V.J. Day – 75th Anniversary

Victory over Japan Day, 15th August 1945, fell during the school summer holiday.  There was not much mention of the end of the War in the report of the school terms in the following edition of the school magazine, “Bootham” (January 1946).  However, there was a report of the Old Scholars’ Football match:

“The first peace-time game found a large crowd of Old Boys on the touch line, but, unfortunately, even their vociferous support failed to save their side from a crushing defeat.

The School fielded an exceptionally fine side, whose drive and combination were too much for a rather moderate opposition. Nevertheless, it was a most enjoyable game, and the result would have been much worse if it had not been for some splendid work by Sandie Scott in goal.”

It was also reported that two Old Scholars had died on active service since V.E. Day (Norman Kendall Dixon and John Philip Ward), and Cedric Rowntree Robson, a prisoner of war, was missing, “from a Japanese transport ship, sunk between Thai and Japan”.

A General Meeting of the O.Y.S.A (The Old York Scholars’ Association) was held in the John Bright Library at Bootham School on, 27th October, 1945.

“In his opening remarks the Chairman explained that this was not, and could not be, a properly-constituted annual meeting of the O.Y.S.A. For that we should have to wait until next Whitsuntide. In the meantime, this meeting was very necessary, in order that due preparation might be made for what everyone hoped would be a record gathering, after the long gap of five years. …………..

The chief function of the magazine during the war was to give scattered Old Boys news of each other, and of the school. That the former had been done so well was due to Anthony Pim, who had been tireless in keeping in touch with Old Boys in every kind of wartime activity, and had made “Across the Months” the most valuable and interesting part of the magazine.

Before the meeting closed Arnold S. Rowntree expressed the warm sympathy felt by all present for those of our number still far from home in many parts of the world.”

In the April 1947 edition of “Bootham” magazine we read:

Members of the School Committee and the O.Y.S.A. Committee met at Bootham in October to consider a War Memorial. A wish to record the names of the 38 Old Boys who gave their lives on active service, as was done on a plaque in the John Bright Library after the 1914-18 war, quickly found agreement, and a committee to make the necessary arrangements was appointed. Some consideration was also given to a larger war memorial but it was felt that this needed more thought and discussion than were possible in a single committee meeting. ”

Discussion about the proposed memorial took place at the 69th Annual Meeting of the O.Y.S.A. held at Bootham School, York, on Saturday, 24th May, 1947. (Reported in “Bootham” magazine of November 1947).

“Regarding the new memorial, they all came to the conclusion that the right thing to do would be to have another plaque in the Library, and after much thought and care and discussion it had been felt that there should be a bronze plaque in that room with incised lettering bearing the names of the 38 old boys, including the Christian names by which they were known at school and other initials. …… For certain technical reasons it seemed best that the shape should be the other way round to the 1914-18 memorial, with the names probably in three columns instead of two. It was also felt that it should be a simpler plaque and not so decorated, and their desire was that the artist engaged should produce something more simple, but embodying the school coat of arms. The inscription should read : ” 1939-45—In memory of all old Bootham boys who have faithfully striven to follow the light, and especially in memory of those our fallen.” Then would follow the list of names, with the school motto at the end.”

The War Memorial Plaque was unveiled at the annual meeting of the O.Y.S.A in May 1948.  There is an account of the unveiling in the December 1948 edition of “Bootham” Magazine, as follows:

“Report of the Proceedings at the 70th Annual Meeting of the O.Y.S.A.
Held at Bootham School, York, on Saturday, 15th May, 1948

Before the normal proceedings of the annual meeting, Old Scholars, present scholars, masters and relatives, met in the John Bright Library for the unveiling of the War Memorial Plaque at the back of the room by Kathleen Gray in memory of Old Scholars who died on war service.

Roger Clark, retiring President of the Association, presided, and observed that when he agreed to perform this, his last duty as President of the Association, before handing over to his distinguished successor, he was led in thought to a similar occasion nearly 30 years ago when the earlier memorial tablet at the front of the room was set up. He was not present then, feeling that it would not be easy to attend the setting up of a war memorial in a room so closely associated with one who was throughout a long lifetime identified with peace.

He now realised, however, that the task was not so difficult, as none of them looked on this tablet as a war memorial. War was essentially hateful to us all, and it was also, they might be sure, to those whom they were thinking of to-night. They wanted no memorial, and nothing to glorify war, but they should look on it as a reminder in years to come of those 38 young Old Scholars who should have come back to “friendships renewed and memories refreshed.”

Roger Clark recalled the great words of Dryden and John Bright on the subject of war and death, grief and affection, and expressed the heartfelt sympathy of all with those to whom those who died were close and dear.

Kathleen Gray then unveiled the memorial tablet, which is designed as described in the report of last year’s annual meeting, and read the names of the 38 Old Scholars remembered in the inscription”

Memorial Plaque 1939-1945 in John Bright Library, Bootham School.
Memorial Plaque in John Bright Library, 1939-1945

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