Nicholas Greaves 28 October 1918

Nicholas Greaves once of Dryden House (1912-14) had an exotic background, as his family lived in Berdiansk in Russia with their own steel works (the family originally came from Sheffield) called John Greaves and Co. The city then lay in Southern Russia, on the Sea of Azov, east of the Crimean peninsula. Nicholas Greaves came up to Dryden with his elder brother John. The two played together in Dryden’s winning rugby teams of 1912, beating New House after a replay, and in 1913, where they overcame School House. A useful gymnast, John Greaves helped Dryden to 2nd place in the house gymnastics and went on to represent Oundle in boxing at the public schools’ championships at Aldershot. He also won a German prize in his last year. 

On leaving Oundle aged 16, he returned to Russia as an apprentice at the family firm. During the war, he was entrusted with important munition work and created a special department making Hotchkiss quick firing shells, managing a shop of 700 workers. He was then caught up in the first Russian Revolution of 1917 (the overthrow of the Tsar) and made the arduous and long journey back to England – some 3,000 miles – where he then joined the Royal Flying Corps early in November of that year. During his training, he showed himself to be a skilful boxer. 

He was posted to France in August 1918 and was involved in much dangerous and difficult work until he was killed on 28th October 1918, just two weeks before the Armistice, as allied troops advanced towards Tournai in Belgium. He was 20 years old and lies buried in the Allied Extension of Tournai Communal Cemetery. The town had been occupied by the Germans throughout the war, but was recaptured by the British on 8th November 1918.

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow