The arrival of September sees the completion of the 104th edition of ‘The Draconian’, by its editor of these past 14 years, GC (Cheese) Vassall, covering the events of last term. There have been many highlights, one of which was on May 21st, VC Sunday, the annual celebration of Jack Smyth and William Leefe Robinson‘s wartime achievements.
It was a delight to have Major Tyrrell Brooks MC give the address at our Sunday Service. As a title he took these (unattributed) words:
‘You must remember that people with visions from high mountains must also pass through deep valleys – you must realise what is happening and that Light will come again.’
He started his address by explaining how these words struck a chord with him, as someone returning from the war:
“To me, when I was told [these words], they meant an infinite deal. The war was over, and we who had been living on our nerves for five years were subject to deep fits of depression, alternating with optimism – in other words, the main issue of one’s professional life had passed and had left a blank, and the world seemed upside-down, and nothing normal…”
Having emphasised the difficulty of adjusting to a new world of peace, Tyrrell expanded on how, some eight years ago, Europe descended into war and the standing armies had been swamped and their places taken up by thousands of volunteers:
“About the time I am referring to everybody had gone from the mountain tops and were in the deep valleys. The great opening battles of the war had been fought and a paralysis, through lack of manpower and temporary exhaustion, had made the battle front a desolate and gloomy picture of trenches and mud. Into these conditions the volunteers of the early days were thrust; no chance of distinction, no glamour of moving battle, but simply a duty to be performed, and that was sticking it out while the nation re-organised to win.
Looking back on those days, one realises so well that the attribute which pulled one out of the deep valleys was a thing called ‘patient courage’ – the power and grit to live, and cheerfully live, under conditions which, to say the least of it, were appalling…”
He ended his address by urging us all to confront the challenges of the present and future, warning us to expect ‘ups and downs’ and to realise that if something is worth having, it is worth fighting for.
“I often think it is a good thing to think and ponder over those great years of 1914-18; it is good to realise what the patient courage of those that fell meant in that great struggle; it is good also to train yourself to acquire that patient courage in everyday life – and when you are in doubt, think of the lines which are inscribed on a stone cross in a quaint little old Devonshire village to commemorate those who had given their lives to keep England free:
‘Those who live on ‘midst English pastures green, look at this Cross and think what might have been.'”
Tyrrell contributed on a number of occasions to the wartime editions of ‘The Draconian’ – his letter about Tommy Atkins was particularly striking.