William Bryan Todd-Naylor

Courtesy of Harrow School Archives

This young man was not an Old Decanian or a member of staff. In actual fact he went to Harrow, however, for those in the Prep School, in particular Caldecote, the following story may be of particular significance.

Let me take you back to when Caldecote was a private house called Walton Court. In 1910, Mrs Todd-Naylor moved in to the house with her six daughters and a son, William, better known by his second name Bryan. Mr Todd-Naylor had died the year before in Burma where he had been an employee of the East India Company. Bryan attended Harrow school before he went to Oxford in 1912 to read history. Whilst there he was part of the University Oxford Boat Club and was part of the team who, during eights week in May 1914, bumped Christ College, Magdalen and New College to go Head of the River, a feat not repeated for another 76 years. Bryan compiled a scrap book about the events of that week which was given to Oxford College Archive. It is thanks to that we have these wonderful pictures of Bryan and the crew in their boat and walking together along the towpath. Bryan is second from the left. For more information go to https://www.univ.ox.ac.uk/news/eights-week-1914


Thanks to The Master and Fellow of University College, Oxford for allowing the use of these photographs

Three months after these photographs were taken Bryan joined the 8th Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps gaining a commission as 2nd Lieutenant. In spring 1915, he was wounded at Hooge, near Ypres, by a bullet through the shoulder. He was sent home to recover and later rejoined his battalion. However, the following year his battalion was involved in the Battle of the Somme and on the 24th August 1916, whilst leading his men on an attack of enemy trenches at the Battle of Delville Wood, Bryan was killed by a bullet from a machine gun. He was just 22 years old.

He is commemorated on the WW1 Memorial at St Stephen’s Church and the town memorial on the Promenade.