Assembly Pays Tribute to the Fallen
Boys' Division Community

Dr Holland welcomed boys, teachers, distinguished members of the Governing Body, representatives of the Old Boys’ Association and an audience watching via a live feed to this year’s Boys’ Division Armistice Assembly. The annual commemoration recalls those members of the school who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars.

Dr Holland began by acknowledging that we are living in a dangerous and frighteningly menacing time which can make it difficult to turn our thoughts back to what was happening 80 years ago. But, he said, in doing so, we are confronted with the same painfully sharp experiences. He told his audience that we have a duty of remembrance to never forget the sacrifices made by so many: 15 to 20 million in World War One and a further 70 to 85 million in World War Two.

Turning his attention to the year of 1943, Dr Holland told how eleven former pupils had lost their lives during the course of the year. Drawing on local historian Dr Eric Macpherson’s Remembered With Honour book, ten Year 9 boys read brief biographies of these men, which helped bring their foreshortened lives into focus.

The boys spoke of: Gunner Reginald Brooke Ashford who died from injuries picked up in the Middle East; Sergeant William James Howard who died whilst working on the Burma Railway as a Prisoner of War; Private Charles Alexander Hopwood who died in hospital; Squadron Leader Michael Edward Thwaites whose plane was shot down; Sergeant Pilot Wilbert Hart who was lost on his 41st operational  flight; Sergeant Navigator Clive Ford Taylor killed during war operations; Sergeant Navigator Joshua Alex Sykes whose plane was shot down; Sub Lieutenant Peter Douglas Hartshorn whose ship was blown up; Lieutenant Kenneth Anson Lomax who drowned on active service; Pilot Officer Donald Wilson Hanham killed in a flying accident; and Flight Sergeant Richard Kenneth Chapman killed in action.

Dr Holland described how 1943 perfectly illustrated the vicissitudes of war. Arguably it offered a turning point for Britain but it was also a year that demonstrated the global scale of the conflict. Reference was made to how the Germans surrendered at the Battle of Stalingrad in a great victory for the Russians, to the intense conflict in Burma, to the war in Tunisia with the Desert Fox Rommel, to the Greek National Liberation Front and how they began to overcome the Italians and move a step closer to liberating their country and to increased U-boat activity in the Atlantic and how it continued to have a devastating effect on the Allied Powers. Dr Holland spoke too about how some activities began to hasten the end of war and to save lives. Operation Mincemeat was a successful British deception which disguised the Allied invasion of Sicily and Operation Chastise, known more familiarly as the Dambusters’ Raid, was a prolonged and costly but successful attack on German heavy industry in the Ruhr Valley using the ‘bouncing bomb’. There were serious atrocities too in 1943 and he cited the brave but useless resistance by the Jewish community in the Warsaw ghetto and the Changjiao massacre in which 30,000 Chinese were killed by the Japanese during four days in May. He told too how, at the behest of Britain, 16 allied countries met on October 20th and established the United Nations’ War Crime Commission (two years before the United Nations came into existence).

Following a two-minute silence in which the audience was invited to remember all those that selflessly dedicate their lives to keep us safe from those who would do us great harm, the readers processed out of the hall along with Dr Holland, Head of Boys’ Division Mr Ford and Head of Foundation Mr Britton. Standing before the School's Memorial Window, Dr Holland recited the Ode to Remembrance before Sixth Form students laid three wreaths of poppies.

Watch the Armistice Assembly in full through this link.

Flickr album: Remembrance 2023 | Height: auto | Theme: Default | Skin: Default Skin


You may also be interested in...