupil. It is the worst 
of all the blows this unhappy war nas brought me. It is 
not a personal loss only it is a loss to hundreds over 
whom his simple, manly nature and his interest in all 
human needs and lives had brought him so much influence. 
Never was a life to which success and prosperity brought 
so much temptation, so many inducements to idle and to 
amuse himself, yet which was so absolutely unstained by 
self-seeking or conceit of any kind.' 

From the Meteor, May 28, 1915, p. 120 : 

'After Kenneth Powell, RONALD POULTON; and his 
place can never be filled ; for to his friends (and they were 
many) he did, in quite a peculiar way, sum up a generation 
and realize an ideal. Few have known so fully the joy of 
life ; fewer still have had such a genius for communicating 
it to others. Even the crowds who flocked to cheer him on 
the football field were conscious of a personal charm and 
loved the man in the athlete. In those amazing runs that 
he used to make, runs that took him in and out amongst 
his opponents and seemed to leave them standing, there 
was no suggestion of the stress or fierceness of combat ; 
it was all a sheer joy, and the spectators laughed while 
they roared applause. And there was something of the 
same astonishing ease about the way in which he did the 
things and made the sacrifices which for most of us involve 
a world of self-conscious effort. And yet, not astonishing ; 
for the secret of his charm and of his influence lay in the 
ready and ever widening sympathy which impelled him, 
without a touch of affectation or condescension, to share his 
own happiness and strength with all who needed a friend. 
And so nothing could change or spoil him ; on the day of 
his death he was exactly what he had been in the Rugby 
days brave, unselfish, and unassuming, happier kicking 
about a football with the Netting Hill boys man winning 
an International match. . . .' 

From a sermon in memory of Rupert Brooke and Ronald, 
preached in Rugby School Chapel, May 9, 1915, by the 


Rev. A. A. David, Headmaster, and printed by request of 
the Sixth Form : 

' We have indeed given of our best. If we were asked 
to describe what highest kind of manhood Rugby helps 
to make I think we should have him in mind as we spoke 
of it. 

'God had endowed him with a rare combination of 
graces, and given him an influence among men such as 
very few in one generation can possess. What had we 
not hoped would come of it ! 

' There are those here and in Netting Dale, in Oxford, 
in Reading, and in his Battalion, who will be better men 
all their lives and do better work because he was their 
friend is their friend. 

' Strong and tender and true, he lived for others and for 
others died.' 

BALLIOL: 1908-1911 

Ronnie is here and as usual is the light of the house. From his 
MOTHER to Janet at School, March 7, 1910. 

Ronald is the first of my students to give his life for our country. 
He was first all his life, in all he undertook. Prof. C. F. JENKIN. 

From Capt. L. R. Broster, R.AM.C. 

' One little incident I remember very well. In our day 
Trinity and Balliol were great rivals and used to make 
many a night hideous by singing traditional songs across 
the party wall to each other, the main feature of which was to 
impress on the other side the fact that they could not row. 
When Ronald had refereed in the Jesus (Cambr.)-Trinity 
match and was the guest of the evening at the dinner, the 
traditional Trinity-Balliol feud required that he should be 
received with jeers from all sides, to which he replied 
by declaring that " Balliol was the only visible means 
of support possessed by Trinity" in fact that Trinity's 
entire reputation was derived from next door ! ' 

From the Rev. Neville Gorton. 

' In many ways he was the most extraordinary person I 
ever met. What struck one most in his character was 
that all his qualities seemed perfectly natural and spon- 


taneous entirely effortless. Other people struggled after 
improvement, but his goodness seemed a natural part of 
himself, like his health or the way he played any game. 
And it was this apparent effortlessness with which he was 
Ronald that gave the indescribable charm to everything he 
did and was. He more nearly fulfilled the Greek ideal 
KaXbs KayaOos than anybody I knew. There was some- 
thing essentially beautiful in everything he did and in 
his whole character. I think it was this which marked 
his football and everything about him, and was distinctive 
of him or of the impression I and others had of him. 
It was a real aesthetic pleasure one always took in any- 
thing one saw him do. It accounts for the real joy he was 
to his friends. One always half-smiled with a kind of 
pleasure when one spoke of him even. 

' He was the greatest athlete of his day the most 
popular person in the University. I never remember 
anything approaching snobbishness or side : yet it is 
a fallacy to think the great athlete is modest ; he scarcely 
ever is. He never spoke of himself or his achievements. 
I never saw him lose his temper. I never heard him say 
an unkind or disparaging thing. But his goodness was 
not negative : it was of an extraordinarily positive kind. 
What struck one most was his unbounded spirits and 
energy, but it was never mere animal spirits. Wherever 
he went he had the power of spreading an atmosphere of 
a very definitely spiritual kind. He came into a room of 
depressed or nervy quarrelsome people and changed the 
whole atmosphere. It was like opening the window and 
letting in fresh air and sunlight. One got to expect this 
from him and to depend on him for it. 

' He had the power of inspiring an extraordinary personal 
affection in all nis friends and they were legion but also 
a kind of pride which we all took in his friendship, not 
because he was a great athlete or anything of the kind, but 
just because he was Ronald. 

' There are so many times we had together, great days 
they are now to look back upon, that it is difficult to pick 
out things : evenings in the quad, after Hall when he used 
to improvise rag games of which he was the soul days on 
the river and in the backwaters in punts and canoes. We 
had a great time every year on May morning, starting after 
hearing the hymn at sunrise on Magdalen Tower, in two 
four-oared racing boats with sliding seats, to get down to 
breakfast at Sandford eight non-rowing men wildly racing 


down the river cheered by the townspeople. We never 
upset, and I can't think why. 

' There was a great game of football when the Boys' 
Club officers, etc. mostly Rugger people challenged the 
College Soccer XI at their own game. I think I was 
centre forward, Ronald centre half, and Neville Talbot 
yelling encouragement from goal. I remember that we all, 
disregarding the ordinary tactics, followed up en masse to 
the enemy's goal and all fell back to defend our own, and 
completely routed the Association team. The score would 
have been about 10-0 if we had been able to shoot. They 
had some good players. Cardew, the 'Varsity Secretary, 
was centre forward and the remarkable thing was that 
Ronald at half completely outplayed him at his own game 
and had him bottled up throughout. The defeat was a 
very sore subject for some time. They said we didn't play 
the game. 

' Ronald enjoyed riding a bicycle in Oxford without bell 
or brake as a kind of sport, and I have seen him charging 
desperately on to a pavement with his foot on the front 
wheel, trying to avoid more serious danger.' 

Mr. Gorton too speaks of Ronald's buoyant humour and 
how a sudden recollection of the peculiarities of men he 
really loved would send him off into roars of laughter; 
how even in a little circle for Bible study his infectious 
sense of humour nearly brought disaster once or twice. 
Mr. Gorton remembers meeting Jerry Portus, the Austra- 
lian football player, at dinner with Ronald. 

'They were both in the wildest spirits and performed 
endless parlour tricks entering the room simultaneously 
and sitting down backwards together with hands in their 
pockets, and performing numbers of tricks on chairs and 

' How utterly inadequate all this is. It is all the little 
things which matter, and one can't get them down his 
high infectious courage, buoyancy of spirits, straight-living, 
keenness, honesty, showing itself in everything he looked 
or said or did, the absence of any kind of petty meanness, 
vanity or weakness which everybody else seemed to have 
somewhere and he was so amazingly free from. I can 
remember his look of occasional slight surprise at seeing 
them in other people he loved, and how it went into one. 


It is the way he would take one by the arm and greet one 
with his look, his quiet sympathy when one was depressed 
or ill though illness or depression in others puzzled him 
I think because he never seemed to feel either himself, but 
this did not make him impatient. Then to see the way the 
Club Boys and in fact every one who came in contact with 
him looked at him and up to him. And his influence re- 
mains a part of oneself now, and helps to form one's ideals 
for oneself and for others especially at a school, when 
one prays the boys round one may find something of 
Ronald for themselves. He was the finest typical product 
of the Public School, and his life will always be an inspira- 
tion to British school-boys everywhere.' 

FOOTBALL: 1909-1914 

One would never have guessed in talking to him that he was the 
idol of the whole youth of Britain, and I don't know that higher praise 
can be given to any one at his time of life. C. COOKSON, Fellow and 
Tutor of Magdalen. 

Capt. C. M. Gilray, writing of Ronald's first Inter-' Varsity 
match in 1909, remembers 

'how modest he was about his own part in the match, 
how anxious that the much smaller parts played by others 
of the side should not be overlooked. He was ever so. 

1 1 never left him even after a train journey from Padding- 
ton on a Saturday night after a match, without feeling 
what a privilege it was to have been with him. Oxford 
was a greater and better experience because he was there.' 

The following players in Ronald's three Inter-'Varsity 
matches have given their lives in the Great War : 

1909. The Oxford Team ; T. Allen, R. H. M. Hands, 
R. O. Lagden, R. W. Poulton, F. N. Tarr, F. H. Turner. 
The Cambridge Team : M. L. Atkinson, R. Fraser, B. H. 
Holloway, B. R. Lewis, W. D. C. L. Purves (Captain). 

1910. The Oxford Team : D. McL. Bain, W. P. Geen, 
R. O. Lagden, R. W. Poulton, and F. H. Turner (Captain). 
The Cambridge Team: P. C. B. Blair. R. Fraser (Captain), 
B. R. Lewis, L. A. M'Afee. 


1911. The Oxford Team: D. McL. Bain, A. J. Dingle, 
W. P. Geen, A. Gilmour, R. O. Lagden, R. W. Poulton 
(Captain), S. S. L. Steyn. The Cambridge Team: P. C. B. 
Blair, B. R. Lewis, C. Thorne, J. G. Will, A. H. Wilson. 

The Oxford players include the entire three-quarter line 
Steyn, Dingle, Poulton, Geen. 

Coming to International football, Mr. F. J. Sellicks tells 
me that he often noticed how Ronald and every one who 
knew him will also know that it was characteristic ' would 
do all in his power to make the working-men members of 
the English Team feel at home, and would make a special 
point of walking and talking with them '. 

Mr. C. M. Byham remembers an amusing and character- 
istic episode in Ronald's training for the match with Wales 
in Jan. 1913 : 

' One little incident occurs to me, proving Ronald's 
absolute want of " swank ", and at the same time his love 
and interest in British boyhood. He and L. G. Brown 
were my guests for some days prior to the memorable 
International with Wales on the " Cardiff Arms " Ground. 
One evening we went outside my gates and started kick- 
ing Ronald's football, dribbling and passing it from one to 
the other. Suddenly we noticed a black mass which 
turned out to be boys we were playing by the light of a 
single gas lamp. " Hulloa! ! " said Ronald, "we can now 
have quite a good game. Come on, boys, fall in," which 
they did with alacrity. We picked sides and started off 
and a real good game we had. After a bit the boys took 
off collars, ties, and coats and entered into the game with 
renewed zest. Presently a stentorian voice shouted out 
" Now then, you boys, when are you coming in for practice?" 
No reply from the boys who with bated breath still con- 
tinued their endeavours to learn Rugby football ; and right 
well they took their tosses and laughed over them. Never 
had they enjoyed a "practice" more. And they did not 
give over until Ronald, L. G. Brown, and myself had to 
return home for bath and dinner. The stentorian voice 
happened to belong to the choir-master of the neighbouring 
church and our fellow footballers were his choristers.' 

The following brief record of the wonderful Liverpool 


team in the season 1913-14 has been kindly drawn up by 
Mr. George Leather of Liverpool : 

' Full Back -. E. H. Cowan (Lt., R.G.A., died in training, 
Feb. 1916) ; Three-Quarters : R. R. Jackson (Capt., King's 
Liverpool Regt., M.C., killed Nov. 1917), J. E. Ross (Capt., 
King's Liverpool Regt., killed May 1916), R. W. Poulton 
(Lt., R. Berks., T.F., killed May 5, 1915), T. W. Lloyd 
(Maj., R.E., D.S.O.) ; Half-Backs : R. A. Lloyd (Capt., 
Liverpool Scottish, wounded), G. B. Davey (Lt., Liverpool 
Scottish, M.C.) ; Forwards : F. H. Turner (Lt., King's 
Liverpool Regt., killed Jan. n, 1915), T. G. Fowler (Sub 
Lt, R.N.), H. H. E. Royle (Lt., King's Liverpool Regt.), 
J. G. Grant (2nd Lt., Liverpool Scottish), R. Cunningham 
(Lt., Liverpool Scottish, wounded), C. G. R. Hill (Capt., 
King's Liverpool Regt., M.C. and bar), J. Clegg (Lt., 
King's Liverpool Regt.), G. K. Cowan (Capt., Liverpool 

Mr. Charles Marriott tells me that, if Ronald had decided 
to play in the season 1914-15, there is no doubt that he 
would have again held the captaincy. 

Would he have so decided ? Some time before his last 
season he told me that he would be glad to be made 
Captain, because, after that, he would be content to give 
up the game. Ronald also told his brother that the 
Saturday games in London took him away from the boys 
and men in Reading, and that he thought of taking up 
hockey which he could play for the Factory and with them. 
On the other side there were all the varied and happy 
experiences of the 1914 season. His brother and I 
believe that he would have played football for at least one 
more year. 


The following account of a meeting of the Club on 
May 7, 1915, was written in the Log by the Rev. R. W. 
Morley : 

'The saddest day the Club has known. We could not 
hold a Club ; no one felt like it. Dimbleby told us all 


how it happened. Every one knew that our President 
who had meant so much to us and to our Club had been 
shot and instantly killed in the trenches. . . . All Reading 
is mourning him ; but what of us? No one can replace 
him for us in his fine manliness, warm sympathy, and 
absolute integrity of character. We all respected him, 
and more, loved him and longed to be like him. Never 
has the Club been like it was tonight while Dimbleby 
spoke to us of him, his character, his ideals, his religion- 
how keen he was on our prayers and called us to be like 
him. It was what was in our hearts. We felt there was 
little we could do, who wanted to do so much, but if the 
body was brought home, all the lads wanted to send some 
little token of their esteem in the shape of flowers; and, in 
any case, we decided to write a letter of sympathy signed 
by all the members of the Club.' 

The letter was drafted and signed on the following 
Monday by Horace Harding, A. Heath ('Tatcho'), and 
E. Pocock, of whom the first two have been killed in the 
War. It was also signed by twenty other boys who were 
present and by the caretaker. It is printed below just as 
it was written : 

' Albert Road Lads' Club. 
' Newtown. 

' Reading. 
' 10. 5. 1915. 

'We the undersigned members of Albert Road Lads 
Club, wish to tender our deepest sympathy to you for the 
loss of your son whom we were honoured to have as our 

' Since being to the Albert Road Club their was a 
marked improvement in the life there. 

' When at Camp Mr. Poulton Palmer lived soley for 
our interests and pleasure. He was a true President in 
every sense of the word, being not only an organiser, but 
a sympathiser in our troubles, a thorough Sportsman, and 
a Gentleman. 

' We shall miss him very dearley. 

' Our sorrow being great, we understand yours being 
much greater. In deepest sympathy. 

' We remain 

' Yours respectively.' 



Mr. Herbert Gripper has recalled memories of Ronald 
at Redcot : 

'Your letter gives me the opportunity I have been 
wishing for. I know how mucn you must treasure in 
your memory his life and its doings and how probably 
the sudden call in August separated him from you more 
than ever before. 

' I have repeatedly myself, especially on Sunday even- 
ings, talked with him, and heard from him what good 
he hoped to do to the people around him, and I gathered 
long before he left that if he was spared he would lay 
himself out for a life mainly for the benefit of others. 
This was apparent by his actions outside the immediate 
regimental duties. He showed clearly the very serious 
view he took of life generally. I think he looked upon 
his military service as an episode only in his career, as he 
once told me he disliked soldiering, and after the war 
would give it up. As it was, his influence for good in the 
regiment was quite evident, on officers and men alike, 
especially on those in direct contact with him. 

'On the cause and effect of the war he and I often 
talked, and I never once heard him speak lightly or 
thoughtlessly on these subjects as so many do. Indeed 
I may say his opinions were most valuable, as it was 
evident his mind probed deeper than that of the ordinary 
man, at any rate of my acquaintance. 

' Once when I was telling him about my own father, 
who is dead, he burst out with a most affectionate and 
devoted tribute to you as his father. It was most touching 
and beautiful. 

' When we parted I think we both felt much more than 
we could speak about. I clearly saw the man going to 
his duty for his country's sake, fully aware of the peril but 
unshaken by it. My wife and I look upon his life with 
us as a remarkably beautiful though, alas! a passing 
event. It has left a mark upon us and we shall ever 
remember Ronald with love and with the deepest regret 
that he will not come back.' 

Mrs. Gripper has kindly told me of Ronald's talks with 
her on serious subjects : 

' I have such a bad memory that you have set me a very 
difficult task to tell you what Ronald and I discussed 


when he was at tea with me. He and Bossie were very 
seldom both in at tea together, except on Sundays. Most 
of our discussions were on religious subjects, but sometimes 
the war. He said he felt it to be his duty to fight, but he 
ached to be back at his own work his boys were so much 
more interesting, you could be friends with them without 
infringing discipline and he felt it very much that he 
had to keep his men at arm's length. He also said he did 
not want to die ; he had everything on earth, such loving 
friends, such opportunities for work for others when he 
returned, that he could not imagine anything better in 

'Towards the end of his time here (during Lent) our 
junior priest preached a course of sermons on " The Life 
of the Waiting Soul in the intermediate state" which 
keenly interested him. I had to tell him all about each 
one. It was always " Well, Auntie, what is it this week ? " 
The question that interested him most was what we should 
have to occupy us in Paradise, and that the rich man in 
the narrative of Lazarus could remember, be conscious, 
and reflect, and the idea of preaching to less fortunate 
souls was a new one to him. He thought Mr. Wright an 
extraordinarily brave man to tackle such a question. 

' Ronald went with me to church on March 24th to hear 
Stainer's " Crucifixion " : it was new to him, and he en- 
joyed it immensely, except the hymn part where the 
congregation join in. He thought that took some of 
the reverence away. I had the music, which he loved to 
play afterwards, and his great delight on Sunday evenings 
was to play hymns. His favourite one, after " Abide with 
me", was " For all the Saints". 

' I have never discussed these matters before I did 
so with Ronald, not even with my husband we are such 
reserved people but it was Ronald's charming ways that 
made one forget to be self-conscious. 

' Our serious times were comparatively seldom only 
when he came in to tea, and I was alone. At all other 
times he was full of fun, and for that reason I did not like 
his latest photographs. I had never seen him without his 
sunny smile. 

1 Although we have only known him seven months, we 
shall always feel it was a great privilege to have had 
him in our home life as long as that. His was a most 
fascinating personality.' 


It has been impossible in this book to quote more than 
a very small proportion of the letters and messages of kindly 
sympathy which we received, but I cannot altogether omit 
those from our friends at St. Helens who had known Ronald 
throughout his life. The words written by Mr. G. P. Taylor 
express I know the thoughts of the whole village : 

' Will you allow me to tender my sympathy to you in 
your sad bereavement by the loss of your noble and 
gallant son? The news cast quite a gloom over our 
home, as we have always been keenly interested in his 
career and felt proud to think that we could claim him to 
belong to our village. We live in deeds not years, it is 
not the length of existence that counts but what is achieved 
during that existence.' 

From Dick Dugdale, in France, writing on the first 
anniversary of Ronald's death : 

' It doesn't seem like a year to me, because Ronald is 
just as close to me now as he was then and will always 
be so I hope. I expect you are all feeling very sad now 
that the day has come round again, but anyhow we can all 
feel that there is one year less to wait before we see him 
again. His life or rather he himself is a tremendous 
inspiration to me always. Dear old Ronald, how one 
longs to write and tell him all one is doing and thinking : 
especially the funny things ! But I feel somehow all the 
time that he knows all about it all.' 


IN making the index a few slight errors in the text have come to light. 
When there is any difference between the two the index should be accepted. 

The military titles and units, when not in the text, are given in the index so 
far as they could be ascertained. They have also been brought up to date as 
completely as possible. The titles have now been largely given up on the return 
of their holders to civilian life, but the book does not deal with post- War 
conditions and I wished to show, so far as I could, the part played by Ronald's 
friends in the Great War. 

The fallen, including two who died for their country in the Boer War, are 
marked by a >J<. 

Ronald's name is generally indicated by 'R.'; ' R. to ' and 'to R.' indicate 
letters from and to Ronald, respectively. 

Adelphi Boys' Club, Manchester, 


Aldworth, J. M., 337 n. i. 
Allen, G., 157. 

>JtAllen, T., vi, 330, 330 n., 393. 
Allen, W. C., B. E. African Forces, 

Alway, A., Pte., Reading Boys' Club, 

Ancoats Boys' Club, Manchester, 


Andre, G., 224, pi. facing 230. 
Annandale Society, Balliol, 139-44. 
Appleton, W. A., 258. 
JArbuthnot, A. H., vi, 93. 
Arnold, Matthew, 15 n. 
Asher, A. G. G., County Clerk of 

Midlothian, 178. 
Atkins, W. G., 374. 
^Atkinson, M. L., 2nd Lt. Tank Corps, 

Avery, Sir W. E. T., Capt. R.A.S.C., 

Baden-Powell, Sir R., 152. 

Bailey, Cyril, Ministry of Munitions, 

Fellow and Tutor of Balliol, 255 ; 

on fallen officers of Boys' Club, 

!Bain, D. ML., 173, 173 n. 2, 180, 

Baker, F. C, Maj. R.A.F., D.F.C., 

A.F.C., Croix de Chevalier, Legion 

d'honneur, 120. 
Baker, H. B., Sci. Adviser to Govt. 

Depts., 76, 100. 
!<Baker, S. H., vii. 

Ball, A. D., Colonial Cadet, F.M.S., 


Ballantyne, E. W., an. 
Bancroft, J., 234-5, 239-40. 
Barnett, Samuel, 23. 
Barry, Gerald, 41. 
Barton, Mrs., 258. 
Bat Club, Balliol, 140 
Battcock, G. A., Maj., 362. 
Battenberg, Princess Henry of, 95, 274. 
^Beasley, H. W., rec'd Commission 

for gallantry, M.M., 370. 
Bell, Rev. J. W. B., 55. 
Belloc, Hilaire, 71. 
Bennett, Pte., 355. 
Bernstein, M.. 224 ; illustr. on 225. 

Berry, , 57. 

Birkett, J. G. G., Lt. R.G.A., 193, 207, 

Bitmead, Mrs. Mary, 253 n.; memories 

of R., 253. 
>I<Blair, P. C. B., and Lt. Rifle Bde., 


Blandy, W. E. M., 315, 325. 
Boas, Mrs. F. S. (Miss H. O'B. Owen), 

32 ; on R.'s first hockey, 36-7. 
Boer War, 50, 57, 60-1. 
Bostock-Smith, E. S., 221. 
Bourne, R. C., Capt. Herefordsh. 

Regt., Staff Lt., ist Cl., 187. 
Bourton, S. F., on R.'s care for his 

men, 331-2, 374. 
Bowie, T. C., Capt. R.A.M.C., 220, 

Bowlby, Henry R., 144, 150, 159, 161, 

245 ; on the 'Anna', 140-1. 
Bowring, H., 69. 




Brackenbury Society, Balliol, 116. 
Bradby, H. C., Housemaster, Rugby, 

on R. and Mission Boys, 112-3. 

Neither H. C. nor G. F. Bradby 

remembers making the remark 

quoted on p. 96. 
>JBrandt, D. R., 147, 161 ; Ball. Boys' 

Club and, 161-2. 
Brant, Sergt, 365. 
Brennus, M. Charles, 224 ; illustr. on 

p. 225. 
^Brooke, Rupert C., Sub-Lt. Hood 

Btn., R. Nav. Div., 68, 389. 
Broster, L. R., 144, 390 ; on R. as 

Rugby player, 194. 
Brougham, H., Maj. R.F.A., 235-6. 
Brown, Mr. and Mrs., 249, 318. 
Brown, Miss K., 49. 
Brown, L. G. (Bruno), Lt. Col. 

R.A.M.C., M.C., 180-1, 185-6, 202, 

2IO, 214, 221, 239-40, 266, 394. 

Buchanan, F. G., Capt. R.E., Staff 
Capt. H.Q., S.S.T.C., 178-9, 198, 
200 i. 

Bulkeley-Johnson, V. F. , 139, 147. 

Bullock, H., 181, 244. 

' Burt' (Pte. A. Povey), Reading Boys' 
Club, 271. 

Burt-Marshall, D., 342-3, 346. 

>IBushell, C., vi, i ; on R. and Mis- 
sion Boys at Rugby, no. 

^Bushell, W. C., Pte., Reading Boys' 
Club, 272, 306. 

>JiBussell, Rev. J. G., vi, 161, 278-9 ; 
on R. and Boys' Clubs, 279. 

J<Butler, L. G., Capt. 3rd Rifle Bde., 
Fellow of St. John's, 100. 

Byham, C. M., on Factory cricket, 
264 ; ' practice ' for the 1913 match 
v. Wales, 394. 

>JCampbell, K. J., 2nd Lt. Arg. & 
Sutherl. Highlanders, 139. 

Cardew, Evelyn, Egypt. C. S., 119, 
127, 133, 141, 392. 

Carey, Rev. W. J. (Caesar), Chaplain 
R- N., 5, 9, 14, 19, 20, 220, 244, 
278, 376 ; R. to on the 1911 'Varsity 
match, 182-3 ; to R. and R. to on 
uncle's will, 284-5 > to R- on the 
War, 334-5- 

Carroll, Lewis, 25. 

Cartwright, Vincent H., Maj. R.M.A., 
D.S.O., Croix de Guerre, 68, 173. 

Caujolles, J., 224, 226. 

Cavendish Club, 7, 314. 

Challoner, O. B. (Bossie), 315, 320-1, 

3a5 333, 34i, 356, 363, 365, 39 8 ; 
Ronald's death, 367, 372. 

Chapman, F. E., Capt. R.A.M.C., 193, 

2 33> 235. 240. 
Cheesman, W. I., Soudan C. S., 182, 

200, 202. 
Childs, W. M., Principal of Univ. Coll., 

Reading, 276. 
>JChurch, Maurice R., killed in Boer 

War, 60 ; O.P.S. memorial of, 61. 
Clarke, Rev. A. E., 45. 
Clegg, J., 395. 
Clifford Essex Pierrots, 7. 
Clynes, the Rt. Hon. J. R., P.C., M.P., 

Coates, V. H. M., Capt. R.A.M.C., 

M.C., 237-8. 

Cobb, Miss O. Lewin, R. at kinder- 
garten of, 40. 
Cobby, W., 231. 
Coleridge, Mary, 24. 
Collett, G. F., on the 48th Div. Rugby 

Team, Apr. 14, 1915, 349 n. 2. 
>|Collier. Martin, vi; letter to parents, 


Collier, Mrs. W., 324. 
Collier, W. T. (Billy), 18, 80, 117, 

127, 131, 133, 136 n. i, 139, 245, 

254, 270, 324 ; pi. facing 133 ; R.'s 

O.P.S. athletics, 46; Ball. Boys' 

Club and, 150, 152, 157, 161 ; 

memories of R., 159. 
Collins, J., Housemaster, Rugby, 78, 

80, 86 ; R.'s visits to Roman Wall 

with, 81, 93. 
Collis, M. S., Lt. 35th Scinde Horse, 


Conroy, Sir John, 136. 
Conway (Wertheimer), F. J. (Wer- 

ters), 136, 139; memories of R., 137. 
Cook, A., 349 n. 2. 
Cook, C., 349 n. 2. 
Cookson, C., Fellow and Tutor of 

Magdalen, impression of R., 393. 
Copland, Miss, 315. 
Coverdale, H., Lt. Lond. Regt., 235-6. 
Covey, F.,Lnc.-Cpl.Oxf.& Bucks. L.I., 

Ball. Boys' Club, 271 ; on the 

Reading Boys' Camp, 275 ; pis. 

facing 267, 309. 
!Cowan, E. H., 395. 
Cowan, G. K., 395. 
Cozens-Hardy, B., Lt., A.-Capt. 4th 

Norfolk Regt. , 92. 
Cramb, J. A., 145. 
Cronje, S. N., Capt. ist S. African 

Rifles, M.C., 175. 
Croome, A. C. M., help given by, viii, 

168 ; Oxford football, &c., 188- 

204 ; Internal, football, &c., 206, 

Crosse, Rev. E. C., 161, 320. 



Crossley Boys' Club, Manchester, 

Cruttwell, C. R. M. F., Fellow of 

Hertford, 315, 3490. 2, 352, 362 n. ; 

help given by, 334 ; Ronald's death, 

Gumming, L., Science Master, Rugby, 


Cunningham, D., pi. facing 218. 
Cunningham, George, 196, 199 ; on 

R.'s football, 169-71 ; R.'s selection 

in 1909 and, 175-8. 
Cunningham, R. (Dum), 92, 98, 104, 

106, 216, 349, 349 n. 3, 395. 

Darwin, Sir George, 59. 
}<Dashwood, E. G.,Capt. 1/4 Oxf. & 

Bucks. L. I., 352-3. 
David, Rev. Dr. A. A., Headmaster of 

Ru s b y 390- 

Davey, G. B., 395. 

Davies, W. J. A., Constructor Lt. 
Commander R.N., 218, 224, 238, 
240-1, 243. 

de Montarby, Mme, 137-9. 

de Montarby, Mile, 137. 

Deakin, F. H., 349 n. 2. 

Delahunty, P., memories of R., 216, 
219, 285-6, 290-2 ; working-men 
and Boys' Clubs, 297-300. 

Dervorguilla Society, Balliol, 140. 

Dewar, M. B. U., Maj. R.E., T.F., 
O.B.E., 79. 

Dillon, E. W., Capt. Queen's Own, 68. 

Dimbleby, W. W., 359, 395-6 ; pis. 
facing 267, 309 ; on R.'s character 
and personality, vii-viii, 323 ; Read- 
ing Boys' Club, 267-8, 271, 274, 
305-6, 309, 328, 341 ; R.'s manage- 
ment of Club, 277-8 ; R. and War, 


Dimbleby, Mrs., 275. 

>fcDingle, A. J., 173, 173 n. 3, 181, 
183, 203-4, 229, 394. 

Donald, Rev. C. S., 95, 149, 270 ; 
pis. facing 154, 375 ; memories of 
R. at Boys' Clubs and Camps, 112-4 
last meeting, 329. 

Donald, Grahame, on R.'s personality 
in football, 171. 

Dorrien, Sir H. Smith, 338. 

Douglas, Sir Charles, 146. 

Drew, Mrs., 377 n. 

>JDugdale, Rev. R. W. (Dick), vi, 4, 
10, 13-4, 20, 58, 102-3, 130, i3 2 
136, 139. r 4 2 , 145, 158, 208-9, 228, 
249, 256, 268, 299, 313, 319, 338, 347, 
357, 375 J pl- facing 375 ; on R. at 
Grasmere, 93-4. 383 n. ; work for 
Schools, 133-4 ; last day in England, 


332-3 ; death of, 369 ; May 5, 1916, 
thoughts on, 399. 

Eastwood, J. C. B., Lt.-Col. i2th Lan- 
cers, Base Commt., C.B., C.M.G., 

Eden, Mrs., 73. 

Edith (Kingzett), nurse, memories, 
33-4 5 games with R., 35. 

Edward, Ronald's elder brother, Dr. 
E. P. Poulton (Teddie), viii. 60, 107- 
9, 184, 316, 395 ; in Oxf. v. Cambr. 
hockey team, 79, 184 ; memories of 
R. work, ii ; at O. P. S., 63-4; 
in Rugby sports (1904"), 72 ; over- 
work (1913), 253; Uncle's will, 
280, 283, 374 ; at Swindon, 308, 
312-3; atChelmsford,322 ; on foot- 
ball at Rugby, 69 n. ; origin Ball. 
Boys' Club, 150 ; R. to early let- 
ters, 47, 49, 50, 52 ; congratulation 
on hockey, 79 ; sympathy in Final 
Schools, 80-1, 83 ; games and work, 
82 ; La Caillere, 138 ; first days of 
War, 311-2. 

Eldridge, J. M., 'October Memories' 
by, *72-3. 

Evans, Sir Arthur, 49, 50, 175; see 
also under ' Ronald ' ' Youlbury '. 

Evans, J., 221. 

Evelyn (Wells), 43, 315, 319; mem- 
ories of R. as child, 43-4. 

Evers, C. P. (Claude), Bt.-Maj., Rugby 
School O.T.C., Housemaster, Rug- 
by, viii, 5, 95, 101, in, 145, 256, 
295, 333, 338, 357 5 Pl- facing 375 ; 
on R.'s character, 8 ; political and 
social views, 13-4 ; Rugby lecture 
on Roman Wall, 102 ; walking-tour 
with, 134-5; R- and the 'Anna', 
141-2 ; memories at Rugby and later, 
104, 106, 383-8 ; at Camp, 109-10 ; 
R. to on boy immorality, 66-7, 151 ; 
religion at Camp, 158 ; selection as 
International, 205-6; R.'s will and, 

Evers, R. W., drowned in 1912, 

walking-tour with, 134-5. 
Evers, Sybil, 206, 387. 

Fag, Rugby memories of, 88-9, 382 n. 

Fanshawe, Mrs., 280. 

Fanshawe, R., on R. on the Iffley Rd. 

ground, 164. 

Fisher, C. W. Corbett, vii. 
{Fisher, Charles, 56. 
Fisher, Gerald T., Capt. 1/3 Gurkha 

Rifles, 145, 273-4, 314. 
Fisher, Miss Marjorie, 129 ; R. to on 

first month of War, 313-4. 




{Fletcher, W. G., 147. 
Flint implements, 73-4, 76, 80, 84, 86, 
136, 361 ; article on, 91 ; in scholar- 
ship exam., 100 ; prize for, 102; 
paper on, 125. 
Football (Rugby) : 

Harlequins, 101, 117, 119, 121, 168, 
174-5, 188-9, 194, 200, 208, 231, 
330 n. ; first game with (1908), 205. 
International, Table, 229. 

v. France (1909) 206, 231-2 ; 
(1913) 238, R. on, 212 ; (1914) 
222-7, 242-3, R. on, 225-7, illustra- 
tion, 225, pi. facing 230. 

v. Ireland (1909) 206, 232; (1912) 
209, 235-6 ; (1913) 238, R. on, 
212; (1914) 217-20, 240-1, 381, 
R. A. Lloyd on, 218-9. 

v.Scotland (1909) 206, 232-3; 
(1911) 207-8, 234, R. on, 167; 
(1912) 209, 236; (1913) 238-9, 
R. on, 212; (1914) 220-1, 241-2, 
R. on, 329. 

v. South Africa (19 13) 168-9,210, 
236-7, R. on, 212-3. 

v. Wales (1910) 207, 233 ; (1912) 

208, 234-5; (1913) 211, 237-8, 

R. on, 212, 'practice' for, 394; 

(1914) 216-7, 239-40, R. on, 217. 

Inter- 1 Varsity. 

1908 R. and the team, 167-9, 
173-4, 182, 189-92. 

1909 R. and the team, 121, 175-6, 
!95-7; the game, 169-70, 177-8, 
182, 194, 197, 233, 329-30. 

1910 179-80, 182, 201. 

1911 180-4, 202-4, 245. 

1909-11 the fallen of both teams, 

Liverpool Team (1913-14), 215-6, 

218, 288, 395 ; R. A. Lloyd on, 218. 
'Scissors' trick, 218, 241. 
St. Helens, 213-4, 227-8. 
Training and practice, 208, 216, 261, 


Ford, Rev. F., C.F., 368, 370. 
Fowler, T. G., 216, 395. 
fcFraser, R., Capt. 6th Rifle Bde., 

349 n. 2, 393. 

Furse, Rt. Rev. Dr. M. B., Bishop of 
Pretoria, Ronald's burial, 366-7. 
Fyson, C. 147. 

JGallaher, D., Sergt., Auckland Bn., 

N. Z., 240. 
Galsworthy, J., 245. 
Gamlen, J. C. B., Capt. 1/4 Oxf. & 

Bucks. L.I.,M.C., address toO.P.S., 


Gamlin, H. T., Admiralty, 191. 

Gane, Dr. E., on R. as a Rugby 
leader, 220-1. 

Gardiner, Denys, 127. 

Garnett, J. C. Maxwell, Principal of 
Manchester Coll. of Technology, 
C.B.E., Ronald's brother-in-law, 

295,317, 364- 

>JGarnett, K. G., vi, 334. 

Garnett, Mrs. Maxwell, see ' Mar- 
garet '. 

Garnett, Peggie, 364. 

^Garrett, H. F., Capt. 6th E. Yorksh. 
Regt., vi, 74, 77, 81, 109 ; on games 
and work, 65-6 ; to R. on Confirma- 
tion, 78 ; entering the XV at Rugby, 
82 ; coaching lower games, 89 ; 
Suvla B. expedition and, 89-90 ; 
death of, 89. 

Gaskell, Roger M., died in 1908, 93. 

Gathorne-Hardy, G. M., Capt., M.C., 
pi. facing 368. 

^,Geen, W. P., 2nd Lt. gth K.R.R., 
179, 1 80, 200-2, 393-4. 

^Giles, F. W., death of, 362 ; grave, 
368 and pi. facing. 

JGillespie, T. G., 244. 

{<Gilmour, Allan, Capt. Yeomanry, 

Gilray, C. M., Lt. 6th Rifle Bde., M.C., 
169-70, 178, 190, 194, 196-7 ; me- 
mories of R., 393. 

Goodenough, F. C., 258. 

Gore, Rt. Rev. Dr. C., late Bishop of 
Oxford, 258. 

Gorton, Rev. N. V. (Gortey), 139, 
150 ; memories of R. at Balliol, 
r 36-7, 39-3 5 the ' Anna ', 143 ; R. 
to, 245, 259. 

Gotch, the late Prof. F., 62. 

^Gotch, Roby M., vi. 115; walking 
tour with, 134-5. 

Gotley, A. L. H., Lt. N. Rhodesian 
Police, 234. 

Gould, A. J., 191. 

Grant, J., 285, 287 ; on R.'s politics, 
12; R. at Manchester Coll. of Tech- 
nology, 293-4 5 R- an d working- 
men, 297. 

Grant, J. G., 395. 

Grant-Asher, see ' Asher'. 

Green, Prof. T. H., 23. 

Greenwood, J. E., Lt. 4th Gren. Gds., 

Grenville, Sir Richard, 56. 

Gripper, H., 315, 320, 336, 339, 363 ; 
memories of R. at Chelmsford, 397. 

Gripper, Mrs., 315, 336, 372; me- 
mories of R., 308, 325, 397-8; R. 
to, 320-1, 339, 363. 



Guedalla, P., Legal Adviser W. O., 
100 ; help given by, viii. 

Haldane, Lord, 144, 147, 258. 

Hamblin, S., 349 n. 2. 

Hambridge, N. W., Ronald's death, 


Hamilton, G. M., 150, 245 ; on R. at 
Ball. Boys' Camp, 153. 

Hamilton, Sir Ian, 144. 

>{<Hands, R. H. M., Capt. S. Afr. 
F.A., 393. 

Harcourt, Dr. A. G. V., memories of 
R., 33. 

Harding, F., Pte., Reading Boys' 
Club, 272, 306. 

|Harding, Horace, Pte., Reading 
Boys' Club, 274, 396. 

Hardy, A. Claude, 46, 80, 295 ; on R. 
at Mather and Plait's, 286-7. 

Hardy, H. H., Maj. Rifle Bde., M.B.E., 
Headmaster of Cheltenham, 77, 95, 
in ; the Grasmere party and, 93, 
383, 383 n. ; New Romney Camp 
and, 156-7. 

Hardy, Mrs. H. H., 369. 

Harris, J., 349 n. 2. 

Hartley, Harold B., Brig. Gen. R.E., 
M.C., C.B.E., Fellow and Tutor of 
Balliol, 100, 123; on R.'s qualifica- 
tions (1910), 124-5; ( I 9 II )> J 36- 

Haslam, Dryland, junr., R. on eve of 
War, 310 ; R. to, 325-6. 

Haslam, Mrs., 268, 326. 

Haslam, Joyce, R. to, 250-1. 

Hawkesworth, C. E. M., Housemaster, 
Rugby, 71, in, 154. 

Hearn, J. W. (Molly), 192. 

^Heath, A., Pte., Reading Boys' 
Club, 396. 

Heaton, E. J., 269. 

Hebak, Fraulein, 34. 

Helm, Rev. G. F., C.F., 367. 

J*Hepburn, M.. grave of, 343, 347. 

Heyrod St. Boys' Club, Manchester, 

Hide-and-seek, St. Helens, 59, 165. 

Hilda, Ronald's eldest sister, the late 
Mrs. E. W. Ainley Walker, iii, 32, 
34, 153, 330 n. ; love of her school, 
30 ; as family leader, 42, 101 ; in 
Oxf. v. Cambr. hockey team, 79, 
184 ; as Hermione, 134 and pi. 
facing ; death of, 4, 375 ; memories 
of Ronald, 4, 7 ; as a child, 42 ; at 
Rugby, 108 ; at St. Helens (1913), 
213-4 ; Reading, 254. 257 ; with his 
Club boys, 275 ; in training, 323-4 ; 
to R. at Rugby, 90; R. to, 48, 69, 
70-1, 78-9, 83, 87, 91, 93, 99, 120-1 ; 

fr. Manchester, 286, 288-90, 294 ; 

in training for war, 312, 315, 316-7, 

319, 332 ; fr. Flanders, 352. 
Hill, C. G. R., 395. 
Hinton, W. P., Capt. R. Irish Regt.. 


Hirst, G. L., 239. 

>IHodges, H. A., 173, 173 n. 5, 190. 
Hogg, D. B., 307. 
Holcroft, E. S., 337, 337 n. 2. 
Holland, Rev. Prof. H. S., 377, 377 n. ; 

origin of Boys' Club movement, 23 ; 

R.'s football, 195, 199. 
>JHolloway, B. H., Capt. R. Sussex 

Regt-, 393- 

Holmes, H. C., Lt. Irish Gds., 266. 
Hooge, death of Keith Rae at, 144. 
^Huggan, J. L., Lt. R.A.M.C., 220. 
Hugh Oldham Boys' Club, Manchester, 

Hugh-Jones, LI. A., Egypt. C. S., 3, 

86, 103. 
Hughes, Rev. W. Hawker, Fellow 

and Tutor of Jesus College, 32. 

1 Ixion ', on R. and ' broken time ', 215. 

Jackett, E. J., 232. 

Jackson, C. N., Fellow of Hertford, 
175; R. and the 'Varsity Quarter- 
mile, 186. 

IJackson, R. R., 395. 

Jacobs, C., 213, 227. 

James, William, 15 n. 

James, Rev. Dr. H. A., late Head- 
master of Rugby, 80, 82, 95-6, 107, 
122 ; on R. at Rugby, 65, 108, 389 ; 
on R's Ball. Exhibition, 101. 

Janet, Ronald's youngest sister, the 
late Mrs. C. P. Symonds, iii, 28, 32, 
61, 70, 130-1, 135, 206, 270, 286, 
308, 358, 361 ; pi. facing 244 ; love 
of her school, 30 ; of animals, 75 ; 
engagement, 154 ; the Christmas 
pantomime and, 318 ; death of, 375 ; 
memories of Ronald music, 10 ; 
religion, 20 ; as a child, 43 ; games 
with, 59 ; last meeting with, 322, 
332-3; R. to, 119, 125-6, 128-9; 
to Janet as ' mother ', 26, 80 ; on 
Rugby work, 95 ; on Grasmere, 
115-6; entreaty for replies, 116-8; 
congratulations on games, 103-4, 
121-2, 126, 129; on Ball. Boys' 
Club, 151-2; a strenuous birthday 
(1913), 265-6. 

Jenkin, Prof. C. F., Lt.-Col. R.A.F., 
C.B.E., 116, 128, 136, 157; on R. 
as student, 135, 390. 

Johnston, W. R., 222, 222 n. 



Jones, Sir Alfred, 74. 

Jones, Mrs. Harrison, 250. 

Joseph, H. W. B. , Lt. i st V. B. , Oxf. & 

Bucks. L. I., Fellow and Tutor of 

New College, 93. 

Kauenhoven, C. T., Lt., 363. 

^Kay-Shuttleworth, L. U., 147. 

Keats, John, 376. 

Keppell, J. J. G., Capt. R.A.V.C., 
343> 348- 

Kerry, A. H. G., Capt. R.E., 187. 

>IKing, J. A., Lnc.-Cpl. i/io Liver- 
pool Scottish, 236. 

Kirby, A. C., A.D.C., B. E. Africa, 

Kluck, Gen. von, 340. 

Knott, F. H., Capt. Wiltsh. Regt., 
M.C., 181, 183, 200, 202-4. 

Lagden, Sir Godfrey, on Rugby 
football, 165-6 ; the two Ronalds, 
331 ; R. to, 330 ; to R., 330-1. 

J Lagden, Ronald O. , vi, 92, 173, 
173 n. i, 178, 180-1, 185, 187, 202, 
207-8, 210, 393-4 ; death of, 330-1. 

Lankester, Miss Fay, on R. as a child, 


Lankester, Sir Raj r , 39. 

Leather, Miss (Mrs. Powell), on R. at 

kindergarten, 40. 
Leather, George, 395. 
Legge, Miss, 324. 
Leighton, A. F., Lt. R.F.A., M.C., 


Lewis, A., 349 n. 2. 
{Lewis, B. R., Maj. R.F.A., 179, 

183, 393-4- 
Lloyd, R. A. (Dick), 216, 241, 349, 

395; pi. facing 218; memories of 

R., 205, 217-9. 
Lloyd, T. W., 395. 
Lock, Rev. Dr. W., Warden of Keble, 

Lockhart, J. H. B., 2nd Lt. Seaforth 

Highlanders, 179. 
Lodge, Sir Oliver, 265. 
Loom of Youth, 65-6. 
Lowe, C. N., Capt. R.A.F., D.F.C., 

M.C., 220, 224, 229, 237, 240, 242. 

Lucas, C. C., on Ronald's death, 45. 

Lynam, A. E., 52. 

Lynam, C. C. (Skipper), Headmaster 
of O.P.S., 48, 51, 69 ; principles of, 
45 45 n., 46, 53 J R- * O.P.S., 45, 
64; R. and, 63-4; to O.D.'s at 
Rugby, 80 ; to R. on 1909 'Varsity 
match, 178. 

Lyon, G. H. D'O., Commander R.N., 
191, 200. 

!<Maclachlan, R. C., Brig. Gen., 
D.S.O., 147. 

{<Maclagan, G. S., 211. 

JMaclear, Basil, 349, 349 n. i. 

Macleod, K. G., Capt. Gordon High- 
landers, 170, 174, 287. 

Magdalen Carols, R.'s love of, 71, 
122-3, 2 45- 

Manchester Boys' Clubs, 286-7, 300-4. 

Manchester Coll. of Technology, 265, 
285, 287-8, 290, 297 ; R.'s work at, 


Mann, Miss, 118. 

Mann, Miss N., 118, 154. 

Mansbridge, A., and Mrs., 258. 

Marcon, C. W. S., Capt. Oxf. and 
Bucks. L.I., 184-5, ^1- 

Margaret, Ronald's second sister, Mrs. 
Maxwell Garnett, 32, 34,59, 71, 75, 
92, 118-9, 269, 287 ; on R.'s religion, 
17.; influence on R., 25-6, 42 ; col- 
lecting with, 52 ; play with, 62-3 ; 
at dances with, 75-6, 87 ; R. to 
on Rugby games, 69-70 ; the 1904 
sports, 73 ; the S. African tour, 80 ; 
with R. at Swindon, 308, 312-3 ; 
R. to fr. Chelmsford, 317 ; fr. Flan- 
ders, 347, 363-4. 

Margarine, R. on preparation of, 294. 

Maritz, G. J., 196. 

Marriott, C. J. B., Capt. R.A.S.C., 
185, 209, 212, 282, 331 ; on R. as 
International, 228-30, 395. 

Marshall, Prof. Alfred, 19. 

!Martin, Pte., Reading Boys' Club, 

Martin, Hugh, Maj. R.F.A., D.S.O., 
177-8, 190, 192, 196-7; football 
practice with R., 165. 

Mather and Platt's, 228,307 ; R.'s work 
at, 286-93, 297. 

Mather, Loris E., Capt. R.E., 292-3. 

Mather, Sir William, 256, 265, 292, 
297 ; memories of R., 281-2, 290-1. 

Maurice (Caladine), Pte., Reading 
Boys' Club, 272. 

May, R. S., 146. 

J<Maynard, A. F., Lt. R.N.V.R., 220. 

4<McAfee, L. A., Lt 8th Rifle Bde., 


McHardy, E., 210, 213, 237. 
Mclntyre, Mrs., 99. 
Michell, W. G., Housemaster, Rugby, 


Miers, Sir Henry, 258. 
Millar, W. A., 213. 
>JMillard, Sergt, 349 n. a. 
Milner, Lord, 378. 
>!<Mobbs, E. R., Col. Northamptons, 

D.S.O., 231-2. 



Moberly, W.H., Capt. Oxf. and Bucks. 

L.I., D.S.O., Fellow of Lincoln, 

56 ; on R.'s personality, a, 3 ; Hugh 

Sidgwick and the O.P.S., 45-6. 
Moore, G., Capt. R.A.M.C., 315. 
Morant, Sir R., 258. 
Morey, F., 91. 
Morkel (four Morkels in S. African 

team), 213. 
Morley, Rev. R. W., 272, 374, 306 ; 

pis. facing 267, 309; on R. and 

Reading Boys' Club, 267, 328 ; 

meeting of May 7, 1915.395-6. 
Mortimer, M. W., Maj. Suffolk Regt., 

T.F.R., 140. 

Morton, H. J. S., Capt. R.A.M.C., 348. 
Mott, J. R., 116. 

Muhr, A. H., 224 ; illustr. on 225. 
Mundy, J., 288 ; R.'s football and, 

216, 228 ; to R. on gifts to Army 

employees, 292-3. 
Mylne, Rt. Rev. Bishop, 78. 

Nicholas, F. W. H., Capt. Bedfordsh. 
Regt., Attached Staff, Bde.-Maj., 
M.C., 196. 

JOakeley, F. E., Lt. R.N., 57, 229, 

Ollivant, Alfred, on Rugby School, 

67-8 ; memories of R., 5 ; at Camp, 

158-9 ; as Rugby player, 166-7, 

219, 227-8 ; at Reading, 249 ; 

' R. W. P. P.,' 230. 
Openshaw (Crossley) Lads' Club, 

Manchester, 300-3. 
Osborn, Prof, and Mrs. H. F., 39. 
O'Sullivan, Denis, 57. 
Ovens, A.B., Flight Sub-Lt. R.N.A.S., 

179, 183. 

Owen, Bert, 263. 
Owen, Miss M. E. O'B. ; on R. at 

school of (1896-7), 41. 
Oxford and Bermondsey Mission, R. 

and, 119, 375. 
Oxford Pageant (1907), 92. 

Palmer, A. C, Capt. R.A.M.C., 206, 

Palmer, Alfred and Mrs., R.'s uncle 

and aunt, 48, 62, 290. 
Palmer, Eustace E., R.'s cousin, 41, 

61, 368. 
Palmer, George, M.P. for Reading, 

R.'s grandfather, 124, 253 n., 266. 
Palmer, Rt. Hon. G. W., M.P. for 

Reading, R.'s uncle, 10, 20, 135, 

139, 210, 249, 254-5, 261-2, 275, 

291, 294 ; suggests career for R., 

123-4 J discusses R.'s future, 264-5 ; 
death and will of, 280-5. 

Palmer, Mrs. G. W., R.'s aunt, 253, 
262, 281, 285, 317-8, 373- 

Palmer, Geoffrey H., R.'s cousin, 339- 
40 ; on R. in Flanders, 341. 

Palmer, Howard, R.'s cousin, 262. 

Palmer, Lewis, R.'s uncle, 32. 

Palmer, W. I., R.'s great-uncle, 23. 

Parsons, Miss G. I., on R. at 2|, 36. 

Paterson, Alec, Capt. 1/22 Lond.Regt., 
M.C., 251. 

Payne, C. A. L., on football at Rugby, 

Payne-Smith, Rev. W. H., Rugby, 
74, 76, 80, 95. 

Pelham, the late Prof. H. F., Presi- 
dent of Trinity, 121-2. 

' Pepper ', Janet's parrot, R. and, 

Percival, Rt. Rev. Dr. J., formerly 
Headmaster of Rugby, 68. 

Perkins, B., Capt. 4th Wore. Regt., 
Reading Boys' Club and, 276-7, 
306, 309, 328. ; pi. facing 309. 

^Perrin, Coy-Sgt.-Maj., 365. 

Pillman, C. H., Capt. Dragoon Gds., 
M.C., 218, 220, 235, 239, 242. 

Plumer, Gen. Sir H., 368. 

Pocock, E., Pte., Reading Boys' Club, 

!<Podmore, H., vi, 116; on R. as a 
friend, 6. 

Portus, Rev. G. V. (Jerry), Austral. 
Milit. Censor, 392 ; on R.'s football, 
171-2 ; R. and 1908 team, 174. 

Poulton, E. B., R.'s father, R. to fr. 
Rugby, on implements, 84 ; Silver 
Wedding, 86; Ball. Exhibition, 
zoo- 1 ; fr. Chelmsford, 308-9, 332 ; 
fr. Flanders, 340-1, 355-6, 359-61, 
364-5 (his last letter). 

Poulton, Mrs., Ronald's mother, on R. 
as a child, 42 ; timidity at O.P.S., 
61-2 ; Boys' Clubs, 152-3, 269 ; the 
Italian visit, 254-6 ; at home, 390 ; 
to R. at Rugby, 381 ; in Vlth, 88 ; 
the last match, 102 ; leaving Rugby, 
107 ; R. to fr. Rugby, 76-7, 95-6 ; 
on ' Vlth power ', 82 ; University, 
83 ; Silver Wedding, 85 ; leaving 
Rugby, 107 ; fr. Reading, 257 ; on 
plans, 264 ; Boys' Camp, 268 ; fr. 
Manchester, on uncle's illness, 280 ; 
work at M. and P.'s, 287-8 ; fr. 
Chelmsford, 308-9, 318-9 ; fr. 
Flanders, 346-7, 353. 357-8, 361-2. 

Poulton, Dr. E. P., see ' Edward'. 

Poulton, Mrs. E. P. (Frida), 316. 

Poulton, Miss (Aunt Lily), 316. 



Povey, W. (Bill), 285 ; on R. at H. 

and P.'s, 260-2 ; last meeting, 327 ; 

R. to, 262-3. 
>JPowell, Kenneth, Pte. ist Infantry 

Btn., H.A.C., vi, 68, 73, 80, 33011., 

389 ; R. on death of, 330. 
l^Purves, W. D. C. L., Lt. pth E. 

Lanes. Regt., 177, 393. 
Pym, J. A., Maj. R.G.A., M.C., 235. 

Rae, Edward, 160, 252-3 ; pis. facing 

"5. *33- 

Rae, Gray Kynoch (Bino), Capt. 4th 
W. Lanes. R.F.A., pis. facing 115, 


>J<Rae, T. K. H. (Keith), vi, 10, 18, 
!33, !& 245, 254, 270, 285, 324 ; 
pi. facing 133 ; on boy immorality, 
67, 67 n., 151 ; the 'Anna', 140-1, 
143-4 ; death at Hooge, 144, 150, 
1 60 ; memories of R., 150; Ball. 
Boys' Club, 150-2, 156-8, 162-3 5 
R.'s practical joke with, 252-3 ; last 
meeting with R., 320 ; letters fr. on 
R.'s death, 159-61 ; farewell to R., 
335 ; R. to, 127, 130-2 ; on Magda- 
len Carols, 122-3 ; teaching, 124, 
251; exams., 'Anna', &c., 138-40. 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 56. 

Ranjitsinhji, 188. 

Reading Boys' Club, in addition to 
Sect. XI, vi, 246, 262, 266, 326-8, 
341, 390, 398 ; letters fr. Club boys, 
306 ; the 1914 Camp, 309-10 ; May 
7-10, 1915, 395-6 ; thoughts on a 
new Club, 303-6. 

Reading Univ. Coll. and Boys' Club, 
246, 276, 328. 

>IReiss, S. L. (Stephen), Lt. R. Berks. 
Regt., vi, 131, 133, 136, 139, 245, 
270 ; on R.'s character and religion, 
18-20; Ball. Boys' Club and, 150, 
162 ; R.'s practical joke and, 252-3. 

Roberts, A. D., 235-6, 241. 

Roberts, Lord, at Rugby, 84-5. 

Rogers, Rev. T. Guy, M.C., C.F., 
328 ; on the 1912 Camp, 268. 


On Socialism and other political 
views, 12-3, 257-9,313,316; Trades 
unions, 288, 298-9 ; the War inevit- 
able, 149, 310; see also 'Flint im- 
plements', 'Football', &c. 

Places visited before the War by, 
excluding names frequently men- 
tioned and those with football asso- 
ciations only. 

Blaenau Festiniog, 120-1 ; Broad- 
stairs, 126-7 ; Caddenabbia, 255 ; 
Dublin, 206 ; Eastbourne Coll., 126 ; 

Grasmere, 6, 10, 93, 115-6, 383; 
Little Stretton, 126; Milan, 255-6; 
Morgins, 118-9; Miirren, 183, 244 
and pi. facing ; Northumberland, 
134-5 ; Paris, 63-4, 256 ; Pyrenees, 
119-20 ; Repton, 132, 257-8 ; Rhos- 
colyn, 130, 139 ; River Wye, 136-7 ; 
Roman Wall, 81, 93, 102 ; Touraine 
(La Caillere), 137-9 > Wengen, 
122-4, J 78, 207; York (Brit. Assoc.), 
87 ; Youlbury, 49, 50, 60, 71, 175. 

Roosevelt, Romanes Lecture, 128. 

Rose, G. K., Major 1/4 Oxf. & Bucks. 
L.I., M.C. and bar, 352. 

|Ross, J. E., 216, 395. 

Royle, H. H. E., 395. 

Rugby School Marshal, 385 ; memories 
of R., 108. 

Russell, A. L. N., pi. facing 154. 

Salford Boys' Club, Manchester, 300-3. 
Sampson, H. F., Lt. R.A.F., Kite 

Balloon Officer, 200, 202. 
Schlich, Miss Elsie, 129. 
Schlich, Miss May (Mrs. Searle), 128-9. 
Schlich, W. H., Pte. Artists' Rifles, 

Scholfield, J. A., Capt. & Adj. Manch. 

Regt., 204. In the Cambridge 

Teams of 1909 & 1910, but not in 

1911. The 1911 captain was A. E. 

Kitching, Capt. B. E. African 


Sellicks, F. J., 394. 
Serocold, Col. O. P., 337 ; Ronald's 

death, 365, 370. 
Sewell, E. H. D., 202. 
Shaftesbury Society, 116, 141. 
Shakespeare at the O. P. S., 53-5. 
Sharp, H. S., Capt. Yeomanry, 180. 
Sharpe, G. M., Maj. 2nd R. Berks., 

Ronald's death, 371-2. 
Shum, E., 213. 

Sidgwick, F., help given by, viii ; pro- 
logue by, 54-5. 
Sidgwick, Mrs. Henry, 33. 
^Sidgwick, Hugh, Capt. R.G.A., vi, 

55) 55 n ; 5 6 > 5 6 : n the O.P.S., 

45- 6 - 

Silvester, J. M., on R. in O.T.C., 148. 
Simpson, T., 231. 
Smallwood, Dr., 315. 
Smart, S., 349 n. 2. 
Smith, A. L., Master of Balliol, 115, 

143, ^o, 258. 

Smith, C. H., Foreign Office, 186. 
Smith, G. O., 238. 
Smith, N. F., Surg. Lt. R.N., 252; pi. 

facing 154. 
Smith, W. A., 205. 



Smyth, J. G., Capt. isth Sikhs, V.C., 


Solomon, B., 233. 
({Spurling, Alfred, Sergt. Intelligence 

Dep., killed in Boer War, 50, 57. 
JiSpurling, Frank, Capt. i5th Rifle 

Bde., 57. 
St. Hill, E. A., Housemaster, Rugby, 


St. Hill, Mrs., 381. 
Stanley, R. V., Maj. R.A.S.C., O.B.E., 


Stark, R. G. W., 2nd Lt. Shropshire 
L. I., 120. 

Stark, Miss Violet, 49. 

Stegmann, J., 213. 

{<Steyn, S. S. L., and Lt. R.A., 181, 
183, 203, 394. 

Stocks, A. D., and Lt. Coldstream 
Gds., 270-2. 

Stocks, J. L., Capt. isth K.R.R.C., 
D.S.O., Fellow of St. John's, 184. 

Stoop, A. D., Capt. The Queen's 
(R.W. Surrey Regt.), M.C., 68, 168, 
207, 233-5 : R- in tne Harlequin's 
and, 101, 188-9, 2O 5 ! R-' s first In- 
ternational and, 192, 205-6, 231 ; 
on fallen Harlequins, 330 n. 

Stoop, F. M., Lt. M.G.C., 90. 

Strachan-Davidson, Dr. J. L., late 
Master of Balliol, 379. 

Strand-Jones, Rev. J., 191. 

Stuart, Hamish, 202. 

Sumner, L. R. C., 349 n. a. 

>JSutton, Alex G., and Lt. and Rifle 
Bde., 379. 

{Sutton, Eric G., Lt. 7th R. Sussex 
Regt., M.C., vi. 379. 

>ISutton, Eustace M., Lt. R.E., 35th 
Div. Sign. Co., vi, 279. 

Sutton, L. Noel, Capt. Berks. Yeo- 
manry, 379. 

Sutton, Leonard, 279. 

>JSutton, W. Victor R., Lt. Berks. 
Yeomanry, 379. 

Svvann, Rev. S. E., 92, 104 ; on R. at 
Rugby, 381-2. 

Sydney, Sir Philip, 56. 

Symonds, Dr. C. P., Capt. R.A.M.C., 
Med. Milit., viii, 130, 158, 368 ; on 
R. and Boys' Clubs, 154-6, 304-5 ; 
R.'s 'training', 185; R. to fr. 
Flanders, 358-9. 

Symonds, the late Mrs. C. P., see 

>!Sysum, S., 349 n. 2. 

Talbot, Rev. N. S., C.F., Asst. Chap- 
lain-General, M.C., 195, 392. 
^Tarr, F. N., vi, 90, 170, 175, 178, 

189, 190, 196-7, 231-3, 393; R. the 
1909 team and, 176 ; Ronald's death, 

Taylor, G. P., 399. 

Temple, Rev. William, viii, u, 14, 
ao-i, 76-7, 77 n. i, 93, in; Me- 
morial Address, v, vi, 5, 6, 6 n., 160 ; 
on R.'s personality and religion, 8, 
14-18 ; R. in Pyrenees with, 1 19-20 ; 
reading-party with, 136-7 > at Rep- 
ton with, 133, 358 ; R.'s thoughts 
on Socialism, the W. E. A., &c., 
3 57~9 ! new Boys' Club, 305 ; last 
meeting, 332-3 ; on R. at Rugby, 

Tennant, J. M., 233. 

Thomas, W. E., Capt. ist K.R.R.C., 
M.C., 183. 

Thompson, J. N., Lt. R.F.A., 349 n. a. 

{(Thomson, F. W., 173, 173 n. 4. 

{Thorne, C., Capt. 8th E. Surrey 
Regt., 394. 

^Thorne, H. U. H., 337, 346, 354 n., 
365 ; Ronald's death, 370-1. 

Tomlinson, A. C., Qr.-Mr.-Sergt., 366. 

Towner, W., rec'd Commission, 373. 

Toynbee, Arnold, 23. 

Trevelyan, Miss Doris, 129. 

Truslove. , 373. 

Tucker, , R.F.A., 271-2. 

{(Turner, F. H., vi, 175, 178-9, 198, 
200, 216, 318, 393, 395 ; R.'s tribute 
to, 339-30. 

Tyldesley Club, 222. 

Tyndale, H. E. G., 117, ri7n. 

Tyrrell, W. J., Capt, A.-Lt.-Col., 
R.E., D.S.O., M.C., 348. 

Van Vuuren, T., 213. 

Vassall, G. C., 69, 330; on R.'s sports 

at O.P.S., 49-51 ; memories of R., 

Vassall, H., Bursar and Housemaster, 

Repton, 132, 331. 
Vassall, H. H., Nyasaland C. S., 174- 

6, 190-1, 196-7, 206. 
Villiers, Maj., 368. 
Vincent's Club, 114, 189, 199. 
Viner, W., 363. 

' W. L. S.', R.'s Manchester football, 

Wace, Rev. H. C., 324 ; on R. in the 

O.T.C., 147-8. 
{Waldy, Cuthbert T., vi, 254, 356-7, 

363, 268 ; the War and, 310; R. on 

death of, 316, 325-6 ; R. and, at 

Reading, 336-7. 
Waldy, Mrs., R. to, 326; to R.'s 

mother, 327. 



Walker, Dr. E. W. Ainley, Capt. 

R.A.M.C., Ronald's brother-in-law, 

2, 119, 282; R. to, 217, 255; on 

eve of War, 310-1 ; fr. Chelmsford, 

315-6, 332. 
Walker, the late Mrs. E. W. A., see 

< Hilda '. 

Wallace, A. R., 897. 
Waller, Dr. A. D., and Mrs., Ronald's 

uncle and aunt, 62. 
'Wally', R.'s W. Highland terrier, 

254 ; pis. facing 267, 309. 
Wantage Hall, Reading, 276. 
Ward, Ernest, 202 ; on R.'s first 

Harlequin game, 205. 
Warren, Sergt., pi. facing 309. 
Washbourne, Pte., 349 n. 2. 
Watney, R., 227. 
>J Watson, C. C., vi, 79, 88, 103-4, 

174; on R. at Rugby, 65, 71, 73, 

97-9 ; joint captaincy at Rugby, 

96-7 ; to R. on leaving school, 106 ; 

last meeting, 221. 
Watson, J., Ronald's death, 374. 
^i Watson, J. H. D., Surg. R.N. ; 229, 

239-40, 242-3. 
Watts, D., 239. 
Webb, Cecil D., 309. 
Wertheimer, see ' Conway '. 
Whatley, N., Fellow of Hertford, 244 

and pi. facing ; on R.'s attitude 

towards football, 12 ; R. in O.T.C., 

Whitnall, S. E., on R.'s 'training', 

185-6 ; memories of football, &c., 

210- 1 ; Ronald's grave, 368-9. 
fcWill, J. G., Lt. R. Leinster Regt., 

220, 242, 394. 

Williams, Rev. F. S., visit to, 126. 
Williams, T. Gear, 307. 
Williamson, A. W., 274. 
Willink, F. A., Capt. 1/4 R. Berks., 

ifcWilson, A. H., 2nd Lt. Rifle Bde., 

Wilson, L. O., Lt.-Col. R. Marines, 

C.M.G., D.S.O., 12. 
Wodehouse, Rev. R., Ball. Boys' 

Club and, 150. 
Woods, Margaret L. (Mrs. H. G.), 

Workers' Educational Association, R. 

and the, 258-60, 374. 
Wright, C. C. G., Lt. Durham L. I., 


Wright, J. M., 370. 
Wright, Rev. L. W., C.F., 398. 
Wycliff Hall, Oxford, 76. 
Wycombe Abbey School, 48 ; Hilda, 

Janet and, 30. 

Printed at Oxford, England, by Frederick Hall, Printer to the University