This page was last updated on 8 July 2015
In the 1965 School Magazine, Spectrum ’65, it was stated that, just five years after the move to Sussex Way, “Only the War Memorial remains from the old buildings”. The other visible reminders of the history of the school have been lost - the life-sized portraits of the former Headmasters, which used to hang in the Hall, outside the Chemistry and Physics Laboratories, and the large photos of the casts of the annual Gilbert & Sullivan productions, which used to hang along the walls of the top corridor, outside Rooms 7, 8 and 9. In an obituary for Alan Dumayne (1940 - 1946), who wrote three books on the history of the local area, Geoffrey Gillam wrote that he remembered seeing Alan, with tears in his eyes, standing in Fox Lane outside the Old School, when it was about to be converted into flats, watching the workmen throwing the broken-up Honours Boards into skips. Fortunately, though, smaller photographs of the Headmasters and most of the Gilbert & Sullivan casts still exist, although in varying physical condition, and many are included in the Centenary Data DVD. Also. in 2006, the War Memorial is still in the Hall at Southgate (Comprehensive) School, although the wood is split and, mounted on a side wall, it no longer dominates the Hall as it did at Fox Lane.
The original War Memorial, which was mounted on the south-east wall of the Hall, at the rear of the stage, was unveiled “at an impressive service on 29th April (1920) in the presence of the School and of the parents who had lost their sons” and it carries the following names:
There are 52 names: 51 Old Boys and 1 Member of Staff, no Old Girls.
Considering that the School had opened only on 1st May 1907 and Great Britain entered the War 4th August 1914, the number killed must represent a very high proportion of the total number of Old Boys eligible for military service.
The following appeared in the December 1914 issue of the School Magazine:
“Although the School is still, comparatively speaking, in its infancy, and has not been open long enough to have many Old Boys of an age fit for Military Service, yet a large proportion of those that there are have responded to their country's call. Our heartiest good wishes go with them all; may they all return home safely at some not too distant date !”
That issue included a list of the Members of Staff and Old Boys who had enlisted in the Armed Forces and stated: “This list of seventy-seven names is one of which a School of seven years standing may well feel proud.”
In the March 1915 issue, it was stated that out of 116 Old Boys who were over nineteen, 77 had then joined the Colours.
When Armistice was agreed on 11 November 1918, there could not have been a single Old Boy who had ever attended the School who had then reached his 30th birthday.
The one Member of Staff killed was John Swallow. He had been brought up in Wolverhampton, where he had been educated first at St Peter’s Collegiate (Elementary) School and then at Wolverhampton Grammar School. He then spent a year as a Pupil Teacher back at St Peter’s Collegiate before going up to Fitzwilliam Hall, Cambridge, where in 1911 he was awarded 2nd Class Honours Historical Tripos.
He then joined the Staff of Southgate County, at the beginning of the September Term 1911, when he was just 23 years old, exactly one year after the opening of the new buildings in Fox Lane. His appointment was as an Assistant Master, teaching History and Literature, at a salary of £150 per annum, on the Middlesex Scale.
He was a keen sportsman and played football for the Masters XI on several occasions. On 6th November 1912 he played against Bishop's College, Cheshunt, which resulted in a win for the Masters’ XI by 5 - 2.
He also played in the return match with Bishops' College on 26th February 26th, which the Masters’ XI also won but by the narrower margin of 5-4, with John Swallow scoring their fourth goal. He must have been a very talented footballer, as later that year, on 20th November, he was selected to play for Middlesex against Cambridge University, the result of which was a 3 - 3 draw.
The next we hear of him is that on Monday, 29th June 1914, he and Miss Philipson took a party from IIIa and IIIb to the Tower of London: that was just a day under five weeks before Great Britain entered the War against Germany.
The following reports appeared in subsequent issues of the School Magazine:
No. 13, December 1914:
“The first two Masters to be missed were Mr. Wardhaugh and Dr. Niblett, neither of whom returned to School after the summer holidays. Mr. Wardhaugh, already an officer in the Territorials, was in camp at Eastbourne when war broke out. He is now with his regiment at Watford, and we are interested to hear that Mr. Neely is also an officer in the same Battalion.
“Dr. Niblett went straight to Germany at the end of last term, just before war broke out. We hear that he is now interned in Berlin, and can only hope that, when an exchange of prisoners is effected by the Government, he will be enabled to return.
“Mr. Adams returned to school for a few weeks, but it was known that he did not intend to remain here long, and indeed it seemed a very short time before he, too, left us to join a Birmingham Regiment. Many of us were sorry that we did not know which day he was actually leaving, and so we had no opportunity of bidding him good-bye.
“At the half-term Mr. Swallow ... bade farewell to the School, for the present. A crowd of both boys and girls thronged outside Room 5 to wish him good luck and say good-bye. About a week later we heard through the Head Master that he had already obtained a Commission in the Xllth Liverpool's, and also that he intended to be married at once before joining his regiment. We offer him our congratulations on both events.”
In fact, there is no further mention of Dr Niblett in any of the records on this Disk, although “Has gone
into business” has been written in pencil on his Record Sheet under “Post, if any, taken up after leaving the School”.
No. 15, March 1916:
“Since Christmas we have heard from Mr. Wardhaugh, Mr. Swallow, and Mr. Adams, and, though they all had the bad luck to be spending Christmas in the trenches, we are glad to say they all seemed cheerful and well.
Mr. Wardhaugh, after being wounded at Festubert last May, was home on leave for some months. He paid a short visit to the School in July, and we were delighted to see him. He returned to France in the Autumn. Mr. Swallow also came up to see us when he was home on short leave, and Mr. Adams has paid us a flying visit this Term since obtaining his commission. Both received a warm welcome.
“We were sorry to say good-bye to so many old friends in July. Of the eight boys in the Upper Sixth Form who left then, seven immediately joined the Colours.
“Our Roll of Service, which appears later, contains 158 names, and unhappily there are now six of our old boys whose supreme sacrifice has been accepted, and who have given their lives for their country. To their relatives, and to present and past pupils whose friends have fallen in the struggle, we offer our deepest sympathy, as well as to the many connected with the School who are still in grave anxiety for the safety of those near and dear to them.”
No. 16, March 1917:
“A year ago the war took from us three of our remaining five masters. It was with much regret that we parted from Mr. Annett, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Mayne, all of whom left us last Easter to take up work in the Anti-aircraft Service.
“We are now very sorry to learn that by the end of the term both Mr. Auger and Mr. Paull will have left us also.
“It was with much grief that we learnt last term that Mr. Swallow had been ‘wounded and missing’ since the beginning of August. Nothing has been heard of him since, and we can only conclude that he, too, has sacrificed his life while fighting for his country. All who knew Mr. Swallow will receive this news with sorrow.
“He was most popular, well loved, and respected by us all.
“We have also received news of twenty of our Old Boys, who have given up their lives in the service of their country, and to all their relatives and friends we offer our sincerest sympathies.
“In the Head Master's report ... attention was first drawn to the losses which the school has sustained ... Mr. Swallow, who had been 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st King's Liverpool Regiment, after having been twice wounded, was lost sight of forever on August 8th, 1916.”
Since the previous issue, a further four Members of Staff had “joined the colours”
Mr. Annett, Royal Engineers.
Mr. Auger, Royal Naval Air Service.
Mr. Baldwin, Royal Engineers.
Mr. Mayne, Royal Engineers.
Mr. Paull, Royal Flying Corps.
“During the year Mrs. Paull ... and Mrs. Auger have joined the staff of mistresses, and we have been glad to welcome them all.”
So, due to the exigencies of the War, the School had appointed its first married women to the Staff, to replace their husbands. Both Mr Auger and Mr Paull had married during the Summer holidays in 1914, just as the War started.
John Swallow had first been posted ‘wounded and missing’ following the second attack on Guillemont Station on 8th August 1916 and it is probable that his body was never found.
The Battle of Guillemont was a British assault on the German-held village of Guillemont during the appalling 1916 Battle of the Somme, or twelve battles, which lasted from 1 July to 18 November 1916. The village of Guillemont lay on the right flank of the British sector where it linked with French forces and, by holding it, the Germans prevented the Allied armies from operating in unison.
Guillemont was first attacked as part of the night offensive of 22/23 July (it was occupied by 19th Manchesters,
later forced to retire). Further attacks took place on 30 July (when the 17th, 19th and 20th battalions of
the King’s Liverpool Regiment lost heavily in the advance, and the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers temporarily occupied
the village), 8 August (55th West Lancashire Division), 12 August and 18 August (2nd Division). The manner
in which these attacks failed became dismally familiar; the infantry’s lines of approach were cruelly exposed,
as they led up a shallow rise, over a crest and down
a slope completely devoid of cover.
John Swallow had originally been in the 1st Battalion The King's Liverpool Regiment, so he may have been a survivor of the attack on 30th July when the Regiment suffered very heavy losses and therefore joined the 55th West Lancashire Division in the attack on 8 August.
Others who died there included Lieutenant Raymond Asquith, son of Herbert Asquith, who was Prime Minister at the time of his son’s death on the 15th of September, 1916, and Major Cedric Charles Dickens, who served in the 13th London (Kensingtons) Regiment, and who was killed near there on the 9th of September 1916. He was the grandson of the author Charles Dickens.
The following passage is an excerpt from an account by a German soldier, Ernst Jünger.
“The sunken road now appeared as nothing but a series of enormous shell-holes filled with pieces of uniform, weapons and dead bodies. The ground all round, as far as the eye could see, was ploughed by shells. You could search in vain for one wretched blade of grass. This churned-up battlefield was ghastly. Among the living lay the dead. As we dug ourselves in we found them in layers stacked one upon the top of another. One company after another had been shoved into the drum-fire and steadily annihilated. The corpses were covered with the masses of soil turned up by the shells and the next company advanced in the place of the fallen.
“The sunken road and the ground behind was full of German dead; the ground in front of English. Arms, legs and heads stuck out stark above the lips of the craters. In front of our miserable defences there were torn-off limbs and corpses over many of which cloaks and ground-sheets had been thrown to hide the fixed stare of their distorted features. In spite of the heat no one thought for a moment of covering them with soil.
“The village of Guillemont was distinguished from the landscape around it only because the shell-holes there were of a whiter colour by reason of the houses which had been ground to powder. Guillemont railway station lay in front of us. It was smashed to bits like a child's plaything.”
A Service in Memory of the Old Scholars who lost their lives in consequence of the Second World War, 1939 - 1945, was held in the School Hall on Sunday 2nd May 1948, at which Mr T B Everard, the Headmaster from 1929 to 1945, read the Roll of Honour, the names of those who had died.
Those names were recorded on two panels, which were added, one on each side, to the existing War Memorial in memory of those who had died in the Great War, 1914-1918.
There are 65 names: 61 Old Boys, no Members of Staff but 3 Old Girls and 1 Girl pupil.
Eileen Flowers (1930-32) lost her life by enemy action on 8th October, 1940. At the same time Eileen's mother also lost her life. Mrs. Flowers was a keen supporter of the Parents and Staff Association activities. It is impossible to praise at all adequately such a character as Eileen's. She was early imbued with the spirit of the Psalmist's injunction "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might" and consequently whatever she put her hand to was done to the utmost of her ability—which ability was of the first order. Whether, as student, as prefect, as a principal of the Operatic Society, as captain of the tennis or hockey teams it mattered not, all were done in an exemplary manner. She was the living embodiment of joie-de-vivre and her death, under such tragic circumstances, was a great grief to us all. A just and beautiful tribute was contributed to the local press.
In 1942 the "EILEEN FLOWERS" Cup was generously presented by a number of Old Girls in memory of
Eileen Flowers, who was killed in an air raid, to be awarded to the winners of the Senior House Tennis Competition.
Margaret Gow (1940) was killed by enemy action Friday, November 15th 1940. Margaret was transferred to us from St. Helens (Lanes.) in August 1940 and owing to her bright, vivacious manner quickly became a great favourite. The tragedy of her death was a great shock to the school.
Sister Doreen M. Sentance (1934-1939) died in the Connaught Hospital, Hindhead, on March 26th, 1947, after serving in Queen Alexandra's Imperial Nursing Service in India, Burma and Japan.
We are indebted to Mr. and Mrs. Sentance for the presentation of the " Doreen Sentance Memorial Challenge Cup," to be awarded to the winner of the 220 yards race at the Athletic Sports. Doreen was very prominent on the Sports Field, and we are most grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Sentance for their generous gift.
We recorded in the last issue of the magazine the death of Doreen Sentence (1934-39). Doreen died following active service, and into her short life of 22 years she had crowded much useful work. She was the youngest nursing sister to land on the Normandy beaches. On becoming a State Registered Nurse she joined the Q.A.I.M.N.S., and volunteered for service abroad. When European hostilities ceased she became attached to the 92nd India General Hospital. From India she went to Japan, serving in Kure and Hiroshima shortly after the dropping of the atom bomb. It was while she was in Japan that Doreen was taken ill in June, 1946. The military funeral took place in Enfield Cemetery, and the school was represented by two members of the staff. Our deep sympathy goes out to her parents in their irreparable loss.