Thursday, 21 June 2018

The search for the Book of Remembrance in Edmund Waller School

I am no nearer discovering the fate of the Book of Remembrance of the students who fought in the Great War.

The Sentry, 1921
It was housed in a glass cabinet, high up on the wall beside the entrance to the classroom of 3b, and every day of the school year during 1959-60 I passed it as I went and left the room.

Now when you are nine going on ten the book had little meaning.

I remember it stood open at a page and the names were recorded in black and red ink.

I have no idea if the pages were turned regularly and as far as I can remember it was never referred to, and I never asked.

Back then the Great War had ended just 41 years earlier, and despite the horrific nature of that war, it had already been eclipsed by the more recent conflict.

But many of those who had taken part would only have been coming up to retirement and may yet not even have had grandchildren.

Most would still be fit and have years more ahead of them and the memories of what they endured would be fresh, even if they preferred not to talk about it.

And for those who lived around the school and had attended, the names in red of their fellow students who never returned would be something else that they hadn’t forgotten.

Now I never forgot the book, although the last 59 years have been so crammed with just living that I didn’t give it much of thought, until that is I was asked to write a book about Manchester and the Great War, and then as you do in researching the men, women and children who took part, I came again to the that Remembrance Book.*

I assumed it would no longer still be on the wall and more than likely have been donated to the Imperial War Museum or the Local Studies Centre.

On two separate occasions I contacted the school left my details and waited for a reply.

Sadly I am still waiting, despite follow up emails.

Of course schools are very busy places and the children always take priority so in the absence of a reply from the school I am pondering my options.

I guess an approach to the Local Studies Centre will be the first step and then either the Imperial War Museum or the National Archives at Kew.

Edmund Waller, School, 2007
And in the meantime I wonder if anyone else remembers it or can shed  light on what happened to it.

Location; Edmund Waller School, Waller Road, London SE 14

Picture; The Sentry, 1921, commemorating employees of S & J Watts & Co, Manchester, from a picture postcard issued by Tuck and Sons, courtesy of Tuck db, https://tuckdb.org/ and Edmund Waller School, 2007 from the collection of Liz and Colin Fitzpatrick
*Manchester Remembering 1914-18, Andrew Simpson, The History Press, 2017

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