Clift, Thomas Valentine

He was born at Esher, the son of John and Elizabeth Jane Clift. He joined Quirister School in 1901.

He enlisted in the 1/15th London Regiment, and fell in action while serving with them at Verbranden Molen on November 16th 1916.

A fellow Quirister, Henry Longbottom, wrote this memoir about him: “One of the subjects taught was piano playing, though this was on a voluntary basis and had to be paid for privately. Mr. Williams undertook the training of the beginners. One of his pupils in my time was Tom Valentine Clift. He was not much good at reading music but had an aptitude for playing quite complicated music by ear. He liked loud music with strong chords. When possible, whether authorised or not, if he managed to get to an organ stool, he was in his element. It was the custom of organ tuners who came to Chapel, School and Music School to get two Quiristers to assist. One of them was always a boy who could play the piano, to press the keys as ordered by the tuner working at the back of the organ, and the other boy was required for blowing, for in those days organs were all blown by hand. On one occasion Clift had been selected to assist the tuner when tuning the School organ. The organ was on the platform and the bellows chamber – a cupboard, almost – beneath the stage was reached by a small doorway in the east wall of the building (this has now been bricked up but the site can still be seen). We had been working for most of the morning but were needed again in the afternoon. We hurried over lunch and got to the building before the tuner had arrived. Clift jumped on to the organ stool and began, with my help as blower, his repertoire of hearty organ pieces. A crowd of visitors had arrived at the College and was waiting to be shown the old School. On seeing the open door they went inside and, sitting down, prepared to listen to the music! This somewhat disconcerted Clift, who stopped playing, and one of the group came round to the “blow hole” to ask me in a most refined manner if there was an organ recital going on. When I explained the position, the crowd dissolved. I never saw Tom Clift after he left school, but many years later I was in the offices of the Ocean Accident Insurance Co., in Pall Mall, London, and observed on a war memorial there the name ‘Tom Valentine Clift, killed in action.’

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Clift
  • Forenames or initials: Thomas Valentine
  • House: Quirister
  • Years in School: 1901-1906
  • Rank: Private
  • Regiment: London Regiment
  • Date of Birth: 14th February 1892
  • Date of Death: 16th November 1916
  • How Died: Killed in action
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer G6
  • Decoration: NA