war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper


The "We Remember" Booklet 2006

plaque from school memorial, by Simon Chambers


Michael Carson, courtesy Mr CarsonAfter more than a century in Chelsea the Duke of York’s Royal Military School moved to more spacious accommodation near Dover in 1909. From then on Dover was the only home that some pupils had and even term-time boarders spent the majority of their year there.  Memorial at the school, by Simon ChambersIn the pre-war years the majority of school leavers joined the army. By the beginning of 1917 1,648 Old Boys were serving in the army. Many hundreds more may have volunteered or been conscripted.  

“Dukies” served on all fronts and in all services. A great many accompanied the British Expeditionary Force to France in August 1914. They took part in all of the significant battles. Former pupils fell in large numbers on the Western Front but others are buried or remembered worldwide especially at Gallipoli and in Mesopotamia.  

The majority of the dead had served in the infantry. Regiments with reputations for hard fighting were popular destinations and ten died serving with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders alone. But the education and training provided by the school saw many serving with technical corps like the Royal Engineers, the RAOC, the RASC, and even the newly formed RFC. 

Plaques in the School Chapel commemorate 232 Old Boys who died between 1914 and 1918. return of the unknown warrior, courtesy Dover museumStatistically, another 540 could have been wounded. The total of 772 represents a decade of “Dukies” leavers today and this estimate is well below the likely total. Numbers alone cannot bring home the human tragedy. A number of pairs of brothers were killed like the Falkners, John and Robert, who served with the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment. Two other Old Boys died the day that the Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918. 

The fallen are remembered by plaques on the Chapel walls, a Book of Remembrance, and a Cross of Sacrifice close to the school entrance. A service is held there every Remembrance Sunday.  

When the body of the Unknown Warrior arrived at Dover 100 pupils formed part of the guard of honour. Many of the boys who lined up at the quayside had lost their fathers in the Great War.

 Michael B Carson MA, Head of Humanities,
Duke of York's Royal Military School

Copyright 2006 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved