The College held an event to mark the reinstatement of the College Second World War Memorial, as well as eighty years since the outbreak of the Second World War and 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Current Godalming College History students presented their findings from their research into those students listed on Memorial, who left the then Godalming Grammar School, to go and fight but never returned.
In a ceremony attended by the Mayor of Godalming Penny Rivers and the Mayor of Waverley Mary Foryszewski plus Old Godhelmians, the students talked about their research which was initiated by a visit to the College by Gwen Comerford in June. Gwen attended Godalming Grammar School in 1930 and knew many of the boys who went to war.
History student Kat Steel reflected on the research: “To hear from Gwen as people she'd known and grown up with - and to see how their suffering during the war still shook her was a harrowing experience. To learn about these people otherwise forgotten by history was truly an experience which will continue to inspire the memorial project, to remember these young men who'd once lived and learned in the same place we do today”.
The guests moved into the Piazza for a two minutes silence which was marked at the beginning by the last post and ended with the reveille played by student and trumpeter Ben Wili.
Hundreds of students and staff came out of their classrooms to mark the silence together. Penny Rivers, Mayor of Godalming said ‘It is an honour to have stood with students and staff of Godalming College to hold the two minutes silence at 11:00am on 11th November 2019. I found the silence that fell upon us all after the playing of the "Last Post" to be deeply moving.
A wreath was laid at the war memorial in College by Estates team member, John Richardson who served with the Royal Navy for many years. John had refurbished the memorial earlier in the year as part of the Memorial Project and is a member of the British Legion.
Cat says of the project “It was intriguing to realise just how much the war had affected even a small town like this, and to hear a first person experience on the horrors of living and working during wartime was definitely an experience which truly helped to let us comprehend the reality of something we only know from the romanticised films and books.”
“I believe that meeting Gwen certainly helped inspire our reasoning for the memorial, and fueling the determination to ensure that we don't lose precious memories of people who'd probably be no older than us when they went to fight and die for their country.”
Liz Graham, Chair of Trustees says, “It was very touching to hear about former pupils who had lost their lives serving in WW2. It was a privilege to stand with so many current students to remember them at the Act of Remembrance followed by the rededication of the Godalming Grammar School memorial plaque”
The Memorial Project was thought of by Marian Muskett, a member of the Careers team at Godalming College who was one of the last students to go through Godalming Grammar School. History teacher Ruth Nixon, another student of Godalming Grammar School, led the students in their research. A lasting display of the stories of all the young men named in the Godalming College war memorial will remain as a reminder of all those who served.
“We hope that the project will be valuable for other students and new students to reflect on the past students of Godalming Grammar School who lost their lives in WW2 as more than just names and a photograph”