Friday 4 July 2014

Did Wilfred Owen visit Rossall School when he was in Fleetwood?

My grateful thanks to Deputy Headteacher of Rossall School, Anton Maree, who researched poetry written by pupils of The Rossall School during WW1.   The results are fantastic and I will process the poems and prepare panels of them for the forthcoming exhibition to be held at the Marine Hall, Fleetwood in August 2014.

Mr Maree asked me whether I knew if Wilfred Owen had visited the school when he was based at the Gunnery School, the firing ranges of which were on Fleetwood Golf Links with the HQ in the North Euston Hotel in Fleetwood.

Mr Maree gave me a list of Rossall Poets with biographical details and examples of their poetry:

F.W. Harvey - Frederick William Harvey, born 26th March 1888.   Harvey left Rossall in 1905 to study law.  He enlisted in the Gloucester Regiment in 1914 and was in action in France by August 1915.  Harvey was captured by the Germans while on a reconnaissance mission on 17th August 1916 and his first collection of poems was published a few days later by Sedgwick and Jackson under the title "Gloucester Lad".  He was a Prisoner of War for the remainder of WW1.   Harvey died on 13th February 1957.

J.R. Ackerley

Ackerley was a sportsman - he played hockey for his House at Rossall School and became Captain of the school's shooting team.   He left school in 1914 and was commissioned into the East Surrey Regiment straight from Rossall and took part in the First Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916.  Taken prisoner by the Germans, Ackerley was sent to an internment camp in Switzerland in December 1917 after six months in hospitals and prison camps.   His brother, Peter Ackerley, also a Rossallian was killed on 17th August 1918.

Rossallians who were killed on 1st July 1916 - at the First Battle of the Somme:

G.W. AYRE - aged 25 - Anchor House
J.D. BOAZMAN - aged 26 - Rose House
C.C. CRAGGS - aged 28 - Crescent House
J.S.M. GAGE -  aged 23 - Anchor House
H. LIVESEY - aged 34 - Crescent House
D.S. ROSS - aged 21 - Pelican House
D.D. WILSON - aged 38 - Mitre House

Mr Maree also gave me a copy of a poem written by a master at Rossall School during WW1 - K.A.R. Sugden of Fleur de Lis House.

The Captain of Fleur de Lis House, N.F. McCarthy compiled a list of all former members of the House who were serving their country.   McCarthy joined the Yorkshires and was killed near Flers in Belgium - his housemaster K.A.R. Sugden wrote the following poem about McCarthy.


Serene and smiling, sunny and self-possessed,
it seems but now he worked with us and played,
And though we knew that Death's fierce cannonade
Was taking toll of dearest and of best,
We felt that even death, before his zest
For living and his clean light-hearted blade,
Must surely flinch and slink away dismayed:
And now he's passed untimely "to the west."

The voice we knew is hushed, the eye
Is darkened, silenced is the laughter glad:
Not slow, this son of Britain's line, to die;
And as he passed, pale death the victor had
For him no triumph-sting, no victory;
But oh, my friend, our hearts are very sad."

The May 1915 edition of Rossall School Magazine "The Rossallian" featured a poem written by a pupil during WW1.

I am indeed grateful to Mr Maree for the time and trouble he took.

I hope to bring you more poetry written by schoolboys during WW1 as my research progresses.