Assembly Commemorates Lives Lost in Tumultuous Conflict
Friday, 09 November 2018
Dr Holland, ably assisted by ten Year 9 boys, conducted a thought-provoking and moving Remembrance Assembly at Bolton School Boys’ Division. Just two days ahead of national and international 100 year commemorations, which will take place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Dr Holland told the story of the Battle of Amiens, later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which began at 4.20am on 8 August 1918 and that ultimately led to the end of the First World War. The allies’ large-scale usage of the tank, coupled with the element of surprise had an unexpected, powerful and devastating effect on the Germans. By 7.30am, the Allied troops had advanced 2 miles and by the end of the day they had moved 7 miles into enemy territory. During the battle, the Central Powers suffered 30,000 casualties and the allies took 16,000 prisoners, causing the morale of the German troops to deteriorate and their purposefulness to falter. From hereon in, a negotiated peace, not victory, became the objective.
Amiens was the beginning of the end but Dr Holland did note that 2,738 soldiers still lost their lives on 11 November 1918. In total, approximately 6m Allied troops and 4m Central Power troops died. Ten Year 9 boys then eloquently recalled the lives and ultimate sacrifices made by ten former pupils in the months before the Armistice (view here): namely Second Lieutenant John Gordon Ward, aged 25; Lieutenant Leslie Cyril William Bauchope, aged 21; Second Lieutenant James Bromily, aged 31; Private Fred Worsley, aged 22; Gunner Herbert Grossman, aged 25; Private Percy Gerald Evetts, aged 22; Second Lieutenant John Fletcher, aged 21; Second Lieutenant Harry Bentley, aged 28; Private Charles Herbert Turner, aged 24; and Private Kenneth Hardie Crowe, aged 20. Dr Holland also reflected on the deaths of two former teachers from Bolton School, Lance Corporal John Entwistle, aged 32 and Captain Robert Cecil Hearn MC, aged 26. It was recalled that 1.1m soldiers from the British Empire lost their lives in the tumultuous conflict and that it was said that if the dead were to march in rows of four, the head of the line would be at the Whitehall Cenotaph and the back row as far north as Durham. He also reflected on the 40 million people that died from ‘Spanish Flu’ immediately after the War, including former pupil Charles Pilling, and which wiped out 3-5% of the entire population of the World.
Dr Holland told of Edward Lutyens’ incredible memorial arch at Thiepval and of his simple, even severe Cenotaph in London which is made of Portland stone as well as the Bolton War Memorial and praised the work of all those that maintain memorial statues across the country. Special mention was made of Bolton School Old Girl Barbara Ronson, who died on 28 October, having been the first female leader of Bolton Council and the North West organiser of the poppy appeal.
The Great Hall held an impeccably observed two minutes’ silence before Sixth Form boys processed out to Tchaikovsky’s Festival March and laid wreaths at the School’s memorial window.
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