On Friday 10 November, the whole school gathered in the hub for the annual St Bart’s Remembrance Service on the 105th anniversary of Armistice Day – the end of the First World War.
Headteacher, Dr Fitter, reminded the gathered school community of the human cost of conflict. We reflected upon the scale of loss and suffering in the World Wars and also upon those soldiers and civilians killed or affected by war and conflict across the world today.
In October next year, our Year 9 students and staff will travel to Northern France and Belgium to visit the Menin Gate in Ypres, where George Ashwin Curnock is commemorated, and go to the grave of Robert Arthur Patterson near Athies. They will also visit Thiepval Memorial, where Bertram Saxelbye Evers’ name is enscripted, and see the memorial plaque placed five years ago in St George’s Memorial Church in Ypres to commemorate the sacrifice made by former St Bart’s students in World War I. The plaque reads:
‘This plaque commemorates those soldiers who attended St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury. They are named individually in pride of place at our school. They gave their lives in the First World War and their sacrifice will be remembered by us all.’
Alexander Herbert Davis died in 1915 and is buried just 400m away from the school in Newtown Road Cemetery.
Dr Fitter spoke of our thoughts being with those who risk their lives in order to do their duty and to uphold values such as democracy and freedom of speech around the world. He reminded us of the importance of kindness, respect for others and promoting peace in our own community.
Following Dr Fitter’s speech, our Head Students read the traditional Roll of Honour – the names of those 101 St Bart’s students who perished in war. Bugle calls by Ethan (Year 11), Matilda (Year 12) and Zoe (Year 12) were heard, and then the School reflected during the two-minute silence.
Mr Robbins, Deputy Headteacher, concluded the service with a poem called ‘The Owl’ by Edward Thomas, written in 1915.
Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.
Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry
Shaken out long and clear upon the hill,
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.
And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird’s voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.
Following the service, the School Officers laid wreaths in the Memorial Garden, joined by members of the CCF, symbols of those young people who found themselves wearing uniform in conflict, by the flagpole to lower the flag to half-mast.