In honour of Remembrance Day, today’s dedicated assembly focused on The Royal British Legion’s theme of ‘Service’. We remembered in particular the service given by children in WW1, as underage soldiers, as farm and factory workers, in the Scouts and Girl Guides and the sacrifices made because of the separation of families and bereavement.
Izzy read out a letter from a 9-year old Alfie Knight, an Irish boy who wrote to Lord Kitchener in 1914 volunteering his services to the Army. Cherita shared the story of 12-year old Jewish Londoner, Sidney Lewis, who served at the Battle of the Somme for six weeks before his mother intervened and persuaded the War Office to send him home. The unfortunate story of Aby Bevistein was read by Amelie. Aby, an immigrant who came to London at age three, wanted to show his loyalty to Britain by joining up at the age of 16 in 1914. Severely traumatised by the realities of war after being injured in an explosion, when he returned to the frontline, he was charged with desertion after wandering out of a trench after a grenade attack. Aby was later executed for cowardice at the age of 17.
However, it is important to remember that not all service meant joining the army. In WW1 the government provided Labour Certificates to children who needed to agricultural work, to exempt them from going to school, and we also considered the sacrifices made by children who had absent parents, lost education and were bereaved by the conflict.
It was a very moving whole school gathering accompanied by the Tormead Chamber Choir and Symphony Orchestra who performed ‘In Flanders Fields’ by a former Head of Music, Anthony Merryweather.
The assembly closed with a two minute silence, with Grace ending the commemorative service with a rendition of ‘The Last Post’.
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