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Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Pupils from Bolton School Girls’ Division Junior School enjoyed a moving Armistice Day assembly from Mrs Hone, Head of Classics in the Girls’ Senior School. The remembrance assembly told of the stories of four local men who lost their lives in the First World War; Noel Chavasse, a pupil of Liverpool College and winner of two Victoria Crosses; brothers Ernest and Edward Blackburn, Old Boys of Bolton School Boys’ Division between 1903 and 1911; and John Hartington, Head Boy of Bury Grammar School in 1914. Mrs Hone told the girls how Britain alone lost about 800,000 men out of a population of 46,000,000 and France lost nearly one and a half million men out of a population roughly the same size as Britain’s. Overall 9 million people died in the war.
Mrs Hone recapped the lives of the four heroes, noting that Noel Chervasse was one of only three men to receive the Victoria Cross twice. He died in 1917 at the Battle of Passchendaele. The two Old Boys’ bodies were never found but their names are inscribed on the Thiepval memorial which was visited by Girls’ Division pupils in the summer and where a wreath was laid in their memory. Their names are recorded on the Boys' Division Memorial Boards. John Hartington was awarded a medal for gallantry, the Military Cross, for his actions on the Somme in September 1916 and it was awarded to him by King George V in person. He died at Ypres. The men were just four of the many who gave up their lives during the First World War. Mrs Hone told the girls how a war memorial at Kirkby Lonsdale, where her parents live, always make her recall these lost men and she told the enthralled audience of the moving words inscribed on the monument:
Who dies if England live?
Who stands if Freedom fall?
Remember us, and think what might have been,
Ye that live on in England’s pastures green.
Year 6 girls recited John McCrae’s In Flanders Field, the poem which inspired the selling and wearing of poppies, a tradition which began in 1921. Mrs Brierley, Head of the Junior Girls’ School, reminded the girls how these selfless soldiers gave up their lives so that we may live in freedom today.
At 11.00am, a minute’s silence was impeccably observed and the Last Post and Reveille was then played by 12 year old pupil Emily Rajbhandari and Music Teacher Miss Claire Deady.
Later in the morning, Year 6 Girls were excited to meet four serving military personnel, who were brought to Hesketh House by Headmistress of the Girls' Division Miss Sue Hincks; Lieutenant Colonel Miles Hayman AGC (ETS), Major Daniella Aspin, Captain Affan Burki and Old Girl Second Lieutenant Nikki Reid.
Lt. Col. Hayman talked about the similarities and differences between modern conflicts and the First World War – emphasising that although some things are the same, many are different. He spoke about the ideas of discipline, service and sacrifice being the same; but the fighting element being very different now.
Lt. Col. Hayman noticed that one pupil, Amelia Thompson, was wearing two medals and he asked her about the decorations. She said they were her great-grandfather’s medals from the Second World War: one was a service award, and the second was because he was a prisoner of war and was mentioned in dispatches.
Inspired by this, Capt. Burki talked about the importance of medals. He said, “They might just look like a bit of metal with a ribbon, but they’re much more than that. I’m originally from Pakistan and both of my grandfathers – despite not speaking a word of English – fought for Great Britain. Even though I never met one of them, I can still use his medals to trace what he did during the war. It’s really important to remember.”
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