The Slow Dusk
In October 1922 President Warren sent the following letter to Canon John Philpott, the father of one of the Magdalen men killed in the Great War. It is likely that other families received a similar letter.
You are aware, I think, that the College, last year, carried to completion the visible and material Memorial to those dead, and never-to-be-forgotten sons and Members of the College, who gave their lives in the Great War of 1914-1918.
A Memorial Cross was erected, and stands in the front Quadrangle of the College, and the names of those who fell have been carved on stone tablets let into the walls of the passage-way leading from the Chapel Porch into the Cloisters, being part of the main entrance to the College.
These Memorials were unveiled and dedicated on Shrove Tuesday, February 8th, of last year, and will, we hope, remain, and be cherished so long as the College shall exist, as an abiding monument of the sacrifice made by those whom they commemorate, and our grateful affection.
It was part of the original plan of the College to carry out, in addition, another form of memorial, “a War Memorial Album,” which should contain a portrait, and a brief record of each of the fallen, and that a copy should be presented, in each case, to the nearest living representative. Efforts were begun early in the War to obtain portraits and records. Circulars were sent to all the relatives and friends whose addresses could be found. Many of these most kindly responded. But, from the first, difficulties appeared. Not a few of the circulars came back through the Post Office, and to not a few more no answer of any kind was returned.
To add to these, the original editor was called away by duties arising out of the war. For a considerable period however, the College persevered. But after the war these original difficulties increased, and others also appeared. When the material collected had been arranged and prepared, it was found, not only that it was incomplete, but that the cost of production was immensely enhanced, and that the project could hardly be entertained, even if a complete list, and an adequate presentation could be carried through.
Under the circumstances the whole plan no longer seemed justified.
The College, after long deliberation, and with great reluctance, felt itself driven to the decision that the idea of printing and circulation must be abandoned. It has been decided therefore, to deposit the material collected in the College Library, for careful preservation. There it will remain as a valuable record and will be accessible to members of the College, and to any relative or friend who may, at any time, desire to inspect, or refer to it.
We have thought it right to inform you of the position arrived at. We trust that you will believe that it is no want of affection or gratitude, but only the inherent difficulties, that have led us to the decision which I now, on behalf of the College, very reluctantly, communicate to you.
Believe me to be,
Most faithfully and sincerely yours,
President of Magdalen College.
Now, a hundred years later, Warren’s objective of a War Memorial Album has been fulfilled in an online version: The Slow Dusk.
Based on the material deposited in the College Library and information from many other sources, this website provides brief but full biographies of all the members of Magdalen who were killed in or died because of the Great War. The website also considers what those members of Magdalen who were “deemed […] to have been duly enlisted in His Majesty’s regular forces”, did during the war – including those who were for whatever reason exempt from military service. The cohorts of 1912 and 1913 have been examined in some detail so that, by considering the fate of their contemporaries, we get some idea of what those killed might have achieved, and what Britain lost by their deaths. Finally, we look at the opposition to the war among members of Magdalen by studying those who were known to have been Conscientious Objectors and those who were known or thought to have been pacifists.
We are grateful to many families for providing us with information, photographs etc. and we have acknowledged their help in the biographies and the extensive list of acknowledgements. We are aware that many data exist which we do not have, we hope that anyone with corrections, comments or additions will contact us so that we can bring the entries up to date. This website has been created with the help of a generous grant from Michael McGowan, Magdalen (1982-87); the title of this website comes from Wilfred Owen’s (1893-1918) best-known poem Anthem for Doomed Youth, and we thank Prof. John Stallworthy FBA FRSL (1935-2014) one time editor of Owen’s letters & poems for letting us use The Slow Dusk as our title.
 Original in the RAF Museum, Hendon, associated with J.R. Philpott RFC who died on 15 January 1918.
John Arden ("Honest John") Acworth
(20 May 1898 - 13 October 1917)
Place of burial:Dozinghem Military Cemetery: Grave XII.H.20
Geoffrey Henry Cadwallader Adams
(9 May 1896 - 1 November 1916)
Place of burial:Thiepval Memorial: Pier and Face 1C and 2A
Geoffrey Hugh Alington MA
(3 December 1888 - 9 August 1916)
Regiment:Royal Sussex Regiment
Place of burial:Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery (Extension): II.F.8
Gervase Winford Stovin Alington, BA, MM and Bar
(6 March 1892 - 9 November 1918)
Regiment:London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles)
Place of burial:Tournai Communal Cemetery (Allied Extension): V.D.1
Thomas Sorell Arnold
(31 July 1897 - 11 October 1917)
Regiment:East Surrey Regiment
Place of burial:Nine Elms British Cemetery: III.A.12
Anthony Henry Evelyn ("Harry") Ashley
(25 February 1894 - 14 January 1921)
Place of burial:Romsey Abbey Cemetery, Hampshire
Thomas Zachary Dodson Babington, BA
(27 November 1889 - 16 October 1918)
Regiment:Indian Army Reserve of Officers, attached to 49th Regiment of Bengalis
Place of burial:Karachi Cemetery: A/E.B.10
Robert Neale Menteth Bailey MA
(21 August 1882 - 1 December 1917)
Regiment:East Riding Yeomanry
Place of burial:Cairo War Memorial Cemetery: O.44
Isaac Bayley Balfour BA
(19 October 1889 - 28 June 1915)
Regiment:Royal Scots attached to King’s Own Scottish Borderers
Place of burial:Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery: VII.C.8
John Leslie Barratt, Chorister 1909–10
(23 August 1898 - 27 September 1917)
Regiment:The King’s (Liverpool Regiment)
Place of burial:Tyne Cot Memorial: Panels 31 to 34 and 162, 162A and 163A
Hugh Reginald Bell BA
(7 May 1879 - 2 September 1918)
Place of burial:Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery: 8.K.3
Eric William Benison, BA
(22 August 1889 - 15 August 1915)
Regiment:Royal Garrison Artillery
Place of burial:Wimborne Minster Cemetery, Dorset: C.9.4821
George (Francis) Bennett
(23 August 1892 - 21 November 1920)
Place of death:Shot by Vincent (Vinnie) Byrne, IRA, in Dublin
Regiment:Special List and Royal Army Service Corps
Place of burial:St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green: Grave 2623 NE
Percy William Beresford MA, DSO, TD
(5 October 1875 - 26 October 1917)
Regiment:London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)
Place of burial:Gwalia Cemetery: II.E.9
Arthur Percival Dearman (“Percy” within his family, “Mr Percy” in the local village, “Alice” while at Magdalen, “6 foot 5” by the men of his Battalion) Birchall
(7 March 1877 - 23 April 1915)
Regiment:Royal Fusiliers, attached to 4th Canadian Infantry
Place of burial:Ypres Menin Gate Memorial: Panels 6 and 8