Saturday, 5 February 2011

CCF Remembrance Day 2010


Copied below is an address given by our President, Brian Fuller at the School's Remembrance Day service last year.

About three years ago Mick Crick, the Chairman of the CRA, embarked on a project to try and find out more about the names which appear on the school's two War Memorials.

On each memorial there are over 90 names of boys from this school who gave their lives in the two World Wars.

By this time last year some of you may remember, from the Stockdale Trust display in the dining hall, he had established the locations of nearly all of those names by

checking the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who maintain the cemeteries and memorials of war dead throughout the world.

Many of them lie buried in France where there are over 900 cemeteries and memorials but some are in cemeteries spread across the globe from Canada, Australia, Singapore and Gallipoli in Turkey.

For the last two years, in November, he has been able to visit and place poppy crosses on nine graves of ex-pupils located in the North London area – five are in the cemetery next to this school.

Meanwhile, some others of us had also become involved and we had located and visited the graves or memorials of two ‘old boys’ buried in Cornwall, one in Oxford and, during a battlefield tour, two who had emigrated to Australia and joined the Australian Forces only to fight and die in the Gallipoli Campaign in Turkey. A further eight were found on the Naval War Memorials at Portsmouth and another two at Plymouth.

In October this year, three of us, all ex-cadets, went to visit the World War One battlefields in northern France to visit the graves and memorials of some of those on this memorial. We concentrated on the names on this memorial because we had established that over 70 of those 99 names were in an area stretching some 40 miles from Ypres in the north to Albert in the south along the lines of the trenches which formed the front line during World War One.

Over a period of three days we were able to locate and visit 45 of these in 27 cemeteries and the five memorials at Pozieres, Thiepval, Cambrai, Arras and Loos. Most of them we were able to drive to but one involved travelling down an unmade track and a short trek across a ploughed field. Pushing the car out afterwards gave us a taste of the “Flanders mud”.

At each we were able to place a poppy cross and, from the Commonwealth War Graves register at each cemetery, learn a little more about each individual and how and where he had died. We were struck by how many were barely out of their teens but also how many were junior officers probably leading their men into battle. Christ’s College, even then, were providing leaders – as they still do today.

As we placed a poppy cross at each grave or memorial we solemnly affirmed the exhortation; “They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning – we will remember them”.

The project continues and next year we hope to return to locate the remainder of the boys in northern France including seven who have no known grave but who are remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.

In the dining hall is a pictorial account of this latest visit which I hope you will have time to visit and pause and consider what the boys of Christ’s College gave in those Wars.