July 22nd 1917

The Summer Term has finally come to an end with a number of special events. We had a beautiful afternoon for our Sports Day. Notable performers were John Tew with 32 ft. in the Hop, Step and Jump and George Naish with 4 ft 4 ins in the Under 13 High Jump. These are new records.

Our friends from Somerville muscled in on the Tug of War competition, until they managed to break the rope! One of the most exciting races of the afternoon was the 100 yards race for officers – a pair of crutches won by inches from a bath chair, and the prize-winners received a stirring reception at yesterday’s prize-giving.

The prize-giving included a Challenge Cup inscribed “From the Officers now in Somerville. July 1917” which was presented to the School, to be awarded each year by the vote of the whole school to the boy who ‘has the most gentlemanly bearing and best influence on other boys.’ Our first winner is Tony Disney.

Just how much the young have helped reinvigorate our battle-scarred soldiers can be seen in an appreciation received from one the Somerville officers:

“To us it has been unalloyed pleasure and no words could express our gratitude in being privileged to enjoy so many happy afternoons among the boys… The golden days of youth came back to us this summer, those glorious days when enthusiasms are fresh and alive, when one never sickens of effort and when the game we play is everything to us…

You have given us many happy days and have helped us once again to re-discover the springs of youthful joyousness and love of life. May the memory of those happy days, spent with you on the banks of the Cher, ever live with us, go with us when we return to duty.”

 

 

 

July 5th 1915

Sports Day & Prize-giving – July 1915

For the first time in the history of the school these were amalgamated. We had War weather on the Sports Day proper and could only finish off the High Jump in the shelter of the tent. Then we boldly announced that the rest of the events would be decided next morning at 9.00 a.m. before Prize-giving – and they were!

A gathering like this and our Sports and Prize-giving seem out of place in this terrible war year. I am not going to apologise for holding them as usual – and yet not as usual – for nothing is the same…

Mr Harvey, father of Cyril, was due to given away the prizes, but was unfortunately detained in London owing to the War. Had Mr Harvey been able to be present he would have spoken on the following lines. We very much hope that all the boys and girls (and shall we say grown-ups too?) will read, mark, learn and inwardly digest what he intended to say.

“It is a very great treat for me to be here…

I went to school in the big provincial town where I was born. I hated it. I was a scholarship boy, or what was called a ‘free bug.’ I was also a day bug, a chapel bug and every other kind of bug. The 6th kept the lower school in order by licking them with a long strip of rhinoceros hide and by roasting them on the stove of the big school room. We had half holidays on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays… That was the part of school I enjoyed. I used to go messing about on the river, fishing and sailing and falling overboard, or I used to fool about on a farm.

I played cricket once and had my teeth knocked out. I played football once or twice and got my nose broken.

About the age you boys are going to leave here and go to a Public School, I left school altogether. It was a rotten school. It was rotten because I had a rotten time there. What the boys think about their school is right. If you have a good time at school, that means you are at a good school. My boys enjoy their holidays, but they were always glad to get back here, and they were right. Cyril has told his mother that he is going to send his children to the OPS…

There is one thing that all us grown-ups have to think about these times besides our kids, and that is this great war… Although your lives are not directly altered, I expect you sometimes wonder whether there is anything you can do to help your country. You make contributions for the wounded, you make things to help the soldiers and sailors who are fighting for you and I do not think you are too young to understand how you can help in another way…

There is now a tremendous waste going on. Waste that cannot be avoided. Every soldier in the fighting line has to have six or seven rifles provided for him. The powerful cordite in the cartridges makes such heat that the bolts seize after 30 or 40 rounds of rapid fire. A little mud will spoil a rifle and rifles get lost and broken. The guns wear out very quickly with the heavy firing and one shell costs sometimes £100 and sometimes £1,000. The waste of cartridges is enormous…

And this is only some of the waste; there has got to be lots more and this waste will ruin us, unless we can save as much some other way. Here is where you come in. Don’t let your people buy anything for you that you can do without. Don’t help to give employment to anybody who is not making something that helps in this war…

When we were at peace, we wanted wool and silk for new clothes and socks and neckties. We wanted to be a nut. Now we want everything that goes to make guns and shells, rifles and cartridges…

There is a definite limit to the amount of things we can buy from abroad. And that limit is the amount of gold or other things that we have to give in exchange. We have £55,000,000 gold in the Bank of England and the war costs £3,000,000 a day. If we give our gold and other things for spotted socks, we get much less ammunition. And we have got to knock off lots of things besides spotted socks. We have got to knock off tea and coffee and cocoa and sugar and lots of everything that comes from abroad…

When you boys get back for the holidays, you will see that your people are trying to save and what you have got to say is ‘Right Oh!’”