Pupils Remember Old Boys at First World War Battlefields
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
During the summer holidays, thirty-nine Bolton School boys from years 9 to 11 took part in a History trip to the First World War battlefields. During the trip the boys attended the dedication service for a new memorial which has been inaugurated to those Old Boys of the school who died in the First World War.
The service was held in St George’s Church in Ypres. It is an English Church which was opened in 1929 to serve as a monument in perpetuity to the British war dead of Flanders and as a ‘living’ church, serving the needs of a local congregation and the many thousands of pilgrims who visit the battlefields of Flanders. The walls of this beautiful church have over the years been covered with brass memorial plaques commemorating the losses suffered by many of Britain’s schools, colleges, military units, sporting clubs and other organisations. It is only fitting that the eighty-one members of Bolton School who gave their lives in the Great War should be recognised here.
The short but moving service was led by Reverend Brian Llewellyn, the Chaplain of St George’s. The first reading of the service was Philip Larkin’s poem MCMXIV, the final line of which has been inscribed on the memorial. The second reading, read by Paul Greenhalgh from Year 11, was taken from Ecclesiastes chapter 3. The boys were very honoured to learn that the King James bible from which Paul read had been specially brought out from under lock and key for the first time since Reverend Brian had been at the Church; the bible had been presented to the church by King George V in 1929 and has a dedication in his own hand in the front cover. Following the reading of the Ode to Remembrance, a minute’s silence was held, after which every boy read out two of the names of Bolton School’s fallen soldiers. After all the names had been said, the memorial was officially blessed and dedicated.
After the service, the Chaplain gave the boys a tour of the church, from which they learnt a great deal about its fascinating history and about the people that are commemorated there. Teacher, Miss Burgess said: “This was a very moving and unique way to begin our tour of the Battlefields this year, but it is also the first significant event in Bolton School’s four year programme of commemoration of the Centenary of the First World War. All those who attended feel greatly privileged to have been involved. The boys' reading out of the 81 Old Boys who fell in the war was word perfect and very moving. Amazing coincidence, too, at Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, where we found (out of 74,000 possible missing soldiers commemorated on the monument) that the story of two of our old Boys had been chosen as the 'featured' example in a display cabinet which has its contents changed each month.”