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Oakham School Archives

Explore the history of the school through the documents and objects that have been left behind...


During the First World War, the British and Indian forces fought against the Ottoman Turks for control of Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). Baghdad was taken by the allies in 1917 and after the war, with the Ottoman empire falling apart, the area was placed under British control.  British rule was not welcomed by the population of Mesopotamia. An uprising began in May 1920 but was quickly put down. Yet this was only after 100,000 British troops were deployed and thousands of Arab and British soldiers were killed.

The campaign was costly and Britain needed an effective way of controlling the area. It was Winston Churchill who suggested ‘aerial policing’. This was using the newly formed RAF to police the area and carry out necessary bombing campaigns. The ultimate defeat of the Iraqi’s is attributed to these bombers.

Mesopotamia remained under British control until the Second World War despite Iraq declaring independence in 1932.

Bombers in Mesopotamia 1920s.

Bombers in Mesopotamia 1920s.


  • ‘The1920s British air bombing campaign in Iraq’, BBC, <>
  • ‘Mesopotamian Campaign’, National Army Museum, <>

Old Oakhamian who fought in the Mesopotamia Campaign

George Barnett MC, OBE, MRCVS

(16th July 1895 – 11th July 1989)


Life at Oakham

George attended Oakham School between 1905 and 1912 and was a member of School House.

  • 220 yard handicap (under 15): 3rd place - Spring 1905; 1st place - Spring 1906; 2nd place - Spring 1910.
  • 100 yards handicap (under 13): 1st place - Spring 1905.
  • Running: Spring 1906.
  • Half-Mile handicap: 1st place - Spring 1906.
  • 100 yards handicap: 1st place - Spring 1906.
  • 220 yards handicap: 1st place - Spring 1909.
  • 100 yards (under 15): 2nd place - Spring 1909; 1st place - Spring 1910.
  • Long jump (under 16): 2nd place - Spring 1910.
  • Rugby 2nd XV: Winter 1906.
  • Rugby under 14 XV: Winter 1907; Winter 1908.
  • Rugby 1st XV: Winter 1910; Winter 1911.
  • Swimming two lengths (under 15): 1st place - Summer 1908.
  • Diving: 1st place - Summer 1908; Summer 1909; Summer 1910; Summer 1911.
  • Swimming two lengths (open): 1st place - Summer 1909; 2nd place - Summer 1910; 1st place - Summer 1911.
  • Swimming six lengths (open): 2nd place - Summer 1909; Summer 1910; 1st place - Summer 1911.
  • Swimming four lengths handicap: 1st place - Summer 1910; Summer 1911.
  • Cricket under 14 XI: Summer 1908.
  • Cricket 2nd XI: Summer 1911; Spring 1912.
  • Cricket 1st XI: Summer 1912.

Oakham School Cricket 1st XI, 1912 - George is sat in the front row, on the right.


  • Royal Drawing Society Examination: Division II – Summer 1906.
  • Form 2 Latin Prize: Summer 1906.
  • Form 2 Prize: Winter 1906.
  • Form 3 Classics Prize: Summer 1907.
  • Trustees’ Form 4 Prize: Summer 1909.
  • Form 4 Classics and English prizes: Summer 1909.
  • Form 5 French Prize: Summer 1911.
  • Debating Society: Spring 1910; Spring 1912.

Oakham School Magazine Reviews

Winter 1908 Rugby review: “Barnett at full back was very safe”.

Spring 1912 Rugby Review: “wing three-quarter; not fast, but a strong runner with a very effective hand-off. Was too fond of kicking instead of trying to break through, but had improved in that respect. Tackles and takes his passes well.”

Winter 1912 Cricket Review: “An unorthodox batsman who made plenty of runs for the 2nd XI, but who failed when playing for the 1st XI. A good field in the country.”


After Oakham

George trained at the Royal Veterinary College. During the First World War, he had fought with the Army Service Corps, serving in both France and Belgium.


The Army Service Corps cap badge.

He won an MC for his actions at the Somme. In 1917, he rejoined the Royal Veterinary College after a shortage for volunteers for the Royal Army Veterinary Cause caused an outcry. Once his degree was completed, he did join the RAVC.


The Royal Army Vet Corps badge.

Between 1918 and 1919, he served with the Archangel Expeditionary Force. He was in charge of a White Russian machine gun battalion and he built the Archangel Veterinary Hospital whilst raising money for a veterinary training school at Archangel for the White Russian forces.

He was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Order of St. Stanlislas with crossed swords.

Later in his career, he spent time with the Royal Artillery Brigade and was then posted to India.

Royal Artillery

The cap badge of the Royal Artillery.

George was posted to India in 1920 which was followed by serving in Mesopotamia where he was a Veterinary Officer with the 8th Hussars. He later became an Officer commanding the veterinary hospital Baghdad. He was mentioned in despatches.

After the campaign, George returned to India where he supervised horse breeding with the Indian Cavalry. He also worked in the veterinary hospital in Shanghai, China (1927), as Assistant Director of Veterinary Services at Simla, and Deputy Director of Army Veterinary Services at Lahor and Meerut. He commanded the Army Veterinary Centre at Ambala between 1942 and 1946.

For his services, George was awarded an OBE and the Order of St. Stanislas.

Order of St. Stanislaus

The Order of St. Stanislas.