Volume XI Midsummer 1918 No. 65
A crisis has been reached in the history of the School for, after nearly forty years of keen and untiring service as Headmaster, Mr. Fewings is now to retire. His loss will be keenly felt by everyone connected with the School for which he has done so much, and to which his life has been devoted. Well over one thousand boys have passed through his hands and each one of these, together with the present staff of Masters and boys, can testify to the sterling qualities of Mr. Fewings. Never was a Headmaster's loss more universally regretted! All our readers will unite with us in expressing our very sincere wishes to Mr. Fewings for a happy and restful retirement.
Lieut. W.W. Masters, M.C., says the Boshe is rather quiet at present. "We raided him the other day and stole one officer and 29 miserable and underfed Huns. I often wonder what you at home think about the push. I hope you are as cheerful about it as you can be. I think fritz will get a nasty jar soon, and if we can hold them till the Americans can get going I don't see what chance they have got of winning. The officers in the mess are at least twice as old as I am, so you can guess they are not particularly amusing. The only officer anything like my age is very much engaged. He has just re-joined after a month's leave, during which he managed to become engaged, so for the time being he is temporarily insane. I have just had a glorious fortnight in an Officers' Rest Station in a large French town, about 40 miles back. These places are run by the Red Cross and this particular one was the nearest approach to home I've seen out here".
Captain J.H. Dibble says, "I met a man at St.Omar last summer, played cricket against him in some scratch sort of game and knew him as McCarraher of the R.E.'s. It was not until one evening when I was in the mess and Mac. was expatiating upon some most unlikely adventure which befell him at some period of his existence and which involved the Southampton 'Palace', that I suddenly realized that he was one of the great clan of McCarrahers who had been at the School. Thereafter we bored everyone horribly by conversation of the "Do you remember"? type and promised to remember me to you when he went on leave. I suppose he forgot"! (He didn't).
Second Lieut. R.G. White writes, "I have been appointed to an eight inch howitzer battery. There are eleven officers and a better lot I couldn't have desired. Right from the time I joined the Battery they made me quite at home and in spite of the rough time I am perfectly happy and comfortable. I heard from home not long ago about poor old Danny Drew's death. It does make one think a bit when a near pal like that goes West, especially after the good times we had together. I hear that Mr. Fewings is resigning. He certainly has a splendid record and one to take a lot of beating. I suppose by now you are in the midst of cricket. What wouldn't I give for five minutes in the nets! We managed to get a few football matches with the neighbouring batteries. The major is very good to us that way".
Lieut. J. Going was reported wounded and missing last March, but we are glad to say that he is safe in the hands of the Hun. He says the medical treatment he gets is splendid, but the food very bad. He has sent home for his cricket gear, which sounds hopeful.
Second Lieut. R. Courtier was also posted wounded and missing at the same battle, but here again good news was received that he was alive and progressing satisfactorily although also a prisoner.
A similar fate has befallen Captain R. Marshall, wounded and a prisoner. Marshall has had very bad luck. He left Oxford as soon as the war broke out, joined the Worcester's, went to the Dardanelles, was wounded, recovered and was sent to Mesopotamia, was again wounded, this time severely, was sent home and on recovery went to France. Now we wish him a short rest and freedom from all anxiety.
The saddest loss we have received is that of 2nd Lieut. F.W. Drew ("Danny"), one of the most popular captains of the School we have had. He won a scholarship at Oxford, but joined up before he entered his college. He wrote from France so cheerfully and was a great favourite with all his fellow officers. We have received his prize bat, which his father wishes to be given to one of his schoolfellows.
I am sorry you were somewhat in the dumps when you last wrote and feel bound to denounce your sentiment that there is a possibility of the Bosches winning. You must remember in order to win it means the enemy have got to kill the whole British Army in France, for as long as a Britisher lives we will never say die. Do you realise that rather than allow the enemy to win we, out here, are willing and proud to sacrifice our own lives, and also that nine out of every ten out here would rather commit suicide than degrade themselves by bowing down to the iron rule of such a bestial nation? Out here none of us anticipate danger ahead, we all expect to live the war through and our sole aim and set purpose is to bring about a lasting and satisfactory Peace. Although I am fed up with the horrible side of war, I would far sooner be soldiering in France than in England. Why? You might rightly ask. Here's the reason - Until you have come to France during this war it is almost impossible for a human being to conceive or imagine what true friendship and comradeship is. In the army we call it esprit-de-corps. It is emphasised in those grand and noble deeds and sacrifices executed every day for the benefit of fellow man, ninety-nine cases out of every hundred of which those at home never hear about. Thank God I am in France and can see and know for myself. Imagine the thrill of unbounded admiration that enters every vein of the body to see a deed of unselfish bravery with one's own eyes as I have seen. It's marvellous, it's glorious! So long as England can breed such men as these the nation need have no fear. The time of reckoning for the Hun will be unavoidable soon.
We regret to announce that Lieut. A.R. Tarrant is reported wounded and missing. His C.O. has written that he fell whilst gallantly leading his men, that his party was outnumbered and had to retire leaving him without actual knowledge as to whether he was wounded or killed.
From the "Times" of July 10th.
"Lieut. W.E.A. Masters, R.E., M.C. - He assisted another officer to blow up a bomb-store and sniper's hut in a hostile strong point. He made all the arrangements as to charges and leads, carrying out one of the charges himself. After placing the charges in the hut, he fixed primers and detonators. It was to a large extent due to this officer that the enterprise was successfully carried out".
The Resignation of Mr Fewings
Mr Fewings first came to Southampton in 1880. During the summer of that year, when it became known that Mr Garratt would retire at the end of the Summer Term, the Governors proceeded to elect a new Head from a large number of applicants for the post. Their choice fell upon Mr Fewings.
In 1880 the fortunes of the School were at a very low ebb, and its prospects most discouraging. There were only 49 boys in the School and these were taught by the headmaster and two assistants. The School buildings in Bugle Street at the lower end of the town were most unsuitable in every respect. They consisted of one large room (afterwards divided into three parts by a wooden partition and a baize curtain) and a small room for the very young boys. The large room was on the ground floor with two doors opening directly into the playground, an arrangement which made it miserably cold and draughty in the winter. The offices opened directly into the Upper School!
The funds at the disposal of the Governors were small, being derived from a small endowment, and the School fees of £7 10s a year.
In Handel College and the Boys' College the School had powerful rivals, firmly established under able management in the best residential quarter of the town.
It cannot be wondered at that when Mr Fewings became closely acquainted with these conditions he at first refused the post offered to him by the Governors. However, a kind invitation from them to reconsider his decision, induced Mr Fewings to change his mind.
Success accompanied Mr Fewings from the outset. In 1880 there were 49 boys in the School. In 1887 this number had increased to 107. In 1892 the School had completely outgrown its accommodation in the old buildings, there being 164 on the roll in this year. The new premises (Marlands) were opened in September 1896, with 174 boys. Many changes marked the new era. The fees were raised from £7 10s to £10 7s 6d a year, School books were provided free, practical work in science became possible for the first time.
The numbers in the new school did not increase so fast as was expected. The combined effect of the raising of the School fees and formidable competition was to cause a sharp fall for the first two years. In 1898 the numbers began again steadily to rise till in the Easter Term of 1900 there were 195 names on the roll. But the School had to wait thirteen years before this 195 became 200. Then in 1904 came the first inspection by the Board of Education. This was followed by the Report of the Inspectors. Never perhaps, has any headmaster had to submit to such harsh, unsympathetic, and mercilessly destructive criticism. The result to the School was disastrous. From 1904 to 1908 the numbers steadily declined, till in the summer of the latter year there were only 140 boys in the School.
In 1908 occurred the second Inspection, the report of which was, on the whole favourable to the School. Many changes followed this Inspection. The School was reorganised in such a manner that the masters no longer, as before, taught a variety of subjects to a single class, but a single subject to a variety of classes. Woodwork was added to the curriculum.
The School now increased in numbers and reputation year by year, till in 1913, for the first time in its history there were over 200 boys in attendance.
In the same year the School was again inspected by the Board of Education. In their report all previous criticisms were withdrawn and the work of the School highly commended.
Since 1913 the School has increased by leaps and bounds. In the present term (Midsummer 1918) there are 300 names on the roll and it is already certain that this number will be exceeded next term. For the third time in Mr Fewings' reign the School has outgrown its accommodation.
The School has now been in existence 365 years - a year of years. It is obvious that an institution that has survived the storms and changes of almost four centuries must contain within itself some vital principles that appeals to the imagination of the inhabitants of the town. Southampton has indeed every reason to be proud of its ancient School. Never have these characteristics been more marked than during Mr Fewings' term of office - never before has the School attained such a high level of scholarship - never before has it been so prosperous and efficient as in the last term of Mr Fewings' reign.