Commemorating the Fallen of WW1

Today we remember …

4th June 1919

John Tonson-Rye, F Social 1893. Captain, Motor Transport, Army Service Corps. Cause of death unknown

Originally from Ireland.  At school he was a Prefect.  After school, he returned to Ireland where he worked as a land agent, becoming a member of the Professional Institute of Land Surveyors.  There is no photograph in the War Memorial albums and no obituary beyond a note published on 26th July 1919 that he was among the dead.  The Radley Register published in 1962 incorrectly recorded his on 4th June 1918; the 1923 Register says 4th June 1919; the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records 25th May 1919.

He married Clari de la Roche in 1907. They had a son called John, born in 1910, but he was not entered for Radley despite a long family connection.

He is buried at Mazargues War Cemetery, Marseilles. ‘Marseilles was the Base of the Indian troops in France during the 1914-18 war and throughout the War the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy, British troops and Labour units worked in the port or passed through it. Four of the town cemeteries were used, in the main, for the burial of officers and men of the Commonwealth forces who died at Marseilles.’ source CWGC

His shield still hangs in Hall.


Aged 39

The shield of John Tonson-Rye still hangs in the Dining Hall at Radley College

The British Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects – probable source of confusion over his date of death. © taken from

Commemorating the Fallen of WW1

Today we remember …

10th November 1918

Francis Storrs, Russian Order of St Anne. F Social 1897. Lt, HMS President, Royal Navy. Intelligence Corps. Died of pneumonia contracted on active service

At school, he was a prefect, the Sewell Scholar, and won the Historical Essay Prize and the Richards Gold Medal. After school he had a distinguished career as an academic, winning an Exhibition to Wadham College, Oxford, then attending Jesus College, Cambridge as a Rustat Scholar.  He became Professor at Elphinstone College, Mumbai and at Rangoon College in Burma. He qualified as a Barrister of the Inner Temple in 1911.  In 1912 he married Catherine Schiff.  They had two sons who both came to Radley on War Memorial Scholarships. The Storrs French Prize is still awarded in his memory.

In 1915 he served with the Russian Civil Service, then served with the Royal Navy in Greece in 1916.  Details of his career as the Head of Counter-Espionage in the Aegean from 1917 were published by Compton-MacKenzie in ‘Aegean memories.’ He was working for the War Office when he died from pneumonia following influenza – a victim of the great outbreak of Spanish flu which took more lives than WW1.

‘He was gifted with a charming kindliness and geniality. A colleague in the Russian work says, ‘It was impossible to work with him without loving him.’ The enthusiastic welcome with which his visits to the Radley College Mission (of which he was treasurer) were invariably hailed by the boys, showed how he had won their hearts. But, perhaps, his most marked characteristic was an unswerving devotion to duty.’ His chief writes of him: ‘I have never known anyone so zealous’ and so devoted to his work for the country for which he has given his life.’

His influence at Radley was so great among his peers that his loss was still lamented at the 1947 Centenary: ‘No truer Radleian fell in the two world wars than Francis Storrs, who died on the eve of the Armistice in 1918. No one would have rejoiced in the centenary more than he; no Old Radleian would have contributed more to the gaiety of the day.’

Aged 35


Benjamin Croft, E Social 1898. Captain, London Regt (Artists Rifles). Killed in action in an unknown engagement

At school, he was a Junior Scholar. After school he went to London University, then trained as a Chartered Accountant. From 1901, he was accountant to the Board of the Green Cloth at Buckingham Palace. He served as a member of the Artists Rifles, and was commissioned in 1898. A keen all-round sportsman, Croft led the Battalion’s victorious bayonet team at Earls Court in 1914. Soon afterwards, he went to France, was advanced to Captain and was onetime attached to the 10th London Regiment.

The Battalion’s war diary, states Croft died 24 hours before the Armistice:

10.11.18: Battalion advanced in a N.E. direction and took up a line facing N.E. N. of the Mons-Maubeurge Road at 9.30 hours. While 188th Brigade passed through Asquillies (Battalion H.Q.) enemy shelled village with 5.9 howitzers causing some damage. At midday orders were received to relieve 56th Division on right. Battalion moved at 16.00 hours S. through Harvengt and took up line just E. of Harvengt. Captain Croft, B., 2 Lieutenant King, H. W., killed; 2 Lieutenant Conway, F. H., wounded; O.Rs killed 2; wounded 25. 10 November 1918: ‘Just after they had gone, I got news by runner, that poor old Croft had been killed. It is no use trying to tell you what that meant to the Battalion, or to me personally. He had not been back with us very long after a prolonged absence, and I know he felt like coming home when he rejoined us at Brias. He was always like a ray of sunshine if there was anything doing. With him were two other good fellows. 2nd Lieutenant King and Sergeant Garbutt; also a Lancer with whom they were talking at the time; a stray shell fell in the sunken road and killed all four of them.’

He was buried at Mons – a place he had last been in August 1914.

Benjamin Croft’s war medals were sold at auction in 2010

Aged 44

Lt Francis Storrs, RN

Commemorating the Fallen of WW1

Today we remember …

8th November 1918

Thomas Upton, A Social 1908. Captain, 1st Bn, Yorkshire LI. Killed in action in an unknown engagement

He took a commission soon after the outbreak of the War in 1914.  He was seriously wounded shortly after, but returned to the Western Front and served throughout the rest of the War.

He is buried in Semousies Churchyard in northern France.  The churchyard contains the graves of two soldiers of the Yorkshires and Captain Upton: all died on 8th November 1918, presumably all wounded in the same unknown engagement which happened around 5th November.

Aged 22

Commemorating the Fallen of WW1

Today we remember …

27th September 1918

Arthur Bruce-Freeman, D Social 1910. Lt, 2nd Bn, Royal Scots Fusiliers. Killed during the Advance across Flanders

He was a member of a military family whose father also served in the 3rd Hussars.  He went straight to Sandhurst on leaving school in 1914.  He served on the Western Front throughout WW1

was known at Radley always with the initials of T. B. On leaving, he entered Sandhurst, and passed into the 3rd Hussars.In April last he was transferred to the Royal Scots Fusiliers, and was wounded a month later. He went out again on Sept. 12, and was killed on the 27th.

Aged 22


Lt Arthur Bruce-Freeman, Royal Scots Fusiliers

James Carter, Don. Captain, 1st Bn, Grenadier Guards. Killed in action, Battle of Canal du Nord

After a distinguished career at Eton and Cambridge, where he rowed in the fine eight of 1903, J. S. Carter came to Radley as a master. and was here for five years, leaving at the end of the Summer term, 1909. He took up work at Warren Hill, and, just before the war, had taken a private school at Cromer in partnership with Mr. Hales. After the latter’s death, Mr. Carter carried on till Easter 1917, when he decided that he too would go out to the front, for he had always been a keen Territorial. He took a commission in the Grenadier Guards, and went to France early this year. In August he was made Acting Captain, and was killed on Sept. 27th.

I should think it is quite true to say that Jim never had an enemy: for he was one of those genial large-hearted giants, with whom it was impossible to feel anger, and who was popular with everyone.

Naturally when he was here he associated himself with the river, and he coached the crew of 1909: but his interests were wide and varied. He had stayed some months in Athens, and he took a keen interest in archaeology, while he was more than an enthusiastic entomologist. Many a night have I been out” sugaring” with him, and he was always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone who was keen on that subject. He was a first class skater, and competed two or three times for the “Open Bowl” at Davos, while at Leuzerheide he was deservedly the most popular man in the place. It was only this time last year that he came down to Radley to sing in a concert, and perform in the “Radley Quartette,” which for five years enjoyed some popularity while he was here.

It is hard to realize that poor old Jim is gone too, like, Sammy Hales and Lance Vidal. Truly Radley has had some cruel losses, but the loss of these three leaves a sorrow that will never fade away. In his last letter, only three weeks’ ago, he wrote, ” I would not miss this for anything. The men are simply splendid, and it is a real privilege to be with them. Keep the home fires burning and some day I shall be sitting by your fireside, with a pipe, boring you stiff with what we did in the great war.” And now he has joined all those other heroes, but he still lives enshrined. in the hearts of many devoted and sorrowing friends.

Aged 37


JS Carter, from Radley College Common Room photo, 1906

Alfred Morris, F Social 1909. Lt, 1st Bn, Grenadier Guards. Killed in action, Battle of Canal du Nord

He left school in 1912 and went straight to Sandhurst. He served initially with the Royal Fusiliers from 1914, then joined the Grenadier Guards.

Aged 23

Commemorating the Fallen of WW1

Today we remember …

23rd August 1918

John Gladstone, G Social 1909. Captain, 6th Bn, Leicestershire Regt. Killed in action, Battle of Albert

At school he rowed for the First VIII in 1912. After school he worked ‘with Messrs Lysaght Ltd.’ – a steel-working company in Bristol.

He joined up immediately on the outbreak of the war: received his commission on Aug. 28, 1914, in the Leicestershire Regiment. He went to France in July, 1915, and was wounded in July, 1916.He returned to France in January, 1917; he was severely wounded in the following April and was shortly afterwards promoted Captain and mentioned in dispatches. He again went to France in May and was killed on 18th September, 1918.

The Radley Register and Commonwealth War Graves Commission disagree with the obituary in The Radleian and give his date of death as 23rd August 1918.

Aged 23

Captain John Gladstone’s grave at Serre Road No 1. Photographed for ‘Marching in Memory’ July 2015

Radley College First VIII, 1912. John Gladstone at bow

Commemorating the Fallen of WW1

Today we remember …

21st August 1918

Nicholas van Gruisen. E Social 1904. Captain, Liverpool Regt. Killed in action, Battle of Albert

He went straight into the army on leaving school in 1909.

Aged 29

Nicholas van Gruisen’s grave at Bienvillers Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais. Photographed for ‘Marching in Memory’ July 2015

Commemorating the Fallen of WW1

Today we remember …

27th May1918

Ralph Bell, C Social 1905. Captain, 98th Sqn, Royal Air Force

Killed in action in an unknown engagement

The death of Ralph Bell was one of the very few missed by the Radleian Society recorders during WW1.  Consequently, he is not named on Radley’s war memorial.

The last entry for him in the Radley Register published in 1923 simply stated that he left the school in 1907.  This entry was reprinted in 1962.  In the 1980s, the Radleian Society was planning an updated version of the Register and so conducted extensive research into those ORs with whom they had lost contact over the years.  A handwritten note in the Archivist’s annotated copy of the 1962 register updated the information on Ralph Bell:

‘Went to Canada; 1st W Ontario Regt, and 98th Sqn RFC; Captain; married. Died on active service in France 27th May 1918’.

Aged 27


George Coote, A Social 1910, Lt, 50th Bn, Machine Gun Corps

Killed in action 2nd Battle of the Aisne

He was a School Prefect who played for the Cricket XI.

He obtained a commission In the Royal West Kents in December, 1914. and later on was transferred to the M.G.C. In July 1917, he was wounded and came back to England. He returned to France in April, 1918, and was killed in action May 27th, 1918. The news of his death will be a great grief to many Old Radleians. He was of a retiring nature, but his was a character,- like that of his great friend, Rupert ffolkes, – of which the very simplicity commanded admiration.

His best friend, Rupert ffolkes, was killed on 30th December 1917.  Richard Coote, George’s older brother, was killed in action at the Battle of Hulluch on 13th October 1915. Their eldest brother, Peter, was badly wounded in 1917.

He is recorded on the Soissons Memorial, Aisne

Aged 22

Captain Ralph Bell remembered on the Arras Flying Memorial. Photographed for ‘Marching in Memory’ July 2015

Lt George Coote

Commemorating the Fallen of WW1

Today we remember …

The VIII on the river 1903. EN Balme rowing at 2

22nd April 1918

Edward Balme, MC. A Social 1899. Lt, 11th Bn Essex Regt

Died of wounds received in an unknown engagement

He was a prefect who played for the 1st teams for football and rowing.  After school he trained at St George’s Hospital but did not continue with a medical career.  He joined up as a private with the Honourable Artillery Company in  September 1914.

In 1915 he was given a commission in the Essex Regt., and went to Gallipoli where he won the M.C. for gallantry at Sulva Bay, and was mentioned in despatches by Sir Charles Munro. Later he served in Egypt, and then in France, being invalided home in 1917. In March, 1918, he went to France again, and was mortally wounded on April 21st near Ypres, and died of wounds the next day.

Aged 33


Frank Harston, MC. Don

Captain, East Lancashire Regt. Killed in action in an unknown engagement

Citation for the Military Cross. Lt. (temp. Capt.) Frank Northey Harston, E. Lanc. R. He rendered most valuable service as Brigade Major during the advance. When a gap occurred he proceeded at great risk of capture and under continuous fire to rectify matters before daylight. He set a magnificent example throughout.

He was educated at Highfield Preparatory School, Liphook (then Southampton), and Eastbourne College, and at both was head of the school. He went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he obtained a scholarship, and took first class Classical Honours. After leaving Cambridge he was at different times assistant master at Clifton College and Radley College. At the outbreak of war he joined the Public Schools Brigade, but in October, 1914, was gazetted to a commission in the Leicestershire Regiment, with which he proceeded to France in July, 1915, as captain and adjutant. In January, 1916, he was appointed to the General Staff of a Division and almost at the same time was granted a regular commission. In February, 1917, he was promoted and appointed brigade major of an infantry brigade, in which capacity he was serving at the time of his death. He had been twice mentioned in dispatches and in May of last year was awarded the Military Cross.

The modern battlefield has proved a strange school of poets, and the love of nature was never more intimate and more real, than in this nightmare of destruction and rampant mechanism. There were two men here, whom we knew well, richly endowed with that quality, – not a rare one, perhaps, but often disguised, – the love of Earth: I mean Frank Harston and his friend Lance Vidal.  The official notice of his death, in our last number, reveals nothing of the man: I can, at least, say something of my own knowledge of him as a friend.

Both these men as we knew them were sane, sterling, generous souls, devoid of affectation and vanity. Such men are not as they had never been; something endures in the consciousness of everyone who associated with them.

When nearly every incident of the past is forgotten, a few luminous scenes remain, clear in the memory, like sunlight striking on a distant hill. I remember fishing with Harston, near Bablockhithe, one afternoon in summer. He was a gay and delightful companion, as he was, I imagine, punctilious and strict in form: for he did nothing by halves. Last April he wrote to me expressing the wish that we should one day go fishing together again; and his letter recalled the whole scene most vividly, – the mown grass lying in swathes by the stream, the conversation we had sitting in the inn-garden, and the ride home in the dusk.

Personally, I shall always remember him and Vidal as men who loved earth and the sun, and who, full of the joy of living, were not afraid to enter the enchanted “Woods of Westermain,”-the mystery in nature.  In Memoriam Frank Harston

Aged 28

Lt Edward Balme