– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

Posts tagged “WWI

Q&A: war memorials at St Cross Church

There are four WW1 memorials in St Cross Church, Holywell – two also record information about the fallen in WW2.

St Cross parish War Memorial

WWI fallen: AS Adams, FF Hunt, EV Giles, CB Wren, TW Haydon, EH Freeman, HE Miller

St Peter’s-in-the-East parish War Memorial.

This was in the parish church of St Peter’s–in-the-East, which is now the Library of St Edmund Hall. It was brought to St Cross and placed on the north tower pier facing the St Cross War Memorial when St Peter’s was closed as a parish church. It is now permanently fixed in the south aisle next to the St Catherine’s Society memorial.

WWI fallen: R Andrews, J Balaam, C Butler, GRW Dickinson, H Griffith, RB Macan, E Rix, A Roe, AF Salmon, THS Townsend, MB Wilks, J Williams

WWII fallen: HC Nicholl-Smith


St Catherine’s Society War Memorial

For information about the Society, see the History of St Catherine’s College.

WWI fallen: RA Abrams,T Baker, EK Bonsey , EW Brooks, AC Burrows, T Cann, BM Carpenter, HF Clarke, HTS Cole, HC Crichton, F Dann, R Dell, WR Dibb, GRW Dickinson, HJ Dunn, Rev.VS Dunstan, KM Dyott, H Garth, Rev HJB Green, NGB King, C Lakin, C Lewis, DG Lloyd-Williams , DJ Macdonald, Rev GH Merrikin, WC Milne, JA Moore , JHC Morris, AC Neale, PLS Phipps, HT Pitcairn, GH Pollard, CB Shrewsbury, S Spencer, TG Thomas, TJB Trowman, CS Unwin, OT Walton, THH Ward, FL Warland, FWWhitlock, EE Wicks, SA Wilkes, HMWillimas, TPC Wilson THH Wood, AJ Wooldridge

WWII fallen: HF Banister, WAO Chandler, S Coshall, CGP Cuthbert, KG Hope, EWG Hudgel, PO Johnson, EA Legrand, EW McKeeman, AS Mitchell, GS Morris, HC Pugh , LF Sheppard, RWO Spender, JR Stephen, MD Thomas, BG Tillyard, CW Turner, ACA White, WD Paul.

Transcriptions and other information are repeated here, along with lists of the other known burials in the church. For more information about the war memorials and other commemorative inscriptions in St Cross Church, see JH Jones’ history of the building and parish. All surviving parish records, including burial records, are at the Oxfordshire History Centre. Balliol does not keep copies in the church.

Also at St Cross church is the WW1 memorial of the Balliol Boys’ Club; more information here, and all names listed here.

WW1 – Boys’ Club exhibition

Boys’ Club WW1 exhibition

Balliol College Special Collections

St Cross Church, Holywell

Autumn 2014

Copy of DSCN9133

OPT balloons welcoming visitors to St Cross for Open Doors Days 2014


The Balliol Boys’ Club was formed in early 1907 as a result of changing attitudes in the college – driven especially by AL Smith, soon to become Master – towards social responsibility and widening access to education. The aim was to provide healthy, vigorous activity for working boys from underprivileged areas of Oxford; Balliol’s club was based in St Ebbe’s and offered boxing, football and summer camps. Such boys’ clubs – a number of colleges and public schools ran similar enterprises – fitted with emerging ideas about social action and youth activities, exemplified most famously by Robert Baden- Powell’s scouting movement. As it was run by college undergraduates for local boys, the club brought town and gown together, and its strong and lasting esprit de corps was to play an important role in the wartime experience of many of its old members. The club flourished again after the war, and its future was assured by the gift of a new clubhouse and funds in memory of one of its leading lights from the college, Keith Rae (Balliol 1907), who was killed in 1915.

The Club was wound up when the St Ebbe’s area was redeveloped c.1970, but there is still an active old members’ association. The club’s own records survive fairly well right from the early days, and the exhibition  includes: minutes of meetings; log books recording attendance and activities, featuring daily notes from summer camps; newspaper cuttings; photographs; accounts; and numbers of the club magazine, among them The Club at War; its own trench magazine, which circulated from 1916 to 1919. Ccentral to the exhibition will be the Boys’ Club War Memorial board, listing the club members who fell, Oxford boys and Balliol men together.

Also available to browse are contextual material such as the college’s war memorial volumes, writings by Balliol men associated with the Club in its early and wartime years, contemporary numbers of Punch, the College Record and a selection of enlargements of photographs from Francis Fortescue Urquhart’s photo albums of the period.

Copy of DSCN9134

The Club Archive at Balliol

Balliol College’s holdings of the Club’s administrative records are incomplete, and even if all minutes, accounts and activity logbooks survived, they would not tell the whole story – we can only present one incomplete point of view from this source. To tell a more rounded story of the Club or, especially, of any of its former members, a researcher would need to consult numerous primary and secondary sources, e.g. Oxford city archives, contemporary and later newspaper articles, school and perhaps work records for boys, personal and/or private collections of papers, the 1911 census (and, eventually, later ones as they become available), and individuals’ war records at the National Archives. This exhibition presents Balliol’s holdings about the Club and some of its College members, specifically to do with the period from its founding to the end of the First World War, with the intention of encouraging further research using this collection and related material elsewhere.

The Exhibition

Nave cases (starting on the south side, to your right as you come in):

Several cases include enlarged facsimiles of undated photographs of Club activities, mostly from summer camps.

– Log Books of Club activities August 1914 and November 1918. NB encouragement of enlistment in 1914 and rowdy behaviour in 1918!


– The Club at War, original editions. The tone of the Boys’ Club’s alumni trench magazine is mostly matter-of-fact. Its bulk is made up of brief letters from old members, so the effect of each issue will have been a kind of round-robin. Recipients were evidently keen to hear news of each other and of the present Club as long as it was able to continue and as soon as it started up again.

In many cases, particularly those of the former youth members, these are likely to be the only surviving words written by these men. More written by and about the Balliol men who were involved in the pre-war Club and died during the War can be found in the Wartime Writings section of the exhibition.


– Logbooks – student leaders’ accounts of summer camps during WW1.


– Photograph of the 1914 Freshmen of Balliol College. Biographical details, including wartime service, of all Balliol students can be found in the College Register on the table immediately to the right of the photo.


– Adam, Adela. Arthur Innes Adam, 1894-1916. A record founded on his letters . By his mother. with


– Mann, James Saumarez. An administrator in the making, James Saumarez Mann, 1893-1920. By his father.

Both volumes show photographs of Balliol students at Boys’ Club summer camps in 1914 and 1920 respectively.

– Arthur Graeme West (1891–1917), The Diary of a Dead Officer (1918). Edited by C. Joad. with


– EB Poulton, The Life of Ronald Poulton. Written by his father.

– Personal file sheets about individual boys ca.WW1 – these records, kept by student Club leaders, are the only examples of personal information held at Balliol about boy members of the Club.


– Wartime administrative records of the Club, showing one evening’s visit by Maurice Jacks, who had been a key student leader just before the war, and expenditures from 1918. By this time Jacks had been seriously wounded in France, and on recovering had returned to Oxford to train officer cadets based at Keble College.


– Pre-war ‘general knowledge’ spoof quiz sheet about the Club, with


– Undated letter from JJ Baldwin, the first boy to sign up for the Club.

– Original agreement re rent and maintenance of Club premises, 1907. With


– Club Committee (College based) minutes from 1908 about inviting speakers regarding Boys’ Employment – working age was a topic currently under discussion with the Labour Commission, local Councils etc. 


South side:

Balliol Boys’ Club War Memorial plaque – listing both Balliol students and Oxford boys who were members of the Club and died during WW1. The exception is Frank Slatter, whose presence in the listing is unexplained – he survived and emigrated to Australia in 1921!


An FAQ-inspired note about the war memorial – the asterisk and ‘Mesopotamia’ at the bottom has nothing to do with the creation of the board, or with the area of the University Parks in Oxford between the Isis and the Cherwell, which is known as Mesopotamia. The asterisk corresponds to one above, against the name of JS Mann, who died not exactly in WW1 but in the ensuing 1920 Iraqi Revolt against the British Mandate.

The Club at War – Balliol Boys’ Club alumni trench magazine 1916-1919

Browsable enlarged facsimiles of Nos. 1, 6 and 11 of The Club at War.


North side:

Balliol biographies & autobiographies section of the printed collections – featured are the College War Memorial Book, several memoirs and biographies of Balliol men not directly connected to the Club, of whom more another year!


Central table: browsable wartime editions of Punch magazine, showing contemporary news, humorous comment, cartoons.

Copy of DSCN9143


Several Balliol students who had been key to the founding and early successes of the Balliol Boys’ Club became casualties of the war, as did a number of early boy members.

Photographs are taken from personal albums of FF Urquhart and RG Waddy and from College sport albums.


A selection of poems about their wartime experience and prose extracts about their 1910s Club experience by Balliol men who were instrumental in the early and wartime years of the Club. Prose about the War abounds in memoirs and biographies, and poetry (or at least verse of a kind) about the Club in the Club Magazine.

Copy of DSCN9148

The music playing during the exhibition is CD 2 from Memory Lane’s 3 CD collection The Great War – a Portrait in Music, Voices and Sound.



– exhibition guide by Anna Sander

Balliol College during the First World War



From the Balliol College Annual Record October 1916 p.12 (the first of such updates):

‘The College in War Time

‘The College has received a large number of officers and men as residents for varying periods during the War, and has lent rooms from time to time for the purposes of a Recruiting Office, and of Recreation-rooms for soldiers quartered in Oxford. From Aug. 5 to 9, 1914, there were 3 officers and 120 of the 4th Oxford and Bucks. L.I. resident in College; from Sept. 3 to Oct. 3, 1914, from 100 to 150 men, with a varying number of officers, of the same regiment from Nov. 12 to 23, 1914, 4 officers and 268 men of the 6th Oxford and Bucks. L.I., the officers remaining for some months afterwards. From Jan. 1915 to Feb. 1916 about 50 sets of rooms in College were occupied by officers attending the Training School for Officers in oxford; each course lasted about a month, and in all nearly 600 officers resided in College for their period of training. Since March 1916 the College has been the headquarters of the 6th Officer Cadet Battalion, under Lieut.0Col. R. Wilkinson, D.S.O. from March 15 to May 25 there were 100 officer cadets resident in College at one time; from May 26 to July 11, 150; and since the latter date, 200, with brief intervals between the courses. From 5 to 7 officers of the Battalion have also lived in College as members of the Senior Common Room.
‘The College has lent large quantities of furniture to Territorials quartered in Oxford, and to the Serbian School established first at Wycliffe Hall and then in Linton Road, and has given hospitality to several Belgian and Serbian students.

‘Many of the College servants are or have been absent on Military Service.

‘The Master’s Field has been used throughout the War by soldiers quartered in College both for drill and games.’


From the Balliol College Annual Record October 1917 p.14:

‘The College is still partially occupied by 200 Cadets of the 6th Officer Cadet Battalion, now commanded by Lieut.-Col. H.P. Yates, D.S.O.; several Officers of the Battalion have been resident in College, and the Battalion Headquarters are also within the walls. The Master’s Field and the College Barge continue to be regularly used by the Cadets.
‘Only two Tutorial Fellows are in residence (in addition to the Master), and two Tutors not on the Foundation. The others are all engaged in military service or Government work. With only 40 Undergraduates, or thereabouts, and those largely occupied with military training, many College institutions are inevitably in abeyance; but the Boys’ Club survives actively. Dr. Walker arranges concerts on Sunday evenings for Cadets, Officers and members of the University, and there are occasional debates in the Junior Common Room. There is only one Undergraduate in residence who was up before the War; but there is every reason to think that the traditions of the College are being maintained and that there will be a revival of its full activities when the War is over.’


From the Balliol College Annual Record October 1918 p.18:

‘The College is still partially occupied by 150 Cadets of the 6th Officer Cadet Battalion, now commanded by Lieut.-Col. B. Evans; several Officers of the Battalion have been resident in College, and the Battalion Headquarters are also within the walls. The Master’s Field and the College Barge continue to be regularly used by the Cadets.
‘Only two Tutorial Fellows are in residence (in addition to the Master), and three Tutors not on the Foundation. The others are all engaged in military service or Government work. With only 40 Undergraduates, or thereabouts, and those largely occupied with military training, many College institutions are inevitably in abeyance; but the Boys’ Club survives actively, thanks mainly to the energy of Capt. M.L. Jacks. Dr. Walker arranges concerts on Sunday evenings for Cadets, Officers and members of the University, and there are occasional debates in the Junior Common Room. There are only two Undergraduates in residence who were up before the War; but there has been no break in the continuity of the life of the College, and it is hoped that when the War ends it will be ready to play its part in the difficult times that lie before us.’


From the Balliol College Annual Record October 1919 p.17:

 The College After the War

‘As soon as men began to be released from the Army, special arrangements were made by the War Office to enable ‘students’ of all classes to return to their studies. A large number of men began to apply to the College before the end of 1918; a few of these had been up before the War, most had been qualified for admission during the War. It seemed best to bring such men to Oxford as soon as possible after their demobilization, and every effort was made to get the rooms ready. On January 9, 1919, 150 Cadets left the College and a week later about the same number of undergraduates took their place. By the end of the Term 160 men were in residence, of whom 113 had been in the Rmy. In the Summer Term the numbers rose to 233, of whom 1898 were old service men. Of the men who were up before the War 33 returned to the College. Of the 147 who had been admitted, whether as Scholars, Exhibitioners, or Commoners, during the War, but who had postponed their residence, 28 had fallen, and of the remainder 95 have so far come up. These statistics show how quickly the College recovered in numbers and how substantial was the link with pre-war days. Before the War the number of undergraduates actually in residence rarely, if ever, exceeded 190. The present numbers are therefore abnormal, and naturally cause a good deal of discomfort, but the College was anxious to do its best for those who had been serving. Fortunately nearly all the Fellows who had been engaged in Government service were able to return for the Summer Term and to help in the work of the College during a most interesting period of its history.

‘This year, for the first time since 1914, a Gaudy was held. On June 27 the College entertained 110 old members, all of whom had seen service abroad during the War.’

#WW1 – Hardit Singh Malik (Balliol 1912)

The BBC has a fascinating series of stories on their WW1 At Home site – here is an index of all the Oxford related ones. The one that interests me particularly is that of HS Malik, the first Indian pilot in the Royal Flying Corps.

I can recommend his autobiography, A Little Work, A Little Play, published by his daughter in (?)2010, as an excellent read of a fascinating life lived in decidedly interesting times on several continents. Here is a review.

There is not a great deal of information about HS Malik’s time at Balliol (1912-1915) in the College Archives, but what there is illustrates his long-standing enjoyment of college cricket, his WW1 flying career and his abiding friendship with his tutor Francis Fortescue Urquhart, known as ‘Sligger’, a Modern History don and the first Roman Catholic Fellow of an Oxford college since the Reformation.


Please click on the images for more information and full archival references. To use these images, please send a completed copy of this form to the Fellow Librarian, who deals with all such requests on behalf of the Master and Fellows.

The series of five photos from Urquhart’s personal albums, now in the College Archives, is bookended by group photos of ‘Past v Present’ cricketers from the college’s sport albums, once kept in the cricket pavilion and documenting all college sport except rowing, which had its own set of albums in the boathouse – these are also now in the College Archives. HS Malik appears first in 1913 as a ‘Present’ cricketer and finally in 1931 as a ‘Past.’ Some cricket match records from the period also survive.

In his first year at Balliol, Malik is still wearing his Eastbourne College cricket blazer; by the next year, he has a Balliol blazer. The informal, light-hearted snap at the Pavilion is from about the same time as the last, Trinity Term 1914, just weeks before war was declared.

The first of Sligger’s wartime photos, from May-June 1916, is the only one of Francis Urquhart and HS Malik together – at this time they will have been discussing ways for Malik to fulfil his desire to join either the French or the British air force. The next also predates HS Malik’s groundbreaking acceptance as an officer in the RFC – at this point, summer 1917, through FF Urquhart’s connections, Malik is working as an officer ambulance driver for the Croix Rouge Français. (Urquhart volunteered at the American Hospital in Neuilly -sur-Seine during University vacations.) The caption of the next two photos, also from Francis Urquhart’s own albums, marks a milestone for HS Malik and for the Service he entered – he has become a pilot in the newly-formed RAF (merger of RFC with Royal Naval Air Service in April 1918).

Though he took his History degree in 1915, HS Malik returns to college cricket as a ‘Present’ for the 1920-21 year, while undertaking mandatory studies preceding posting to the Indian Civil Service.

The last photo is once again a ‘Cricket Past and Present’ group – HS Malik and his family are back in England as he takes up the post of Deputy Trade Commissioner in the Indian High Commission for three years from 1930. This posting to England came in time for Malik to see his friend and tutor again before Urquhart’s death in 1934.

The photos on this page are provided for educational and personal research purposes. Permission must be obtained in advance of any reuse or publication, including on the Internet.

Further reading:

Biographical entry for HS Malik in the Balliol College Register – see 1912 sections of the 2nd and 3rd editions

More of Francis Urquhart’s WW1 photos – see Vol. 7

Correspondence from HS Malik’s later career in the Monckton archive at Balliol:

  • Letters to and from Walter Monckton, 1956-60
    • Dep. Monckton 6R, fols. 85-7, 113-14, 147, 155, 243, 303, 309
    • Dep. Monckton 7R, fols. 19, 37, 41, 75, 82, 114-15, 143-8, 154, 158-9, 162
    • Dep. Monckton 12R, fols. 64-70, 75
  • Copy of letter to T.E. Peppercorn, 1956, Dep. Monckton 7R, fols. 147-8.

exhibition archive – Ernest Walker letter

Part of this exhibition was originally a Document of the Week in Michaelmas Term 2005. It features two letters from Dr Ernest Walker to Cedric Glover, written from Oxford in August 1916 and demonstrating something of the strange contrasts of Oxford life during wartime.



August 11, 1916

My Dear Cedric,

Very glad indeed to have news of you: I was wondering whereabouts you were. Where is Ronald? [?Knox] Greetings to him, and also best remembrances to your father and mother, please!

Balliol is a queer place nowadays: I don’t suppose we shall have 20 people up next term. We went on with the regular concerts (fortnightly) up till the end of the summer term 1915, doing our Strauss and Reger and Kreisler and our songs in German as usual up to the end: but we then suspended operations, inevitably. For the last year we have been having “by and fors” (in the wide sense of the word, including any military birds of passage that could do things – some of them quite good), with the same quality of music as usual, but no printed programmes [p.2] of any kind and no audience except masculines. We got a quite fair lot of people always: though I don’t mean to say that some of them mayn’t have found it slightly strong meat when an old Magdalen man, quartered in Oxford, gave them a dozen or so of the biggest Hugo Wolf songs on end, or when I played Reger after the news of his death reached here. I daresay we may be able to go on with something of the same kind next term – there has been a steady flow of officer-cadets into Oxford, hundreds of them. But I really haven’t a notion about the future, in any way at all. The OUMC and the OUMO have formally [p.3] amalgamated (with the Holywell Room): I expect the MO would certainly have been bankrupt in isolation, and the MC would have been in a queer way: as it is, the joint society is financially very shaky indeed for the time being, but I dare say we shall keep it going more or less. The Ladies Society goes ahead as usual, except there they refuse  to engage Herschel or the Aranyis or apparently anyone whose great-great-great-grandparents were Germans. Miss Marga Deneke is on the concert committee, and has had a good many of her plans squashed in absurd fashion. It’s a queer world, and during the last two years, some individuals in it have [p.4] turned out even queerer than one could have expected.

 You seem to have been managing to get a lot of music added to your collection, anyhow. Don’t know of any translations of Pohl or Thayer, myself. Can’t stand the Debussy ‘cello sonata, except for very little bits of it: the man seems to have written himself out. Grovlez sent me his last piano things, and I was very much disappointed with them – just the ordinary fashionable Parisianism, I thought: nor do I care for his violin sonata, which I ran through with Miss Gates (I think) not long ago. Don’t know the last Scriabin, nor the Tcherepnine quartet: but I came across some very fine songs of T. lately. Well, I suppose some day or other we may get music normally again!

I heard from Oboussier the other day: he asked after all his friends and I gave him what news I could.

I should be delighted to hear from you again! All best from

Yours [ver]y sincerely,

Ernest Walker.

[top of p.1] (In Merionethshire for the moment, but back in Oxford next week.)

[Editor’s note: Thanks to Kamile Vaupsaite for deciphering the names of Thayer and Grovlez!]


22 August 1916

28, St Margaret’s Road, Oxford

My Dear Cedric,

Many thanks for your note; I am quite reassured. The matter had various ramifications into which I needn’t go: as you no doubt understand that in this very queer world it is important that the whole of the Ladies’ Club’s various oddities should be kept altogether dark, for the sake of the Arányis (who don’t know anything of them), and Miss Deneke and everybody else!

I quite forgot, by-the-bye, when sending on the message to his friends from Oboussier, the Swiss fiddler who was at Worcester for the year before the war, that a relative veteran of 1913 like you might never have met him! I lose count of dates so easily as a permanent limpet here.


I must look up Mr. Jarnach. When this whole bad dream is over and we have more music together, I must show you some things of a wild young Anglo-French creature, a Home Student at Cherwell Edge, who is working with me. She is liable to come the most ultra-modernist croppers any minute, and I doubt if her songs can be sung in tune: but she produced a few weeks ago a [B flat?] Prelude that seems to be really beautiful in its way, and quite unlike anything I know.

I am at present engaged in some music for a children’s play by Mrs. Balfour (Harold Joachim’s sister). It is all about vegetables, and one has to represent musically the essential characteristics of carrots and cabbages and so on: I am rather pleased with a very first-impressionistic but quite unmistakable Cauliflower that I have just evolved: it starts – [MS music]

All very best wishes, and looking forward to any amount more of music together!

Yours very sincerely,

Ernest Walker.

Ernest Walker (1870-1949) , musicologist, composer, organist and Hon Fellow of Balliol

The Balliol Music Society’s 1745th Sunday Concert on Oct 16 2005 (Sunday 2nd week) was the annual Ernest Walker Concert, commemorating Dr Walker’s contribution to College life, and in particular College music, during his long career at Balliol 1887-1925.

Ernest Walker came up to Balliol in 1887 to study Litterae Humaniores (Classics) under WR Hardie and RL Nettleship. He received his BA in 1891, became assistant organist to John Farmer at Balliol and earned a BMus (1893) and DMus (1898). He became organist and director of music at Balliol upon Farmer’s retirement in 1901; although he gave up the post of organist in 1913 on religious grounds, he retained the directorship until his retirement in 1925. Under his direction, the Sunday Concerts developed to a very high standard.

In addition to his involvement in College music, he was instrumental in the University’s musical life as a busy teacher and examiner; he held the posts of Choragus of the University 1918-1922 and Lecturer for the University Professor of Music from 1899.

Dr Walker was well-known in the musical world beyond Oxford as a prolific and insightful critic, reviewer and musicologist. His voluminous correspondence portrays a thoughtful and self-effacing character possessed of a whimsical sense of humour and a great deal of affection and regard for his many friends and colleagues – not to mention decided musical opinions!

Ladies’ Club: the Oxford Ladies’ Musical Society, founded in 1898 because the university musical society did not admit women, and still in existence – though now co-ed – as the Oxford Chamber Music Society. Papers of the OLMS are in the Bodleian.

Sources :

  • Balliol College, MSS Ernest Walker and accrual Accn 05/139, letters to Cedric Glover
  • Bodleian Library, music MSS
  • Bailey, C. ‘ Walker, Ernest (1870-1949)’, rev. Jeremy Dibble, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36688, accessed 26 Sept 2005]
  • Balliol College Register (1933, 1950)
  • Deneke, M. Ernest Walker (1951)
  • Hull , R. ‘Ernest Walker’, Music Review, 10 (1949), 205–6

College prayer during wartime

‘Prayer During the War’ by James Leigh Strachan-Davidson, Master of Balliol 1907-1916, for use in the College chapel during the First World War.

Copy of JLSD-04M-001
[Oxford, Balliol College, Strachan-Davidson Papers 4M.1]

O God with whom do live the spirits of just men made perfect, we give thee thanks for our brethren the members of this College who have willingly offered themselves, and have laid down their lives for us and for our country, and for the liberty of the world. Give us grace to follow their good example, that we may never lose heart, but may bear with patience and courage, as these have done, whatever thy Providence calls upon us to endure. Comfort the bereaved, and grant to all of us that our afflictions may purify our hearts and minds to thy glory. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Strachan-Davidson’s manuscript also includes a prayer for the wounded:

We beseech thy goodness O Lord on behalf of the members of our College who are lying stricken from wounds received in battle in a righteous and holy cause, especially for [names]. Comfort each one of them when he lieth sick on his bed and grant them thy strength and grace to bear the pain and weariness of their condition, and, if it be thy will, assuage their sufferings and grant them restoration to life and health. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Strachan-Davidson himself died during the course of the war, in post as Master, on 28 March 1916, at the age of 72.

Q&A: Officer cadets at Balliol during WW1

Q: The subject of my research was an Officer Cadet at Balliol during the First World War. What information does the college hold about him? Do you have any photographs?

A: During World War One, Balliol had two distinct populations. Some of the older Fellows and a much reduced student body (further reduced through each academic year as their commissions came up and they went into active service) carried on something of the ordinary academic life of the college. But Balliol’s premises, like those of most Oxford colleges, were largely given over to war work.

Balliol’s Broad Street site hosted thousands of British and Commonwealth officer cadets on short training courses. These men were not members of Balliol or of the University of Oxford; rather, the Army was in effect renting the property, and the college holds no administrative records of their time here. We have no lists of names or any other systematic records about the individual officer cadets or their activities during their few weeks staying in Balliol.

There are, however, a few isolated glimpses into the lives of officer cadets during their brief sojourns in Oxford. In 2005 an Australian bookseller wrote to us with the offer of a photo album created by one JH Brian Armstrong, a member of No 6 Officer Cadet Battalion at Balliol July – October 1917. There are no identifications of individuals in the album.

Balliol also holds copies of two numbers of ‘The Souvenir’, a journal produced by ‘A’ Company No. 6 Officers’ Cadet Battalion, of their time in Oxford: 10 Nov. 1917-26 Feb. 1918 and 5 April 1918 – 23 Oct. 1918.

We do not have copies of any other numbers of ‘The Souvenir.’ If you have copies of this invaluable resource that you are willing to share, please get in touch.

Images of the resources mentioned above and a few other pieces are available online here.

Not connected with Balliol but another publication by and for WW1 soldiers, the well-known trench magazine ‘The Wipers Times’ has recently been edited and published in full as The Wipers Times: The Complete Series of the Famous Wartime Trench Newspaper (Hardcover), Little Books, Jan 2006; ISBN 1-904435-60-2.

JM Winter’s chapter in Vol VIII of The History of the University of Oxford provides a useful survey of Oxford in the First World War.


There is a growing collection of WW1-related Balliol resources online HERE. Included (so far) are:

The complete Balliol College War Memorial Book  (2 vols, 1924). This is an invaluable biographical source for details of each of the Balliol men who died in WW1, including three college servants and those who were admitted to the college but were never able to take up their membership.

The complete 2nd edition of the Balliol College Register (1934), covering Balliol matriculations 1833-1933 and including all who served (not only British and Allied forces) in WW1 – except college servants, of whom those who died are included in the War Memorial Book, above.

Early volumes of the Balliol College Annual Record, the old members’ magazine, starting in 1914-15. This includes summaries of College life during the war years as well as updates on serving Old Members.

The manuscript diary of Alfred Balmforth, 1892-1917 (Balliol 1911), including his record of life at Balliol, Army training and the early part of his active service.

Letters from France by Capt. Arthur Hugh Sidgwick (1882-1917, Balliol 1901) to his family, particularly his sister Ethel, 1916-1917, containing detailed accounts of fighting, life in the Army, etc. With newspaper cutting of his obituary.

JHB Armstrong’s photo album covering his time as an Australian officer cadet in Balliol July-October 1917.

The Souvenir‘ magazine of A Company, 6th officer Cadet Battalion, 10 Nov. 1917-26 Feb. 1918

The Souvenir‘ magazine of A Company, 6th officer Cadet Battalion, 5 April 1918 – 23 Oct. 1918

The Club at War’ is the WW1 edition of  the Balliol Boys’ Club magazine, issues 1-11 [complete], 1916-1919.

FF Urquhart’s photo album covering the period 1914-18 provides an evocative look at the involvement of Balliol men in the First World War.

Other resources:

An edition by FF Urquhart of Stephen Hewett (Balliol 1911)’s A Scholar’s Letters From the Front is also available online via archive.org, HERE.

An edition by his mother of Arthur Innes Adam (Balliol 1912)’s letters, Arthur Innes Adam, 1894-1916. A record founded on his letters is available online via archive.org HERE.

 Balliol’s memorial plaques, inscriptions, etc, including those for the fallen in both world wars, are listed HERE.