Bolton School Girls’ Division came together to remember those who have lost their lives in conflict in a Service of Remembrance. They were joined by Old Girls who returned to the School for this solemn occasion.
In particular, Headmistress Sue Hincks commemorated the soldiers who fought and died at Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres. This was particularly poignant because the battle ended on 10 November 1917, and the School’s Service of Remembrance took place on the 100th anniversary of this date. Miss Hincks reminded the School of the terrible conditions at Ypres: a combination of shelling and the worst rain for 30 years turned the battlefield into deadly, sinking mud and a third of a million Allied troops were killed. Among them was Hedd Wyn, the Welsh poet who won the Bard’s Chair at the 1917 Eisteddfod, but was unable to claim his prize as he had been killed six weeks earlier on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele. Miss Hincks read Hedd Wyn’s poem ‘Rhyfel’ (War), in English.
The assembly continued with further poetry readings and hymns. Seren Davies read ‘Death Shall Have No Dominion’ by Dylan Thomas, another Welsh poet. This was followed by the hymn ‘I Vow To Thee My Country’. The poem ‘Early March’ by Norman Nicholson was read by Aiman Ibrahim, and Eleanor Haughton read ‘The Falling Leaves’ by Margaret Postgate Cole.
Miss Hincks then recited the traditional lines from the ‘Ode to Remembrance’, after which the Great Hall fell silent for two minutes of reflection and remembrance at 11 o’clock. The silence was framed by The Last Post and The Rouse, played by Ellen Bate.
The Accidentals gave a touching performance of ‘Abide With Me’. This was followed by the prayers, which were led by Miss Hincks and commemorated not only those who died in the two World Wars, but all those affected by or killed in conflict.
Finally, Sameera Mohammed reminded everyone why the poppy is used as a symbol of remembrance with a reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McRae. The assembly ended with the singing of Jerusalem. The Old Girls and Prefects processed out to Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ played on the organ.