REMEMBRANCE DISPATCH NO. 13 HAS BEEN POSTED IN HOUSES TO COMMEMORATE GEOFFREY BOOTHBY (SCHOOL HOUSE 1909-1913) WHO WAS KILLED IN ACTION THIRTY FEET UNDER BELGIUM ON 28TH APRIL 1916.
Charles Geoffrey Boothby, known as Geoffrey, joined School House at the start of the Easter Term 1909. He quickly gained academic prizes and was a promising sportsman, winning events in the Athletic Sports as well as a place in the 1st XV. He was also a keen photographer.
After leaving school, Geoffrey studied at the Medical School in Birmingham, Geoffrey. He enlisted soon after war was declared and on Christmas Eve 1914 he was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the South Staffordshire Regiment.
While at the front, Geoffrey exchanged letters and poems with Edith Ainscow, the sister of a friend. The letters were discovered after Edith’s death in 1990 and published by her son, Arthur Stockwin, in a small volume that told the story of their “affair of letters”, Thirty-odd Feet Under Belgium.
Leaving for the front in July 1915, he wrote to her that he was “jolly lucky” to be going to France rather than be posted at home. He entered the trenches in the same month and undertook a short course to train as a mining officer with the Royal Engineers, taking part in defensive actions underground.
On 18th December 1915, Geoffrey celebrated his 21st birthday in the trenches and in the following January he was transferred to the 177th Tunnelling Company. On April 28th 1916 he was working below ground in a shaft 4 feet 6 inches wide and 2 feet 3 inches high. At 7.45am the enemy blew a camouflet, an underground explosion that did not break the surface.
With two other men, Second Lieutenant Charles Geoffrey Boothby was killed about thirty feet underground. His body was never recovered. He is remembered at Railway Wood near Hooge in Belgium and at the Lochnagar Crater as well as on the Christ College War Memorial.
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