C.P.T. Wrinch taught English at Radley from 1928 until 1942, when he left to become Headmaster of Raynes Park County School. He later returned to Radley and taught here from 1946-54.
These letters were written to him during WW2 by former Radleians, all of whom had been his pupils. The letters have now been deposited in Radley’s Archives by his daughter, Charlotte Roueche. Those exhibited here have been selected from a much larger collection by members of Shell 1 history, with editorial advice from Tony Money, Niall Murphy and Clare Sargent. The letters are arranged chronologically.
Peter Waterfield, C Social, 1938.
P/JX323061 12 Mess
… there is a grand nucleus of real friends. Also the very experience of serving on a destroyer is so interesting and valuable … You say “I wish I could have done more to help you during those delightful Radley years”, and this makes me feel very grim, because I know it wasn’t your fault that you couldn’t. Thus one throws away the best chances of one’s life…
Peter Way, F Social, 1936. Later an English Don at Radley and poet who taught and inspired a generation of Radley poets including Andrew Motion.
G.H.Q. Battle School
July 29th 1942 County Durham
…I have just finished a book called ‘The Loom of Youth’, which you must know. I was especially delighted when I came across a description of ‘the Radley Match’ and how the visitors had to walk out from Abingdon!
As you can see from the address I am in the throes of this wild, fanatical Battle Course… Derek Beazley is, quaintly enough (Floreat Radley), also in this hearty show … To tell you of all our activities would be to bore you, and eat up paper. We do everything, and go everywhere (usually some distant, hilly field) at the “double” – most exhausting. Never have meals tasted so good. We are being tuned, mentally and physically, to the pitch of modern battle. 8.30 – 5.30 solid are our hours – actually quite enough. Then every night at 8.30 a film on German arms and techniques or some such subject. Giving us a full appreciation of their mentality, power, resource and wantonness.
Last night we saw a film (German propaganda) called “Victory in the West”. … You would have appreciated the irony and consummate “theatre” of the scene in Notre Dame, where half-a-dozen bare-headed (!) German youths walked up the transepts with the organ playing Bach’s “Toccata and fugue” – a German organist of course! [Probably an expert musician travelling with the forward troops, solely to play the organ in Notre Dame]
Michael Hamilton, F Social, 1932, writing about his younger brother, John Hamilton, F Social, 1935. Killed in action in Italy, 7th December 1943.
1st (Armd.) Bn. Coldstream Guards
January 1st 1944
It was so good of you to think of writing to me about John, and to have written as you did. All you say means a great deal. Like myself, he was wonderfully happy at Radley, and memories of it all must have been very fresh in his mind when he went overseas.
All this last year his battalion has had a very uphill journey, with many casualties, and the news came with little surprise. Each month that went by brought fresh and miraculous escapes for him, in Africa, in Salerno, and in Italy… I’m glad that he was given the chance to win his M.C. and to do as well as he did, but of course it’s hard to realise that when peace comes he will not return…
…there comes back to me, after nearly ten years, a summer evening down at your college when we talked and read A.E.Housman … I’ve always liked his poetry … especially if one can feel something to relieve their finality and bitterness … though I usually sat somewhere in the background, I thought you would like to know that here and there a memory remains…
Charles Grimwade, C Social, 1939. After graduating from Oxford, he spent the remainder of his career as a teacher at Monkton Combe.
I am afraid I have rather lost touch with you since you left Radley, but I thought you might be interested to know that I am going to Oriel next week to read English Literature. … I left Radley at the end of the Summer Term, 1943, and, being discharged from the Army soon after, got a job as a Junior Master at a Prep School… I think I shall always prefer teaching young boys (i.e. under 14). They are so much more enthusiastic about everything they do than Public School boys…
Philip Shelbourne, B Social, 1938.
… I hope that the V2 is not causing a great amount of trouble. The V1 must have been a terrible nuisance to you, especially as the evacuation of a school [Raynes Park County School] must be a colossal task… In late August and early September we really travelled quite a long way and saw a good deal of Europe from a tank turret … One could imagine how easily popular acclaim affects a statesman, when one is constantly surrounded by cheering crowds. By the end of a day one felt almost drunk with praise and came to regard the progress of the advance as inevitable…
Arthur Thompson, (a former pupil of C. Wrinch at Raynes Park School) .
1606572 Cadet Thompson A
c/o R.A.T.G. Salisbury
January 13th 1945
… I find it amazing that it is a month since I read a worthwhile book … maybe the general heat is at fault: I hope so. Or else one’s mental powers are just rotting in the stagnation of service life … At long last I began flying training two months ago. Of course all the original keenness had been killed and utterly shattered by the long period of futile waiting, but it was replaced by a more sober enthusiasm when one was given an instructor and an aeroplane…For the last few days actually flying has been held up by some atrocious weather: in the middle of the Rhodesian summer I have been forced to wear battledress and a greatcoat to keep warm!
… I have been able to see the Victoria Falls and though the country is generally barren and uninteresting, there are some very attractive spots…
Cpl. P. Mooney 2588393 R.A.O.C. & L.A.C. W. Maynard 544798 R.A.F. Writing about John Rae Smith, D Social, 1930. Captured February 1942, died in Java as a P.O.W. 11 June 1945. Brother of David Rae Smith, member of Radley College Council, after whom the Rae Smith Building is named.
c/o P.O.W. Post Bombay
24 B.G.A. Hospital Town
I wish to send my deepest condolences on the death of your son Capt. John Rae Smith. I hope you will forgive the liberty of writing, but it was at the request of Capt. Rae Smith. I was with him continuously from Xmas ’42 untill his death at 5 A.M. on the 11th June this year.
I met him at Tymaki near Bandoeng. He entered the hospital with a slight lung trouble… In this ward were half castes, Chineese, Minadonese, Ambones, 11 English, 6 Australians making a total of over 100 men, the conditions were crowded, the beds being placed close together with no space between each … within a month the ward was reduced to 61 men by death and transfer… in June the Captain died … and so died our greatest friend leaving the seven remaining Englishmen greatly shocked … thanks to God for the atom bomb …
Wilfred Raikes, G Social, 1906, Council Member 1939-57. Writing about the loss of his son, David Raikes, B Social, 1938. Still recorded in the Radley Register as ‘missing from operations in N. Italy, 21st April 1945’. The Raikes Poetry Prize is still awarded in his memory.
May 22. 1945
Gentle and I are so grateful to you for your letter. This tribute to David, coming from you who knew and understood him means more to us than I can say… He would be very content to know what you had written about his Radley life… I feel that you knew our David just as we in the family did… Some time ago I nearly wrote and asked you if you would look at some poems David left behind when he went abroad. Most of them were written at Radley and some you may have seen…
… We have no further news beyond the bare fact that he took off on April 21 to attack a target in support of the ground troops of the 9th Army in the crossing of the Po … We are still hoping…