Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Introduction to the Corpus Christi College Roll of Honour 1939-1945

During the course of the Second World War, 415 Corpus men saw active service. Of these, 51 were killed - the entire intake for about 1½ years at pre-1939 rates of entry, or twelve per cent of those serving. 

Of the 50 student casualties, five had earned an order (two Distinguished Flying Crosses, one Military Cross, one Distinguished Serving Order and one Croix de Guerre) during their war service. Aside from the Corpus Christi College students who died, one college servant was also killed in the war. Of this servant we know nothing other than his name, C.W. Webb, regiment, and that he died as a prisoner of war in July 1940, location unknown.

Much of the information that we have on the Second World War fallen is very patchy; often exact dates of death are unlisted, and there are far fewer detailed obituaries of the fallen to be found in back issues of the Pelican Record than had previously featured therein during the First World War. As had happened during the Great War, Corpus fatalities from the Second World War were spread across many generations of students, although their fatality rate was much lower. Most of those who were killed matriculated at Corpus during the 1930s and early 1940s, with the 1935 matriculation year seeing the highest fatality rate at over 21 per cent; but a significant minority of older soldiers fought and died with their younger counterparts.

The oldest Corpuscle Second World War fatality was Herbert Summersell-Davis. He matriculated at Corpus in 1896 and had previously served in France during the Great War; he later became a Squadron Leader in the RAF during the Second World War, dying on active service in 1941, aged 63 or 64. Sadly, Summersell-Davis is omitted from both the college war memorial and the War Service. The second eldest was Percy Theodore Carden, who matriculated in 1903; Carden had also previously undertaken military service during the First World War, and was awarded the Military Cross in 1918; he died on active service in February 1942, aged 54. The next eldest fatality, at 42, was The Hon Allen Balzano Hailey, who matriculated in 1918; during the war, Hailey served as a Lieutenant in the Pioneer Corps and fought in Iraq; he died on active service on 1 February 1943.

Meanwhile, the three youngest Corpuscle fatalities were all aged just 19 when they fell. William Angus was at Corpus 1942-1943 as an RAF probationer; during the war he fought as a Flying Officer and served in Cyprus and the Middle East, and was killed in action on 30 May 1943. Michael Cyril Clark was also at Corpus 1942-1943; in the war he served as a Sub-Lieutenant in the RNVR, and was killed in action on either 31 October or 1 November 1944. John Austin Lindsay Grant was at the college from 1941-1942; he served as a Sergeant Pilot on coastal command of the Pacific and Atlantic during the war, and was killed on 3 September 1943, four years to the day after Britain had entered the war.

Miraculously, none of the students matriculating during the years 1943, 1944 or 1945 were killed during the conflict. However, with the exceptions of the 1926 and 1932 matriculation years, the Corpus student body saw fatalities across every matriculation year from 1924 to 1942.

The full 1939-1945 Roll of Honour includes details of their regiments, and information from obituaries where available; it is also available to download as a PDF.

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