The First World War 
& St. Andrew's College Part IV
By Percy J. Robinson

1917
The great lesson of the campaign of 1916 was the futility of isolated and unsupported assaults, and the Allies in conference in November planned for the year 1917 a series of simultaneous assaults in France, Italy and Russia that were expected to crush Germany and terminate the war. As yet, however, there was no unity of command and the defection of Russia in March of 1917, coupled with the alterations in the plan of campaign consequent on the appointment of Gen. Neville in France, together with the persistent unfavourable weather throughout the year rendered the events of 1917 in spite of many brilliant successes in every real sense calamitous. In the late autumn came the crushing blow in Italy, and the British forces alone had lost in operations, however successful, at least 600,000 men. In spite of the accession of the United States to the bands of the Allies Germany might still hope at the end of 1917 for, if not victory, at least a prolonged conflict.

Yet the year 1917 was full of glory to Canada, and how often was the school to feel just pride in the performance of her Old Boys. They were to be found in every theater of the conflict, playing the watch-dog game in the Channel, doing bacteriological work in Mesopotamia, fighting the typhus among the Chinese coolies, driving an ambulance in Italy, and in the forefront of every battle. "Quae regio in terris nostri non plena laboris."  The British plan of campaign was a series of assaults upon the German line from the Somme north to Belgium, and in the first of these at Vimy ridge on April 9th the Canadians engaged won immortal fame.  In this assault upon a supposedly impregnable position so brilliantly executed great numbers of old Andreans participated.  For gallantry in this action, Lieutenant R. A. Brown received the Military Cross and Ed. Whittaker, whom we all know so well, captain of the victorious football team in the previous year, lost both feet by the explosion of a shell. On June 7th there was the great mining triumph of Messines Ridge, and when the school closed for the year everything seemed prosperous for the cause.

Canada on the fiftieth anniversary of Confederation was crowned with sorrow and glory by the sacrifices of her sons. The number of Old Boys serving had now grown to 553. The half-year was marked by the death of Major Knighton on May 15th, and by Captain Eberts on the same day after whom a flying camp in Arkansas was named by the U.S. Government. Another Old Boy who fell in the action following Vimy Ridge was Lieutenant Ernest Kappele, who came to the school in Rosedale as a very little boy in 1905, and who showed great courage and gallantry. In the action at Hill 70 in August of this year, Lieutenant Jack Gooch was killed. he was an extremely efficient officer, and was almost worshipped by his men. On November 11th the school attended a memorial service in St. Paul's when tablets were erected to Gooch and Malone

The Autumn term of 1917 saw the school anxiously following the action east of Ypres which took place in October and November. On October 15th [Lieutenant Patrick] McLagan was killed, an Old Boy who had won golden opinions from his superior officers. On the 27th Lieutenant W. M. Geggie fell in action, and on November 9th Brown, so dear to a generation of Andreans, was fatally wounded. Passchendaele is to us a name of grief. Malone and Brown lie buried in Flanders, their graves by happy chance, within a stone's throw of one another. On October 16th Sub-Lieutenant Langley Smith was shot down by a raider returning from England after receiving in June the Distinguished Service Cross for remarkable courage and skill in destroying hostile aircraft. Others who died on service or fell in the actions of this year were: Lieutenant Bigwood, Captain H. St. G. Bond, Lieutenant H. L. Crowe, [Gunner] R. A. Ferguson, Lieutenant E. G. Hanlan, Lieutenant A. Kilgour, [Flight Sub-Lieutenant] T. C. May, Lieutenant C. C. Montgomery, Lieutenant R. Phillips, Lieutenant P. H. Raney, Lieutenant G. A. R. Cockburn, [Private] J. G. Cutler, Lieutenant H. S. Devlin, D. W. Graham, Lieutenant R. G. Masson, Lieutenant E. A. Rand, Lieutenant J. H. Wilson, Lieutenant D. R. C. Wright, and [Gunner] J. T. Wilson.

On December 6th twenty-five Old Boys were entertained by Dr. and Mrs. Macdonald. They had returned invalided home from the front. A striking result of the war for St. Andrew's College has been the devotion which has spring up among Old Boys, and the frequent expression of warm affection of Andreans for this old school. How the hearts of Andreans on service turned to the old school days and the old companionships!  They have been brothers to one another and the school, impoverished by the death of so many faithful sons, is enriched by the record of their affection and the memory of their deeds.

In March 197, Baghdad was captured by General Maude, and after the Italian debacle of October and the bloody losses of Passchendaele, the year was brightened at its close by the capture in December of Jerusalem by General Allenby. Lieutenant Fraser Grant and Lieutenant Willoughby, among our Old Boys saw service in Egypt and Palestine. 
 
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