Philip Selwyn Whiston 21 March 1918

Philip Selwyn Whiston was at Oundle from 1905-08, arriving after five years at his father’s old school in Derby. Born in December 1890, he was the third son in his family, although the older brothers did not come to Oundle. He was born and brought up in Idrigehay in Derby and came first to New House, before moving on to Crosby.

References to him in the Laxtonian Magazines are rather sparse. As a junior he played for Crosby against Dryden in a rather one sided first-round House match. Dryden scored 121 in their first innings, with Philip Whiston taking 1 for 37 but Crosby responded with just 46 in their two innings, with Whiston contributing just two runs to the total. As a senior, Whiston’s cricketing fortunes did not improve. His Crosby team was defeated in the first round by an innings and 7 runs, with Whiston contributing his standard one run per innings. He did have some success however in the 2nd XI helping in the defeat of Thurning.

In rugby, he was mentioned as a promising three-quarter in one of the lower ‘rugby games’ and he seems to have helped Crosby to win two but lose three of their games in ‘house leagues’. In his last season, he even played occasionally for the XV as emergency cover, in what was a pretty poor season, where “some 31 fellows” played for the team at one time or another. This meant that he played alongside the Headmaster’s younger son Tom Sanderson. In the defeat against Northampton Rugby Club, Whiston scored the only Oundle try. It was the same story against the OOs that season, captained by the Head’s elder son, Roy. Philip Whiston was a lance-corporal in the OTC He won a Maths prize in his last year.

He was a Lieutenant in the 5th battalion of the Notts and Derby Regiment, always known as the Sherwood Foresters.

He was killed on 21st March 1918, aged 27, at Bullecourt, north of Bapaume.

The battalion diary tells of Whiston’s men coming under attack from advancing German forces:

10.40am. Enemy barrage on PONTEFRACT and DEWSBURY trenches, and enemy advancing. Enemy also attacking near junction of ILKNEY SUPPORT and HALIFAX....enemy have penetrated DEWSBURY.....
12noon. Enemy have captured DEWSBURY and PONTEFRACT, and appear to be digging in....enemy moving in large numbers along ridge...

The records indicate that 31 officers and 624 other ranks were unaccounted for at the end of the day, with just four 'survivors' to answer roll call. Philip Whiston’s body was never found and he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow