Media Elements

Old Tridents of Note

Delving back into Trent's history you will find many Old Tridents of particular note, Prime Ministers, Royalty, MBEs and a holder of the highest military decoration, The Victoria Cross but to list a few.

This is where you can read all about those Old Tridents.   If you would like to receive some more information on anyone in particular then Trent's archivist and former member of teaching staff Mr David Pinney may be able to assist.  Please contact us with your query.

  •   Captain Albert Ball VC (at Trent 1911-13) - World War I Flying Ace
    • b.1897 – d.1917


      Flight Commander Captain Albert Ball - VC, DSO and two bars, MC, Croix de Guerre, Legion d'Honneur, Order of St George for Russia and Honorary Freeman of the City of Nottingham.

      Ball was Britain's first Flying Ace and received the first VC to be awarded to a pilot of the Royal Flying Corps - it was awarded postumously.

      He is credited with shooting down 43 German planes and one balloon in just fifteen months. Sadly he died on 7th May 1917, aged just 20 years old. He was reputedly shot down by Lothar von Richthofen, the brother of the infamous German Flying Ace, the Red Baron. He is buried in the German War Cemetery at Annoeullin, France.

      The cross from his grave in France hangs high up on the west wall of the Trent College Chapel and his propeller can be seen hanging in the Devonshire Library.


      On Monday 24 February 2014, the BBC1 East Midlands 'Inside Out' programme launched its WWI centenary celebration with a programme which featured Captain Ball.  This respectable piece included many photographs of Ball and even old film of him, with a look back in time honouring this WWI fighter pilot hero.  Please click here  to view this programme.



      A Tribute to Captain Albert Ball VC

      By Will Moon (Shuker 2006-2013, Head of School 2012-2013)

      On Thursday 28th March 2013, Will Moon addressed the whole school with his end of term speech.  An inspirational message .......

      We are only 100 days away from speech day, and
      we as a school have a lot to do: we have sport fixtures to play, exams to nail and other goals to fulfil before we say goodbye to Trent; some of us say goodbye until next September, and for others we sadly say goodbye to Trent forever as its students, becoming Old Tridents.

      Exactly 100 years ago, there was another student that waved such a farewell to Trent. His name was Albert Ball. He was an eager and determined character, good-looking with thick dark hair, described also as friendly and good-tempered.

      Albert joined Trent with his younger brother Cyril in 1911 at the age of 15. After settling into the strict regime of compulsory cold baths every morning and cross-country runs, he always went in pursuit of activities which enabled him to exploit his exceptional coordination of hand, eye and brain. This included woodwork and metalwork, the hobby leading him to constructing a boat which he sailed home via the river and canal to Nottingham. He also played the violin, and additionally enjoyed the Officer Training Corps here at Trent.

      Albert was excited about life beyond school, and in a letter home to his mother wrote: ‘I am anxious to know what I shall be when I leave.’ He wanted to make money, he told her, and also ‘to bring out the best’ in himself.

      At the end of summer 1913, Albert left Trent just after his 17th birthday, and found the kind of employment he had hoped for in the Universal Engineering Works, a company that made electrical equipment and did some brass-founding. As he increased his skills, he looked forward to making a career in business – but scarcely a year later hostilities broke out in Europe, and he, with his burning sense of duty, was one of the first to answer the call for volunteers.

      On 1 September 1914 he enlisted as a private in the 2/7th Battalion, the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, better known as the Sherwood Foresters or, colloquially, as the Robin Hoods. Because he had been a member of the Officer Training Corps at school, he was promoted within days to the rank of sergeant, and at the end of October he received his commission as second lieutenant.

      He took part in weapon-training, route-marches, field days and so on enthusiastically enough; but, along with most of his contemporaries, he yearned to be posted to the front in France. In March he received orders to join the Reserve, but still no posting came for him. However, it was in June that he was posted to a platoon commander’s training corps at Perivale, just north-west of London, and found that Hendon aerodrome lay only 4 miles away.

      He then turned his thoughts towards flying, not only because it thought that it would be exciting, but because he hoped that if he became a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, he might reach the front in France much quicker. After he had completed many flying courses and practiced his manoeuvres regularly, he finally achieved his ambition, being posted to No. 13 Squadron in France on 17 February 1916.

      Ball fought numerous battles in the air in his Nieuport Scout, which was a bi-plane (an aircraft with two wings interconnected with triangular beams). Ball’s invincible courage and his utter determination made him a legend not only in Britain but also amongst his enemies. At times he would fight groups of German aircraft by himself, breaking up formations by means of reckless, head-on approaches, and then hunting down individuals by the sheer brilliance of his flying and his daring, innovative method of attack.

      His favourite tactic was dropping down behind an enemy, coming up from below, out of the pilot’s sight, and easing in to amazingly close quarters (often no more than 15 yards) before firing at the belly of the hostile aircraft with machine-gun bursts. It was his individuality and insistence on fighting alone which set him apart from other pilots.

      Albert Ball rose from obscurity to the top rank of a fighter pilot in only 15 months. In that period, Captain Albert Ball was awarded the Military Cross, the Distinguished Service Order award, two Military Bars for the successful completion of military operations, and finally, he received the highest military decoration award for outstanding bravery and valour, the Victoria Cross.

      Here in this frame I hold the replica of that medal, which you can have a look at on the wall in the Fenn.

      Very sadly, on 7 May 1917 aged only 20, Ball literally took a turn for the worst, and disappeared when flying back to base in bad weather, supposedly emerging upside down from a great cloud and colliding into the side of a cliff in France. The Victoria Cross was posthumously awarded to him in 1918, as the result of his incredible 44 victories in the air.

      I think it’s worth remembering that Captain Albert Ball is not a figure of fantasy. He was very much real, and was very much a part of the Trent community like we are. He walked the same corridors, sang the same hymns in chapel and listened to similar speeches in assemblies like you are today, and whenever you’re in the library, look up at Captain Albert Ball’s propeller to remind you of this.

      The quality which led Ball to becoming such a national figure and widely celebrated flying ace of all time was down to his sheer grit and determination. His proactive and youthful, resilient passion to discover what he loved finally paid off, and when he did find his appetite for flying, he strived to be the best that he could be and succeeded.


  •   Seni Pramoj (Wright 1921-25) - Prime Minister of Thailand 1945, 1975, 1976
    • born 20th May 1905 – died 28th July 1997

      Seni Pramoj was the first Thai pupil to attend Trent College in 1921 (almost 100 Thai pupils have since arrived at the School). 

      After leaving Trent in 1925 he remained in Britain to continue his education, first at Worchester College, Oxford where he became a Bachelor of Law with second class honours and later as a Barrister at Law at Grays Inn, London passing with first class honours.

      On returning to Thailand, Seni studied Thai Law.  After his studies he trained at the Supreme Court for six months after which he was appointed to the Justice Civil Court in the appeal court.

      Towards the end of the 1930s, Seni Pramoj transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was eventually appointed Ambassador to the United States of America. 

      When the Japanese Army invaded Thailand in 1941 Pramoj formed the ‘Free Thai Movement’ against the Japanese and secretly worked with the Western Allies.  Interestingly and no doubt a credit to his Trent education, whilst he was Ambassador to Washington in 1942, he refused to deliver the declaration of war against America and Britain as it did not reflect the will of the Thai citizens.

      At the end of World War II, Seni returned to his home country and was appointed Prime Minister on 17th September 1945.  This was to be the first of three separate terms in office, his longest lasting six months. 

      Seni Pramoj is credited with a number of successful negotiations with the Western Allies, releasing Thailand from the custody of Britain whilst promising to try and punish war criminals.

      During Seni’s final term as prime Minister (the year after his brother Kukrit had lost his place in office) public unrest at the Thammasart University meant he was forced to resign.  He later resigned as the Chief of the Democrat Party and bowed out of political life.

      Seni Pramoj died in 1997 at the age of 92.   A wax figure of Seni currently stands in Madame Tussaud's, Bangkok.

  •   Prince Alexander Obolensky (Wright 1925 - 1934)
    • b. 1916 - d. 1940

      Prince Obolensky was born in 1916 in St Petersburg and during the Russian Revolution of 1917 his parents fled to England where he started his traditional education. 

      At Trent he became Head of Wright house in his last year having also been a Sergeant in the OTC, Vice-Captain of Football and Captain of Cricket. 

      After leaving Trent he went to Brasenose College, Oxford and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics.  At Oxford he earned two rugby blues representing Oxford University RFC as a wing/three-quarter.  

      Having previously played for Chesterfield RUFC whilst still at school, he played for Leicester Football Club between 1934 and 1939, as well as Rosslyn Park F.C.

      On 4 January 1936 he scored two tries during his England debut in a 13-0 victory over the All Blacks, the first time England had beaten New Zealand. Aided by Pathé News footage of the game, his name has entered into legend, since the first try, beating several All Blacks in a run of three-quarters of the length of the field, was widely regarded as the greatest try of the time, and one of the greatest tries ever scored by England.

      Prince Obolensky only won a further three caps for England later that year.   He was selected as a member of the touring party for the 1936 British Lions tour to Argentina. He also played seven games for the "invitation only" Barbarian F.C. between 1937 and 1939, scoring 3 tries. 

      By August 1939, Obolensky was already serving as an A/P/O with 615 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force, stationed at Kenley and, on the outbreak of World War II in 1939, he joined the Royal Air Force's 504 Squadron. On 29 March 1940, a day after being recalled to the England squad to play Wales, Pilot Officer Obolensky was killed during training when his Hawker Hurricane Mark 1 crashed on Martlesham Heath, Suffolk.  He was 24 years old. 

      In 2009, Trent College opened its new dining facility, and as a legacy to Prince Alexander Obolensky named the dining hall The Prince Obolensky Building, commonly known to most as 'The Obolensky'.  This is not the only facility named in his honour, at the home of England rugby, Twickenham Stadium's East Stand has a hospitality facility named Obolensky's.

  •   Rex Alston (Shuker 1914-1919) - Sports Commentator and Journalist
    • b. 1901 - d. 1994

      Rex Alston, sports broadcaster and journalist was for almost 30 years the voice of tennis on BBC radio.  Rex was a very familiar and welcome voice and older generations will recall the lucidity of his commentaries on cricket, rugby, athletics and lawn tennis.  He captured a pleasant England in soft and coureous tones.

      Rex Alston came to Trent in September 1914 and in his final year 1918 to 1919 was Head Prefect of Shuker House.  On leaving Trent in the summer of 1919, Rex won an athletics blue whilst at Clare College, Camnridge and came second to the famous Harold Abrahams of Chariots of Fire fame. 
      Rex also played rugby for Rosslyn Park and Bedford as well s captaining Bedfordshire County Cricket Club with some distinction and playing for the East Midlands.

      For 17 Years, Rex was a Schoolmaster at Bedford School.  He joined the BBC during the war as a billeting officer but an enlightened corporation soon realised that his voice was too good for an administrative role!  his voice went on to become familiar to sepctators at Lords, Twickenham and Wembley for the first post-war Olympics.

      Rex retired from the BBC in 1961 although he continued to cover county cricket and rugby for some time for both the BBC and the Daily Telegraph.

      Rex Alston was thankfully one of those rare sorts who, having been admitted to hospital for food poisoning, read his premature obituary in The Times in 1985.  He was reportedly very pleased with its content!

                                  "A youthful voice and a schoolmasterly style"


  •   Basil G Catterns (Trent College 1896 to 1900)
    • b. 1887 - d. 1968

      Basil Gage Catterns was a pupil at Trent College from 1896 to 1900, and in 1908, he entered the bank service.  During the First World War he served as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery but was severely wounded in the legs.  In 1920 he settled permanently in the Chief Cashier’s office, and became Assistant Chief in 1923 rising to Chief Cashier (1929 – 1935) and then Deputy Governor.   As Chief Cashier, prior to his promotion, Catterns had his signature on all bank notes.

      Although he had not returned to Trent since his schooldays, on being approached by Headmaster, Ford Ikin, when the School was in dire need during the depression of the 1930s, Catterns intervened and successfully convinced the School’s bank to allow more time for Trent and the Evangelical Church Schools Company Ltd, who were the Trustees, to sort out their finances.  This halted the closure of Trent College.

      Basil G Catterns was the High Sheriff of the County of London 1940-1941.   Preceding this, Catterns became a Governor of Trent in 1939, and was also President of the Old Tridents’ Society from 1942 to 1955.  Sadly, Basil G Catterns died just before the centenary celebrations in 1968.

      When a new headmaster’s residence, ‘School House’, was purchased for Tony Maltby, the old residence which was a memorial to those who died in the Great War, became a Junior boarding house and was named 'Catterns' to honour the man who had given Trent a stay of execution in the 1930s.   Today, 'Catterns' is alive with music as it plays host to the music department of The Elms, junior school to Trent College.



  •   Kukrit Pramoj (Wright 1927-29) - Writer, Actor & Prime Minister of Thailand (1975-76)
    • b. 20th April 1911 – d. 9th October 1995

      Kukrit Pramoj was the son of Thailand’s Prince Khamrob and Mom Daeng and younger brother to Seni Pramoj.

      Continuing with the family tradition, he spent his formative school years at Trent College before reading Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Queen’s College, Cambridge where he passed with Honours in 1933.

      Kukrit certainly led a diverse and interesting life.  He began his career as a Civil Servant at the Revenue Department of the Ministry of Finance and later worked as Manager of the Siam Commercial Bank in the Lampang Province.

      With the outbreak of World War II, Kukrit Pramoj was appointed Lance Corporal in the army and fought in the East Asia War.  It was during this time that he became actively interested in Thai politics, a passion that would steer the course of his life.  Kukrit is credited as initiating the foundation of the ‘Progress Party’, Thailand’s first political party in 1945 – 46.  He later joined the Democrat party.

      While military juntas ruled Thailand over the next few decades, Kukrit worked as a journalist and banker.  When the Bank of Thailand was established, he was appointed Chief of Division, Office of Governor and Chief of the Bank Issue Department.  He later became President of the Bangkok Commercial Bank and in 1948 rose to the position of Deputy Minister of Finance and Deputy Minister of Commerce.

      A True Renaissance Man Kukrit Pramoj was a man of many talents.  While he continued to forge his career as a politician, he also became an accomplished master of Thai Classical Dancing, as well as an outspoken critic, journalist and writer.  In fact, he wrote more than twenty books, many of which have become modern classics and include titles such as ‘Four Reigns’, ‘Red Bamboo’ and ‘Many Lives’.

      In a role that would foreshadow his later career, Kukrit also made his mark on Hollywood in the 1963 film, ‘The Ugly American’, as the prime minister of a fictional Asian county, he starred opposite Marlon Brando.

      In 1975, Kukrit Pramoj formed the Social Action Party and was its first leader.  That March, he contested the results of the general election and won the Bangkok Constituency.  He formally became Prime Minister on 14th March 1975.

      Kukrit formed a coalition government with the support of other Parties, when the Democrat Party run by his brother Seni failed to win the approval of parliament on government policy.  He also led a Thai delegation to establish diplomatic ties with China in July 1975.  Other key projects of Kukrit Pramoj’s government were guaranteed rice prices and generating jobs in rural areas.

      Pramoj’s coalition government proved to be unstable.  As there were strong protests against the US military bases in Thailand, Kukrit had to ask American forces to withdraw their troops from the country.  It was a policy that split the members of the coalition government.  On the 12th January 1976 the coalition was dissolved.  At the general election in April 1976 Kukrit failed to be re-elected as prime Minister. 

      He continued to work as a journalist, writer and critic.  He died in 1995 at the age of 84 but is remembered as a scholar and guru with a great deal of wit, knowledge, vision and bravery to try and succeed at so many different things. 

      Four Reigns’ by Kukrit Pramoj
      First published in 1953.  Kukrit’s longest book follows the lives and the families of minor courtiers from the absolute monarchy of the closing years of the 19th century to the Allied bombing raids on Bangkok in the mid-1940s.

      The book originally written in 1953 as a newspaper serial in the Thai Daily, Siam Rath.  It was translated into English in 1981 by Tulachandra.


  •   Squadron Leader Gerald de Lucie Carver DSO DFC (m.i.d.) (Hanbury 1936-1938)
    • Gerald de Lucie Carver had a most distinguished career in the RAF during the Second World War and the medals shown here bear testament to this.


      As a bomber pilot on Wellingtons (No 37 sqdn) and then Halifaxs (No 78 sqdn), he flew a total of no less than fifty eight operations culminating in a daring raid on Peenemunde where the German V1 and V2 rockets were being developed.  This was a top secret, ultra high-security raid on 17th August 1943 and, arguably, the most important Bomber Command raid of the war; it involved some seven and a half hours flying time over heavily defended enemy territory and at the unusually low level of eight thousand feet which greatly increased exposure to being attacked by night-fighters and flak; the end result delayed German plans for rocket attacks against England for at least nine months.

      Shortly before the end of the war, and whilst still in the RAF, he was seconded to BOAC to open up early routes and on de-mob; in August 1946 he was re-engaged by Mobil (his pre-war former employer): after various promotions he became Area Sales Manager, eventually completing some 42 years of service, retiring in December 1981. He was then elected as Chairman of the Regional Aircrew Association with whom he served a further 8 years.

      Gerald de Lucie Carver was at Trent in Hanbury House from 1936 to 1938 and was an outstanding sportsman, playing rugby for the 1st XV both in 1937 and 1938 as well as for the first X1 in cricket and hockey.  Furthermore, his father, the Rev C F Carver MA, was also an Old Trident and in 1930 became Rector of Swepstone, a small village close to Ashby-de-la-Zouch: the old rectory, with its beautiful grounds and the nearby church are magnificent buildings and still intact today.  He also had a younger, half-brother, James Christopher, who also went to Trent some five years later than Gerald, but he unfortunately pre-deceased him in 1992 at the age of 65.

      In his memory, the Carver family have loaned Gerald's medals to Trent College which are currently on display in The Fenn meeting room.  Anyone wishing to view the medals should contact the School in advance on 0115 849 5043.

  •   His Excellency Admiral Mom Luang Usni Pramoj (Wright House 1952-1953)

    • M L Usni Pramoj, Royal Thai Privy Councillor, Musician and Composer, attended Trent College during 1952 and 1953 as a boarder in Wright House.  Upon leaving Trent he gained a BA at Oxford University and qualifying as a Barrister at Law in London, in 1957. 

      He then turned his career to finance with M&A and LBO and gained experience in Europe and Australia focusing on environmental finance, particularly advising and investing in renewable energy and water-related projects in South East Asia and Southern Africa.  

      Usni is one of the last Thai royal descendants retaining a title.  He was appointed Privy Councillor, one of a group of advisors to the World's longest reigning Monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in March 1984. 

      Other Thai Decorations are:

      • Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao (1997)
      • Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant (1987)
      • Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand (1986)
      • The Royal Cypher Medal (Second Class) (1984)

      Usni is an accomplished conductor, composer and violinist and was the co-founder of the Bangkok Symphony.  In 1994 Usni was named a National artist for his music.  In December 2011 he conducted an orchestra at the Concert of Royal Compositions, in celebration of His Majesty The King of Thailand's 84th birthday.  In January 2012 Usni was invited by Mom Tri Devakule to perform in a classical music concert at his Villa Royal in Phuket.  Having first performed at the beautiful villa 20 years previously, Usni was delighted to have been invited once again to play in the "intimate venue".  The video for this concert can be viewed, please click here

  •   Dr John Birch (Hanbury 1942-1947) - International Recitalist and Concert Organist
    • b.1929 - d.2012

      Dr John Birch, MA. D.MUS. FRCM. FRSA. FRCO (CHM) came to Trent College as a pupil in September 1942, leaving in July 1947 to study music at the Royal College of Music, London under the organist of St Paul’s Cathedral, Sir John Dykes Bower.

      In 1953 he became Organist and Master of the Choristers at All Saints, Margaret Street, London and Temple Church where he followed the legendary Dr George Thalben-Ball. In 1958 Dr Birch became Organist and Master of the Choristers at Chichester Cathedral.

      Dr Birtch maintained close links with this beautiful cathedral city in West Sussex as a patron of the arts and collector of Modern British Art.

      A year later Dr Birch was appointed as a Professor at the Royal College of Music where he continued to lecture until 1997. His natural educational abilities were further harnessed by the University of Sussex where he played as the University Organist from 1967 to 1994 and worked as a Visiting Lecturer in Music from 1971 to 1983.

      In 1982 Dr Birch further established his musical pedigree by becoming Director of Music at Temple Church and two years later he was appointed the role of Curator-Organist at the Royal Albert Hall, a position that he held until sadly he passed away on 28 April 2012 aged 82, following a severe stroke.

      Dr John Birch had also served as Director of Music at Chichester Cathedral for 22 years conducting the British premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, re-establishing the Southern Cathedrals Festival, and served as musical adviser to the new Chichester Festival Theatre.

      Dr John Birch at the Royal Albert Hall inaugural organ concert on 26 June 2004