Bedales 1899 – 1909 Captain 10th Batt. East Lancashire Regiment: formerly 23rd Batt. London Regiment

Dmitri Jarintzoff was the first of the fourteen Russians who attended Bedales School between 1899 and the outbreak of war in 1914.  He seems to have been born in Pimlico: possibly his father was seconded to the Russian Embassy in Belgravia. General Dmitri Feodorovitch Jarintzoff was 46 when his son was born but Dmitri’s mother Nadine (née Ostroverhova, daughter of a schoolmaster) was only 19.  On 1st December 1891 the General was admitted as an Associate of the British Institute of Civil Engineers.  Over the decade his occupation was variously given as “Admiralty, St. Petersburg”, “Inspector-General, Admiralty St. Petersburg” and finally “Major-General, Imperial Russian Navy”.

Possibly influenced by Edmond Demolins’s book “A quoi tient la supériorité des Anglo-Saxons?” in 1897 Nadine Jarintzoff first visited Bedales in Sussex and, as she wrote in 1900 when she spent a few weeks near the school, “I could not imagine my boy at any other school than this.”  Dmitri had arrived in September 1899, shortly after his ninth birthday.  On this visit Nadine was accompanied by her friend Mme. Levitzky who determined to found a school along Bedalian lines at Tsarskoe Selo near St. Petersburg.  At this time, according to Mr. Badley’s address book, the Jarintzoff home was at 76 Nicholaevsay, St Petersburg and they must have remained there until early 1903.  In the Bedales Record for 1902-1903 twelve year-old Dmitri wrote a fascinating account of “A Wintry Voyage”, his six-day journey home for Christmas as the sole passenger on a cargo ship from Hull to Petersburg.

By the summer of 1903, however, General Jarintzoff must have retired.  According to his death certificate (1909) for seven years he had suffered the consequences of “Cerebral Haemorrhage”.  The new address in the Bedales Roll was 68 Station Road, Petersfield and they were still there in summer 1904.  Soon after, however, the Jarintzoffs took up residence at The White House at the top of Bell Hill, frequently visited by Bedalians for the next ten years and convenient for Nadine’s constant contact with school.

As one of the youngest in the school there are few references to Dmitri in the Record, though by 1901 he was listed as quite a keen bookbinder; he was still active in this in 1903.  Dmitri was damned with faint praise for his work on “The Life of the Oak” for the Show in 1902.  He must have benefitted from the criticism, however, as the following year he received a first prize for “Illustrated Book on the Growth and Development of Flowers”: he had fallen back to a second prize for “Pond Life” in 1904 but returned to a first in 1905 for “The Mineral Wealth of Europe” – described by the judge as “an encyclopædic piece of work”.

Dmitri may have been a member of the Scientific Society since its inception in 1903 and as early as 1904, at the age of 13½, he delivered a lecture on “Comets and Meteors” and was a regular lecturer in future years; by 1907 he was Honorary Secretary.  Showing broad interests Dmitri was a member of the Classical Society, founded by Classics teacher Moray Williams in 1904 and, by contrast, a founder member of the Bedales Corps in 1906-1907.  At the end of that Summer Term a special “Merry Evening” was held with “High explosives under the personal supervision and control of D. Jarintzoff”. As was to become apparent from the reporting in The Bedales Chronicle (founded 1907) Dmitri Jarintzoff, and his mother, played a significant role in the School

Nadine Jarintzoff was a violinist and it would seem she had been a regular participant in concerts at school; in October 1907 The Chronicle reported a special recital after prayers on Sunday, commenting “It is pleasant to feel that friends, not directly connected with the work of the school, are interested in our musical matters.” A month later another of the Russian Bedalians, Helen Vinogradski gave a lecture on Russian Folk-songs illustrated by songs, dances and music.  Nadine played the violin and Dmitri sang both solo and in chorus.  This interest in things Russian, and particularly in fund-raising for victims of famine in Russia, continued throughout the war and after.

In 1908 Dmitri found himself in serious trouble with many of his fellow pupils.  A debate had been held with the motion “This Society is in favour of the early extension of the franchise to women”.  The motion had been passed by 34 votes to 3 and Dmitri had been severely criticised by his friends for speaking against it.  As he explained in a letter to The Chronicle “the real opposer (a very sincere and clever one) was away, and (as) there was no one to speak against the motion. (and) I think someone must always speak against a motion,” despite his own agreement with the proposition, he attempted to speak for the other side. 

Although not a very keen sportsman Dmitri was a regular in the football team and attempted several distances from the mile down on the Sports Day of 1908.  He had been congratulated on his performance as a Tribune of the People in “Coriolanus” in December 1907 but his star performance was as Feste in December 1908.  “Jarintzoff’s wonderfully life-like impersonation of Feste the Clown brought him unanimous praise, and his sympathetic rendering of the Twelfth Night songs deserves especial mention,” reported The Chronicle.

Looking forward to a university career Dmitri took examinations for scholarships at both Cambridge and Oxford.  News in Brief in January 1909 recorded a gamble he took: “D. Jarintzoff has refused” (a Sub-Sizorship at Trinity, Cambridge) “and has decided to fly at higher game, i.e., an £80 Postmastership at Merton, Oxford.”  It paid off: on 3rd April it reported his success and the fact that the school would get as a consequence a whole day holiday in July.  This good news came just in time for both his parents to be able to celebrate.  On 12th May, at the age of 64, General Jarintzoff died; his son registered his death in Petersfield and soon afterwards he was buried in Steep Church yard.  (It is necessary to crawl under the yew tree in the north-east corner to see his granite slab with elegant Cyrillic script.)

The “Oxford Letter to The Chronicle in December 1909 reveals that Dmitri enjoyed himself at Merton: “He is a member of the Musical Society, of the Bodley Literary Society of Merton, and of the Junior Science Club; he also orates at the Merton debates. (Poetry!) He plays soccer at half-back when the regular half-backs are ill or gone to town to see a musical comedy, and he is a member of the Officers' Training Corps.”  These are chiefly extensions of his school life eagerly supporting the Merton Eight in Torpids (the Hilary Term races on the Cherwell) and celebrating by falling in from the bank being hauled to safety by boat hooks! That was a new experience.  In 1910 Dmitri was awarded a Choral Scholarship so he would have sung regularly in the College Choir.

It must have been something of a disappointment when he left Oxford in 1913 with only a 2nd class degree in Chemistry but Dmitri gained a job as a research chemist near Warrington and enjoyed his work.  A contemporary, Vyv Trubshawe, dismissed the Oxford Chemistry course as dull and unenterprising by comparison with the work they had done at Bedales so perhaps that is why so much effort went into Jarry’s other interests, especially singing.  Life after Oxford improved. The OB “Oxford Letter” to The Chronicle in November 1913 passed on the news: “We have heard from Jarry that he finds life at Brunner Mond’s very congenial and is given plenty of facilities for research work – and billiards, though how he manages to blend these occupations together is a mystery to us.”  However, he did not hesitate when war was declared in August 1914.  On 4th September, at the age of 24, he volunteered for 4 years’ service in the Territorial Force.  The Medical Report gave his height as 5 ft. 7 inches and weight as 10 stone 12lbs, with good vision and physical development and declared him “fit for the Territorial Force”.  He was attached as a Private to the 23rd Battalion of London Regiment but was rapidly promoted. After three weeks he was a sergeant and a month later acting company sergeant; on 30th January 1915 he became acting company sergeant major.  On 9th June the regiment was informed he was to be transferred as a Second Lieutenant to the 10th (Service) Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment in the New Army.  2nd Lieut. Jarintzoff was ordered to report to Oxford on 14th June for a training course before joining his regiment.

By 23rd September Dmitri was en route for Egypt with his new regiment.  He sent an account of his journey on R.M.S. Franconia to The Bedales Chronicle. “Our berths splendid, food really excellent and plentiful, attendance fine, lounges, gymnasium and all the other paraphernalia of ocean liners for our use; good piano and a number of good players to play it … and always a certain amount of excitement over the chance of being torpedoed.”  This of course was officers’ accommodation: the other ranks on lower decks were less well supplied.

He recounted marvellous sunsets, the splendours of passing Gibraltar at night and the nearby African coast.  Their ship was slightly redirected towards the Dardanelles; in a later letter, written in instalments, he recorded: “Somehow we have missed Alexandria … we are landing today on the peninsula”.  “Here I am at last in a dug-out. … the view is perfectly wonderful and the weather glorious.  The flies are pretty dreadful, and the muslin bag we made at home has already proved invaluable.”  “Since my last I have been appointed Battalion Sniping Officer. … Last night I had the first taste of patrolling the open country at night … we came to our own protective wire … it took some five minutes to go five yards. … We carried rifles with fixed bayonets, instructions being not to fire but to bayonet any enemy patrols or listeners we might meet.” … “I am testing the only telescopic-sighted rifle we have – with great success.  If anyone would care to help seriously I would be very glad to receive a set of telescopic-sights attachable to ordinary Service rifles.  All Turkish snipers appear to have them and some are pretty deadly.”

Later in the year he was invalided out of the peninsula with enteric fever, pleurisy and jaundice but early next year may have served with his regiment in Mesopotamia. Dmitri was awarded the Military Cross but as it was gazetted in the Birthday Honours of 1916 there is no citation of cause or place.  Resisting pressure from Brunner-Mond to return to war work with them Dmitri applied for active service. He was gazetted a full Lieutenant in July and sailed for France in September; in November he was wounded in the hand quite severely at Beaumont-Hamel and sent home to England.  Declared unfit for active service after recuperation he served for a period at home as an anti-gas instructor. Again ignoring requests from Brunner-Mond Dmitri made another application for active service; he was gazetted acting Captain and returned to France in July 1917.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to establish Dmitri’s actions over the next two months. It had been raining heavily and the ground was a quagmire. Describing the situation of the East Lancs on 8th October Lieut. P King wrote “ … all the time the duckboards were being blown up and men being blown off the track or merely slipping off … we were loaded up like Christmas trees, so of course an explosion near by or just the slightest thing off balance and he would go … right down into the muck.”  Dmitri was on reconnaissance in an area where attack was planned for the next day and was shot through the head by a sniper.  In the heat and chaos of the battle his body was never recovered so he is commemorated on a panel 77 -79 at Tyne Cot.

In his In Memoriam tribute in the Bedales Record of 1917-1918 Mr Badley wrote: “The words that his Colonel wrote will be recognised as true by all who knew him. ‘His death is a very serious loss to the Battalion.  His energy was boundless and his enthusiasm so infectious that he got a tremendous lot out of his men without their knowing it’.”

His name was inscribed on the Brunner-Mond memorial near Winnington, in the church and on the village war memorial in Steep and, of course in the Bedales Memorial Library (Bay 5).

Sources: Bedales Archives. TNA (file WO339/2075): GRO: Julian Reid, Archivist Merton College & the 750th commemoration: David Erskine-Hill: recent works on Passchendaele by Nick Lloyd and Paul Ham.