Lest we forget
Exeter School Remembrance Service
Exeter School remembered the fallen in its annual Remembrance Service held on 9 November in the School Hall. As pupils entered the hall slides were projected with artwork related to the First World War done by Third Form Pupils and Belles Canto sang Irish Blessing.
Reverend Tom told pupils that this year we remember in particular the school were gathering to recall the armistice that marked the beginning of the end of the First World War one hundred years ago on Sunday.
We listened a Bible reading, from the prophet Isaiah, which looks ahead to a time of peace. This was read by Henry Cann (3A). The entire School then stood to sing ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ and then fell silent as the Heads of School, senior CCF cadets and the Chairman of the Old Exonian Club lay wreaths. Jamie Stephenson in Upper Six Drake played ‘The Last Post’ followed by the ‘Reveille’.
We then listened to three short poems, read by pupils. The first was ‘The Cherry Trees’ by Edward Thomas, read by Evie O’Brien (4 Goff). Revd Tom informed pupils that the poet Edward Thomas was killed during the Battle of Arras in 1917 and that the poem uses the image of the blossom of cherry trees falling on the ground; it looks like confetti for a wedding, but there is no-one to get married because so many men have been killed. The second poem, ‘Futility’ by Wilfred Owen, read by Luca Di-Vincenzo (L5 Buller), is also about loss: here the poet is mourning a comrade who has just died. Revd Tom told us that Owen himself was killed in action on 4 November 1918, exactly one week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice which ended the war. His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Armistice Day, as the church bells in Shrewsbury were ringing out in celebration. Finally, Tilly Hale (M5 Acland) read ‘Everyone Sang’ by Siegfried Sassoon, which was written in 1919, and strikes a more upbeat note. Revd Tom has written about this poem in his thought for the week.
Our speaker this year was the Reverend Juliette Hulme, who was the Chaplain of Wells Cathedral School until very recently where she worked for twelve years. She originally trained as a teacher and was ordained a priest in 1995. Having spent some time in parish ministry, Juliette then felt a calling to Army Chaplaincy and served with the Royal Corps of Signals in Germany and with the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Field Hospital Chaplain in Iraq leaving the army in 2005. She was the British Army’s first female Chaplain. Juliette is now Team Vicar serving three parishes in Wiltshire.
Juliette began by reflecting on those in her own family who had died in the First World War, before going on to share some of her experiences as an army chaplain. She talked about the reality of the death of young service people on active service in Iraq, but also the humorous times soldiers were able to share. Finally, she challenged pupils to work for a world in which there could be peace, not only in their future careers, but in also their daily lives at school.
The Heads of School and Mrs Marks then led us in our prayers of intercession, praying “for men and women the world over, that they may have justice and freedom, and live in security and peace”.
The service closed with the Senior Brass Ensemble performed ‘The Turtle Dove’, and a blessing given by Revd. Tom.
The Heads of School, senior CCF cadets and the Chairman of the Old Exonian Club then laid wreathes on the Chapel’s altar.