11th November 2020
This year marks 102 years since the signing of the ‘Armistice of 1918’, which signalled the end of World War One. It’s reported that around 1,500 Old Witleians served their country during the Great War, with 93 Old Witleians and 2 former members of staff losing their lives. To commemorate the war and those lost during it, the School constructed a war memorial, that was unveiled on 11th September 1920. The memorial itself is made of Portland stone and oak, with one side carrying the words “This memorial is erected in affectionate remembrance by Old Boys of the School and their friends” with the other reading “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” After 1945, the memorial also became a symbol of remembrance for the 48 Old Witleians who sacrificed their life during the Second World War. The memorial remains outside the main entrance of the School, and serves as the centre of the remembrance service that is held every 11th November.
In normal circumstances, all 400 pupils and members of staff would be present for the Remembrance service out in front of the School, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK National Lockdown, the service was delivered in line within current UK Government guidelines. Selected members of senior staff and the Prefects were present in front of the memorial, with the choir and trumpeter standing in the main archway. The service was livestreamed into all classrooms for pupils to watch, shared with our Old Witleians and on social media. The service can be seen in full here.
The Venerable Stuart Beake started the service, followed by Mrs Wright, Head, Mrs Clarke, Deputy Head Academic and Mr Corran, Deputy Head, reading out the names of all the former pupils and masters who died on active service during the two World Wars, with the Prefects placing a cross for each of them around the base of the memorial. Two wreaths were then laid, one by Mr Harrison, Deputy Head Co-Curriculum, on behalf of the Old Witeleians, and one by Mr Lewis, Clerk to the Governors, on behalf of the Bridewell Foundation. With performances from our choir and trumpeter Thomas before and after the 2 minutes’ silence, the service ended with a final prayer from Stuart Beake.
For the full order of service, and the list of all the Old Witleians that died during the First World War see below.