Hunter, Leslie Whitaker

He was the son of Leslie Hunter of Barnes, a solicitor, and Mary Hunter, nee Whitaker. He came into College from Mr. S. C. Newton’s school at St. John’s Wood. He was Prefect of Hall from 1904 to 1905, and headed the list for the Goddard Scholarship in three successive years; he won the King’s Gold Medals for English Essay and Latin Essay, the Warden and Fellows’ Prizes for Greek Prose and Greek Iambics, the Moore-Stevens Prize for Divinity, the Hawkins prize for English Literature and the Headmaster’s Prize for Modern Languages, and headed the Roll for Oxford. In 1905, he also played one year in College XV. His career at Oxford was brilliant: he took First Classes in Classical Moderations and Literae Humaniores, and won the Cracen, Derby, and Passmore Edwards Scholarships, the Chancellor’s Prizes for Latin Verse and Latin Essay and Gaisford Prizes for Greek Verse and Greek Prose. He was elected to a Fellowship at Magdalen College in 1909 and three years later returned to New College as Fellow and Lecturer.

Early in 1915, he joined the 4th Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. ┬áHe was killed in action at Pozieres on August 13th 1916 – his first day in the trenches. His company had been under heavy bombardment all day and he and his Captain were the only officers left unwounded. The latter had to send out a bombing party to attack a trench taken by the Germans and was compelled to put him in charge, although he had had no previous experience of trench work. After he had started another officer arrived and was sent to take charge instead, but┬áHunter refused to be relieved and was killed soon after by an enemy bomb.

A fellow Wykehamist, Graham Greenwell (C 1909-1914) in his war memoirs “An Infant in Arms” wrote on August 15th 1916: “Reserve trenches behind Ovillers, Somme: After writing my yesterday’s letter to you we settled down to the most awful hell of shelling I have ever been in….. Hunter was seen to be hit and is either a prisoner or dead, probably the latter. He will be a great loss, as he was a most brilliant man and a splendid officer…..”

He left a sum of money to Winchester College to found an annual prize for an essay in Classical Archaeology.

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Hunter
  • Forenames or initials: Leslie Whitaker
  • House: College
  • Years in School: 1898-1905
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Regiment: Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
  • Date of Birth: 1st April 1886
  • Date of Death: 13th August 1916
  • How Died: Killed by enemy bomb
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer B2
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on Special Memorial 21 of the POZIERES BRITISH CEMETERY, OVILLERS-LA-BOISELLE.