Merchiston Castle School – Pals and Chaps from Edinburgh

New Material Under Review

The pupils and masters of Merchiston School provided a large number of Officers for the Manchester City Battalions.  Thanks to the recent online publication of the Roll of honour 1914-1919 : Merchiston Castle School, a full schedule of Manchester Regiment Merchiston men can be compiled.  In alphabetical order:-

Aberdeen Press and Journal 11 February 1916
Aberdeen Press and Journal 11 February 1916
2nd Lt Cameron XVIII Pln E Coy
2nd Lt Cameron XVIII Pln E Coy

Lt Alastair Gregory Cameron Born 10/4/1889 (17th E Coy. XVIII Pltn.).  Pupil 1903-08. Captain of School 1907-08. Captain Rugby (XV 1905-1908) & Cricket (XI 1906-1908). Under-Officer in OTC 1907-08. Left school July 1908. International Hockey for Scotland.  Entered France 2/11/15 – ahead of the Battalion.  Wounded in tibia 10 February 1916  Promoted Lieutenant and attached D.A.D.A.  N.C. in  Ripon after treatment in Isle of Wight. Survived the war. Later A Cameron and Co, Merchant Shippers, 2a Upper Thames Street in the City of View PostLondon.  He later lived at Ilchester Mansions, Kensington High Street.  Died in London May 1962.

Yarwood Cameron MEN 18.2.16

Captain Henry Rodham Cook Born in AMoy, China, 3/9/1883. Pupil 1896-1903 Rugby XV 1900-02, Cricket XI 1903 and School Captain 1902-3. Left School 1903. Worked at Bombay and Burmah Trading Corporation, Forest Service up to 1913. Acting-Magistrate at Yandoon and Member of Upper Burmese Volunteers. Enlisted 22/8/1914, Private 30544 in A Section, 79th Fd Ambulace, RAMC in Salisbury. Cpl 20/2/1915. Sgt 22/2/1915. Applied for Commin 16th Bttn 17/5/1915, recommended by retired Major of 8th Gurkhas. Commissioned 2nd Lieut. 16th Bttn 18/6/1915. Posted to 25th TR Bttn.  Arrived France (22nd Bttn) May 1916. Wounded shell shock at Fricourt 29/6/1916.   Embarked for Soton 3/7/1916. 2nd Western Gen Hosp  6/7/1916. Altrincham Dr report 12/8/1916. 16/10/1916 – Acting Captain  in 71st TR Bttn, Altcar and Ripon. Fit after Shell Shock 7/10/1916. Att 12th Bttn reveting to 2nd Lieut. KiA 7/9/1917 serving as Intelligence Officer with (12th) aged 34. SUNKEN ROAD CEMETERY, FAMPOUX   Mother received Telegram 10/9/1917.  Son of Rodham Home Cook and Mabel Cook, of Stamore, Woodville Road, Altrincham. Later “Kilmory,” 4, Ollerbarrow Rd., Hale, Cheshire. Also included on Foreigners’ Great War Memorial, Yokohama, Japan. Born in China, Amoy and included as inmate in 1901 School Census return.  Left Estate to brother George Home Cook at Woodville Road, Altrincham. Solicitor’s Office at 50 Fountain Street, Manchester.

Wilfrith Elstob VC
Wilfrith Elstob VC
The Sphere 24/8/1919

Saturday 24 August 1918, The Sphere

Lieutenant-Colonel Wilfrith Elstob VC DSO MC Born 1888. BA Manchester University. Preparatory Assistant Master 1912-14.Private Public Schools Bttn. Gazetted for his commission on 3/10/14 (16th) (with Hubert Worthington), following enlistment in Public Schools Battalion.  Killed in Action in command of defence of Manchester Hill 21/3/18. “Here we fight, and here we die.”   Full details at  The Men Behind the Medals, along with details of Hubert Worthington (volunteered 12/9/1914) who encouraged childhood friend Wilfrith to join the Regiment.

Lt Col Elstob seated Centre.  Major Rupert Roberts seated to his right.
Lt Col Elstob seated Centre. Major Rupert Roberts seated to his right.
Lt Col Edmund Fearenside DSO OBE
Lt Col Edmund Fearenside DSO OBE PC
Lt Col D Fearenside DSO OBE
Edmund Fearenside with Merchiston masters in 1922.

Lieutenant-Colonel Edmund Fearenside DSO OBE MID Twice. Teacher of Classics & English. Scholar of Queen’s College, Oxford. MA. Oxford University Rugby XV 1903. English trials 1903, 04 & 05. School rugby football committee 1905-09. School Games Committee 1921-28. Editor of the Merchistonian 1907-14.  Received commission (17th)  after volunteering on 19/9/1914.  Survived the war after wounding in March 1917 and returned to teach at Merchiston. House Master Castle Bank 1922-1930 and Rogerson West after the school relocated 1930-34.  Senior Resident Master 1930-35.  Retired due to ill health 1935 and died in Oxford 1959.  He had been a member of Mortonhall Golf Club prior to enlisting. :t Col Edward Henry Trotter DSO was another member of the same club and OC of the 18th Kings Liverpools.  He was killed near Trones Wood on 8th July 1916. Edmund was Classics Master 1905-14 & 1919-35.  See Edmund Fearenside 

2nd Lieutenant Roy Mackenzie Gourlay (10th) Old Boy 1913-17

Roy was born in Melbourne, Australia on 29th March 1899 and lived at 4 Merchiston Gardens, Edinburgh.  Roy’s parents were William Frederick and Agnes Margaret (Nee Herring). William was a retired Civil Engineer.

All four of the Gourlay’s sons were pupils at the School and two of Roy’s nephews followed their father to Merchiston.  Roy completed all of his education at Merchiston Castle (1913-17), previously attending the Preparatory School from 1907.  He was a prefect in the VI Form and won the Hope Prize for modern languages in his final year at the school.  Roy was also a keen sportsman representing Merchiston Rugby XV (1914-17) and the Cricket XI (1914-17); appointed Captain 1916 & 17.  He was also colours captain in 1916/17.  Roy also played cricket with his master in the Edinburgh Nomads team, opening Watson’s College in May 1913 alongside future Manchester Regiment officers Charles Macdonald, John Madden and Stanley Kenworthy.

Roy initially attested in the Gordon Highlanders on 8th March 1917, aged 17 years and 342 days.  Roy completed his Army Medical in Edinburgh on 19th March 1917.  He was relatively tall at 5’ 7 ½” and weighed 144lbs.  His religion was noted as Presbyterian. He was approved for service with the Gordon Highlanders on 4th October and had the Regimental Number S/19712.   As an underage recruit, Roy was held on Army Reserve, pending mobilisation.

Roy applied for a commission and received a firm recommendation to be admission as an Officer Cadet by the Officer Commanding Merchiston OTC on 25th March 1917.  This summarised that “He possesses initiative, has been a very useful N.C.O. & should make a good officer.”  Roy had held the OTC tank of Company Sergeant Major in 1917.  He had been declared Efficient in the previous four annual assessments serving three years and two terms in the OTC, from October 1913.  This included attendance at Barry Camp in 1914, under OTC Commander John Madden and alongside VI former, Robert Mansergh.  Roy will have also trained with Charles Macdonald.

The OTC Record described him as Very Good efficiency, 2nd Class Musketry on the Miniature Range and good at Morse & Semaphore.  Roy was intending to join the Regular Army through the Special Reserve.  His OC’s recommendation stated “I recommend his a commission in the Infantry.  He possesses initiative, has been a very useful N.C.O. & would make a good leader.”  Headmaster, Cecil Stagg countersigned the statement.

Roy left Merchiston Castle in July 1917 and was called up for service with the War Office letter of 25th September 1917, mobilising him on 4th October. Roy undertook his training in Scotland, joining the 9th Officer Cadet Battalion at Gailes Camp, Ayrshire on 5th October 1917.  He was hospitalised in Gailes Military Hospital for three weeks in January 1918, suffering a dislocated elbow.

Roy passed out from the Officer Cadet Battalion with a glowing endorsement of excellent education, above average military knowledge and good leadership.  The Commanding Officer summarised that Roy was “One of the best Cadets in the Company.  Keen & good at all games.”  This record had been completed in February 1918 and indicated Roy preferred an appointment in a Scottish Regiment.  This may not have been the case.

Roy was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th Special Reserve Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on 13th March 1918, as recorded in the London Gazette of 23rd March 1918.  He was posted to the 4th Battalion at Riby, near Grimsby on 2nd April 1918.  The 4th Battalion formed part of the Humber Garrison, defending the East Coast against potential invasion.

On 29th April 1919 Roy had been posted to the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) battery at Spurn Head.  He was the RGA messing officer at the extensive defences located at the mouth of the Humber Estuary.  The specific unit Roy served with was known as 15th (Yorkshire) Fire Command at Patrington Station.

Roy was demobilised on 1st August 1919, having arrived the previous day at the dispersal unit at Kinross.  He remained on Special Reserve with 4th Battalion Manchester Regiment until 1st April 1920, as announced in the London Gazette of 15th February 1921.  Roy relinquished his commission and retained the rank of Lieutenant.

Roy Gourlay returned to duty on 14th April 1921.  He was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th Defence Force Battalion of the Royal Scots, as reported in the London Gazette of 15th May.  This role was short-lived and Roy relinquished his commission from 5th July 1921, as reported in the London Gazette of 10th August.  He had been stationed in Edinburgh and returned to his parents’ home at Merchiston Gardens.

In civilian life Roy married Dorothy Inez Lang Stevenson.  The couple had three children in the 1930s.  Roy qualified as a Chartered Accountant, having worked with Messrs Scott & Patterson of Edinburgh from 1918-25.   Roy also joined the Edinburgh Stock Exchange and became President of the Council of the Associated Stock Exchanges of Great Britain in 1962.  The family lived at Kerrisdale, Capelaw Road, Edinburgh in 1962.  Roy died in Scotland in 1990.

Born Australia 29/3/1897. Parents Wm Frdk & Agnes Margaret Herring.  (P. 1907) Prefect in VI Form.  Hope Prize for modern languages in 1917. Rugby XV 3 years (1914-17). Cricket XI 4 years (Captain 1916 & 17), colours Captain 1916/17. CSM in OTC in 1917.  4 brothers attended the school. KI Major in RE. GB Lt Col Seaforth Highlanders.

Left School July 1917 for Commission in 4th (Reserve) Battalion.  Gazetted 2/Lt. in Special Reserve from Officer Cadet Unit on 13/3/1918 (LG 22/3/1918). No identified overseas service.  Attached to RFC/RAF

Scott & Patterson Accountants, Edinburgh, 1918-25. Chartered Accountant 1925. Soc Accs 1926. Ed. Stock Exchange 1930. Vice-Chair 1945,47 & 50.  President Council Stock Exchanges of GB 1962.  Resident Kerrisdale, Capelaw Road, Ed. 13. M.  Married Dorothy Iniz Lang Stevenson. Daughter Faith Mackenzie Gourlay McLeish b 29/7/1931.

Lt Aubrey Harris
Lt A Harris

Lieutenant Aubrey Harris  Killed by a shell 04/09/1916 age 22. Manchester Regiment. Thiepval Memorial. Born in Reading 13/10/1893.  Aubrey applied for his commissionat Manchester City Hall on 21st December 1918 and was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in 21st Battalion 23/12/14 (III Pln. A Coy).  His home address was Maesgwyn Cottage, Maesgwyn Road, Wrexham, where his parents lived when they were notified of Aubry’s death on 16th September 1916.  Records show there was no record of the recovery of Aubrey’s body and he has no known grave. Son of William and Mary Elizabeth Harris, of Oak Bank Villa, 72, Alexandra Rd, Wrexham (previously 11 Benjamin Road). B.A. (Hons.) Manchester University. Preparatory language master at Merchiston. Embarked Folkestone for Boulogne 10th November 1915. Commemorated on Wrexham War Memorial. Courtesy JWRH on Manchesters Forum “I have seen letter from Lt Aubrey Harris’ parents to the Warden of Hulme Hall, where Aubrey studied at Manchester University:

“Lieut J H Miller writing on Sept 6th says: My very best pal, your son Aubrey was killed with a shell on the evening of the fourth of September. We had gone forward together to find Captain Cunliffe and his company to discover what the situation was like. I left them together and returned to the Brigade with what news we had gathered. He remained behind doing more than his duty in helping Capt Cunliffe. Two hours later some of his men came back and reported to me that both he and Capt Cunliffe had been killed instantaneously by the same shell. The news quite broke me – I pray that you may be able to bear it”

Hulme Hall’s Clerk in Holy Orders had recommended Aubrey for his commission.

Aubrey Harris was also known to Captain Charlie May of 22nd Battalion.  For unknown reasons Charlie referred to Aubrey as ‘Bottom’ or ‘Bum’ Harris and described him being the Battalion Bombing Officer and providing a demonstration of Trench Mortars.(Credit Gerry Harrison).

Capt.S Kenworthy. OC D Coy.
Capt.S Kenworthy. OC D Coy.
Kenworthy The Sphere 26.8.1916
Kenworthy The Sphere 26.8.1916

Captain Stanley Kenworthy MiD (C Coy. 17th) KIA 1/7/16 Montauban. Preparatory Master 1909-1914, Grad. Queen’s College, Oxford. Preparatory Master at Merchiston. Commissioned 2/Lt 19/9/1914. Captain Stanley Kenworthy had died in the assault. As a former pupil of St Bees, it is poignant Stanley’s last resting place is also Dantzig Alley, with former St Bees Master, Captain Ford of A Company. Stanley was 32 when he died and left behind his mother Dinah T Kenworthy and father John Dalziel Kenworthy, of Seacroft, St. Bees, Cumberland.  Stanley played cricket & rugby for St Bees, Queen’s College, Cumberland & Cheshire and cricket for Edinburgh Nomads. He was Mentioned in Douglas Haig’s Despatch of 16 June 1916.

Lt J D Kirkwood
Lt J D Kirkwood

2nd Lieutenant James Dunlop Kirkwood.  (A Coy. 17th) Born 11/11/1885. Pupil 1899- April 1903. Inmate for 1901 Census, born Peterborough 1885.  Forest Supervisor, formerly Department for the Interior, Ottawa. Commissioned 2nd Lieut. 5/1/1915. Left the battalion with shell shock. Died in 1937.

2nd Lieutenant Douglas Munro Lauder

Lauder D M Bank House, Merchiston Castle 1913-14. Credit Merchiston Club

Douglas was born on 8th April 1897.  His parents were John and Margaret Munro Lauder, who lived at 9 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow.

Douglas had previously attended Glasgow Academy when he became a pupil at Merchiston Castle School in 1912 and remained there until April 1915.  He was a contemporary of Robert Forbes Mansergh (below). The two boys were members of Bank House, where Edmond Fearenside (above) was a Master. They also served in Merchiston’s Officer Training Corps, where Masters Charles Leslie Macdonald and John Greville Madden (both below) were officers.

Douglas enlisted as number 3726, in the 3rd/28th Battalion London Regiment on 24th April 1915. Douglas had just celebrated his 18th Birthday when he enlisted in London.  His Medical Form notes Douglas being 5’11”; considerably taller than the average Great War British Soldier. This was a Territorial unit known as the Artist’s Rifles.  It attracted numerous former public school boys, with the majority of recruits receiving commissions from the ranks.  The 3rd/28th Battalion became an Officer Training Battalion in March 1916.

Douglas had recently celebrated his 18th Birthday when he enlisted in London.  His Medical Form notes Douglas being 5’11”, considerably taller than the average Great War British Soldier.

Douglas remained a Private in the Artist’s Rifles Officers Training Corps when he received his commission in the Manchester Regiment on 2nd January 1916.   He was originally commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the 8th Territorial Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.  The 1st/8th Battalion was serving in Gallipoli.  As such Douglas will have joined the reserve, or second line, 2nd/8th Battalion, intended as a Home training unit to provide drafts for the 1st Battalion.  The second line Battalions were based in Crowborough, until March 1916 when they moved to Colchester.

At some stage Douglas was posted to the 2nd/5th Battalion.  His new Battalion landed in France in spring 1917, forming an active infantry unit in their own right and serving on the Western Front.

The 2nd/5th Manchesters spent a limited time in training for trench warfare in France.  In early April they entered their second duty in the front line near Cambrin and La Bassee.  On 6th April 1917, Douglas was serving in the front line trench near La Bassee.  Records show that he was visiting sentry posts, when he was blown against the side of the trench by a minenwerfer shell and knocked unconscious.  Medical notes indicate he did not remember what happened afterwards and he made his way to the rear under continuing shell fire.  Douglas was hospitalised with neurasthenia, which was the medical name for shell shock and evacuated to Britain.  Douglas embarked for Home on 30th April 1917, after six weeks service in France.

Douglas arrived at 4th London General Hospital on 1st May 1917. A Medical Board took place as the on 22nd May.  This determined that Douglas was unfit for General Service for seven months and directed he should attend an Officers’ Hospital for 12 weeks.

Douglas was admitted to Craiglochart Hospital in Edinburgh on 6th June 1917.  This specialised in treating officers with shell shock under the Senior Psychologist, Captain W H R Rivers of the Royal Army Medical Corps.  Captain Rivers was a pioneer of various mental health treatments, notably the ‘talking cure’.

Craiglochart is especially noted for its treatment of war poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, who became friends at the Hospital in 1917.  Wilfred Owen was probably already known to Douglas, as Owen had originally served in England in the 2nd/5th Battalion Manchester Regiment, prior to his overseas service, when he transferred to the 2nd Manchesters.  Owen had also enlisted in the Artist’s Rifles in October 1915 and may have trained with Douglas before the two men were commissioned in the Manchesters in 1916.

Wilfred Owen recovered in Craiglochart and was posted to the 5th Reserve Battalion again. He subsequently returned to the 2nd Battalion; to be killed in action near Ors, one week prior to the Armistice.

Captain Rivers was part of a Medical Board that addressed Douglas Lauder’s condition on 30th October 1917.  The notes confirm Douglas was making little progress, suffering insomnia and being timid and depressed.  It was decided that Douglas was permanently unfit for any military service.

Douglas was left Hospital and went to live in his parents’ home.  His treatment continued and notes in late 1917 confirm the continuation of his condition as “He is still nervous and easily excited.  He is sleeping rather better but still has some war dreams.  He is moderately tremulous, his speech is slightly hesitating.  His reflexes are very active…”  Douglas’ condition was described as 50% disability with a prognosis that the condition was not permanent, but would only improve slowly.  .  Craiglochart records held in the War Poets Collection (MH106/1887) show that Douglas was discharged from treatment on 31st October 1917 after transferring to Bowhill auxiliary hospital on 4th July.  Douglas resigned his commission on 20th November 1917.

The Medical Board notes indicate that Douglas intended to go and live in India.  Douglas was issued with a Silver War Badge, approved on 24th November 1917.  This was worn on civilian clothes and indicated that Douglas had served in the military, being discharged due to sickness or wounds.  Douglas received an Army pension to 21 September 1918. 

He lived with his parents and sister at Lilybank Gardens in 1922-25.  Douglas had married Elizabeth Dunn Aucott on 15 August 1927 and lived 63 Great George Street. Electoral Records show the family had moved to 7 Bute Gardens in 1928. Douglas joined the Burgess Guild of Hammermen in 1928, apperently introduced by his father in law. Douglas became an active member of the Trades House Glasgow Lodge.

Douglas’ mother died in 1937 and probate records state that Douglas was a house factor. The couple lived 132 Hyndland Road, Glasgow in 1962. Douglas died on 3rd December 1971, aged 74.

Douglas has set up a Life Trust for another party (identity unknown) with subsequent beneficiaries asThe Grand Antiqities and the Hammermen.

Merchiston Castle Archives
Edinburgh Napier University, War Poets Collection
Officers Service File at National Archives
Subscription family history sites
Dr Nina Baker

Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Leslie Macdonald DSO with Bar MiD 2x (Capt. & Major 17th & Lt. Col. 19th) Born 22/9/1881. Pupil 1895-1900 Won school hurdles race on 1900 in 20 Seconds. Merchiston Club Prize for Classics in 1900.  Rugby XV 1899/1900. Predect in VI Form. BA Emmanuel College, Cambridge 1903 MA Classics Tripos 1919. Born 22/9/81) Son of Charles, a cotton broker from Alder Bank, Bowden, Cheshire. Also Master  at Preparatory until 1909 and then taught English in main school and Captain of OTC 1909-14, where he took over command 1912/13 when Rupert Roberts resigned in 1912.  Leave in India in 1913/14. Hon Sec of Merchistonian Club 1909-14.  Also Treasurer. (Commissioned 24/12/1914).  Lt Col Charles Macdonald returned to the school in 1916/17 to deliver a lecture on “The New Form of Attack”.  He also undertook the annual inspection of the OTC in 1919, while praising the efficiency of the Corps in general, commented specially on the good word of command of the junior NCOs. Head of Amesbury School, Hindhead from 1920 until he retired due to ill-health in 1938. Charles died on 19th January 1939, aged 57, and was buried at St Albans Church, Hindhead on 21st January 1939.  His widow, Annie Mary Kinross, lived at Brackland, Hindhead. Charles left an Estate of more than £27,400.

Capt John Madden
Capt John Madden
Captain J G Madden DSO June 1918 © IWM (HU 117797)
Captain J G Madden DSO June 1918 © IWM (HU 117797)

Captain John Grevile Madden DSO MiD

John’s father was employed at King’s College, London, having attended Clare College, Cambridge.  John had been brought up in London.

C Company’s Commanding Officer. Exhibitioner at Pembroke College, Cambridge, BA. Maths Teacher (1912-14) .  Commissioned 24/12/1914 having been Lt in OTC 1912-14, taking Command in 1913/14, when Charles Macdonald took leave in India. Originally, the OC of Herbert Vernon’s (Arthur Bell’s brother in law)  VIII Platoon in B Company, he had clearly taken further responsibility with promotion to Company Commander and records suggest he may have commanded the Battalion at Trones Wood on 9th July 1916.   He is known to have spent time with the 3rd Battalion in Cleethorpes during 1917 – presumably after wounds – and retired from the Regiment as a Major.  John and his wife Annie lost two sons in the 2nd World War.  Lt Keith Manseield Madden MC was killed in 1943 and elder brother David John Madden was killed in 1944; both served in the Royal Artilllery.  John was a research scientist at Wollwich Aresenal, for War Office, living in Blackheath in 1920 and Alverstoke, Hants in WWII.  John was commissioned 2/Lt, without pay in 1945. He died in 1950.

2nd Lt Robert Mansergh
2nd Lt Robert Mansergh

2nd Lieutenant Robert Forbes Mansergh MC Rugby XV 1914-15 with R M Gourlay (above) was III Platoon OC from March 1915, to the summer of 1916, although other officers seem to have fulfilled this role from July onwards.   He was also Battalion Adjutant in August 1916 and a member of the Battalion Bugle Band.  Arthur Bell had referred to his prior bravery in preventing injuries during an accident in grenade training.“Perhaps a notch towards an honour later.  In fact, he was awarded the M.C. in September, 1916.”The former Merchiston pupil (1912-14),  was promoted to Captain during service and retired at the end of the War.  School Records show he had been wounded at some stage.  He was living at Farmwouth in Belle Vue, Morecambe when he collected his medals in 1923.

Lt P J Meade
Lt P J Mead

Lieutenant Percy John Mead (16th) Preparatory Classics Master. Born 15th June 1888.  Resident Melbourne House, Hale, Cheshire.  Had joined OTC in October 1914.  Applied for commission 18th December 1914, recommended by Head of Wadham House School, Hale.  Percy had obtained his medical report  and passe fit by an RAMC officer in Edinburgh on 18th December.


Manchester Evening News 15 December 1915 2
Manchester Evening News 15 December 1915 2

of 17 Pln E Coy and then 4 Pln of A Coy. Commissioned 16th Bttn, 25/12/1914.  Wounded ‘slightly’ by German shelling of cross-roads at Hebuterne 8th December 1915. He had returned to duty by January 1916. Pte Charlie Heaton[A.coy] recounted “We were looking through the trees around maricourt wood and Lt Mead came into our trench with a pair of binoculars,he handed them to pte chase and said,these will make it easier for you fellas,but be careful how you use them,pte chase put them to his eyes and within 20 seconds he was shot through the head by a sniper,we were facing east into the sun,and the glint off the binoculars alerted a sniper.”   Promoted Lieutenant 13/5/1916.   Home July 1916.  67th TRB. France 13/3/1917.   General List Intel Corps 14/4/1917. Admitted 92 FA 3/11/1917 indegestion & stomach ulcer.   Evac to UK from 14 Gen Hosp Wimereux 13/11/1917. Later served in Intelligence Corps, Medical Board, attached.    Home from Nov 1917.  29/1/1918 on Sick Leave at home address near Taunton   Intell Corps at Caxton Hall, Whitehall SW 30/3/1918 -28/6.1918 -17/10/1918. Adress at 7 Willoughby Road, Hampstead. Promoted Captain 1/5/1918. Class HH 24/5/1918.   Staff Lt 2nd Class in Intell Corps 10/7/1918. Disch Hosp from influenza 2nd -15th November 1918.  PoW Camp Handforth. Passed to 2nd Western Gen Hosp. 7/2/1919. Passed fit from stomach ulcer from June 1917 by Medical Board on Gen List att HQ Humber Garrison, Hull 3/4/1919. Relinquished commission on War Office General List 6th June 1919, retaining the rank as Captain  Medical Catefory A1 – married. Applied for his medals in 1929, while resident in Norwich. Percy had been born on Brixton in 1888 and educated at Manchester University.  Parents lived at Hale. In 1911, he was an assistant schoolmaster at Wadham House School in Hale.

Major Rupert Roberts. Daily Sketch
Major Rupert Roberts. Daily Sketch
Roberts R E Courtesy Catherine Roberts & LivesFWW
Roberts R E Courtesy Catherine Roberts & LivesFWW

Major Rupert Edward Roberts (16th) Born 5/6/1881.     Photo Assistant Master (Maths) 1905-12 and Captain in OTC (1907-12).  Cadet Corps First Lt. in Christmas Left the School in summer 1912. 1904.  Previously teacher at Dunstable Grammar School.   Son of the late James and Ada Roberts, of Worcester. Educated Worcester Grammar. Exhibitioner and  BA Maths Tripos at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he was a member of the OTC (equiv) 1900-02.  Lieut attached Queen’s Edinbugh Rifles Volunteer Brigade 1905-1908.  Merch OTC 1908-1912. Capt Unatt List 7/7/1912. Originally applied on 15/9/1914, for Comm in Worscester Regiment. As unnattached Teritorial Officer, Rupert had been ordered to join 3rd Bttn Welsh Regiment, but requested commission & transfer to 1st City Bttn. Commission Captain, 1st City Bttn 21/10/1914.  Resident at mother’s address at 83 Bromyard Road, Worcester.  Had been serving in Eqyptian Ministry of Public Instruction prior to hostilities, presumably emplyed as a teacher. Left Bttn 29/4/1916. Admitted 8th Gen Hosp, Rouen on 8/5/1916 with slight sciatica. Treated in Mil Hosp, Worcester. Unfit for 6 weeks. Embarked 22/5/1916 Rouen to Soton and granted leave to 22/7/1916.  Then posted to 25th Bttn.  Fit for Gen Service 22/8/1916.  and posted to BEF at Folkestone on 2/9/1916 after 48 Hours Leave. Court Martial for Drunkeness 10th August 1917.  Sentence of dismissal commuted to severe reprimand.
Wounded at Etrelliers 23-24/3/18. Died of Wounds received in action “Internal Haemorage of abdomen”  26 -27/03/1918 in 8th General Hospital at Rouen. Reported by OD No 41 Ambulance Train. ST. SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN.  Mother resident Clent House, 83 Bromyard Road, Worcester. She received the telegram on 27th March. Rupert’s brother, Percy James Roberts was Executor. There was also a sister and other brother(s) Their mother had died 3/2/1916.  Effects were packet letters, Pipe, revolver, Sam Browne Belt & Shulder strap, Cheque book, 1 glove, tobacco pouch and papers etc.

2nd Lieutenant John Spiers Watson 24th Pupil 1907-08

John Watson was born 0n 19th November 1893.   His parents were John Spiers Senior and Elizabeth Mary.  John senior was an owner of a chain factory in Glasgow and the family lived at 24 Sherbourne Avenue, Pollockshields, Glasgow.  John Senior died in July 1903.

John attended Merchiston 1907-08.   John had one known brother, Walter Brownlie Watson, who had been born in 1898 and his sister was Elizabeth Mair Watson.  Walter is not mentioned on the school roll.

John Watson originally served in in the 3rd Battalion Highland Light Infantry and his records show he was acting 2nd Lieutenant.  The War Office had indicated the Battalion had too many officers and John left the Glasgow unit on 1st October 1914.  He completed his application for a commission in the Regular Army on 3rd October 1914 and passed his medical on the date.  He received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Regular Army on 5th April 1915 and posted to the 24th Battalion Manchester Regiment. This was the Oldham Pals Battalion and it is possible John had endeavoured to join the other City Battalions, to find there were no vacancies with his former masters and pupils.  Merchiston Castle records indicate John served in 21st Battalion, yet this is not found in his Service File.  All of John’s service will have taken place in the UK.  Both the 21st & 24th Battalion were located in Belton Park, Grantham from April 1915, relocating to Lark Hill in September that year.  Most other Merchiston men in the Regiment were also stationed in these locations at these times.

He attended a Medical Board on 27th August 1915.  This reported “He is suffering for a very acute attack of tubercle of the knee joint, which will require prolonged treatment, and which will, in the opinion of the board, incapacitate him for further service.” The Board recommend that he proceed home immediately for treatment.  It was determined that John was permanently unfit for military duty.  The War Office confirmed this status and he relinquished his commission on 7th September.

The London Gazette records that John Watson was seeking to wind up the Company of Watson & McLean Limited on 30th October 1918.  This was a chain makers firm that had been based in Govan, Glasgow.  It was probably his father’s firm.

John’s brother Walter died of bronchitis on 20th November 1918, just over a week after the Armistice.  He died in 7th Canadian General Hospital and is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery.  Walter had been serving as a Private with the Army Service Corps, attached to the Canadian Artillery.  He was 20 years old.

Records show a John Watson travelled from Liverpool to New York in 1923, providing an intended address as San Fernando, California.  John and his mother returned to Liverpool from Montreal on 4th August 1923.  His occupation is noted as an Engineer.  He is later shown as living with his mother in Westminster in 1930 and subsequently moving to Kensington until 1948.  In 1949 John had returned to North America and returned from Montreal to Liverpool on 14th October 1949.  His intended address was the family home at Pollockshields.  John’s occupation was then Road Contractor.  No record of John’s death has been identified.

Elizabeth Junior had married a Mr Hardie and she died at the family home in 1962.  She had two living daughters.

Other Scottish Schools

Fettes School – Fettes College Roll of Honour

Captain Walter James Ablitt (9th) Pupil Carrington Hse. entering 1905. Mentioned in Despatches twice. GSI GHQ EEF.

Major John Barton Aiken (3rd & 18th) Pupil Moredun Hse. entering 1886

A/Major Thomas Somerville Beaumont (2/8th) Pupil Carrington Hse. entering 1895.  Killed at Est. Dunkerque, France, Sept. 24, 1917.  ‘Beloved Son’ of James William and Emily P. Beaumont, of Baronald, Wilmslow, Cheshire; husband of Blanche Beaumont (now Mrs. Fraser Bryant), of 134, Rue Perronet, Neuiley-sur-Seine, Seine, France. RAMSCAPPELLE ROAD MILITARY CEMETERY

2nd Lieutenant Gilbert Moorhead Brown (15th) Pupil Moredun Hse. entering 1896

Lieutenant John Gordon Dunn (1/8th) Pupil Carrington Hse. entering 1898. Wounded. 2/Lt and Lt.  Resident 230 Burton Road, Didsbury in 1922.  It appears a former cloth mrechant John Gordon Dunn may have initially enlisted in RAMC during May 1916, prior to his Commission (Service Record).

2nd Lieutenant James Ellis Love (18th 16th & 1/6th)  Pupil Carrington Hse. entering 1912. Commissioned 18th Bttn 1st March 1917.  Killed Sept. 2nd 1918. Aged 20. Son of John and Florence Selina Love, of The Gables, Northwood, Middx. Born at Winnipeg, Canada. Also pupil of Mostyn House.

2nd Lt Later Capt RH Megson XVI Pln 16th Bttn

Captain Robert Hargraves Megson (16th) Pupil Carrington Hse. entering 1901. Killed nr. Arras 23rd April 1917 in action near Bapaume. Battalion Signals Officer. Twice Mentioned in Despatches.  Son of James M. Megson, of Stockdale, Didsbury, Manchester. Arras Memorial. Chartered Accountant for Ashworth,Mosley & Co

Capt Arthur Taylor

Captain Arthur Taylor (16th) Pupil Carrington Hse. entering 1884.  Later 90th Bgd. Staff Captain.  Discharged ill-health.  Mentioned in Despatches.  Second Lieutenant Robert Loudon Johnston (17th) had worked with Arthur Taylor who was part of the Committee formed in the raising of the Pals Battalions with Sir Daniel McAbe (Mayor) and others in 1914 and who subsequently became Staff Captain to the 90th Infantry Brigade Headquarters.  He was the President of Ancoats Lads’ Club.

 2nd Lt W R Tonge. The 17th Bttn's 1st Officer casualty in the trenches,
2nd Lt W R Tonge. The 17th Bttn’s 1st Officer casualty in the trenches,
90th Bgd Staff Capt Arthur Taylor 1915 JPG

2nd Lieutenant William Russel Tonge (17th) Pupil Carrington Hse. entering 1907. Killed in action 12/1/1916, aged 21, on initial tour for Battalion in Maricourt Defences. His body was not recovered and he is commemorated at Thiepval. Son of Henry Dacre Tonge and Alma Tonge.

Acknowledgement of help with these records from Manchesters Forum and Great War Forum


3 thoughts on “Merchiston Castle School – Pals and Chaps from Edinburgh

  1. Pingback: Manchester Warehouseman and Clerks Orphans’ School – Manchester Regiment | 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment on the Somme

  2. Pingback: Centenary of the Somme – Three War Memorials | 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment on the Somme

  3. Pingback: Centenary of the Somme – Seven Pals from Manchester | 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment on the Somme

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