We Will Remember Them

Posted on: 09 Sept 2014

To commemorate the anniversary of the start of the war, Haileybury pupils have helped construct a replica Command Trench in the grounds of the College. Yesterday it was opened to visiting schools by Armed Forces Minister, Mark Francois…

As Haileybury school, in Herefordshire, starts a new academic year, pupils and staff take their places in Chapel. They sit on the same pews as the young men whose names surround them on the walls and memorials in Chapel and across the campus. The school community has been inspired and saddened in equal measure by the tales of bravery, comradeship, leadership and service that have come to prominence in this, the 100th anniversary of the start of the war. Now the school are commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in a number of unique ways, the centrepiece being the creation of a Trench Trail.

Back in 1914, Haileybury pupils helped dig up land around the College’s rugby pitches to create a system of trenches for their military training. Now, one hundred years later, pupils are constructing a new trench system, complete with duckboards, firestep and dugout, as well as a wide variety of equipment found in a trench.

The 2014 trench will replicate one that might have been created in the battlefields of the First World War and will form part of a Trench Trail around the school campus encompassing Haileybury’s unique archive materials, architecture, memorials and Chapel.

During the Autumn Term school groups will work their way around the trail led by Haileybury teaching staff and a learning session at the end will give children the opportunity to see and handle artefacts, medals, letters and photographs. More than one thousand key stage 2 pupils and their teachers have booked on to the experience which lasts for two hours and involves workbooks for teachers and pupils and lesson extension materials for teachers to take away with them.

Design and construction of the trench is being overseen by renowned military historian, author and curator, Andrew Robertshaw. Building work started on 4 August 2014, 100 years to the day since the outbreak of the war, and the trench will be officially opened by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces today. Haileybury will welcome the first visiting school groups on 9 September.

Other Haileybury activities to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War

On 16 October, historian and writer James Barr will give a lecture on the life of one of Haileybury’s most famous sons, General Edmund Allenby in Conqueror of Jerusalem: Edmund Allenby and the Shaping of the Middle East. This follows a poignant ceremony that took place in June 2014 in which the great-grandson of one of General Edmund Allenby’s staff sergeants, now attending Haileybury, formally returned a historic flag captured at Damascus during the First World War, to Turkey through its ambassador to the UK, Ünal Çeviköz.

Two new stained glass windows are currently being designed for the East side of Haileybury Chapel to commemorate those who lost their lives in the First World War and in more recent conflicts. The installation of the windows will be marked at the College’s Remembrance Sunday service in November. Immediately following the service all current Haileybury pupils will carry a small wooden cross bearing the name of a Haileyburian to die in the conflict and will place it within the stunning setting of Haileybury’s quadrangle, outside the Chapel to create a “sea of crosses”.

On the artistic front, an ensemble cast of pupils will perform in a production of Oh! What a Lovely War at Haileybury’s Ayckbourn Theatre from 13-15 November. And to explore the poetry of the conflict, Head of English, Dr Tom Day, is leading a Sixth Form conference at Haileybury on the Poetry of the First World War, featuring renowned poet Simon Armitage. Armitage, whose new film The Great War: An Elegy will be broadcast on BBC2 in the autumn, will be giving a poetry reading. Sixth Form pupils from schools across Hertfordshire have been invited to attend and present their own papers for discussion.

Right across the school we will be offering opportunities for our own pupils and those from surrounding state and independent schools to take part in our own special ways of remembering those who gave their lives in the “war to end all wars” for the sake of others. Haileybury is proud to be a Centenary Partner of the Imperial War Museum.

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