In the 00s of the last century, someone had the cunning plan to use the stable-block and grounds as a prep school for those who aspired, like my father, to enroll in Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth at the age of 14. The education didn't come cheap and the expectation was that chaps who went to Osborne would be good eggs, play a straight bat and not behave like cads, rotters and bounders. In 1908 George Archer-Shee started at Osborne aged 13.authorities at the school carried out an investigation when Back reported his postal order had been stolen from his locker. Called a hand-writing expert and the post-mistress and convinced themselves that young Archer-Shee was a forger and a thief and asked his parents to take him away. Could it be that, like L'affaire Dreyfus across the channel, the Archer-Shees were the wrong [R.C.] religion? And Irish? But you don't mess with the Archer-Shees! The family wanted a court martial or a proper trial and more importantly they wanted their good name. It took two years of dogged determination, and a lorra money, for the school and ultimately the Admiralty and the Government of the Day to eat humble pie and acquit young George. One of the key things that money can by is the Best Lawyer and the Archer-Shees instructed Sir Edw "Home Rule" Carson KC to act for their boy and their rep.
It became a national political hot-potato and a cause célèbre internationally and eventually George Archer-Shee retrieved his good name and a truly mighty amount £7,240 for costs and compensation from the Admiralty. Given the then current rates of pay, that's enough to crew a WWI destroyer for a year excluding grog. George left Osborne and gone to a civilian school. At the outbreak of war, he returned home to join the colours, shipped out to France, and killed there on 31 October 1914 not yet old enough to vote. Three days before, Edward Carson's nephew had been killed serving in the same regiment. Less than two weeks later AEJ Collins, boy cricket star also died. The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.