Published on August 5th, 2014 | by St Peter's College0
Our Headmaster reflects: St Peter’s College, Adelaide and the Great War
“After war had been declared in 1914, the complier of the ‘Old Scholars’ notes was sure that ‘every one of her sons must hear’ and enlist. Many did. The School Magazine records that throughout the war ‘Old Scholars in Khaki’ came back to see her, one last time, ‘to say good-bye before leaving for the front’.
An excerpt from “The Messages of its Walls and Fields” by Katharine Thornton
It is hard to believe that an event that occurred thousands of kilometres away reached into the heart of our School. Such was the scale of the events of 4th August 1914 and the start of the Great War.
It is sobering to recall that on the outbreak of the Great War, the 1st XVIII and the entire Prefect group enlisted. By 1914 eighteen of these boys served at Gallipoli with many of these young men were thrust into leadership during war.
This week around the world we reflect on the centenary of the declaration of the Great War, the “war to end all wars”. It is impossible to walk through St Peter’s College and not be moved by the names on our War Memorials. Each bears the names of Old Scholars who served our Country. Many were killed.
Today, I wish to focus on three OId Scholars in particular:
Brigadier Arthur Blackburn
Charles Rischbieth Jury
Wilfred Owen Jose
Brigadier Arthur Blackburn, VC CMG CBE ED, enlisted as a private in the 10th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force and landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. War historian Charles Bean noted that he “made it further inland than any other Australian soldier” at Anzac Cove. He was commissioned second lieutenant in August and served throughout the Gallipoli campaign and in France in 1916. On 23 July, at Pozières, he commanded a party of fifty men which, in the face of fierce opposition, destroyed an enemy strong point and captured nearly 400 yards (366 m) of trench. Blackburn personally led four successive bombing parties, many of whose members were killed. For this exploit he was awarded the Victoria Cross ‘for most conspicuous bravery’. In September he was evacuated on medical grounds and was later invested by King George V at Buckingham Palace.
Charles Rischbieth Jury was a School Captain who became a poet and professor of English. Commissioned temporary lieutenant (1914) in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, he was badly wounded at Ypres, Belgium, in 1915 and ended his service in March 1916.
Wilfred Owen Jose who was killed in action in April 1917 in France, was a School Prefect in 1912. He was the son of missionary parents and born in China. He was a Lieutenant in the Senior Cadets at St Peter’s College and had just enrolled in the Citizen Military Forces when war broke out in the 10th Battalion.
Lest we forget. Pro deo et Patria.