Duke of York's Royal Military School

Duke of York's Royal Military School
The Duke of York's Royal Military School
Entrance to the Duke of York's Royal Military School - geograph.org.uk - 804590.jpg
Motto Sons Of The Brave
Established 1803
Type Selective Academy with military traditions
President HRH Prince Edward Duke of Kent
Headteacher Mr Charles Hugh Johnson MA (Oxon)
Location Dover
CT15 5EQ
England England
Students approx. 500
Ages 11–18
Houses 9
Colours Navy, Maroon & White               
Website www.doyrms.com

The Duke of York’s Royal Military School, more commonly called the Duke of York’s, is a co-educational Academy with military traditions in Dover, Kent, open to pupils whose parents are serving or have served in any branch of the United Kingdom armed forces for a minimum of 4 years. The school was until September 2010 a military boarding secondary school and an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

With the transition to Academy status, entry was extended to civilian families and oversight transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the Department for Education. The Ministry of Defence remains the sponsor of the school, contributing a £23M redevelopment project and an additional £1.5M per annum to fund military instruction.[1] The school's fees are in the order of £10000 per annum.[2]

The Duke of York’s has many traditions and a rich history, which includes ceremonial parades and uniforms, a monitorial style of education modelled on the English public school system. This rich history includes a long line of notable alumni, known as Dukies, including senior generals (such as Sir Archibald Nye and Gary Coward), famous musicians (such as Debroy Somers and Henry Lazarus), sportsmen (like Maurice Colclough), many leading academic scientists (including Professors Paul Shaw, Timothy Foster and Mark Gardiner) and clergymen (James Jones and Bill Ind) and a long list of decorated armed forces personnel.



Founded in 1803 by act of Royal Warrant dating from 1801, the school was until 1892 called the Royal Military Asylum. The school’s primary purpose was to educate the orphans of British servicemen killed in the Napoleonic Wars of 1793-1815.

Between 1803 and 1909 the Royal Military Asylum was located at what is now known as the Duke of York's Headquarters in Chelsea, London. For the duration of World War I (1914-1918), the Duke of York's School was evacuated to Hutton, near Brentwood, Essex. The reason for the evacuation was to provide the military authorities with a transit point for troops moved to and from the Western Front.[3] The school was co-educational; making the Duke of York's the very first co-educational boarding school in the United Kingdom. Today the Chelsea site is home to the Saatchi Gallery and the Duke of York’s Royal Military School Old Boys' Association.[4]

In 1892 the Royal Military Asylum was renamed The Duke of York's Royal Military School and in the process became an all-boys school. In 1909 the school relocated to new premises constructed on the cliffs above Dover in Kent.

In 1994 the school re-admitted girls and returned to co-education.

Academic standards

Between 2007 and 2009 more than 60% of pupils gained 5 or more GCSEs at grades A*-C (including English and Mathematics). More than 26% of grades were A*/A during the same period.

During this period (2007–2009) 35% of grades gained were A/B at AS level and 45% of grades were A/B at A2 level. A total of 97% of grades gained were passes at A2 level.[5]

Sports facilities

Pupils have access to extensive sporting facilities; indeed sports take place every day, with main sports like rugby and hockey being played twice per week. Pupils can also engage in sports and athletic training in their own time each day. The school has a strong sporting culture. The 150 acres (607,000 m²) of land on the school site includes a full size athletics track, two sports halls, swimming pool, indoor squash courts, gymnasium and a dozen full size grass pitches for rugby union, cricket and tennis.

Exchanges with NATO member military schools

The Duke of York's runs exchange programmes with military schools within NATO. Of these the most notable is the programme run with the school's French equivalent, the Lycée Militaire in Aix-en-Provence. There are also placements for recent school leavers from respective military schools to assume teaching assistant posts at corresponding schools. There is also large connections with Valley Forge Military Academy and College.

Parading, military instruction, adventurous training

Ceremonial Parades take place each Sunday morning; the grandest of these being Remembrance Sunday and the Grand Day at the end of summer. On Parade, as well as for all military activities, pupils are instead called cadets and are organised into ceremonial Guards or else play an instrument in the Band. Cadets wear the standard dark blue ceremonial uniform of the British Army. The Duke of York’s Royal Military School Ceremonial Band is the largest within the Ministry of Defence, being larger still than the Massed Bands of the Brigade of Foot Guards. The considerable number of notable musicians educated at the school over the last 207 years demonstrates the very high standards in music tuition. In recent years the band has performed at:

  • Twickenham Stadium (for the annual rugby match between the Royal Navy and British Army)
  • Lords Cricket Ground (for International Test Match Cricket)
  • Aldershot (for the Army Rugby League Finals).

The school employs a regimental sergeant major to co-ordinate ceremonial drill and military instruction.

All pupils are cadets, with ranks ranging from cadet to senior under officer, and entrance to the armed forces at all ranks - as either a ranking soldier or commissioned officer entrant – occurs regularly. There is regular cross-training with soldiers from the British Army as well as the school’s own military officers.

Adventurous Training is run by the Army and is available to higher quality cadets. Each training camp is completed in the Brecon Beacons and lasts one week, comprising mostly fieldcraft and endurance skills; but always including an extended exercise. Two versions are offered: the first comprises 60 miles over 2 days with adult supervision; the second comprises 90 miles over 3 days without supervision.

High Table

High Table is where the headmaster, the deputy headmasters, the head boy and girl, and a combination of sixth formers and guests take lunch. The table is waited on. Some sixth formers become High Table regulars owing to their particular social skills and etiquette. Guests are invited from the Officers' Messes of nearby Army battalions, Royal Navy ships and Royal Air Force squadrons. Members of the school's board of governors, who are themselves among the most senior military officers and leaders in business and commerce, are also invited regularly.

In 1985 with several guests present, a pupil organised 'food strike' took place over the quality of school meals. Vitually all Senior Pupils took part, and the Junior Houses (whilst taking their dinners) remained in silence with the rest of the school. The Head, Colonel Petrie, clearly found the situation embarrassing in front of his assembled guests and berated the school in the following assembly. The Catering manager did however leave, and many pupils felt the food improved afterwards.

Boarding houses

The school is currently divided into ten Houses, nine of which are named after famous British generals: Haig, Kitchener, Roberts, Wolseley, Wellington, Clive, Wolfe, Marlborough and Alanbrooke. A tenth house exclusively for Year 13's called Centenary House opened in September 2010.

Marching Beats

  • Regimental Colour - the School has its own "stand of Colours". The School Colour is trooped at many Parades.
  • School Quick March: Sons Of The Brave
  • School Slow March: The Duke Of York
  • School Song: "Play Up Dukies"
  • School Hymn: "Sons of the Brave"
  • School March off: "Marchin' through Georgia"

Military Colours

Along with Eton College and Cheltenham College, the Duke of York's Royal Military School is one of only three English schools to have military colours. While Eton and Cheltenham parade their colours on rare occasions, the Duke of York's Royal Military School parades its colours briefly each Sunday as the Parade enters Chapel, and on a number of ceremonial parades in the course of the year.

Chapel and War Memorials

Despite pupils having multi-faith backgrounds the school adheres to the practices of the Church of England as required of English boarding schools under law. Chapel is taken each week day morning by pupils with a full church service on Sunday following Parade. Consequently cadets go to church services in Chapel wearing their ceremonial uniforms. On days of special religious significance the Chapel follows the traditions of High Church.

The walls of the chapel are laid up with the battle honours belonging to former Cadets' regiments and corps; but of more note are the historic carved marble tablet lists of the thousands of Dukies who have sacrificed their lives in Great Britain's various wars and conflicts since 1803. An inordinately large number of these dead hold decorations for gallantry and distinguished service; and so numerous in quantity that only the most distinguished public schools equal the valourous conduct and distinguished leadership demonstrated by Dukies.

The school has a memorial to the Great War and the Second World War placed at a topographically significant point in the school's grounds. The Parade and Band pays its respects here on the Armistice Commemoration. A great number of former pupils, many of them in the Armed Forces, also attend, along with Dukies who are now Chelsea Pensioners.

Guards' Competition and Grand Day

At the end of each summer term the school parades for Grand Day. This is a special parade of much greater complexity and length than its weekly counterpart performed each Sunday, and is similar in style and length to the Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards. The purpose of Grand Day is to display the school at its finest to a visiting dignitary, who is either a member of the Royal Family or a member of the British armed forces General Staff. Grand Day has its origins in the school parading before its founder, the then HRH Prince Frederick Duke of York and Albany when the school was founded in 1803.

In the build-up toward Grand Day the Guards (each corresponding to boarding houses) undergo the Guards' Competition. The purpose is to test skill at ceremonial drill and standards regarding kit turnout. The outcome of the Guards' Competition ranks the Guards' Order of Precedence for Grand Day. The winning and therefore senior Guard is referred to as Number One Guard, with the others in declining order.

Grand Day is watched not only by Royalty and Generals, but also by parents of the Cadets. Also among the crowds are Chelsea Pensioners who themselves are Dukies.

Bi-centenary and new Colours

The School celebrated its bi-centenary in 2001–02. It held a commemorative service at Christmas in 2001 as well as a special Parade at the end of 2002, when it received new colours from HRH Prince Andrew Duke of York.

The school celebrated the centenary of its move to Dover in 2009 and amongst many special events hosted a reception at the House of Lords, as well as parades and drama productions.

A change in traditions

Until 1999 the School's headmasters were all serving military officers of the rank of at least Lieutenant Colonel. Since then there have been two civilian headmasters. The school also has a regimental sergeant major among its staff whose primary role is to co-ordinate military standards and discipline.

Notable alumni

  • Matt Gilbert, Professional rugby player at Llanelli Scarlets
  • Nathan Green, Former rugby player and Liverpool FC Reserve team 2000-2002.
  • Robert Budge, a rugby player for Alresford Rugby Club and a fireman.
  • Jonathan Boden, rugby player for Leicester Lions , previously for Doncaster Dragons/Lakers (now known as Doncaster RLFC) and the England under 18 team.
  • Giles Vickers-Jones, creator of ITV at the Movies, television presenter, author of The Best Day of My Life, Professional Modelling and The 7 Worst Men In London, environmental campaigner, male model, Ironman Triathlon competitor
  • Professor Timothy Foster, Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning in Microbiology at Trinity College, Dublin.
  • Luke Tones, Slipped on jelly, 2004.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Nigel Wylde, QGM, Royal Engineers, Intelligence Corps, former-bomb disposal expert and intelligence operative decorated for gallantry who has cast doubt on the legitimacy of the state's moral conduct in anti-terrorist campaigns from the 1970s to the present day . Wylde has appeared as an expert witness to the Barron Inquiry on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974.
  • Bill Ind, British Anglican clergyman and formerly Bishop of Truro.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Rodney Bashford, OBE, LRAM, ARCM, Director of Music, Grenadier Guards, 1960–1970, Director of Music, Kneller Hall and Senior Director of Music, British Army, 1970-1974. Bashford had a distinguished and colourful military career, including four years as a German POW. He was the subject of the television programme This is Your Life, broadcast to mark his retirement in 1974.
  • Lieutenant General Sir Archibald Nye, GCSI, GCIE, KCB, KBE, MC. Beginning his military career in the ranks, Archibald Nye was commissioned in World War I and awarded the Military Cross. During World War II Nye served as Vice-Chief of the Imperial General Staff as well as being involved in Operation Mincemeat, the double-cross intelligence operation prior to the Allied invasion of Sicily that is immortalised in the film The Man Who Never Was. During World War II Nye was made Knight Commander of both the Order of the Bath and the Order of the British Empire. Nye's post-war career included appointments as Governor of Madras in 1946, and the United Kingdom's High Commissioner in Delhi from 1948 to 1952. He was awarded Knight Grand Commander of both the Order of the Star of India and the Order of the Indian Empire for his service during this period of fledgling Indian and Pakistani independence. Nye served as High Commissioner to Canada from 1952 to 1956. In 1962 he was made chairman of the Nye Committee, formed to deliberate over the reorganisation of the War Office.
  • Detective Inspector D.H.C. Nixon, Metropolitan Police, subject of the novel Nick of the River by Anthony Richardson and the accompanying television series.[6]
  • Colonel W.A.T. Bowly, CVO, CBE, MC, President of the DYRMS Old Boy's Association 1937-1945, as well as being Headmaster of the DYRMS during World War II, recipient of the Royal Victorian Order, the Order of the British Empire and decorated for gallantry in combat during World War I.
  • William Henry Debroy Somers, inter-war composer, lyricist, blues and jazz musician who formed the Savoy Hotel Orpheans, performed on Radio Luxembourg and Radio Normandy, and performed in the Horlicks Show to rival the Ovaltineys [8], as well as performing in the Royal Variety Performance.[8]
  • Group Captain George Gardiner, DSO, DFC, Légion d'honneur, Croix de guerre, Croix de Chevalier, Royal Irish Regiment, Queen's Lancers, Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force, fighter ace in World War I.
  • Lieutenant Walker, MC, MiD (awarded three times), Legion d'honneur, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, infantryman in the Boer War and World War I.
  • Lieutenant George William Hanna, MM, Duke of Wellington's Regiment, infantryman in the Boer War and World War I.[9]
  • Henry Lazarus, the premier British clarinet virtuoso of the nineteenth century and professor of the Royal Academy of Music
  • Thomas Sullivan, professor of the Royal Army College of Music and father of the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame.
  • Alfred Phasey, a star musician during the Victorian age, including playing with the Philharmonic Society of London (progenitor of the Royal Philharmonic Society, professor of the Royal Army College of Music.
  • Ann Vanpine, mill worker turned teacher to the benefit of her community and testament to the spirit of service encouraged at the Duke of York's; moreover Vanpine was a pupil in the earliest years of the school (1821–1825) and in a time of extremely limited opportunities for orphans but especially women, making her accomplishments the more remarkable.[10]

Notable Masters

  • Regimental Sergeant Major Lincoln Perkins, British Empire Medal, Grenadier Guards, RSM at the Duke of York's Royal Military School 1979-2006, extensive career including Britain's East of Suez conflicts and service in the Royal Household.
  • Mr C.H. Connell, Head of English at DYRMS post World War II in the 1940s to late 1970s. Operative in the Special Operations Executive during World War II, Connell was also an author with at least seventeen novels and books published, plus a number of plays.[11]
  • Colonel W.A.T. Bowly, CVO, CBE, MC, Headmaster of the DYRMS during World War II, as well as being President of the DYRMS Old Boy's Association 1937-1945, recipient of the Royal Victorian Order, the Order of the British Empire and decorated for gallantry in combat during World War I.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel S.G. Simpson, OBE, Headmaster of the Duke of York's Royal Military School 1922-1927, recipient of the Order of the British Empire, graduate of the universities of Cambridge, Lille, Paris and Heidelberg.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Priestley,CMG, Medical Officer at the Duke of York's Royal Military School 1919-1922, recipient of the Order of St Michael and St George.
  • Brigadier General George Nugent, Commandant of the Duke of York's Royal Military School 1913-1914, commanded the 5th London Infantry Brigade in World War I.
  • Captain William Siborne, Adjutant of the Royal Military Asylum from 1843 to 1849, having previously demonstrated that the Duke of Wellington's account of his victory at the Battle of Waterloo was erroneous, and was in fact due in considerable part to Prussian assistance.[12]

John David Francis Shaul, recipient of the Victoria Cross as a Corporal of the Highland Light Infantry at the Battle of Magersfontein, December 11, 1899. Corporal Shaul's bravery and humane conduct were so conspicuous that, not only was he noticed by his own officer, but even those of other regiments remarked upon it. Corporal Shaul was in charge of stretcher bearers and was most conspicuous in dressing the wounds of the injured. He was born in King's Lynn on September 11, 1873. He received his VC from HRH The Duke of York at Pietermaritzburg on August 14, 1901.

Duke of York's Royal Military School Old Boys' Association

Specific regiments and corps of the British Armed Forces have become increasingly popular as career choices for former pupils, leading to many ad-hoc Old Boys' Associations: the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, the Army's technical Corps, the Brigade of Guards, and particularly the Royal Marines' Commandos and the Parachute Regiment are popular destinations for both enlisted personnel and officers.

A large number of Dukies working in the City professions and in various Whitehall departments also have regular contact.

Despite the prepensely masculine name the Duke of York's Royal Military School Old Boys' Association is also for old girls from Dukies. The first girls to be accepted in the modern era were taken in during autumn 1994. (In the early era from 1803-1892 the school was co-educational). In 1996 these nouveau-girls left the school and voted to retain the title "Old Boys' Association", and opinions have remained thus since.

The Association has a club house at the Duke of York's Headquarters (which it shares with The Saatchi Gallery).

See also

Duke of York's Royal Military School Facebook Group



External links

Coordinates: 51°08′38″N 1°19′30″E / 51.1438°N 1.3250°E / 51.1438; 1.3250

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