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On Sunday October 12th Stonyhurst remembered those who died in The Great War. Pupils, staff, parents, alumni and local dignitaries attended the day, which began with Mass in St Peter’s Church.
The Chief Celebrant was Fr Roger Dawson SJ, who has served in the army and is chaplain for Help for Heroes. In his homily he spoke of those who had answered the call of duty, showing valour and selflessness, and of the responsibility of us all to avoid conflict and show compassion and leadership in our lives. The bidding prayers were read by a group of pupils in several different languages, including German, Spanish, Russian and Cantonese, illustrating the need for global communication and efforts for peace. The choir sang Missae aeterna munera by Palestrina, and O quam gloriosum by Victoria.
After the Mass, the congregation then processed to the Stonyhurst War Memorial, led by members of the Combined Cadet Force. Over 300 guests gathered along the upper gallery and up the stairs as the Last Post was played by Junior Under Officer Edward Johnson, and a wreath was laid by Junior Under Officer Chris Magowen.
In the Ambulacrum, Paul Garlington gave a talk about the 176 Stonyhurst alumni, and the three VCs among them, who had died in the Great War. Mr Garlington is dedicated to keeping their memory alive, with his extensive knowledge and research, and annual visits to the battlefields and graves of France: we heard their names, details of their personalities and school days at Stonyhurst, and the circumstances of their deaths. The magnitude of the sacrifice was illustrated by a photograph of Hodder House boys celebrating their first communion in June 1906: within years, most of the 27 boys in the photograph had died or had been injured. Another poignant image was that of the lower gallery in the war years, lined with the portraits of OS who had died.
Among the guests was Mr Arthur French, the nephew of Lieutenant Dease OS, who was awarded the first Victoria Cross of the First World War. Mr French said he was “very moved and delighted to be here.”
Kenneth Light OS had travelled from Brazil to attend and was also impressed and moved by the occasion. Major Tony Booth OS said: “It’s delightful to return but, at 85, there are only a few of my age here!”
Also in attendance were the Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire, Sir Bernard de Houghton, the Mayor and Mayoress of the Ribble Valley, Councillor Michael and Mrs Janette Ranson, and the High Sheriff of Lancashire, Dr Barry Johnson.
The Headmaster Andrew Johnson said: “Our pupils were reminded, at the first assembly of the year, that those from Stonyhurst who had fought in the Great War had walked these galleries before them. We remember them with pride. Our very moving commemoration today has been extremely well attended by people from all sectors, and all generations of the Stonyhurst community.”