Davenies School

Lest We Forget

On the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, the whole school came together for a minute’s silence to observe those soldiers who died fighting to protect the nation.

A sense of service was something our founding Headmaster, Reverend Newton endeavoured to capture when he founded Davenies in 1940, just after the onset of World War II. Our theme of Remembrance, therefore, enabled the boys to honour the armed forces who have died fighting in the line of duty. Around school, silhouettes of the Fallen Soldier reminded us of this great sacrifice. On Remembrance Day, led by the Headmaster, Head Boy Caspar, who read Lauren Binyon’s For the Fallen, and Frank (Year 8) who played ‘The Last Post’ and  ‘Reveille’ on the trumpet, the whole school gathered together to join the nation in observing a minute’s silence at 11am. Remembrance is an opportunity for reflection and the boys were encouraged to consider how they can give to others as those before us have done.

Elsewhere in the community, Year 4 joined other local pupils at the the Beaconsfield War Memorial, whilst Cubs represented the School at the Remembrance Sunday service and parade.

In the classroom, and building on work and discussions in Black History Month in October, boys from Years 3 – 7 have been studying diversity within the British Army and looking at soldiers from the Commonwealth.  Years 3 – 6 have been learning about Walter Tull and his life.  In December 1914, Walter joined the 17th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, also known as the Football Battalion because it was mainly made up of professional footballers.  Walter had a successful army career during the First World War, rising quickly through the ranks. He was promoted from private to sergeant of his regiment.  In November 1916, he fought in the Battle of the Somme before moving back to England to begin training as an officer. Before this time, only a White, British-born person could train for this role.  In May 1917, Walter was made an officer of the 23rd Battalion of the Middlesex regiment. He became the first Black officer in the British Army, leading White, British soldiers into battle.

In addition boys in Year 7 took part in an in-depth enquiry-based project looking at soldiers from the Commonwealth.  This included Walter Tull in addition to Francis Pegahmagabow, Khudadad Khan and Albert Knight.  Having synthesised information about these four soldiers, boys then followed their own line of research on one of the soldiers to learn about their story.  These were then presented to the class.

By exploring the experiences of individuals, it has enabled the boys to link them to a wider historical narrative of Remembrance.  As such, honouring the contributions made to society by people of a different heritage and their communities; in addition to emphasising the need to come together around a shared common goal to achieve a better world for everyone.

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