New memorial for school’s WW1 dead

Headteacher Nigel Ryan beside a plaque bearing the names of the 22 former SGS boys who died in World War One.
Headteacher Nigel Ryan beside a plaque bearing the names of the 22 former SGS boys who died in World War One.
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Spalding Grammar School will mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War with a summer fete in the authentic style of one that might have been held in the summer of 1914.

The mood will be euphoric rather than sombre, although there will be a solemn ceremony at the close with the dedication of a new memorial to 22 former pupils killed in the trenches.

Students are researching the lives of the ex-pupils who died and are keen to hear from families who can provide further information and perhaps photographs.

Headteacher Nigel Ryan said Year 9 pupils visited the graves of some of the school’s war dead in Belgium this year, including that of John Victor Ariel Gleed, a member of 45th Squadron RFC (Royal Flying Corps), who died aged 20 on July 7, 1917.

Among information collected is a poignant letter from a man written shortly before he died who told his mother “he was learning to kill people and he was learning to die”.

Mr Ryan said: “We have tracked down what information we can, but we would like to hear from people out there if they have any information about our old boys.”

The summer fete opens to the public on Tuesday, July 22 at 1pm.

Among attractions are a coconut shy, Punch and Judy, Morris dancers, clog dancers, a magic show, running races, a physical training display, music (contemporary and modern), a limited overs cricket match, and parade and drill by pupils who belong to the cadets.

Mr Ryan said the event is designed to give the school community a real sense of what it would have been like 100 years ago.

He said: “It would have been genuine euphoria that we were going to do something good – everybody was up for doing their bit and the reality was very different.”

Names of the school’s First World War fallen appear on a plaque beside the school hall and there are memorial trees on the field.

Mr Ryan said no decision has been taken yet on the new memorial, but it may take the form of additional trees because they represent growth and “new life coming out of tragedy”.

The memorial act of commemoration takes place from 6pm-6.30pm.

n If you have information on the school’s war heroes, please email or call 01775 765800.