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Girls Lay Wreath During Armistice Assembly

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The Girls’ Division Armistice Assembly took place on 11 November, allowing the whole school to come together for a period of Remembrance around 11 o’clock. Mrs Kyle, the Head of Girls’ Division, welcomed those gathered in the hall, as well as members of the school community who joined the assembly virtually.

This year, for the first time, Girls’ Division pupils laid a wreath at the Memorial Window in the Boys’ Division.

While the whole school sang the first hymn, ‘I Vow To Thee, My Country’, Head of Foundation Philip Britton and Head Girl Anika Maini led a party of girls, one from each year group, across to the Boys’ Division. Their route took them through Reception, where a collection of Tower of London poppies, commemorating the Old Boys who died in the First World War, are on display.

Mr Britton spoke briefly about the school’s war memorial, which records the names of those Boys’ Division pupils and staff members who died in the First and Second World Wars. He shared some words from Boys’ Division Headmaster Lipscomb, who remarked when the memorial was unveiled that he could remember the person behind each and every name that it records. Mr Britton also mentioned the importance and difficulty of researching the many Old Girls who no doubt served in some capacity during periods of war. The Girls’ Division wreath was then laid in the Memorial Window by Anika.

Meanwhile, in the Great Hall, Mrs Kyle read the names of those connected to the school who are recorded both alongside the School’s Memorial Window and at another war memorial: the Menin Gate. The Old Boys listed were Private Harold Marsden, Private Harold Briggs, Second Lieutenant Sidney Appleby, Private James Lever, Private Alexander Robinson and Private Thomas Partington, alongside former staff member Lieutenant Reginald Fausset.

She went on to speak about how Remembrance began following the First World War, when an estimated 900,000 British armed forced personnel died, as well as huge numbers of soldiers from the Commonwealth. Mrs Kyle noted that Remembrance services today commemorate all of the 26 conflicts that the UK has been involved in since 1914. Mrs Kyle also talked about how flowers have become a symbol of Remembrance: not just the traditional red poppy, but also the black poppy rose, yellow flowers, and purple poppies. She reminded everyone that the poppy symbolises: ‘a sign of our regard for the sacrifices made on our behalf, and of hope for a peaceful future.’ She then shared the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae.

Mrs Kyle read the Ode of Remembrance and the Last Post was played from outside the Great Hall at eleven o’clock, followed by a two-minute silence.

After the Reveille was played, the school sang the hymn ‘Jerusalem’. Mrs Hone then continued the assembly by speaking about the Menin Gate, which stands as a memorial to 55,000 men who died in the Ypres area and have no known grave, and where wreaths are laid each night at 8pm. One of the names recorded is Lieutenant Reginald Fausset, and Mrs Hone shared a little information about this former Bolton School teacher’s life and death. She went on to recall another conflict around Ypres, the Battle of Messines, which served as an introduction to a piece of pipe music that was composed to commemorate it: ‘Burning Mill at Messines’.

Mrs Hone continued by contemplating the purpose of memorial. Are they for the dead, or for those who survived as a focal point of grief? She shared two artistic perspectives on this: the poem ‘On Passing the New Menin Gate’ by Siegfried Sassoon and the painting ‘Menin Gate at Midnight’ by Will Longstaff. She also showed the assembly a clip from speech given by the King of Belgium at the Centenary of Passchendaele, about the affect of the Menin Gate on both Belgian and British people.

The Pipe Major then processed out of the Great Hall playing the lament ‘Flowers of the Forest’ to bring the assembly to a close.

The Armistice Assembly can be viewed in full below or on YouTube.

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