On Tuesday 11 November 2014, Isleworth & Syon held several assemblies to remember those who gave their lives in World War I, while a number of students also represented the school during a service at the Borough Road Memorial.
Every year group was present for one of the assemblies, the theme of which reminded the students how important it is to remember and reflect on the horrors of war, even a hundred years on from the start of World War I. Miss Hemings and Miss Yemoh explained that for every minute of the war, seven people died, a shocking statistic. Part of this assembly was dedicated to ensuring that soldiers’ stories continue to be told, as they discussed the life of Private John Condon, a soldier who had given his age as 18 but was actually only 12 years old when he enlisted, and fought, in 1914. He died two years later, aged 14.
During the assembly, a number of poignant poetry was recited; Finn McQueen read Philip Larkin’s evocative ‘MCMXIV’ (including the haunting line, “Never such innocence – never before or since”), while Jack Takeda recited ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’ by WB Yeats, and Josh Norris read the famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. Daniel Taylor also talked about his own personal experiences visiting the war memorials in Ypres, Belgium. These words helped to evoke the scale of the tragedy and emphasise to the students the importance of this day.
Following this, The Last Post was performed, with both Thomas Carter and Zack Taylor giving fantastic renditions of this wonderful piece of music. Students then placed a wreath at the base of the school’s World War I memorial at the back of the hall, a board which honours the 81 old boys who gave their lives. At 11am, the whole school stopped and observed a minute’s silence in memory of the soldiers who sacrificed themselves for their country.
Mr Ferguson also took a group of students to the Borough Road Memorial for a service at 11am, with two students placing a wreath at the base of that memorial. Zack Taylor gave another excellent presentation of the Last Post, and Mr Ferguson was effusive in his praise for the way that all Isleworth & Syon boys represented the school.
A sense of history is very important to Isleworth & Syon, as we aim to be a school which looks to the future while ensuring that we never forget our past. For this reason, over the next four years, the school will commemorate each of the 81 individuals that lost their lives during World War I, on the 100-year anniversary of their deaths.