Douglas James Aitchison 17 April 1918

Douglas James Aitchison was the third son of a family from Kent. He was a Dryden boy from 1911 until the summer of 1913. He played in the final of the House rugby competition of 1912, where Dryden beat Sidney after a replay. Also a good athlete, he won the 100 yards, the quarter-mile and the Ferrar Challenge Cup on Sports Day 1913. He caused controversy in the debating chamber. In a debate where Mrs Sanderson spoke in favour of women being allowed the vote, Douglas Aitchison opposed the motion declaring that if they got the vote “women would work to better the poorer classes and so waste a great deal of money”.

He enlisted in September 1914, taking a commission in the East Anglian Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery at Christmas 1914. He was training in England during 1915 and sent out to Egypt in January 1916. He was on the Suez Canal for some time, before being sent to the front in the wake of the first battle of Gaza in March 1917. He then transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and served through the British advance into Palestine, until his aeroplane crashed, soon after take-off on 30th December 1917, as a result of engine failure.

Seriously injured, he was sent back to England to recover. Four months after the crash, he contracted blood poisoning and died on 17th April 1918 in the R.F.C. Central Hospital in Hampstead.

His Commanding Officer wrote that he did very good work on the observation machines during the second battle of Gaza. The battle in which Stanley Marlow of New House, who was in the year above Douglas Aitchison, died. He was 21 years old at the time of his death and was buried in Beckenham, Kent, his home town. His mother by this time had lost her husband as well as her younger son.

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow