A Very Personal Record of WW1

Object 46: A History of Charterhouse in 100 Objects

Neil MacGregor’s History of the World in 100 Objects, based on artefacts in the British Museum and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as a series of 15 minute talks, captured the imagination of many people. The History of Charterhouse in 100 Objects is based on a similar concept, exploring the artefacts remaining in our Museum store. Object 46 has now been added to the series.

For the centenary of the ending of World War One it seems appropriate to publish the Charterhouse Headmaster’s personal record of the war years. Sir Frank Fletcher (Headmaster 1911-1935) had the sad duty of leading Charterhouse during the First World War. Three and a half thousand Old Carthusians fought in the war and 698 (including three beaks and two support staff) were killed. Every Sunday, Fletcher read out in Chapel the names of those who were wounded, missing, taken prisoner or killed. He also compiled a scrap book of press cuttings, wartime poetry, drawings, photographs, Christmas cards and personal correspondence from his former pupils (both from Charterhouse and from his previous school, Marlborough). Most poignant of all are letters reporting the deaths of boys whom he had taught, such as this note telling Fletcher of the death of his first Head Monitor, Douglas Vernon (S1912):

“I have just seen Norman Vernon. Douglas was shot through the head and killed instantaneously in the attack on the Quadrilateral on the 15th. No better fellow ever lived.”

The whole scrapbook has been digitized and can be read here.

Further recommended reading:

Frank Fletcher 1870-1954. A Formidable Headmaster by John Witheridge (Michael Russell Publishing Ltd 2005)

Public Schools and the Great War, the Generation Lost by Anthony Seldon and David Walsh (Pen & Sword Military 2013)

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