First World War Roll of Honour
George Ernest Howard Keesey was born on 19 June 1886, the eldest son of the Rev. G. W. and Annie Keesey of Willesden Green. He was educated at St Olave’s School in Southwark from 1900 and was School Captain in his final year from 1904, before matriculating at Downing in 1905. Little is known of his time at the College, although the College magazine, 'The Griffin', reports that he rowed at 5 in the Trial Eights in his first term. He took his B.A. in 1908, in Natural Sciences, with first class honours.
Before the war he was Assistant Master and O.T.C. Officer at Wellington College. He was active in the Debating Society, the Natural Science Society and the Rifle Corps and became Deputy Tutor for Benson House. In 1913, he had married Violet Marian Swinglehurst and, after the outbreak of war the following year, he was gazetted lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade in October 1914. His battalion (8th) went to the front in May 1915 and he was slightly wounded in June, but was promoted to Captain following his return to the front in September and was mentioned in despatches. Captain Keesey was killed in action near Delville Wood, taking part in the Somme offensive, on 24 August 1916. He left a widow and an infant son.
Capt. Keesey is buried in Serre Road Cemetery. He is also commemorated on memorials at St Olave's Grammar School, Downing College, Wellington College and the Church of St John the Baptist, Crowthorne.
'The Griffin', Downing College magazine, Lent 1908 and Michaelmas 1916
'The Olavian Fallen', St Olave's Grammar School
Keesey, (seated 2nd from right on the second row from the front), Benson House, 1914 – courtesy of Wellington College Archive
Keesey in military uniform, from ‘The Olavian Fallen’ – courtesy of St Olave’s School