Following our Remembrance Service on Friday 11th November Guy Cliffe – OS 1944-51- shares his memories of a previous act of Remembrance held at Silcoates.
The Act of Remembrance on 11 November 2009.
As the Headmaster commented at the commencement of the occasion, it is the only time that the whole School, junior and senior, is able to assemble together. This is because it is held outside and there is no area within the school buildings that can accommodate the over 700 students. On a surprisingly calm but cool November morning for this Silcoates hilltop, it was impressive to watch all the students lining up by form on the front tennis court, the terrace and parts of the front driveways. The forming up concluded with the members of Year 13 lining the edge of the driveway facing in a column towards the flagpole and the memorial stone, donated just last year by the Old Silcoatians’ Association .
At the stroke of eleven o`clock each of those students walked forward to plant a poppy cross at the foot of the stone as the name of each Old Silcoatian who had been killed in the First and Second World Wars was read out.
Many of we Old Silcoatians will remember the times spent in the School Chapel looking to the front and seeing, and perhaps counting, the names appearing on the two memorial tablets. But it was a very sobering thought to reflect each student who placed their poppy cross represented one OS killed in those two periods of war. It was especially poignant to reflect that the 50 Old Silcoatians killed in the 1914 to 18 war, were from such a small school of around 100 students in total.
At 11 o`clock there was the bugle call. After reflection of two minutes’ silence the bugle call was again played impeccably by a young member of the School Brass Group. After the appropriate words for the occasion had been read out, the school compliment quietly and in a very orderly manner filed away into School.
It was indeed a most moving Act of Remembrance. It was made even more interesting in that also attending, quite by chance, was a group of exchange students from a school in Freiburg, Germany. As they passed by our small group, I engaged one of their teaching staff in my best `Max Andrews taught German` conversation. One of the teachers was particularly interested to know what life had been like as a boarder at Silcoates during the latter part of the Second World War.
I understand that next year there will be an OS reunion on Remembrance Sunday and all will be invited to the Act of Remembrance on 11th November.
Guy Cliff OS 1944-51
I would add, for the attention of those older OSs who have been witnessing house building moving closer and closer to the School, that as I walked away to the car park I saw about five brace of partridge scurrying across the old cricket pitch! Fear not -the School is indeed still in something of a rural setting!