St Paul’s School commemorates the 490 Paulines who fell in the Great War through a cross-departmental project incorporating History, Art and Geography.
This Sunday 11 November marks the centenary of the end of World War I. Of the 800,246 British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives in that war, 490 were local boys who attended St Paul’s School. In honour of these young men who paid the ultimate sacrifice, around 100 pupils and staff in both the senior and junior schools have been researching their forgotten stories.
The ‘St Paul’s School WWI Research Project’ has involved many subject areas across the school. Beginning with the History Department, the pupils have been using online resources including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as well as newly digitised copies of the school magazine from the early 20th Century and sports team photographs from that time, to create an online archive of the young men. Men like Indrulal Roy, who was killed in action aged just 19 when his plane went down in flames over Carvin, France and who posthumously was awarded the D.F.C. (Distinguished Flying Cross) or Cecil Lambert, an exceptional rower, who awarded the Military Cross after he was killed by a shell aged just 21.
Mr Seel said: ‘A number of pupils reported to me how moving they found the research process and how exciting it has been to work with original sources. It has been a privilege to help our current pupils research the history of these brave young men who were just at the cusp of extraordinary futures’.
The pupils then worked with the Geography Department to use GIS software to map the location of the place of internment or commemoration of each of the 490. Most fell throughout Europe but some of the young men were fought in battle as far afield as Egypt, Iraq and Tanzania.
The final element of the project was with the Art Department where all Year 9 pupils have hand-made 490 ceramic crosses. Each cross bears the name of a pupil who fell in the Great War. Every tutor group in the senior and junior schools has helped plant these crosses around the school’s war memorial in the fortnight leading up to Remembrance Sunday, creating a living reminder of the sacrifice made by a lost generation. On Friday 9 November, all the pupils will attend a service of commemoration where the names of the 490 young men will be read out followed by a two minute silence and the Last Post.
Mr Grant, Director of Art, said ‘The 490 crosses now surrounding the school’s cenotaph are such a visual and poignant tribute to the generation of pupils who lost their lives in the Great War’.
After Remembrance Sunday, the crosses will be sold to support the Thomas Gresham Bursary, a pupil-led bursary fund which aims to provide a 100% bursary to the highest performing boy at 11+ who is in need of financial support to attend St Paul’s.