OTC photograph

A photograph of Radley OTC on exercises during the First World War. (undated)

A photograph of Radley OTC on exercises during the First World War. (undated)

The photograph was taken by Gillman & Co., Oxford, forerunners of Gillman & Soames who still Ttake all official Radley team photos. It shows a group of c.30 boys listening to an officer who appears to have lost a leg and to be leaning against his rifle. The boys wear white bands on their hats to indicate that they are officer cadets in the final six months of training. This cadetship allowed them to serve as officers immediately upon leaving school. The group has been posed and the majority are looking at the photographer rather than their commanding officer. The photo was taken in winter, probably in Sugworth Lane near Bagley Wood.

There is no indication of the identities of any of the boys. The officer is probably Colour-Sergeant Parminter, a veteran of the South African War, who is known to have trained the recruits and the band.

The Corps was formed in the summer term, 1909. There had been several attempts to found a Rifle Corps during the previous forty years but many had argued that a school of less than 200 which both rowed and played cricket could not also support a cadet corps. The driving force behind the Corps’ formation was Rev. A.W. Davies. He joined the school in 1903 and became Tutor of F Social from 1911 until 1915. He was O.C. of the OTC 1909-1915, and Bursar, 1914-1915. He left the school in 1915. However, its success was due to the Warden, Thomas Field, who made it compulsory.

The First World War saw the OTC very eager to carry out their duties. There was an afternoon parade, and voluntary drills and route marches. In 1915 the Corps had a private camp near Wantage, and they attended the Public Schools Camp at Tidworth in 1917.

The cost of the First World War to the school was 219 boys, 7 dons, and 8 college staff: the decorations for gallantry included 1 Victoria Cross, 57 DSOs, 2 DSCs, 117 MCs, 1 DFC and 4 AFCs. All their names are inscribed on Memorial Arch.

The photograph has been given to the Archives by Richard Lewis, OR, E Social 1942-1946. He discovered it among the papers of his father, R.M.H. Lewis, OR, E Social, 1911-1914. R.M.H. Lewis served in the OTC, and went on to serve in East Africa during the First World War. He won the Military Cross in 1917. After the end of the war he remained in the army and attained the rank of Brigadier in 1940, serving in the 2nd Army in the N.W. Europe Campaign. He was much decorated during the Second World War.