OBs and the Battle of the Somme 1st July – 18th November 1916

By Ruth Whiting, Head of History 1963-2000

Throughout the United Kingdom war memorials reveal the devastation that the Battle of the Somme brought to every town, village and community; Bedales is no exception.  11th November had no significance for the Bedalians of 1916 but by that date eight OBs had been killed in the battle (two on the same day 30th July).

The oldest boys and girls in the school remembered vividly boys who had been their heroes on the sports field, in the Studio or academically when they themselves were at the bottom of the school.  One (Trevor Harris) had left school only at the end of July 1914 and had a younger brother still at Bedales.  John Fothergill had left his farm in New Zealand to join the N.Z. Rifle Brigade.  Noel Harrison left Birmingham University and Alec Forbes his promising future at the Architectural Association.  Garth Smithies Taylor, about to join the family’s internationally famous optical lens firm, agreed with his friend John Russell (who survived) that they could not sit comfortably by whilst others risked their lives.  Later he, like Alec, transferred from the relative safety of the Army Service Corps to front line battalions and lost his life.  The last to die, Edward Allen, was probably wounded on the last day of the battle and died of his wounds three days later.

At Bedales in Remembrance Jaw on Wednesday evening and on the steps of the Memorial Library at 11am on Friday the present school remembered the 66 students, 2 ex-teachers and 2 members of the domestic staff who lost their lives in WW1 and the 18 Bedalians who made the same sacrifice in WW2.

All the casualties of the Somme, except Edward, have already been commemorated on the 100th anniversary of their deaths and you can read more about them in the WW1 section of the History of Bedales on the School website.  For those coming in to school there is a small exhibition about the nine in the Memorial Library.