Born in Kent in May 1894, James Stuart Ricketts lost his father, a doctor, before the outbreak of war. He lived in St Leonards-on-Sea in Sussex and came up to Dryden House in May 1909, leaving in 1913. He was part of that doughty Dryden rugby team, which won the house rugby cup in both 1911 and 1912. The latter final was notable for being won by Dryden after a replay, the first match against School House having resulted in a 0-0 draw.
He was also a keen debater, supporting Eric Yarrow and the Headmaster’s wife, Mrs Sanderson in speaking up for women’s suffrage. Apparently he answered those against women’s rights “in no uncertain fashion”. He said that “if he allowed his boots to be blacked by a woman, he ought to be ashamed of himself”. James Rickets was OTC platoon leader in Dryden with the rank of sergeant and was clearly a decent shot. He also represented Oundle at the schools fencing championship at Aldershot.
After Oundle, he went to the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich and was gazetted to the Royal Field Artillery. He went to France in June 1918 and died of wounds in Rouen on 5th October 1918, after great suffering, and having won the affection of all who saw him by his cheerfulness and patience.
Most likely, he was seriously wounded during the fighting around Cambrai as the Allies pushed the Germans back towards the Hindenburg Line. On 3rd October an attack was launched against the village of Beaurevoir, which soon created a 10 mile breech in the German defences, an astonishing victory in the context of the 1st World War, and a testament to the weakness of the German position at this time.
James Ricketts was 24 years old at the time of his death.