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May, Harold Gostwyck (1887-1915) | by sherborneschoolarchives
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May, Harold Gostwyck (1887-1915)

Sherborne School, UK, Book of Remembrance for former pupils who died in the First World War, 1914-1918.


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Credit: Sherborne School Archives, Abbey Road, Sherborne, Dorset, UK, DT9 3AP.


Details: Harold Gostwyck May (1887-1915), born 16 May 1887, son of Richard Cooke May and Emma Jane May, of "Sherborne," 77, Woodside Green, Croydon, London, formerly of The Cottage, 23 Rosendale Road, West Dulwich. Native of Croydon, Surrey.


Attended Dulwich Preparatory School.


Attended Sherborne School (Harper House) January 1902-July 1907; 6th form; Prefect; Head of House; 1st XI cricket team 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907 (captain); 1st XV rugby football team 1905, 1906; Public School Boxing competition 1907. Took part in the 1905 Sherborne Pageant


Assistant Master at Kelly College, Tavistock, 1907-1911.


Attended Trinity College, Dublin.


Assistant Master at Llandovery College, 1911-1912.


Assistant Master at Clifton College, 1912-1913.


Assistant Master at Sherborne School, 1914.


WW1, Lieutenant in the Dorsetshire Regiment, 3rd Bn. (Res.), attached 1st Bn. Died on 27 March 1915 of wounds received at St Eloi on 14 March 1915.


Commemorated at:

Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, II. B. 21,%20HAROLD%2...


Sherborne School: War Memorial Staircase; Book of Remembrance; memorial plaque in the School Chapel; Harper House roll of honour.


Sherborne School, Head Master's Report to the Governors for 1915 (October 1915): 'Harold May was a Master, whose death does indeed honour the School, but also deprives it of services which in the ordinary course of affairs might have extended for many years. In my last report I said 'I had been very fortunate in being able to recall Mr H.G. May to hsi old School.' Within a very short time from that of my writing those words he had joined the Army, impelled not in the slightest degree by a spirit of adventure, but soley by a sense of duty. In that short time my previous opinion of his qualities, based mainly on hearsay, had ripened with an unusually rapid assurance into the conviction that he was an absolutely first-rate schoolmaster. He combined the strongest sense of duty and rectitude with sympathy and a keen sense of humour, vigorous activity with an equable temperament and a sense of proportion. He joined the Dorsets in November, where these qualities speedily gained him an unusual degree of influence among his men and his brother officers. He went to the front in January, and died of wounds in March. Humanly speaking, the loss to the School is irreparable: to me as Headmaster [Nowell Charles Smith] it is the heaviest burden I have yet had to bear.'


'Pulman's Weekly' [April 1915]: 'From School to Battlefield. Sherborne Schoolmaster's Noble and Patriotic Example. Second-Lieutenant May's Fatal Wound. The townspeople of Sherborne, and more especially the masters and boys of King's School, where, in years past, he was a scholar and latterly an assistant master, received with a melancholy interest on Monday the news that Second Lieutenant Harold Gostwyck May had died in a French hospital from a fractured thigh, caused by a wound received whilst fighting with the 3rd Battalion of the Dorset Regiment in France. He was unmarried and 28 years of age, being a son of Mr R.C. May of the Stock Exchange, who resides at Woodside Green, S.E. Second Lieutenant May first entered the King's School in 1902, in Mr T.A. Bell's house. During the succeeding five years spent as a schoolboy he grew extremely popular alike with his fellow scholars and the teaching staff by reason of his cheerful disposition, upright character, and application to every branch of school life. On the school playing grounds he was particularly successful, being one of the finest wicket keepers the school has ever produced, and a valuable member of the football fifteen. He was also an interested and enthusiastic member of the Officers' Training Corps. In 1907 he closed an honourable, and in every respect successful, career as a schoolboy by entering Trinity College, Dublin, where he took the degree of B.A. Subsequently he secured posts as assistant master, firstly at Kelly's College, Tavistock, and later at Llandovery, returning to his old school at Sherborne as assistant master last September. A short time afterwards he was gazetted as second lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, Dorset Regiment, and in January left for France. After many experiences he took part in the terrible fighting at Neuve Chapelle, in the course of which he received what afterwards proved to be a fatal wound. Being hors-de-combat, he was transferred to the base hospital at Boulogne. From there frequent letters passed between him and his friends in Sherborne, which gave rise to the hope that he would speedily recover. Hence the painful surprise occasioned by a telegram on Monday announcing his death. An operation had been found necessary, but the poor fellow failed to survive. With the parents, relatives, and friends sincere sympathy is felt. Major G.W.G. May, of the 3rd Cheshires, who is at present in England, is an elder brother, and an old Sherborne School boy also.'


Letter from Richard Cooke May, "Sherborne," 77, Woodside Green, S.E., to Colonel J.R.P. Goodden [Chairman of the Governors at Sherborne School], 13 June 1915:

‘On behalf of my wife and myself I have to thank the Governors of Sherborne School for their kind sympathy and yourself for the exceedingly considerate way in which you voiced it. Our son Harold was absolutely devoted to Sherborne School – but he loved his Country even better! May I be allowed to thank Sherborne School for giving my two sons so excellent a training in work, sport and “tone”.

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Taken on July 30, 2013