Leeds University OTC

Dave Stowe, historical researcher and part of the Legacies of War team, has collected a number of images and press cuttings linked to his research into the Brotherton Library’s War Memorial at the University of Leeds.

Among the images presented in this tribute were those found in newspapers, journals, local and national archives and libraries, and various memorials and cemeteries, when researching names on the Leeds University war memorial. These images include some of the wounded, the decorated, prisoners of war, along with a number of men who survived the war or had served in some capacity. The images were initially intended as a backdrop to a talk on the Leeds University OTC held at the University of Leeds in June 2012. There are between approximately ninety to ninety-five images in all. Brief details on some of the men who are mentioned can be found below. Each has a connection to the former Yorkshire College and the University of Leeds.

Captain W.H. Perkins had previously commanded the Leeds OTC and was injured in October 1916 when a trench collapsed while serving with the Durham Light Infantry. Prior to the war he was an assistant lecturer and demonstrator in the chemistry department.

Second-Lieutenant Alan Bowker was present during the evacuation of Suvla Bay and was awarded his Military Cross serving with the West Yorkshire Regiment for actions on 16 September 1916 on the Western Front.

Major Edgar Geoffrey Sawer of the Australian Machine Gun Corps proved an interesting study through his absence on the university war memorial. Edgar Sawer had left Leeds Boys Modern School with an entrance scholarship to study in the Textile Department before leaving for Australia sometime later. He was also the recipient of the Military Cross.

Captain J.C. Metcalfe had also won the Military Cross with the Royal Army Medical Corps. After graduating from the Medical School in 1912 he took up position as house surgeon at the Leeds General Infirmary. Originally from Liversedge in West Yorkshire, he enlisted on the outbreak of war and was sent to the front in April 1915. Captain John Clifford Metcalfe died of wounds on 20 March 1918 aged 29. He is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

It is estimated that no less than 1600 officers from Leeds University were commissioned during the Great War. These numbers included past and present and ex-members and cadets of the university officer training corps among the staff and lecturers who also served. More than 290 officers and other ranks are known to have been killed or died of the 328 names listed on the memorial panels. Many more were wounded or injured and more than 290 military honours were awarded in total – including one VC. Captain David Philip Hirsch was awarded the Victoria Cross (Posthumous) for his part in the fighting when serving with the 4th Yorkshire Regiment in April 1917. D.P. Hirsch had joined the Leeds University OTC as an extra-mural cadet in December 1914 and was commissioned four months later.

For more on the University of Leeds Officer Training Corps, see this article.