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Headmaster’s Blog – 5 November 2014 – Remember, remember our war dead

November 5, 2014

As Guy Fawkes’ Day comes round again we shall be celebrating (if we remember at all amongst the fireworks, bonfires and burgers) the capture of a 17th century terrorist and the protection of Crown and Parliament.  Important as this commemoration is, our focus this year will naturally be on a crucial anniversary in the following week – Remembrance Day on November 11th, the 100th year since the outbreak of the so-called Great War. This is certainly the one to ‘remember, remember’ this year.

Here at Ballard with our strong family ethos, following the painstaking researches of one of our ‘old boys’, Ian Broadway areidlowres34(from Edinburgh House days), we now have a detailed record of the 60 young men who gave their lives in defence of their country. The school started in 1895 as the Royal Naval School at Lee-on-Solent and, not surprisingly, the first casualty occurred at sea in 1905. Through the generations – and several school amalgamations – we have been able to piece together the stories of these young men who fought across all the major theatres of 20th century war and up to Afghanistan in 2008. We have twelve men who lost their lives at sea (including in a torpedoed ship and another in a vessel sliced in half by accident) to twelve others who were fatalities in the air (and sadly three of these learning to fly). Men fell at the key battles in northern France (such as Ypres and the Somme) and died in Montgomery’s campaigns in North Africa. Some were casualties in outposts of Empire (Burma, Malaya, Palestine) and one was assassinated in a train enroute from Shimla to Delhi by Indian nationalists! Another story is of an air ace who survived a crash into France in 1944, met up with the Resistance, joined some American airmen, survived on killing wild rabbits and was then rescued by some Canadians before re-joining his squadron only to be killed in 1951 in a flying race for his squadron. The youngest of our ‘fallen’ to lose his life was 18 and the oldest 56 but the vast majority were in their 20s.

It can be all too easy to lose perspective in the numbers who died fighting and so, by focusing on some of our own war deaths in the displays at school and at our remembrance service, we hope to bring a personal and poignant emphasis.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

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