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News > Foundation News > Student Stortfordian Stories - J B Ramsay (GH,RPH, 30-37) & Harold Tipple (DBH, 29-36)

Student Stortfordian Stories - J B Ramsay (GH,RPH, 30-37) & Harold Tipple (DBH, 29-36)

Student Stortfordian Stories - Foundation Interns, Issy S. (L6th YH) and Jess L. (L6th AH) chose and researched a subject of personal interest, choosing to write about parallels in 2 OS Lives.

The lives of John Basil Ramsay (GH,RPH,30-37) and Harold Tipple (DBH,29-36)

To start, BSC only consisted of boys. They mixed between a balance of their education, including academics, creativity and sporting opportunities. For many boys that meant developing their talents in the pool. Swimming has been a key part of College life ever since the school was privileged enough to open one of the first indoor pools at an Independent school in 1895. Today, this is known as the FLT which has been changed into a modernised room where various events, lectures and activities take place. However, before the pool was built in 1895, the students would swim in the River Stort during the summer term which helped the pupils to improve their swimming skills drastically throughout the years the come.

The team was coached by the expert swimmer Chas Mellows. He had gained a swimming a half blue Oxford during the 1920’s. As a  result of this, the reputation of the college began to grow. BSC were able to create some impressive swimmers due to their expertise and success. Two swimmers which caught our eyes were John Basil Ramsay and Harold Tipple.   

These men went to the College at the same time, both talented swimmers and went off to fight in World War Two. From a match report from 1937, about a swimming competition against Bedford Modern on May 19th, it can be seen that Ramsay and Tipple swam in the same team, coming 1st and 2nd in the 60-yard race.

John basil Ramsay went to the College between 1930-37, in Robert Pearce House. In a 1941 issue of the Stortfordian Ramsay was described as a “quiet, retiring character, possessed of great determination” and an “enthusiastic swimmer”. He became a member of the Bath club team in 1936-37. After the leaving the college, he was in the RAF and reported missing in the summer of 1940. In February 1941, he was reported killed in action, at 21 years of age, fighting in the Battle of Britain. John Basil Ramsay’s cousin, Esme Worth, upon her death left a generous sum of money to the school in memory of him. Esme Worth gave this money to set up a prize fund for swimming and is still handed out to this day, carrying on his legacy.


Harold Tipple went to the college between 1929-36. To this day he is remembered as an excellent swimmer and a talented sportsman. He joined the RAF and became a pilot officer in September 1939. On the 16th of December that year, Tipple accompanied Flight Lieutenant Nicholas Gresham Cooke to retrieve two aircrafts from Gloucestershire and fly them back. Tipple was unexperienced in flying these types of planes and there was smoke coming from the engine. Unfortunately, the plane crashed in Hintlesham and Harold Tipple died at the age of 19.


It is interesting to see how connected the lives of these Old Stortfordians are. Harold Tipple and John Basil Ramsay went on to share much more than just their talents in the pool. Two boys who perhaps formed a close friendship in their time at the College, paralleled in the tragedies of their deaths at such a young age. They would have just left the Sixth Form and while today most would go off to University, Tipple and Ramsay joined the RAF and went to fight in WW2. It is a harrowing thought that the lives of such young men were taken so early and I think it is important to appreciate how lucky we are today, at the College, with our whole futures ahead of us, partly thanks to these men.

Issy S. (L6th YH) and Jess L. (L6th AH)

November 2020

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