Remembering 1916 commemorates Battle of the Somme Centenary
On the morning of Friday 1 July 2016, a very special ceremony and service took place, at Whitgift School, to commemorate the Centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. At 7am, a small number of staff and pupils gathered on the terrace to watch Whitgift’s Corps of Drums playing It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.
The Revd Canon Boswell, Vicar of Croydon, and the Headmaster, Dr Barnett, gave short speeches, and British, German and French flags were raised as a mark of respect to all of those that gave their lives during one the bloodiest battles in history.
Everyone assembled to observe a one-minute silence at 7.30am, in Whitgift’s First World War exhibition, Remembering 1916 – Life on the Western Front. Dr Barnett gave an introductory talk about 1 July 1916, including the names of the eight Old Whitgiftians who lost their lives that day.
German, French and British poems were read by staff and Year 9 pupil, Edouard Nelson, leaving the audience visibly moved, and Year 7 pupil, Jerry Lin, gave a beautiful piano recital.
British and French Whitgift students were joined for the morning by German students from Deutsche Schule London. A photo call captured these pupils, together with members of the Whitgift Combined Cadet Force, in the Exhibition’s carefully-crafted British, French and German trenches.
Dr Barnett said of the memorable occasion, ‘Today has been a very special and poignant day for Whitgift, remembering the eight former students of the School who lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, and all those, on both sides of the conflict, who died or who suffered life-changing injuries.
We also remembered with respect all the nurses serving at the Front, and the mothers, wives, sisters and sweethearts who had their loved ones in peril on this momentous day.’