Ian Fleming

On the afternoon of Thursday June 24 1909, the school held a garden fete in aid of the cricket pavilion, when the pavilion was officially opened. The Oxford Town Band were in attendance, and tea was served at a cost of 9p a head.

A flyer noted that a number of distinguished patrons had put their names forward to support the fete. Two of these were Valentine Fleming and his wife Eve. These were Ian Fleming’s parents.

In 1906, Valentine and his wife had purchased Braziers Park in Oxfordshire (they also had a home in London where Ian Fleming was born in 1908.)

In Oxfordshire, Valentine joined the local yeomanry regiment, the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, and the South Oxfordshire and Berkshire hunts. According to Fleming’s biographer Andrew Lycett, life at Braziers Park was idyllic for Fleming and his siblings. So perhaps, at the age of 1 Valentine and Eve brought Ian and his older brother to the fete.

More details can be found at Ian Fleming and Thame: https://midcenturybond.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/ian-fleming-and-thame/

John Quartly

Sad news, passed on by Nadine Redman, his sister: John Quartly, 91, died recently. He was at LWGS in the 1940s, and had been living in Colchester for some years. He had been ill for quite a time but many years was a staunch supporter of the OTA.

Alfred William John Folley

Alfred was born on 20thJuly 1893 and baptised on 10thSeptember, son of Elizabeth and Albert, a farmer. The family lived in the spacious Manor Farm at Emmington near Thame that had 11 rooms, one of two farms in the parish. Kelly’s Directory for 1901 states the population numbered 44 n that year and that the village children attended Sydenham Elementary School nearby, where Alfred no doubt experienced his early education before he attended LWGS between 1908 and 1910. After leaving school he became an apprentice engineer, living at home in 1911. No surprise therefore that when he joined up in 1914 he served as a Private in the Army Service Corps Motor Transport, later renamed the Royal Army Service Corps. He served in France from 24thMay 1915.  

In the spring of 1924 he married Violet Linders.  In 1939 he and Violet were living at Tetsworth. He was working as a garage proprietor and listed in Kelly’s Trade Directory of the same year as a Carrier.

He died at Shotover Old People’s Home on 21stApril 1984, aged 100, leaving £5605, most probably the longest living OT who served in the Great War.

Christie West Fletcher (boarder)

Christie was the seventh of nine children of Charles and Lucy Fletcher. He was born in Kew, London, on 12thDecember 1874 and baptised on 9thMarch 1876. His father was a member of the London Stock Exchange.  He entered LWGS in September 1891 as a sixth former and would have stayed two years at the most. Afterwards travelled to India where he became an indigo planter for the Dholi Concern, living at Mozufferpore, Tirhoot. Whilst therehe enlisted with the Bihar Light Horse, a volunteer cavalry regiment, based in northern India.

In the autumn of 1899, the regiment volunteered half a squadron, numbering 54 officers and men, to join Lumsdens Horse the name given to the India Mounted Infantry Corps. Christie was part of the squadron in A Company No 2 Section. They left Calcutta in February 1900 to take part in the Second Boer War, and took part in several actions against the Boers. The B.L.H. contingent, forming part of A Company, lost several men in an action at Karee Siding in Orange Free State at the end of April. On returning to India in January 1901, Trooper Fletcher received a commission with the Army Service Corps.

His record with the A.S.C. is unknown, but by 1908, Christie had returned to England where he married Louise Eveline Conway in Wandsworth in the summer of 1908. They went on to have a daughter, Lucy, born in January 1909. Later that year, Christie, by now an electrical engineer, left England on the SS Virginian for Canada, arriving in Quebec on the 24th September, intending for onward travel to Whonnock, British Columbia. His wife and daughter joined him in 1911, and they settled in Vancouver, B.C.

At the age of 40 he volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force on the 4th December 1914. His medical records describe him as 5ft 6ins tall weighing 142 lbs. He served as a Lance Corporal in the 2nd Battalion of the Canadian Mounted Rifles. The battalion embarked for Great Britain on the 12th June 1915. After a few months training at Shorncliffe in Kent, they disembarked in France on the 22nd September 1915 as part of the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles Brigade. The battalion converted to infantry in January 1916, joining the 8th Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division, and fought in Belgium and France. Christie was killed on 30th September 1916, the day before the battalion was due to attack the Ancre Heights on the Somme, a battle in which the division would sustain almost 3,000 casualties. His grave is at Vimy in France.

Francis Willoughby Fielding

Francis was born in Towersey, Bucks on the 8thOctober 1892 to parents Harry and Letitia Elizabeth Fielding (née Goodwin). Harry was an auctioneer and in 1911 the family were living at Essex House, Chinnor Road, Thame. They later moved to Stoneleigh in King’s Road, Thame. 

Francis attended LWGS from 1902 to July 1906 and, by 1911, he had moved to Coventry and begun work in the fledgling motor industry as a draughtsman. He had volunteered for the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (formerly the Oxfordshire Yeomanry) during 1909/1910 (Service number 1522), and after mobilisation at the outbreak of WW1, he would have travelled to France with the regiment in September 1914, the first Territorial Unit so to do. The Regiment saw action in the doomed attempts to save Dunkirk and Antwerp from the German advance, and then fell into the routine of trench warfare, holding the line at Messines. At some time during this early stage of the war, and by now a corporal, he was wounded by an exploding shell when carrying despatches and was invalided back to the UK. Gazetted with the rank of 2ndLieutenant in April 1915, he returned to the Western Front with the 9thBattalion (Queen Victoria Rifles) of the London Regiment.  On 1stJuly 1916 the battalion was one of the lead units in the attack at Gommecourt, a diversionary attack as part of the main Somme offensive. Unfortunately, the Germans had too much warning and the battalion suffered heavy losses, including the death of Francis aged 23. His grave is at the Gommecourt, British Cemetery No 2, Hebuterne, Pas de Calais, France.

Extract from Thame Gazette

It is with much regret that we have to record the death of Second Lieutenant Francis Willoughby Fielding, which occurred in action on Saturday July 1st.  Lieut Fielding was the younger son of Mrs Harry Fielding and the late Mr Harry Fielding (who as for many years connected with the firm of Messrs Bond and Burrows , auctioneers of Thame).  Mrs Fielding received news of her son’s death by telegram on Thursday, and later received a confirmatory letter from Major Connolly of the Territorial Force Record Office, London.  Lieut Fielding, on the outbreak of hostilities joined the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, with which regiment he went to France, from whence he was invalided home and on recovering he obtained a commission in the 9th London Regiment. The deceased officer was only 23 years of age, and was very popular with his fellow officers and men, and his death is greatly regretted by them all. The sympathies of our readers will be with Mrs Fielding in her great loss.

Two brothers

OTs who served in the 1st World War

Francis Alexander Fayers

Born on 13 January 1899 in Oxford, the younger brother of William. In the 1911 Census he is recorded as a boarder at the school, and according to the school records he served in the RASC. The military record at the National Archives records a Francis Alexander Fayers  as serving ultimately in the London Regiment, 10th (County of London) Battalion (Hackney)

In 1924 he married Belinda Webb in Abingdon but they divorced, and in 1931 he married again to Gladys Murray in Oxford. (Belinda never remarried and died in 1943 aged 43 but interestingly she described herself as widowed in the 1939 Census, as divorce still carried much stigma then.)

In 1939, Fayers is recorded as a transport driver and living with Gladys in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire.

He died in 1955 in Wellinborough. 

William Selby Fayers

William’s life is shadowy despite the fact that there is a wealth of evidence but it poses more questions than it answers. Why apparently did William move around so much and seemingly live for a long period away from his wife?  The story of his early years is clear enough. William was born on 24thJuly 1892, son of Annie Alice and William Emanuel, an outfitter, and they lived at 12 Queen Street Oxford.  He was baptised as Willie Emanuel on 4thSeptember at St Mark and St John Cowley. He came to LWGS in 1901. On leaving school he became a clothier and in 1911 was one of many apprentice drapers living in lodgings in 1-4 New Bond Street and 2 Northgate Street Bath.  

He enlisted in 1914 and served in the 10thSignal Company of the Royal Engineers as a Sapper. Here the mysteries begin.  No other military records survive and there’s no evidence that he ever served overseas. He married to Annie Laurie Dyer in London in 1915 and a daughter Mary Beryle was born on 3rdMarch 1919 in Solihull. 

In the autumn of 1920 they may have been living in Southwood, Woodbridge Hill, Guildford. For certain, in 1930 their address was the basement of No. 86, Queen’s Gate Kensington.  

Nine years later they had moved to 81b Erpingham Road, near Putney Bridge and their daughter, aged 20, was living with them. By then William had left the clothing trade and had become a printer representative though both Annie and Mary were saleswomen in a drapery. But was he actually there? Most unusually there are two separate listings for William in the 1939 Register. In the first version he is listed as living with Annie and Mary but his name is crossed out and ‘see page 14’ is twice written in red.  On page 14, however, the next page, there is no reference to him.  As one would expect, the houses and the inhabitants of Erpingham Road are listed sequentially. In what appears to be a second enumeration register, perhaps compiled by a different and wayward enumerator, this is not the case. Though nearly all the names and other details are redacted as ‘officially closed’, which normally indicates that they are still living, those few addresses not redacted include Landford Road which adjoins Erpingham Road but also Lower Richmond Road which is about a mile away. William’s details, including his address, appear again,  exactly the same but in this version of the register his family is not shown.  His near neighbour at No 72 was similarly treated so the mystery is not so much about William as to what the register enumerator, or enumerators, were up to.

However, there is a further Fayers mystery concerning his daughter Mary. There are three alterations to her surname: In addition to Fayers they were ‘Harries’ (in blue ink), then Fayers again and finally, in green ink accompanied by some obscure abbreviations and the date 29.9.62, ‘Favret’.  In fact she married Oscar Favret in 1966 under her birth surname. Whether she had married a Harries, and then separated and retook her family name we do not know.

There were more mysteries to come: in 1945 William was living, along with three others with different surnames, in BMA House Tavistock Square. This had been the headquarters of the British Medical Association since 1925 (and in an earlier existence the home of Charles Dickens), and not the kind of place where anyone other perhaps than a caretaker or doctors might be living. How William came to be living there is a mystery as is the absence of Annie. By 1950 he was again one of four seemingly unrelated people living at 27 Stafford Terrace, Kensington. Five years later he had moved once more to 21 St John’s Avenue, Putney and was now back with Annie, and also Mary, still with her Fayers surname. 

He died in London in 1961. And his wife Annie died a year later in 1962, also in London. We have found no record of Mary’s death but it would appear that her husband Oscar remarried in the 1976, and so it is reasonable to assume she died before that date. 

One doctor, two generations, four soldiers, one fatality

OTs who served in the 1st World Wa

Arthur Reginald Kepp Edsell (day pupil)

The Edsell family made a great contribution both to life in Thame and to the British Army over a long period. Arthur was born in July 1889 at Thame where he lived in High Street, the second son of Annie Mabel and George Edsell (see below). He arrived at LWGS around 1900 but had left before 1906. In 1901 he was living with his maternal grandfather William Haynes at St Leonards in Sussex. After leaving school he moved with his family to Surbiton, and in 1911 he was living at home as an articled clerk to a chartered accountant. He joined the East Surrey Regiment on 13thSeptember 1910 and was commissioned as a 2ndLieutenant. On 29thAugust 1914 he was promoted to Captain. He served in France from 15thOctober 1917. 

It would appear he did not marry, and died in Bristol in 1961. 

Eric Valentine Edsell (day pupil)

Eric was born on 13thFebruary 1891, younger brother of Arthur. Like Arthur he served in the East Surrey Regiment, commissioned as a 2ndlieutenant having been a Territorial before the war, was promoted to Lieutenant on 28thApril 1917 and transferred to the Tank Corps on 1stDecember 1921 where he continued to serve, promoted to Captain on 1stNovember 1925.  He re-enlisted on the eve of WW2 on 24thAugust 1939 and served as a Captain in the Royal Army Service Corps. He died in September 1945.

George Alfred Edsell (school doctor and parent)

George was born at Aberdovey, Wales on 18thJanuary 1859, the son of James and Caroline Edsell, both teachers. He entered medical practice receiving his training at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and University College, London. By 1887 he had moved to Thame and was in practice as a physician and surgeon with Herbert Grove Lee at 79 High Street and was also LWGS doctor. In 1889 he joined the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry Territorials as a Lieutenant-Surgeon, retiring in 1899 as a Captain.  He also served on the Thame Urban District Council and was chairman in 1897. He was examiner and honorary life member to the St John Ambulance Association, surveyor to the medical department of the Admiralty, and a member of the British Medical Association. He left Thame sometime after 1904, and moved to Surbiton, where he became a local councillor, and joined the 3rdHome Counties Field Ambulance RAMC, as a Captain. He rose with promotion to Lieutenant Colonel and took command of the unit in 1911. When the Territorial Force was mobilized, after a period of training, the 3rdHome Counties (83rd) Field Ambulance proceeded to France, and then to Belgium, being deployed in the neighbourhood of Ypres.  It was here that Lt Col Edsell contracted pleurisy.  He was invalided home to Surbiton, where he died on 15thAugust 1915, aged 56. His funeral took place on 18thAugust at Kingston upon Thames where he was buried in the cemetery with full military honours.

He married Annie Isabel Haines in Byfleet, Surrey on 14th July 1887 and they went on to have three daughters and three sons. All three sons were born in Thame, attended LWGS and served as officers in the Great War.  

George Lynton Edsell (day pupil)

George Lynton was the oldest of the three sons of George Alfred.  He was born on 23rdApril 1888, baptised, not in Thame but at St Mary’s Byfleet where his mother had lived and got married. He became a professional soldier with distinguished service. He started in the ‘Special reserve’ until he joined the Hampshire Regiment as a 2ndlieutenant on 7thDecember 1910. He was promoted Lieutenant on 10thSeptember 1913 and Captain on 1stMay 1915. He was acting major from 29thFebruary 1916 to March 1919, adjutant first of the 53rdBattalion of the Hampshires from March to June 1919 and then the Warwickshires to December, thereafter acting major of the Durham Light Infantry. He was on the general staff grade 3 from 2ndFebruary to 29thJune 1918 and adjutant in the Territorial Army from 12thMarch 1920. By 1939 he had married, been divorced and was staying in a hotel in Porthcawl, a retired regular army major living on pay and pension on account of ‘disablement caused by military service’.  He died on 23rdNovember 1962 in Basingstoke.

Paul Dolbear

OTs who served in the 1st World War

Little is known about Paul except that he joined the Royal Navy and saw active service in the North Sea during WW1 according to the lists of serving OTs in the Tamensian

Two generations, two wars, two deaths

OTs who served in the 1st World War

Sidney Maskell Dicker (boarder?)

Sidney was born in Brixton, in October 1886, and he and his sister May were brought up by his mother Louisa Dicker, and uncle Charles Maskell.  Sidney was at LWGS around 1900 but is not listed as a boarder in 1901.  He married Dora Edith Jane Read, a Canadian from Halifax, Nova Scotia, at Lambeth Registry Office on 30thOctober 1909. She was well qualified as B.Sc., M.R.S.T., F.R.H.S.  In 1911 they were living at 3 Ballater Road, Acre Lane, Brixton, and Sidney was a general store dispatch clerk. They went to live in 22 Grenfell Road, Mitcham, and they had two children Sidney Charles Maskell Dicker (b. 1910) and Muriel Ethel Dicker (b.1914).

Only 5ft. 2ins tall, he enlisted into the 18th(Service) battalion (Arts and Crafts), King’s Royal Rifle Corps, on 10thAugust 1915. The battalion, under the orders of 122ndBrigade of the 41st Division, embarked for France on the 2nd May 1916, landing at Le Havre. By the end of the month they were in trenches in the Ploegsteert Wood area of Flanders, part of the Ypres Salient. The battalion entrained for the Somme at the end of August. On the 15thSeptember, at 6.15 a.m. they moved out of the trenches to attack the village of Flers, part of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, which in itself was part of the Somme offensive. They suffered very heavy casualties and lost over 250 men during the first day of the battle. Rifleman Dicker was amongst them, age 29, and was buried in Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers.

His wife and children moved to Thame shortly after his death, living at 46 Chinnor Road for a number of years. His son Sidney Charles Maskell Dicker was also at LWGS, went on to become a teacher and before the War was living in Deal, Kent. He enlisted as a captain in the Wiltshire Regiment, was killed in Normandy in 1944 and was buried at the cemetery in Saint-Manvieu-Norrey, Departement du Calvados, Basse-Normandie. He left his effects to his sister Muriel. She died in 1984, unmarried. 

Three brothers from Chesham

OTs who served in the 1st World War

Clifford Ewart Cyril Deverell

Clifford was born around August 1890 at Chesham, the son of Elizabeth Juggins née Loosley and Ebenezer Deverell, a bank clerk, later a bank manager, living at 108/110 Church Road. Ebenezer, by then living in Stanley Avenue, Chesham died on 7thDecember 1907 at the relatively young age of 53 but, for unknown reasons, he the place of death was at 37 rue Caumartin, Paris. What an English bank manager was doing there can only be surmised. In his will he left a modest £150 to his widow and to two farmers, Thomas Deverell and John Edward Loosley, the latter his 84-year-old father in law; nothing it seems directly to his sons.

In 1911, Clifford aged 20, was a ‘farm pupil’, a rather strange job for someone who might have been expected to be in better paid employment to support his widowed mother and her father now living with the Deverell family, but it was probably Raymond (see below) who was the main breadwinner at that time. During the war Clifford served first in the 6thSouth Staffordshire Regimentand later gained a commission as 2ndLieutenant in the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry. He survived the war and lived on until 11thFebruary 1960, dying at 136 Netherhampton Road, Salisbury, leaving £7717.

Frank Compare Deverell (boarder)

Frank was Clifford’s next elder brother, born on 27thAugust 1887. He was at LWGS in 1901. He served in the 4thBattalion of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry. In March 1927 he married Kathleen Olive Checkley Rose.  In 1939 he was living at 9 Shortacre Lane, Saunderton, as a retired general clerk with Kathleen and 79-year-old mother who lived on for another six years, over 37 years in all as a widow, dying on 29thSeptember 1945. Frank outlived her for only two years as he died on 11thNovember 1947, leaving his widow £7274. Kathleen lived for another eight years, dying in March 1955.

Raymond John Loosley Deverell  (boarder). 

Raymond was the eldest of the three brothers, born about 1886. He was at LWGS in 1901, at 15 one of the oldest boarders in the school. Ten years later he had followed his late father’s profession as a bank clerk. On the 14thNovember 1914 he married Hilda May Toogood, a farmer’s daughter, at St Hilda’s Church, Acton Green. At that time Raymond was living at 4, Ravenscroft Road in Chiswick. After his marriage he and Hilda moved a short distance to 522 High Road Chiswick but their married life together was soon cut short as 9thDecember Raymond enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery. He served as a Gunner in the 251stBrigade. In 1939, by then a bank official, he was living at 329 Goldhawk Road, Hammersmith, with Hilda and their daughter, Margaret, 22, a dress model, her later married name being Wark. He died in June 1949 at St Austell in Cornwall.