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Emanuel Remembers: WWI Centenary

This weekend the nation remembers those who lost their lives in both World Wars and other conflicts, with a particular emphasis on the millions killed in the First World War. Emanuel School lost over 150 former pupils and staff in the first conflict and over 100 in the second. Combined, over 1,700 OEs (Old Emanuels) served in both World Wars.

Over the years we have tried to locate photographs of as many of the fallen as possible, and we have photographs of a large percentage. However, last Wednesday we were given an incredibly rare donation by Mr Liam Jung (OE1972-78) and his friend Steve Curtis. Steve had discovered the above 1911 1st XI cricket photo in a junk shop in north London and, realising Liam was an OE, bought the framed photo on his behalf. Both gentlemen were keen to visit the school and compare the 11 names with the First World War Memorial in the school chapel before gifting it to the school archive. It is especially valuable, as it is rare to be gifted photographs which appeared lost in time and are not already part of our collection. Crucially, it also features two boys who later lost their lives in the war.

The first of those killed was Ronald Walter Bullivant (OE1907-12) who was in Lyons House and passed his Cambridge Exams with Honours when he left Emanuel and moved to Bristol. In his final year at Emanuel he was school cricket captain and was a talented all-round sportsman. Ronald died from his wounds when he was 21 in 1917 and the inscription at the bottom of his Commonwealth War Grave simply, but poignantly, reads, ‘Scholar Emmanuel School Wandsworth.’ His family would have chosen the inscription which accompanies the headstone. Usually the inscriptions are religious or classical in tone, but the parents of Roland obviously wished that their son be remembered for being a pupil of Emanuel School. He fought for the Somerset Light Infantry and was a 2nd Lt at the time of his death.

Trooper George Frederick Fell (OE1906-11) also lost his life in 1917 at the age of 21. He is one of the Old Emanuel soldiers we know least about, although he was obviously also a keen sportsman and was the equivalent of an academic scholar of today. His family would have funded the plaque which is in the school chapel and has the epitaph “Grant him O Lord Eternal rest”. George was a Trooper in the City of London Roughriders.

All the First World War remembrance plaques were originally placed in the far right corner of the chapel where the choir is positioned, known as an ‘All Soul’s Chapel’, and was dedicated to those who died in the war. Many years later they were moved so that they would be more visible to pupils.

Over the weekend we invite you to spare a moment for the 250 Old Emanuels who lost their lives in both World Wars. Many were not much older than our own sixth form students.

Mr Jones (Senior Librarian)