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sKiPPEr’s War

Desmond Devitt tells the story of the Skipper’s War in weekly instalments through the

Skipper’s blog at:


WW1 Tank


Military Drill


Poetry Readings


Military Dress Up


Great War Trench


War Stories


WW1 Memorabilia Experts


Vintage Tearoom

Evening Lecture by

Desmond Devitt, Registrar

Skipper’s War 1914 -1915

Tickets: £10

proceeds to charity

Drinks and Lecture


For tickets and

further information:

The Dragon warmly

invites you to

3.00–6.00pm on

Monday 7th September 2015

at the Dragon School,

Bardwell Road, Oxford OX2 6SS

Free admittance for all

Old Dragons and their Families

Old Dragon Open


The Dragon



Volunteers were called for, and were

immediately forthcoming. Lieut. Smyth and

his little party of ten men started at 2pm

to cover the 250 yards which intervened

between them and our trench, taking with

them two boxes of 96 bombs. The ground to

be covered was absolutely open, devoid of

all natural cover. The only possible shelter

from the frightful fire which met the party

as soon as they were over our parapet was

an old broken-down trench, which at the

best of times was hardly knee-deep, but now,

in places, was filled almost to the top with

the dead bodies of Highland Light Infantry,

Worcesters, Indians and Germans.

Dropping over our parapet, they

wriggled their way through the mud,

pulling and pushing the boxes with them,

until they reached the scanty shelter of the

old trench, where they commenced a

progress which for sheer horrors can

seldom have been surpassed.

Pagris (turbans) had been attached

to the front of the boxes. By

means of these the men in front

pulled the boxes along, over and

through the dead bodies, while

those in the rear pushed with

all their might, the whole party

lying flat.

At any moment the bombs

might have exploded. The whole

ground was hissing with the

deluge of rifle and machine-gun

fire, while the air above them was

white with the puffs of shrapnel.

To the anxious watchers in the

rear it seemed impossible that a

single man should win through.

After they had accomplished a

mere twenty yards of their deadly

journey, Sepoy Fetteh Singh rolled

over wounded, followed in the next

eighty yards by Sepoys Sucha Singh, Ujagar

Singh and Sunder Singh. This left only Lieut.

Smyth and six men to get the two boxes

along. Under ordinary circumstances four

men are required to handle a box of bombs.

They crawled on and on, until just

before they reached the end of the trench,

the party had dwindled to two – Lieut.

Smyth and Sepoy Lal Singh. The second box

of bombs had, therefore, to be abandoned,

and to haul even one box along in the face

of such difficulties appeared as an impossible

task. Still pulling and hauling, he and Lal

Singh emerged, wriggling painfully along

into the open, where they were met with an

increased blast of fire.

Miraculously surviving this they crawled

on, only to be confronted suddenly by a

stream which was too deep to wade. Across

it lay the direct line to safety. They crawled

on, in full view of an enemy now at close

quarters, until they came to a point in the

stream which was just fordable. Across

this they struggled with their valuable

burden, and in a few yards they were

among their friends in our trench,

both untouched, although their

clothes were perforated with bullet

holes. Shortly after reaching the

trench the gallant Sepoy was killed.

For his most conspicuous bravery

Lieut. Smyth has now been awarded

the Victoria Cross, and each of

the brave men with him the Indian

Distinguished Service Medal.”

The events of this day, May 18th

1915 were remembered at the

School on May 18th 2015 with the

visit of the UK Punjab Heritage

Association who came to talk to

the children about Jack and their

association with him.