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World War I > World War I > Old Cranleighans who fell

Old Cranleighans who fell

9 Nov 2018
World War I
Although Cranleigh was a relatively small school, the death toll during World War One was disproportionately high.  Well over 1300 OCs and masters fought in the war and 201 of them were killed.

Ten of those who died left Cranleigh after the start of the conflict.  The youngest of them was Sidney Kemp who had left in the summer of 1917 while at the other end of the scale Major William Archbutt had left in 1874.

The youngest to perish was Ivan Fellowes (2 North 1910) who was 17 when he went down with the HMS Irresistible in 1915; the oldest to die in battle was Captain Sylvester O'Halloran (2&3 South 1889) who was 49.

Although boys often headed to far-flung parts of the world on leaving, many returned to their homeland to fight, while 25 died serving with Canadian, Australian or New Zealand regiments.

At least four of those who died had German or Austrian parents.  Eric Melville Ludwig Ferdinand Harry Kerle (East 1911) joined the navy in 1914 but was discharged when it was found out he had been born in Germany to an Austrian father.  He immediately enlisted in the London Scottish Regiment, and fell at Locre in 1918.  

As was the case nationally, families often had several sons fighting.  Of the five Northovers at Cranleigh, four served.  All survived.  Less fortunate were the Holland brothers, six out of the seven of whom went to Cranleigh.  Charles (House 1894) died in 1918 when he crashed his Sopwith Camel while off duty.  Eight months later Algernon, the only non OC was killed when his seaplane hit a ship's mast.  A third brother, Sydney Holland (House 1893), by then 53, was the only OC to die in the Spanish Civil War, his ageing plane shot down by German fighters in 1936.

Harold Last (East 1905) died in 1915 after being shot in the neck; his brother Leo (House 1906) was killed in the first minutes of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916 - it was his 20th birthday.

Claud Chaland (1 North 1909) died from wounds after being captured by the Germans in October 1915.  His younger brother Maurice (1 North 1910) was killed in December 1917.

Colonel Percy Maclear (2 North 1887) perished in the Cameroons in the first month of the war and Lt Col Harry Maclear (2 North 1889) was killed by a stray bullet when he stepped out of his dugout to clean his teeth in France in 1916; a third brother, Basil, who played rugby 11 times for Ireland, also died in the war.

Edmund Tennant (East 1900) was killed early in 1916, seven weeks after arriving in France; the same shell also killed his brother and they are buried together.  Charles Bosher (East 1901) and his cousin Ronald, who had enlisted together, were also killed by the same shell in 1915.

Captain Stuart Dennison (West 1894) was killed on 9th May 1915; on the same day his brother 2nd Lt Ralph Dennison (West 1897), died serving in another regiment in a different area.

The Kell brothers died at either end of the war and on opposite sides of the world: Philip (House 1887) in September 1914 when HMS Cressy was torpedoed and Herbert (1 North 1886) in June 1918 when his ship was sunk off the coast of New Zealand.

Jack Smellie (1&4 South 1914) died in 1917 from injuries sustained almost a year earlier on the Somme.  His brother Archie (1&4 South 1912) survived the war despite being wounded twice only to die in 1940 when the boat he was sailing to Dunkirk to help with the evanuation was hit and destroyed.

At least a dozen others who died lost brothers who had not been at Cranleigh.  Godfrey Twynam (1 North 1908) was one of five brothers, four of whom died; only his twin survived.  Captain Francis James (1 North 1905) was mortally wounded in Gallipoli in 1915.  His brothers George, Charles and Henry James were all killed within a year.  2nd Lieutenant John Lee was killed on the Somme in September 1916; his older brother died three days later.  2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Williamson perished in Flanders in 1917, a week after his older brother.

A fair number died of wounds; in the pre antibiotic days infection killed as many as perished instantly.  And some lived on after the Armistice but, their health, weakened, died in the years that followed.  Their names are not recorded nor is their suffering.  Perhaps the last death directly resulting from the war came as late as 1973 when John Walker (East 1913) died in a nursing home.  Aged 19, he had been shot in the head in Gallipoli in 1915 while serving with the Suffolk Regiment.  He was brought home where he remained in a semi-vegetative state until his death.

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