First World War
& St. Andrew's College Continued
By Percy J. Robinson
A British effort was made however, at Neuve Chapelle on March 10th, and at hill 60 on April 17th, but as yet resources and organization were far too incomplete to attain any adequate success. On March 16th Lieutenant F. C. Andrews, the first of St. Andrew's Old Boys to fall in the war, was killed in action by gunshot wounds. He was with the Royal Leinsters, an Irish regiment. On April 28th at the second battle of Ypres, the forces of Canada won imperishable renown and saved a situation which threatened grave disaster. The military record of the Canadian forces contains no prouder page than the story of the gallant stand at St. Julien. In a very real sense Canada took her rightful place among the nations by virtue of her manhood at the battle of Ypres. All doubt as to the quality of the Canadian troops was at an end. We who never doubted their valour and discipline felt that such questions were finally and gloriously settled. At the battle of Ypres Lieutenant A. L. Bell and [Private] Eric Broughall were killed. It fell to the lot of Major Burton, after gallantly retaining command of his company when seriously wounded, to receive in hospital the personal thanks of the King for the "splendid conduct of my Canadians." Another of our Old Boys, Captain Fred Macdonald, was made prisoner a the battle after the most gallant stand. Lieutenant Paul Skidmore was severely wounded, and many others took part including Captain J. D. Cotton, who was the only one unwounded of his machine gun section. The second battle of Ypres was a critical battle for the Allies, and it was an epoch-making event for Canada.
At the school this half year was marked by the beginning of Red Cross work for the Old Boys. For some weeks a number of ladies interested in the school met in the Library to roll bandages. On February 4th a series of tableaux were arranged by Mrs. Macdonald, the proceeds of tickets sold amounted to $167. Subsequently a systematic contribution was voluntarily made by the boys acting through their own representatives to send the REVIEW to the Old Boys abroad and Christmas parcels containing suitable gifts, which were greatly appreciated. More than $3,000 was raised in this way, and great numbers of letters came to the Headmaster expressing thanks from those in the trenches. In June Lieutenant Colonel Taylor and Lieutenant Clayton [both Masters] left us for the front. The list of Old Boys serving had now grown to 65, with four killed. The school broke up for the holidays on the hundredth anniversary of the battle of Waterloo.
The summer holidays were dreary days indeed. The Allies fared disastrously at Gallipoli, and Russian fortresses fell successively one after the other into the hands of the triumphant Germans beginning with Warsaw on August 4th and ending with Vilna September 18th.
Immediately after reopening in September news came of the calamitous action at Halluch, Loos and Hooge, on September 25. The Autumn term of 1915 was contemporary with disastrous events. Germany having crushed the Russians turned to the extinction of Servia [Serbia]. The invasion began on October 6, and on the 14th Bulgaria entered the war as an enemy. By November 23 Servia was crushed and the horrors had taken place which were subsequently narrated to the school by Canon Savage, himself a spectator. The Allies occupied Salonkia on October 5th, and the REVIEW printed several letters from an old Andrean, Captain Staunton Wishart, who was a participant in the Servian retreat. Again, at this period, the old names so familiar in classical literature leaped to life. Salonika, the dreary home of Cicerio's year of exile; Mount Olympus, the home of the Greek gods, Lemmos and the Troad, the Hellespont and Tenedos.
On November 22 the battle of Ctesiphon marked the limit of the first victorious advance of General Townsend in Mesopotamia, to be followed by defeat and retreat on December 3 to Kut-el-Amara. On December 2 Monastir fell to the Teutons. Sir John French relinquished his command on December 15th and on December 19th British troops were withdrawn from Gallipoli. The second year of the war closed with the Germans victorious everywhere except on the western front, and here the decision was eventually to come. By Christmas 1915, 261 Andreans were serving. The last six months of the year found them engaged in minor actions in France, enduring the mud and horrors of the trenches with unfailing good nature, still with a merry laugh for "the coal boxes whining life lost souls," cheerful under all circumstances, enjoying the ruse of burning sulphur and straw to terrify the Germans, never complaining and never bitter. But across the cheerfulness of the letters they wrote runs the deepening shadow of the war whose perils, so light heartedly encountered at the outset, were soon to extinguish so much noble youth and the promise of mature manhood. Down to the end of 1915 casualties among our old boys were light. The war situation was gloomy enough, but it had not yet to those at home become intolerable from the tragedy of sacrifice.
In the athletic activities
of the Autumn the football team retained under Captain Ed Whitaker
a position of pre-eminence, tying with Ridley for the leadership of the
league. The team this year contained many boys who subsequently saw service,
and the general manager, [Captain] Tod Grant, became British Provost Marshal
in New York.