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The Skipper’s War: Dragon School, Oxford & The Great War

The Skipper’s War: Dragon School, Oxford & The Great War


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The Skipper's War: Dragon School, Oxford & The Great War

Desmond Devitt

Charles 'Skipper' Lynam, the celebrated preparatory school headmaster at the Dragon School, Oxford, during the First World War, inspired a generation of his pupils as they found themselves caught up in the conflict.

This book tells the story of the school's wartime years and the various fronts on which its boys were involved. It traces the roots of a school founded by Oxford dons for their children, its idiosyncratic ways, and the extraordinary relationship Skipper Lynam forged with his boys, some of whom (in former pupil John Betjeman's words) 'lost their lives for King and Country and the Dragon School'.

The story of these hundreds of lives and deaths connected by five years in a north Oxford prep school is almost an encyclopaedia of the war. The Dragons evacuate from the beaches of Gallipoli, are killed at the third Battle of Ypres, meet Lawrence of Arabia and Marie Curie, grapple with the German High Seas Fleet in the Battle of Jutland, save the wounded at the Easter Rising and are shot out of the sky by Baron von Richthofen…

Rory Stewart

“… An almost unbearably moving chronicle of the young lives – ‘among the brightest and most talented of their generation’ – that were lost in the Great War. A valuable record of that wretched conflict, observed through their vivid, even, at times, humorous eyes. An affectionate portrait of the near-legendary headmaster who taught them the values for which they fought and sacrificed themselves…”

Nicholas Shakespeare

… Imbued with the school tradition of summer holiday diaries, former pupils even sent their war diaries to the Skipper for publication in ‘The Draconian’, which means eye-witness glimpses of Mons, Ypres and the Somme – squashed frogs underfoot in the trenches, the stench of dead cows and sheep, the ‘delirious shrieks of those half-gassed’… The contrast between Lynam’s loving, humanist hopes for his pupils and the nihilism of the Somme is deeply moving…

William Fiennes


Hardback, 300 pages.



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