CHRONICLES FROM THE ARCHIVES
Please see below for a full listing of articles published by the Sedbergh School Archives
CHRISTMAS IN THE ARCHIVES
As the afternoons grow darker and the brilliance of the autumnal colours turn to a dreary brown, thoughts turn towards the darkness of winter and the light of Christmas. With the school closed over the Christmas holidays, it is no surprise that there are few images or anecdotes of Christmas at Sedbergh.However, one thing the archives are not short of is the recording of the spirit of Christmas among pupils and staff, past and present. Here, the archives bulge with the anticipation of the light and the celebrations to come: the giving and receiving of Christmas cards; pupils’ poems of the season; descriptions of school productions, rugby matches, Festival Evensongs and Christmas concerts. Christmas concerts have been recorded since the first Sedberghian in 1884, when the carol ‘Adeste Fideles’ (commonly known as ‘O Come all ye Faithful’) customarily started the proceedings. The first school song, ‘Sedberghiam nactus es’, was ‘the great attraction’ of the Christmas concert of 1884.
The annual wish for a white Christmas is also recorded with vigour in the archives: snow in Sedbergh is practically mandatory at this time of year! In December 1912, The Sedberghian reported: ‘Lily Mere froze only to be covered with snow, and the snow when at last deep enough for winter sports immediately began to thaw,—yet skates, toboggans, and skis were all going for three or four days: bandaged fingers shewed that there was plenty of excitement to be got, and scarred features that you could always toboggan on your face, if nowhere else.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas from the Archives.
Sedbergh School Acting Archivist
A SCOTS WAR HERO- MYSTERY AND A DOUBLE TRAGEDY
By Andrew Sutherland Mackay
A lark bursts into the sky, a tinkling counterpoint to the low, grey cloud that swirls around the Zeals military aerodrome as Flt. Lt. Martin Reay Sutherland Mackay, RAFVR, DFC strides towards waiting Dakota TS 346. His mission is to return 20 fellow pilot officers and personnel from the RAF, Canadian and Australian Air Forces to the Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Leicester East.
The mood that cold winter’s day in February 1945 was upbeat. The end of the war in Europe was just months away and there was the scent of victory in the air. The pilots had successfully completed complex training – Flt. Lt. Mackay, with nearly 450 hours on Dakotas, was one of the instructors – that involved picking up gliders from the ground without the need for landing the towing aircraft.
Just six months earlier, he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for bravery at Arnhem. His citation in the London Gazette read:
“This officer was pilot and captain of an aircraft detailed for a sortie, entailing the dropping of supplies to our ground forces near Arnhem in September, 1944. In the first run-in to the target the aircraft came under considerable fire from the enemy's ground defences. The starboard engine was hit. Nevertheless, Flight Lieutenant Mackay made a second run over the dropping zone to release all his containers. Despite the loss of engine power, this resolute captain flew the aircraft to base where he effected a masterly landing. This officer has completed numerous sorties and has invariably displayed the highest standard of devotion to duty.”
This golden boy of a well-to-do Scots family had the world at this feet. Nicknamed Bonzo, after a 20s cartoon character, he was the second child of the eldest of six brothers. He had passed through Sedbergh School with distinction: tall, handsome, a keen sportsman, born mimic, popular with his many cousins and destined for a stellar career in the RAF.
“He belongs quite definitely,” the headmaster noted in his final school report, “to what has been called the aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky.” A splendid chap, my father and a first cousin, called him.
For most on board, the short flight to Leicester East would have been like hopping on to a bus. With no threat from enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft fire, they could start to relax and look forward to some leave and well-earned rest.
But the flight never reached its destination, simultaneously creating a mystery which will never be solved and leaving in its wake dark shadows, which linger to this day.
After a routine take-off, the aircraft turned north-east on the right heading for Leicester and climbed into the broken cloud. Seconds later, it crashed into a local landmark known as The Clump, in a corner of the Stourhead Estate on the Wiltshire/Somerset border, cutting a swathe through a line of mature beech trees and bursting into flames before coming to rest.
Bonzo, extraordinarily, was thrown clear of the wreckage, suggesting that he was not at the controls of his aircraft. He sustained serious head and leg injuries, but after a month, his family received the news that he was out of danger and was expected to recover. His 20 fellow passengers were not so fortunate. All of them died.
A Court of Inquiry was reconvened a month after the accident, but its findings were either lost or destroyed. A short Accident Investigation Board report attributed the accident to poor visibility and the failure of the pilot to climb sufficiently to clear The Clump, which was marked with an obstruction pole. A further possibility was faulty instrument flying, or that the pilot had failed to uncage the gyro, and lost control in the cloud. The Court of Inquiry concurred.
Whatever the cause, the accident appears to have had little impact on Bonzo’s career. His recovery continued and he resumed where he had left off, flying regularly with the Glider Pick Up Training Unit, and giving demonstrations, until its disbandment in November 1945.
He was transferred to RAF Welford, but left the service shortly thereafter, only to rejoin in 1947. Two years after the fatal accident, he was back as a flying instructor, training pupil pilots at a number of universities.
Did somebody know something? He was, after all, a highly experienced and decorated pilot, who had apparently been at the controls of an aircraft that had crashed, resulting in the death of 20 service personnel. Why had he committed such a cardinal error? Was somebody in authority prepared to overlook the cause of the accident to entrust him with training the next generation of the nation’s pilots? Was pilot error even involved at all?
As the sole survivor, and with no eye witnesses, Bonzo was the only one able to offer any explanation. It was when he revealed to a family member that he had not been at the controls, and was returning to the cockpit having sensed all was not well, that different theories began to emerge.
Did something happen aft, requiring his immediate attention? A fight, possibly, among a group of boisterous young men in high spirits and heading home after arduous training? Was there a technical problem with the aircraft? Whatever the causes it remains a mystery, but one that had the most disastrous outcome.
In a further twist to the tragedy, the family noted a distinct change in Bonzo’s personality. With his RAF career now at an end, he found himself at a crossroads. It seems probably that he wanted a lower profile after the Court of Inquiry, so joined the Colonial Service in Kenya and became, some would argue, out of sight and out of mind. A letter home, a cry for help, went unanswered by his father, a major in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), who did not reveal its contents to Bonzo’s mother. She never forgave him.
After various postings in Kenya, Bonzo was appointed District Commissioner of Garissa District, Northern Province in November 1948. Some time later, he received news from his fiancée that she would not be joining him. That blow, combined with the effect of his injuries, survivor’s guilt and the apparent indifference from his immediate family, tipped him over the edge and, on June 21st, 1949, he locked himself in an office and shot himself. He was just 26.
There was to be no triumphant homecoming for this proud Scots war hero. No piper playing ‘Flowers of the Forest’ at his graveside in the cemetery near the family home in Doune, Perthshire; no readings or prayers; no memorial service to celebrate his life; no flypast by aircraft stationed at nearby RAF Auchterarder.
Instead, he was buried the next day in the City Park Cemetery, Nairobi, his grave overlooked by a rusting water tank and with just a simple white headstone to mark the plot.
In the 70 years since his death, PTSD has become an accepted condition and much has been learnt about its causes and management. We can only speculate now as to whether Bonzo would have benefited from treatment and greater understanding from his family, rather than suffer the stigma of a Court of Inquiry and the endless speculation that surrounded the accident.
Like thousands of other casualties of war whose lives were cut short, or forever changed, by tragic accidents, Bonzo served with distinction, but did not survive the aftermath of war. That makes him, and his fellow servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price, no less heroic for their devotion to duty, and no less deserving of our acknowledgment and eternal gratitude.
I would like to acknowledge the following for providing the inspiration and encouragement to write this article:
Bernard Pike, author of A War Casualty, and former manager of the farm on whose land
The Clump stands Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown, Bonzo’s niece, for her insights and support
Andrew Stewart-Brown, Bonzo’s nephew, for his kind loan of papers and photographs
Katy de la Rivière, School Archivist, Sedbergh School, Cumbria
The Origin of the Sedbergh Wolf
The Sedbergh Wolf has come to symbolise team-work, community, loyalty, competition, striving to achieve, passion and creativity. But how did this iconic image come to be associated with Sedbergh School?
Sedbergh School was founded by Roger Lupton who was Provost of Eton College, Canon of Windsor and chaplain to Kings’ Henry VII and Henry VIII. Lupton was advisor to the monarchs during the fraught separation from the roman catholic church.
Lupton was granted a coat of arms by King Henry VII which included three wolf heads. These refer to his surname Lupton which is derived from the Latin word lupus meaning wolf. In heraldry more widely the wolf represents the noble or courageous and is often used to symbolise perseverance.
Other elements of Lupton’s coat of arms include three lilies representing the virgin Mary, escallop shells symbolising the pilgrimage of Santiago de compostela, a popular religious pilgrimage during Lupton’s lifetime and the Tau cross to symbolise the support that Christ gives as well as referring to St Anthony’s Hospital of which Lupton was master.
Katy de la Rivière
Please see the video in the separate article here.
Early History of the OS Club
For well over a century the Old Sedberghian Club has provided opportunities for OS to meet for informal social events and to access the network of professional knowledge and career opportunities within the alumni body. The earliest record of any alumni association is an article in The Sedberghian in December 1890 which invited Old Sedberghians to attend an Old Sedberghian Club dinner in Edinburgh a month later. The article records that the OS Club had subs which were charged at 7s. 6d. which in itself suggests that a club of some sort was already established at this point. As the preceding decade had been a time of intense development at Sedbergh it is likely that the club emerged during this time.
Above: 1895 Pro Forma to gage interest in forming an Old Sedberghian Club
In 1888 The Triad Club was formed for Old Boys of Sedbergh, Giggleswick and Lancaster Grammar at Cambridge University. Members took part in dinners as well as forming a Rugby team. The last record of the Triad Club is from 1895. Perhaps as the individual alumni associations for the three schools strengthened the boys no longer needed the same support from other northern school fellows.
Despite mentions of earlier events the Old Sedberghian Club as it exists now was formally founded in 1895 following a meeting of OS’s in the rooms of C. W. Gooch. A. J. Fowler, later Housemaster of Hart House, was not present at the meeting but the following day was asked to undertake the official formation of the Club. He continued in the role of Honourable Secretary for some years. Sir Francis Powell was the first President of the Club and Headmaster Henry George Hart was one of the two initial Vice-Presidents. Bernard Wilson, founder of the Wilson Run, was the first Treasurer. A football tour was undertaken in 1896, a cricket tour in 1897 and the first dinner managed by the re-founded club was the London OS Dinner of 1899.
Above: Old Sedberghian Dinner Trocadero London July 1912
The first Old Boys Day was held in Sedbergh in the Summer Term 1920. The date was fixed to be the Saturday before Commemoration Sunday. The Old Boys played cricket and tennis and shot against the boys and Masters. The evening included several separate reunions. Perhaps some of these events could be recreated for next years centenary Old Boys event in Sedbergh?
The Old Sedberghian Club continues to thrive. Initiatives such as #TheGlobalRun and a calendar of world wide events are engaging members of the OS community from recent leavers through to the those alumni who reach 100 years of age and beyond. As technology has progressed the Club has embraced new ways for members to network. The Graduway platform with over 1,100 members has made it easier than ever before for alumni to connect around the world and to find work experience, internships and long term employment opportunities through the Old Boys community.
Katy de la Rivière
Celebrating LGBT History Month
Although H. Montgomery Hyde (P 1921 – 25) is not now a household name he was one of the most influential Sedberghians of the twentieth century. Hyde’s work to campaign for reform of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 which made homosexual acts criminal as well as his writings about homosexuality elevated him to international renown.
Hyde came to Sedbergh School from Belfast where his father was a linen merchant and Unionist councillor. From early childhood he was exposed to hot headed political debate and was encouraged to take part in direct action campaigns. His family were involved in gun running for the Ulster Volunteer Force and as a child Hyde was used as a dummy casualty for first-aid practice. He entered Sedbergh on a scholarship and excelled academically winning form prizes year after year as well as a science prize. In his final year he gained a Pakenham Scholarship to Belfast University.
After studying Law and practicing briefly in London he became Librarian and Private Secretary to the Marquess of Londonderry. In 1939 he joined the British Army Intelligence Corps serving first as a Censor in Gibraltar and later in counter-espionage work in America.
In 1950 Hyde was selected to be MP for North Belfast. He ruffled feathers from his very first speech which outlined the difficulties of enforcement of Northern Ireland family maintenance orders in Great Britain. During the 1950’s he worked with the Council of Europe Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg on simplifying visa and border controls.
Throughout the 1950’s Hyde campaigned to decriminalise homosexuality. In 1957 the committee responsible for writing the Wolfenden Report recommended that ‘homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence’. Hyde fought for a parliamentary debate on the report which had been greeted with much animosity by his parliamentary colleagues. He argued strongly in favour of the report findings including reforming the law that had made homosexual acts a crime.
As a result of his outspoken campaign Hyde was deselected by the Ulster Unionist Party. The vote to decide whether or not he would be reselected took place while he was travelling in South America. He lost the vote by 19 votes and commented that it was a ‘rank discourtesy holding the meeting without him’. A contemporary source suggested that if he had been present and able to campaign on his own behalf then the result could have swung the other way.
In 1972 Hyde wrote the first history of homosexuality in Great Britain and Ireland, ‘The Other Love’. The book was published internationally under a range of titles. In America it was called ‘The love that dared not speak its name: a candid history of homosexuality in Britain’. The book was supported by the Homosexual Law Reform Society which had provided case studies which were discussed in combination with legal documentation. He wrote extensively about the trials of Oscar Wilde and other men within Wilde’s peer group.
After his death in 1989 many of his personal papers were deposited with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. He gave his extensive library to Sedbergh School.
Katy de la Rivière
The Impact of the Great War on Sedbergh School
When war was declared in July 1914, Sedberghians were encouraged to perform their duty. The Archbishop of York, speaking at the 1914 summer prize-giving, prompted boys to join the Territorial Forces. Colonel Riddell, who conducted an O.T.C inspection in the same month, commented that he hoped that each member would ‘render a man’s service to his country’.
Sedberghian leavers joined the military in large numbers - 1,258 are known to have served in the War. The Officers’ Training Corp, a precursor of the CCF, provided boys with training in trench-digging, devising routes, defensive tactics, bayonet fighting and marching. The training offered was viewed as a thorough grounding for would-be officers and enabled public schoolboys to enter the military in leadership positions.
Even before the outbreak of war, the military was a popular destination for Sedberghian school leavers. Captain Knowles, the first Sedberghian casualty, had served in the Boer War, in India and in Burma, before being posted to Belgium with the British Expeditionary Force. Knowles died within hours of the first shots of war being fired, one of the first officers of the war to be killed.
Days later, pupils returned to school, aware of the momentous change that had taken place in their absence. The Sedberghian Magazine records: “We ended last term at Peace; we begin the present one at War. Nothing more need be said; no words of ours could make more appreciable the great gulf fixed by the eight memorable weeks of the holidays, difficult though it is to realise, in these secluded dales, the horror that Germany has let loose upon the world.”
Despite the location in ‘secluded dales’ the gravity of war was felt daily. Retired masters returned to fill the voids left by able-bodied teachers joining up; Belgian refugees entered the school and numbers swelled; the brothers, uncles and fathers of boys set off to war. The school debating society discussed issues that were being discussed in adult newspapers with motions such as ‘Professional Football should be stopped during the War’ and ‘German ought no longer to be taught in schools’.
In 1915 the War Office sanctioned a ‘Camp of Instruction’ to be held in Sedbergh for senior cadets from public schools. During July and August, pupils prepared for the military action that awaited them. Masters were attached to regiments for the holidays to train recruits and undertake clerical work for the admiralty.
When boys were not busy with lessons or military training, they were encouraged to work in the OTC workshop making munitions. By June 1916, the workshop had produced 1,127 Shrapnel discs, 500 shell bases for 18lb shells, 2,000 bullet punches - enough to make a million bullets, 200 machine parts for bullet machines and a handful of fuse sockets for 18lb shells.
Even the Wilson Run was influenced by the war. In April 1917 the Wilson Run times were not produced for the only time in the 20th century. Captain Woodhouse felt that the scarcity of paper ‘rendered its publication hardly justifiable’.
In June 1917 the Sedberghian magazine recorded the relentless losses. ‘As the British front moves forward our list of casualties grows almost daily: the war takes from us those whom we feel we cannot replace, whose steadfast loyalty to Sedbergh we had counted on for coming years.’ With casualty numbers growing, the proposal of a war memorial was raised for the first time.
In the autumn of 1917, a new role of ‘prefect of the week’ was created to replace the ‘master of the week’. With masters leaving to fight, the work of the skeleton staff was supplemented by support from the prefects to keep up with day-to-day chores around school, such as manning the library and tuck shop, taking roll call and keeping the school site tidy.
Throughout the war, the boys and masters of Sedbergh School worked the land around school to replace the labour lost by men going to war. In free time during the week, boys collected tools and sometimes walked several miles to reach the outlying farms. In the holidays of 1918, boys were billeted further afield in Wales and the north of England to take part in agricultural work camps.
Despite the cessation of fighting on November 11th 1918, Sedbergh was changed by the war. Six masters who had seen active service returned to their teaching roles and within three years of the war ending, a further 10 new masters who had fought in the conflict joined the staff. Their experiences would undoubtably have impacted upon their own physical and mental health and, in turn, would have informed their interactions with the boys they taught. Every boy would have been personally affected by the war through loss of brothers, fathers, uncles, neighbours and friends.
259 Sedberghian boys and masters are known to have died in the conflict. This total includes 12 men who died shortly after the armistice because of injury or illness on active service.
Katy de la Rivière
1918: Sedbergh and the war at home
Sedberghians are privileged to have the great resource of the Sedberghian magazine to share our history. The magazines began in 1879 and have recorded the changes in the school landscape, national events and the all-important minutiae that makes up daily life.
1918 saw bloody warfare on the battlefields of Europe, sacrifices at home and the boys and staff coming to terms with the loss of their loved ones. In amongst all this, life continued as it always must. The Sedberghian magazines give modern readers a sense of the joy and spirit that the young people of Sedbergh showed despite the challenges they faced.
This summer many Sedberghians will have enjoyed the heatwave. In 1918 a similar heatwave and subsequent drought hit Europe. Water stored in Killington reservoir was not sufficient and the school had to be creative to continue functioning. With water from the taps slowing to a trickle, water for cooking and cleaning was brought in from the surrounding rivers which were also running very low. To enable the boys to wash themselves each house was assigned a pool in the river to bathe. Each house trooped to their allotted section at 7.15 each morning instead of attending early prep. Boys campaigned to be sent home, wishful thinking perhaps.
Working on the land
Boys and staff dedicated much of their time off to agricultural and forestry work. With most able-bodied men away fighting, the tasks of feeding the nation and managing natural resources fell to the young and old. Boys worked on the farms around Sedbergh that could be accessed on foot and through the summer months the boys took part in work camps in Cemaes Bay, Amlwch and Valley in North Wales as well as being billeted at Casterton for a week at a time.
Petrol shortages meant that machinery to maintain the estate sat idle in sheds while horses, men and boys did the heavy labour. The motor lawn mower “Panting Pegasus” was retired due to lack of petrol. The June 1918 Sedberghian recorded that it took 15 hours to mow the cricket pitch with the old-fashioned horse mower that had been reinstated.
As the war drew to an end the United Kingdom experienced a severe outbreak of Spanish flu, so named as the first recorded cases were in Spain. The virus was believed to have spread more rapidly through the UK by soldiers returning from the trenches in Northern France. The outbreak at Sedbergh peaked in the first few weeks of the Michaelmas term. For several weeks the school dwindled as staff and boys succumbed to the illness and at its worst only 36 boys from the full count of 326 made it to roll call.
Visit of King George V to Sedbergh School - May 19th 1917
As Britain reeled from the news that 14 British drifters had been sunk off the coast of Italy, King George Vth toured the north of England recognising factories, schools and businesses who were contributing to the war effort.
Before visiting Sedbergh School King George Vth and his wife Mary stopped in Carlisle to tour the Territorial Army Drill Hall on Strand Road. The building had been converted by Theodore Carr of the famous Carr’s biscuits to become a munitions factory. Businesses in the town were encouraged to donate machinery that was converted for use making 18lb. artillery shells. The efforts of the largely female workforce were recognised by King George as an important part of the war effort.
As the King was touring Carlisle news reached Sedbergh that he had graciously accepted an invitation to visit the school later that day. The King was due to inspect the Officers’ Training Corps and so lessons ended at 11am. The Sedberghian magazine records:
“…the rest of the morning and all the afternoon were spent in a gallant attempt on the part of the O.T.C. to put a final polish on themselves and their manoeuvres (for be it remembered that this was only the second full parade of the term), while the few involuntary civilians and townspeople erected such decorations as time allowed.”
Despite our royal charter King George Vth was the first member of the royal family to visit Sedbergh School. However it is rumoured that Bonnie Prince Charlie passed through Sedbergh as he retreated from Derby to Inverness.
On his royal tour the King also visited a shell filling factory in Morecambe and a shipyard in Barrow.
During his visit to Sedbergh on Monday 10th April 2017 HRH Prince Charles was delighted to hear that his visit occurred so close to the 100th anniversary of his great-grandfather’s visit. During his visit to Cumbria the Prince visited the newly opened Rosehill Theatre in Whitehaven and toured the New Balance trainer factory in Maryport.
Katy de la Rivière
World War II Sedberghian Casualty research
Support for the OS WW1 pilgrimage has been tremendous. So far 160 of the 257 graves and memorials have been visited. Over the next two years the remaining 103 graves will be visited by official pilgrimage tours and dedicated individuals making personal visits.
While the next two years will have a strong focus on WW1 the archive is continuing to collect personal reminiscences for Sedberghians who died in WW2. If you or a family member would be willing to share photographs or memories of Old Sedberghian’s who lost their lives in WW2 please do get in touch. Our long term goal is to gather information about every WW2 casualty so that these men can be commemorated. Sadly the Sedberghian Magazines during WW2 do not record the war service of casualties as happened in WW1. This may have been due to paper shortages during WW2 that meant the Sedberghian Magazines were required to be much more concise than the magazines published during WW1.
We are aware that many OS will remember Sedberghian friends who were lost in WW2 and welcome any personal accounts these men to add to their commemoration documents.
Katy de la Rivière
OS PILGRIMGE TO THE SOMME – 19th-23rd SEPTEMBER 2016
Thirty-three Old Sedberghians were killed or died of wounds sustained whilst fighting on the Somme; one is buried in Harrogate, the other 32 are buried in France. The names of 12 appear on the Thiepval Memorial and 20 have identified graves. This year’s stage of The OS Pilgrimage was to honour this group of Old Sedberghians.
With this objective, 23 of us assembled at London St Pancras Station on the morning of Monday 19th September in order to catch the 08:55 Eurostar train to Lille. Dr Bruce Cherry who was to be our guide (as he had been at Gallipoli last year) was at St Pancras to greet us. We arrived in Lille at 11:30 local time and there we were met by the coach which was to be our means of transport for the next 4 days together with its redoubtable driver Philippe.
The itinerary which Bruce had drawn up for us involved visits to the principal battle sites and memorials, as well as visits to all but the most distant of the OS graves. This gave us a good understanding of the course of the battle as well as the opportunity to remember and honour the OS fallen.
Between the afternoon of the Monday and lunchtime on Thursday we visited 18 cemeteries each containing the grave of an OS. Each cemetery was a haven of beauty and calm, usually flanked by trees, its gravestones in serried ranks, the whole immaculately maintained. Some cemeteries were shared with the local populace; some cemeteries also contained the graves of those from different countries. At each OS grave we held a short ceremony which has become customary – an appropriate reading or prayer followed by a brief biographical sketch, the planting of a small School cross and the sprinkling of soil from Winder. These were moving occasions given extra poignancy by our knowing something about each deceased.
That first afternoon we visited 3 cemeteries, which included the Queen’s Cemetery at Puisieux, where Lt James Hitchon (aged 21) (E), the first OS to die in the Somme offensive on 1st July 1916 is buried. He had barely got over the parapet of his trench, leading his platoon in one of the first waves of attacks, when he was shot and killed.
On Tuesday, we visited a further 6 cemeteries with our final destination being the Thiepval Memorial. Thiepval was chosen, after the War, as the location for a memorial to commemorate those who died in the Somme sector before 20th March 1918 and have no known grave. It bears the names of 73,367 officers and men who died, including 12 OSs. We held our Service of Commemoration and Remembrance there during which the names of the 12 OSs were read out, as were the names of the 19 men from Sedbergh town and district who died either on the Somme, or elsewhere from wounds sustained on the Somme; thirteen of whose names also appear on the Thiepval Memorial. Also during the course of the Service a wreath was laid and The Pilgrimage Prayer specifically written by Professor Tom Wright (OS) the former Bishop of Durham was recited. It was, as ever, an intensely moving occasion at this magnificent edifice in its commanding position amidst spectacular countryside. On a gorgeous sunny late afternoon, the horrors of war seemed almost unimaginable and yet were present in all our minds.
That evening we went en masse to a local restaurant. The ordering from the menu was so noisy, confused and protracted that I had visions of the harassed young waitress collecting her coat and leaving. Fortunately, the OS Club Secretary’s calming presence and conciliatory approach restored order to proceedings, the harassed waitress relaxed and an excellent meal and most convivial evening resulted.
Wednesday was an enormously varied day. Amongst the cemeteries we visited was the Caterpillar Valley NZ Cemetery where the name of Lance Corporal David Watson (OS) is to be found. After leaving school he emigrated to New Zealand and upon the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Otago infantry, coming to Europe with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He served in Egypt and France and was killed at Flers.
We visited the South African Memorial and Museum at Delville Wood, one of the most famous landmarks of the Somme battlefield. An OS, Ian McGregor (SH) whose name appears on the Thiepval Memorial was killed at Delville Wood. He was a first cousin of JH Bruce Lockhart, Cambridge rugby Blue and Scottish rugby international, who went on to become a distinguished Headmaster of the School. By coincidence two of his descendants, brother and sister Malcolm and Karen Bruce Lockhart, were in our party, and so fittingly, beside the only tree remaining from the 1916 Delville Wood, we remembered Ian McGregor, with Malcolm providing the biographical details.
We also visited the Devonshire Cemetery sited on what had been the British Front Line from which the 9th Devonshires had attacked the German Front Line at Mametz on 1st July 1916. The German Cemetery at Fricourt exuded a quite different atmosphere when compared with that of the CWGC cemeteries. Its black crosses marking the graves created a sinister air, notwithstanding the peacefulness of its setting.
The restaurant which had been chosen for us for the last night dinner was in a hotel with a somewhat grand appearance but hidden away down a side street some 10 minutes walk from our hotel. The evening featured (as has become traditional) a rousing rendition of Winder after dinner. The meal was excellent; the service less so, characterised by the waitress’s response to a perfectly reasonable request for decaffeinated coffee after the meal. “Non” was the immediate and emphatic response accompanied by a dismissive wave of the hand.
Our last morning on the Somme took in the remaining cemeteries which contained OS graves. We left France with the sun still shining. We had been blessed throughout with the most perfect weather. Each day was clear and bright, enabling us to see clearly the lie of the land and the features of the landscape; where the respective front lines were and the nature and extent of no-man’s land at the different sectors. What we couldn’t see (except in photographs) and could only imagine was the scale of the devastation caused by the bombardment from the opposing sides and by the number of combatants. We had honoured the memory of all those Sedberghians who had fought and died in this theatre of war; four were killed on the first day of the Somme offensive; one was killed on the final day. Their ages ranged from 19 to 34. Some were talented sportsmen, some had attended renowned universities, some were making their way in the world and some lost their lives before they could do so. As ever one came away with a jumble of mixed emotions.
Our enduring gratitude is owed to Neil McKerrow for having devised and planned this OS Pilgimage and for all that he has continued to do to make each annual expedition so successful and enjoyable. In addition our grateful thanks go to (1) Ben Collins, whose contribution to this particular trip was immense, both in terms of assembling the background material and putting together the brochure, with the invaluable assistance of Jackie Calvert, Nicola Fleck, Katy de la Rivière and Alex Macdonald, and in efficiently ensuring that all went smoothly both en route for and whilst in France; (2) Norman Berry who has produced a comprehensive collection of wonderful photographs which evoke happy memories and serve as an invaluable record; (3) Bruce Cherry for being such an informative guide and splendid companion.
The unity and cohesion of this year’s group of pilgrims was as striking as ever. I hope that all enjoyed our experience on the Somme as much as Pam and I did.
For more photos of the Pilgrimage please click on the following link for the photos Norman Berry kindly took: https://www.flickr.com/photos/107628078@N03/albums/72157674476847216
ARCHIVE MATERNITY COVER
After 10 years in post archivist Katy de la Rivière is taking a short break away from the archive after the arrival of Finlay de la Riviere who was born on 6th November. Katy began her maternity leave at the end of October and is delighted that OS Jonathan Woof (S 2007 – 2012) is covering her maternity leave.
After leaving Sedbergh, Jonathan Woof studied Classics at Nottingham University before beginning a distance learning Archive and Records Management Masters at Dundee University. Jonathan has been volunteering in the school archive since 2015 during which time he has helped numerous Old Sedberghians with their research enquiries, supported the archive with ongoing cataloguing and assisted with exhibitions and articles which share the history of the school. Jonathan can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 015396 22275.
We wish Jonathan all the best in his new role and send our congratulations to Katy and Richard on the birth of Finlay!
Sedbergh’s Early International Schools
Recent years have seen much discussion on the topic of establishing an overseas Sedbergh School. With a reputation as well established as Sedbergh’s it is little surprise that the school inspired and influenced schools across several continents during the twentieth century.
In 1939 Frank Duxbury founded a school in Canada so closely based on the Sedbergh model that it even shared Sedbergh’s name. As a pupil Frank Duxbury (SH 1912 – 1918) threw himself in to the Sedbergh way of life becoming a prefect, Head of House and a cadet officer. He won the Ten Mile two years in a row and remained so fond of the fells surrounding the town that he returned regularly for the rest of his life to walk the Howgills. Frank joined the Royal Field Artillery in the summer of 1918 before beginning his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge a year later. After graduating he spent a year working at an English prep school and then moved to Canada to teach at the Lower School of Ridley College, St. Catherines, Ontario where he stayed for 5 years.
Duxbury, along with a group of friends and colleagues, decided to build a new school in a beautiful setting around 5 miles north of Montebello with an emphasis on outdoor pursuits. They themselves dug the foundation trenches for the school and built much of the initial site. A prospectus published in 1939 describes what Sedbergh School Canada had to offer:
(1) Sedbergh is based upon sound principles of Scholarship, health and development of personality.(2) The school’s location and facilities offer a well-rounded programme in a beautiful setting.
(3) Being a small school, it guarantees individual attention for every student, allowing each boy to progress according to his individual capacities.
(4) Sedbergh has a home-like atmosphere, eliminating any undesirable regimentation.
(5) Sedbergh offers a complete scholarship and sports programme.
(6) Sedbergh teaches tolerance.
Sedbergh School, Canada thrived during the twentieth century, its many miles of cross country ski routes and forest trails inspired a love of nature in thousands of young people. Sadly the school closed in 2010.
Half a world away the Doon School in Uttarakhand, India was being established with the same emphasis on outdoor recreation. The school was founded in 1935 by Satish Ranjan Das, a lawyer from Calcutta who had been educated at Manchester Grammar School and wanted to provide the same educational opportunities within India. He recruited Arthur Foot to be Headmaster and John Martyn, son of Evans Housemaster A. J. K. Martyn, as deputy Headmaster.
John Martyn spent his childhood in Evans House observing the daily routines of Sedbergh life and his father’s skill guiding young men through adolescence. John Martyn began his teaching career at Harrow School before moving to the Doon School in India. After his short spell as Deputy Head he took over as Headmaster and using his father’s teachings worked to recreate the atmosphere and ethos of Evans House in the hot and humid environment of Uttarakhand, India. Despite the difference in climate he worked to include many of the common Sedbergh outdoor pursuits such as cricket, running and hill walking in to the daily life of the Doon School.
Neither Foot nor Martyn had visited India prior to their appointments but both were drawn to the positions after learning of the proximity of the school to the mountains. Both men felt that access to the outdoors was vital for a school and hoped to incorporate mountaineering activities as a key part of the school structure. Development of resilience and leadership skills through mountaineering have continued to played an important role at the school and each half term boys take part in a week long trek which the older pupils are encouraged to play a role in organising. The school site itself has 30 acres of playing fields and daily sport is played throughout term time. Peter McLaughlin who retired from his post of Headmaster at the Doon School in May of this year was Headmaster at Casterton School 2005 – 2009.
Katy de la Rivière
New Charity Children’s book about Pepperpot
Sedbergh School pupil Anna Walkden has illustrated a new charity children’s book about the local landmark ‘Pepperpot’. The book has been written as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Yorkshire Dales National Park Sustainability Fund supported project to rebuild Pepperpot. The story weaves together different versions of the story told in folk lore from a cow getting stuck in the building the 1950’s to its use as an isolation house for the daughter of a local landowner who contracted tuberculosis.
During her time at Sedbergh School Anna has been involved with fundraising for Medic Malawi to sponsor Linly Symon, a young woman undertaking a Public Health degree at Livingstonia University. Anna is in regular contact with Linly and felt it would be appropriate to use the book to raise money for Linly’s education.
The story book is available from the school shop for a suggested donation of £5 or can be ordered online at http://www.trybooking.co.uk/470. The website also has the option to give a larger donation to the charity for those who chose to.
Medic Malawi is a small charity who fund a hospital in Mtunthama, a clinic for feeding the malnourished and an orphanage for 70 children.
- Every penny raised goes to Malawi – there are no UK administration costs or salaries.
- Medic Malawi seek to involve supporters and volunteers in the actions of the charity, experiencing Africa for themselves and sharing time with the people in Mtunthama.
- It is focused on one district, which offers continuity, regular contact and transparency.
- The foundations of their work are deep: this is a project which has gradually been built with the local community. The community of Mtunthama are involved at every stage – there is constant self-help. There is real progress and achievement.
A MESSAGE FROM THE ARCHIVES
Lent term is the season of running here in Sedbergh and will close as it always does with the Ten Mile. The opportunities offered by the dedicated and highly skilled staff as well as the beautiful natural environment surrounding the school, have fostered a love of running in generations of Sedberghians. For many OSs running at school is just the start of a lifelong passion.
We hope to build up a greater picture of the achievements of Sedberghian Runners. If you would be willing to share information about your running achievements and accolades please contact me at email@example.com.
Perhaps like Geoff Watson (E 89 – 94) you have competed in an unusual marathon. Geoff is thought to be the only Sedberghian to have competed in the world’s highest Marathon, The Everest Marathon, which he completed in 2002. The race starts at around 18,000 feet at Gorak Shep.
For the last 10 years, Joe Symonds (H 94 – 01) has represented Scotland and Great Britain internationally at Mountain Running. Most of all Joe loves running in the fells he was brought up in. He has won the Three Peaks Race twice (2012 and 2013) and he was UK Fell Running Champion in 2012. He won the LAMM and the OMM in 2010 together with his brother Andrew, and he came 2nd in the 2011 Transalpine Run.
Michelle Rothwell nee Lefton (L 03 – 05) completed the Arch to Arc Challenge in 2012 setting a new female record. The event saw the Luptonian complete an 87 mile run from London's Marble Arch to the Dover coast, a 21 mile swim across the English Channel and a 181 mile bike ride from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Last year Michelle undertook the Marathon des Sables with several family members including her brother Jeremy Lefton (H 96 – 04). During the 155 mile race runners compete in five marathons on five consecutive days with a double marathon on the sixth day.
No article about Sedbergh running would be complete without mentioning Norman Berry (SH 57 – 62). Norman won the Ten Mile in 1962 with the third fastest time since records began. Norman’s career in running has been wide ranging including a stint in 1986 as manager of the England Fell Running team. Norman published ‘The Wilson Run: The First 100 Years’ in 1980. He is currently working on the next edition of the book.
I’d be delighted to hear stories of running successes or misadventures and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on Wilson Run day. Floreat Sedberghia.
Katy de la Rivière – Archivist
Help us identify these shooters
At Sedbergh School Archive we have a fantastic photograph collection that is available to the school and OS community. The collection has been developed over the past 130 years and includes many images that have been found in attics and basements in the homes of OS’s and their families. Can you help us by identifying any of the individuals in these photographs? Or can you help work out which decade the images are each from by the uniforms that are being worn? If you can help in any way please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org who will be delighted to hear from you.
Help us secure Heritage Lottery Funding
Sedbergh School is applying for funding that will help us to preserve and provide access to our fascinating archive collection. The funding would allow us to catalogue the collection professionally making it easier for researchers to discover the breadth of the collection, provide museum standard preservation materials for storing the items so that they will be preserved in the long term and to create a ‘pop up’ exhibition about the history of the school that would tour local community centres and Sedbergh School events. The funding would also enable us to undertake a creative arts project with local charity Space2create who provide a safe space for patients of long term physical and mental illness.
The initial application was very warmly received by the Heritage Lottery Fund who have now asked us to gather proof of support from our community ahead of our final application submission. If you have time please click on the link and fill out the short tick box questionnaire.
ARCHIVE DONATION INSPIRES NEW SHOOTING TROPHY
Sedbergh School is aware of only two OS’s who have died on military service since the end of WW2. A collection of papers belonging to one of these men, Graham Scott (P 1943- 45), was donated to the archive in January. We are most grateful to have Scott’s life and sacrifice drawn to our attention and have created a new award in his memory.
Scott was very active in the CCF while at Sedbergh and won shooting awards in both school age and adult competitions. In 1945 he won a national News of the World shooting competition. He went on to join the Royal Navy and served in the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean. He was invited to ‘At Homes’ with the Commander in Chief Mediterranean and Lady Willis at Valetta and with the Rear-Admiral Malta and Mrs Kelsey.
Scott died in 1952 aged 24 when the Meteor jet plane he was piloting crashed in Cornwall. He had recently completed his elementary flight training and passed out at the top of his course. He played rugby for Harrogate regularly when he had leave and had trials for Kent and the combined counties of Nottingham, Lincoln and Derby.
The family of Sir Wavell Wakefield (SH 1912 – 1916) have donated one of Wakefield’s trophies to be awarded in Scott’s memory. The Graham Scott Memorial Trophy will be awarded for the first time to the highest scorer in the Shooting ‘Club Championship’ at the end of the Lent Term.
Katy de la Rivière - Archivist
MESSAGE FROM OUR ARCHIVIST
Through-out the twentieth century Old Sedberghians have kindly donated their archive collections to the school. It has been a real privilege to be trusted with these collections.
Earlier this year Sedbergh School agreed that our archive storage agreement with Cumbria Archive Service will come to an end this summer. The service has been subject to local authority funding cuts and sadly have needed to change their policy about storing external collections. Sedbergh School will be losing storage for 120 boxes of archival material, this is around a sixth of our total collection storage.
Faced with the difficult decision of how to use archival resources to ensure that we are best preserving the records of the school for the future we have decided to offer some of the collections back to their owners as we no longer have the facilities to preserve and provide access to them. The donations effected are those that duplicate material held elsewhere in the archive or those that are largely non Sedbergh School material.
On 1st July I wrote to the donors or next of kin of those whose collections are affected by these changes. I would like to assure donors that if they have not received a letter then their collection will remain intact.
This decision was not taken lightly and we are sorry that we are no longer able to provide a long term home for everything offered in the past but hope that the OS community will understand why we are focussing our resources on ensuring that we preserve a core collection of historical material.
I would be very happy to discuss this move with anyone concerned,
Katy de la Rivière
THE PRIVILEGES OF BEING HEAD OF SCHOOL
The honour of being chosen as Head of School at Sedbergh comes with much responsibility but also a few privileges. The Head of School has traditionally been allowed the grow a beard, keep a goat and ride a bicycle around school but it isn’t clear when these traditions began. The current Head of School, Tom Robinson, is keen to investigate whether there have been any other privileges with the post in the past and when these came in to being. If you remember what Heads’ of School were allowed to do during your time here or have any documents that record this the archivist Katy de la Rivière and Tom Robinson would be delighted to hear from you. Katy can be contacted at email@example.com or 01539622275, Tom can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A NEW ‘ HISTORY OF SEDBERGH SCHOOL’ IS BEING WRITTEN BY MICHAEL RAW
Call for ‘reminiscences’ of Sedbergh School: do you have a story to tell?
In preparation for the School’s 500 centenary celebration in 2025 School Master Michael Raw has been commissioned to write a comprehensive history of the School. Michael hopes to include anecdotes and reminiscences from former pupils and staff to bring the history of the school to life. If you have stories or memories of Sedbergh School that you are willing to share we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please send any written stories to the archivist Katy de la Rivière at Sedbergh School Archive and Heritage Centre, Back Lane, Sedbergh, Cumbria, LA10 5BX or by email to email@example.com
CALLING ALL EVANIANS – CAN YOU HELP WITH MISSING PHOTOS ?
When Colin and I moved into Evans House in 2006 there were approximately 12 house photos mounted, framed and displayed, the oldest of which was 1900. In the last 8 years I have sourced and framed over 80 house photos through the generosity of old Evanians and the help of Katy de la Riviere , the school archivist. However I am now left with just 19 gaps from 1900 to present day. I would be delighted for any information leading to a copy of any of these photos – obviously it is the oldest which are proving the most difficult to discover but perhaps there is a member of the OS community who had a relation in Evans at this time.
Photos missing: 1901, 1902, 1904 to 1918, 1939, 1944.
If you are able to help please contact Tracey Gunning firstname.lastname@example.org.