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Remembrance 2020

Remembrance 2020

The observation of Remembrance this year is as important and poignant as ever it has been. It is an opportunity to recall and reflect upon the sacrifices made by others for us to enjoy the freedoms and liberties we have today but this year there is the added reflection upon the times in which we are living where sacrifice and heroism continues to be such an important theme in our society.

Today the Thorpe House community came together at the front of the school to mark their respects. “For the Fallen” was read by our Head of School, Andrew Partridge to start the proceedings before we heard a haunting performance on the violin of the Last Post from our music scholar, Aryaman Tendolkar and Mr McDonough (Head of Music). The school observed the two minutes’ silence at 11am and you could have heard a pin drop. We did hear the canons being fired up in Gerrards Cross!

The Reveille was played and the epitaph on the Kohima war memorial was read out – “When you go home, tell them of us and say for your tomorrow, we gave our today.” The two Deputy Heads of School laid a wreath to remember the fallen and it was then a chance for a final reflection from the Headmaster before returning to lessons:

“Recent years all seem to have had a particular poignancy as we recall and reflect upon the sacrifices made by others for us to enjoy the freedoms and liberties we have today.

In 2018 we remembered the sacrifice of all those who had died in the Great War which ended exactly 100 years ago that day. In 2019 it was a chance to reflect on the rebuilding of the world as we remembered the efforts to find peace and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and the establishment of the League of Nations. This year, 2020, we remember the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, but it is also the centenary anniversary of the ending of the Spanish flu pandemic which took over 50 million lives. How we hope, with the news of a possible vaccine only earlier this week that perhaps we can hope for the end of the pandemic that we find ourselves living through right now.

I have talked so often about living in unprecedented times but they are not really. Throughout history people have faced tremendous adversity and it is testament to the human spirit that it has always prevailed. The last year has been a bleak one but there is hope and we must reflect on these past times to draw on that hope and inspiration that others offer us through their selfless actions in the past. Just as we have seen with the soldiers in the past who have put their lives on the line for us, so we see it again in the doctors and nurses today who are working tirelessly in the hospitals to save lives. At its worst, humanity is terrifying but at its best it is a source of inspiration and hope for the future.

I would like to finish with a story of courage and sacrifice from World War II. An RAF Padre was based on an airfield with bomber aircrew. He was determined to help these worried, stress-ridden yet brave men as best he could and eventually persuaded the squadron leader to allow him to go off on a bombing raid, strapped in to the fuselage of the aircraft. The aeroplane dropped its bomb load over Germany and, badly shot up, turned for home. It began to lose height and, with high ground ahead, the pilot asked the padre to unstrap and help lighten the bomber by throwing excess equipment out of the open bomb doors. This he did as the mountains approached and yet the plane continued to lose height. The pilot again asked the padre to do what he could to jettison non-essential items – and this he did his best to do. As the bomber approached the high ground it suddenly lifted a little, passed over the danger with little to spare and then crossed over the Channel and limped home. As the battered and tired aircrew stumbled out of the plane, now safe on the ground, they realised the padre was missing: he had sacrificed himself for the sake of the crew ….”