Lest We Forget: Remembrance Weekend

Bancroftians remembered those who lost their lives during conflict over Remembrance weekend both at School and on the battlefields of northern France.  Fifty-three Fifth Form GCSE History students spent the weekend of 11-13 November visiting several of the cemeteries, memorials and battlefields from the 1st World War. Members of the Bancroft's community came together in Chapel on Sunday 13 November.

2016 marks the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme and in tribute they laid a wreath on the grave of OB Signalling Officer Arnold Capel Batho at Combles Communal Cemetery Extension.  Batho was a boarding pupil at Bancroft’s for five years.  He volunteered to serve in September 1914, not long after the outbreak of war. He died in action on 15 September 1916 near Leuze Wood, in the Somme.  The group also marked the death of R V Menhennitt, a contemporary of Batho at Bancroft’s, who too was killed on 15 September 1917 on the Somme.  Menhennitt is listed among thousands of names on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.  Pupil Juliet Balachin, who laid the wreath on Batho’s grave, commented, “Laying the wreath at the grave of an Old Bancroftian gave me a real sense of connection between Bancroft’s and then and Bancroft’s now.”

In total, 32 Old Bancroftians were killed during the Battle of the Somme, with 8 of them losing their lives on the very first day.


During the weekend, the group also visited: Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world, which is the resting place for almost twelve thousand Commonwealth soldiers from WWI; the Thiepval Memorial; the Welsh Memorial; the Langemark German Cemetery; the Lochnager mine crater on the Somme Battlefields and well as the trenches and battlefields.  The group  experienced the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, which takes place every night to mark those who lost their lives at Ypres.  They were lucky enough to be at the Menin Gate on Armistice Day itself, when the daily commemoration was supplemented by local choirs and bands.

The trip is a sombre and poignant reminder of the huge loss of a whole generation of young men during the conflict.

Remembrance Sunday was marked at School with a moving chapel service led by our Chaplain, the Rev Ivan Moore.  Parents, staff, pupils and Old Bancroftians joined the two hundred members of the School Combined Cadet Force, as well as representative from the Sea Scouts and Cubs, as they remembered those who gave their lives in conflicts.  Before the service, the CCF marched along Whitehall Road and the High Road, before processing into the School grounds.

Following the ceremony, Head of Contingent RSM Tom Walton laid a wreath on the School War Memorial in the Quad, while Cpl Ben Harris played the Last Post.  The traditional silence was marked by all those present.  Flag bearers were Cpl Archie Woods and Head of RAF Robert Sharp, while Tamsyn Hancock and Orla Joyce carried the colours of the School’s Sea Scout troop.  A second wreath was laid on the memorial tablet in honour of the more recent loss of those associated with the School in Afghanistan.

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