Maurice James Miskin was on the staff of Oundle School for just one term before obtaining a transfer to a service battalion, the 9th North Staffs, in December 1914. He taught Classics and coached school rugby, helping New House win the Football Shield at the end of his only term at the school. He went out to France and then Belgium in July 1915 and was involved in some of the heaviest fighting. He transferred to tank corps in January 1917, starting again as 2nd Lieutenant. Here, he was in the great success at Messines and did so well in the Cambrai Push of 1917 that he was awarded the Military Cross “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack”. The citation noted that: “Though he had mechanical trouble with his three tanks, he successfully overcame it, and was the first to arrive at the objective. He secured the crossing of the (St Quentin) canal, and went forward to reconnoitre on foot. He gave valuable information to the infantry commander and was instrumental in getting a battalion across the canal. He set a splendid example of courage and initiative.”
In February 1917 he was promoted Major and seven months later he was again commended for his bravery. On 29th September at Bellicourt and a week later at Beaurevoir “he rallied a number of tanks and directed them to the enemy machine guns which were holding up the infantry, and by his skilful leading, he contributed largely to the success attending those operations”. Both villages were taken by British, Australian and American forces and were crucial in breeching the Hindenburg Line.
For his actions that day, Maurice Miskin won a second MC. Sensing that the war would soon be over, he had been eagerly looking forward to returning to Oundle but it was not to be. He was killed, aged 26, on 17th October 1918 leading his tanks into action with the utmost gallantry, in the capture of the village of Honnechy, south-east of Cambrai.
Major Maurice Miskin (who preferred to be called by his second name, James) was born in Bedford in 1892 and spent most of his childhood in Rochester in Kent. He attended the King’s School, Rochester from 1903-10 where he enjoyed an outstanding school career. A scholar of the school, he was appointed Head of School, captain of the cricket XI and also played for the XV. He went up to University College, Oxford to study classics and history and was appointed to the staff of Oundle School in September 1914. He had little time to make an impact, but he helped his fellow young classics master George Williamson coach the XV and he was credited with helping New House win the Football Shield at the end of his only term at Oundle. Miskin and Williamson were both enthusiastic officers in the School’s OTC. Both would join up together at the end of the Michaelmas Term 1914 and both would be killed in the War.
Maurice Miskin served throughout the war and was killed less than four weeks before the Armistice. He is commemorated on the War Memorials (town and church) in Oundle, and also in Rochester Cathedral, the King’s School, Rochester and on the Roll of Honour in York Minster, as his parents were living in the city when the War ended.
Maurice James Miskin was 26 years old at the time of his death.