First World War
& St. Andrew's College
By Percy J. Robinson
The following article is taken from the St. Andrew's College Review, June 1919 Memorial Issue and was written by Percy J. Robinson who was one of the first masters at the school and stayed for 48 years. It has been divided into five parts for ease of reading on the website.
Lindsay Wright was to meet his death in France seated at the regimental mess, killed by a high explosive shell; Brown was to fall at Passchendale; and Findley was to escape severely wounded after an air encounter prior to the great German assault of March, 1918. Every member of the staff of the Review for 1913-1914 was to see service and there is no group photograph for that year that does not include those who have now fallen.
When we assembled in September the storm had burst. On the 4th of August Britain declared war. On the 15th Liege fell, and on the 20th the Germans marching arrogantly through the Belgian capital made Brussels re-echo with "Ein Feste Burg." On August 26th, though it was long before we knew the magnitude of their defeat, the Russians were rolled back at Tannenburg in East Prussia. In Galicia their armies successfully encountered the Austrians and occupied Lemburg. As we returned to school the French had withdrawn their government from Paris to Bordeaux and the German spear-head was already thrusting at the city. The glorious retreat of the British from Mons had ended, and we began the school year in the very days when the decisive battle of the Marne was fought.
Already young Canada had sprung to arms. Thirty thousand impatient troops were mustered at Valcartier. The Headmaster made a visit to the training camp and found about thirty-five old boys and former masters already enlisted. With what eager interest the school followed the details of their training at Valcartier and later amid the mud of Salisbury Plains! There were no Andreans in the original Princess Patricias, so that so far as is known, none of our boys reached France till the early months of 1915. Meantime the course of the war swept on. The Germans, decisively defeated at the Marne, entrenched on the Aisne where a struggle took place beginning September 15, followed by an outflanking race to the sea, the Germans being definitely halted in their efforts by the first contest at Ypres October 11-November 20. Antwerp was occupied October 9.
A sad and gloomy Autumn this
for the school, although as yet none dreamed of the eventual magnitude
of the struggle. On November 1st the disastrous action off Coronel took
place, to be splendidly avenged five weeks later, on December 8, by victory
of the Falklands. War was declared on November 15th against Turkey. Tsing-Tau
fell to the Japanese on November 7th. The first invasion of Servia took
place in early December, and a week before we broke up the Germans shelled
Scarborough and Hartlepool. The struggle seemed widening in all directions,
with all our hopes centred, until the British forces could be recruited,
upon the Russian armies still intact and victorious. By Christmas 1914,
nearly sixty Old Boys were in training with as yet no casualties. The rugby
championship had been retained.