John Denison 13 April 1918

John Denison, once of Sidney House, was caught up in the German attack at the battle of Lys and was killed the same day as Henry Bagshaw of New House. John came from Leeds in Yorkshire. He was born in 1899 and came up to Sidney House a year before the War began in 1913. Fives was his major sport, he was in the School VI and helped Sidney to win the senior trophy in 1917. He was a keen debater too. He was one of those in the famous Zeppelin Debate, who thought that “boys’ lives being their own”, they should be allowed to stay in bed during a raid rather than being forced into dusty cellars at their housemaster’s command. He would later argue fiercely that the Germans were unable to throw bombs as far as the British Tommy because they did not play cricket.

Aged 18, he joined the Royal Naval Air Service in September 1917, and after training at the Naval College in Greenwich, he did further training at Cranwell and Manston. He arrived in France on 16th March 1918 and was working over the lines between La Bassée and Armentières, near the Belgian border. He was killed four weeks after his arrival on 13th April 1918. He was shot in the head, while returning from patrol and although he managed somehow to land his machine, he died shortly afterwards.

His Commanding officer wrote: “Most of the older fellows have had much more experience of course and consequently it was much more difficult for him to do his work in as efficient a manner as they; but all in B Flight were glad to have John with them, in every attack they made on the advancing enemy.”

He was buried, aged 18, in Pernes British Cemetery, where he is the only Oundelian. The headstone bears an inscription added by his father “John beloved, we thank our God upon every remembrance of you.”

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow