Seven students from Years 10 to 13 accompanied by Chris Allin and Amanda Wilmott made the journey to the Gallipoli battlefields between Monday 26th and Friday 29th October. This was through a project called Gallipoli 100 set up by Robin Clutterbuck and funded by the Gallipoli Association (representing veterans and preserving their memory) and the National Lottery. The main aim of the Gallipoli 100 project is to develop links between the Turkish people of the area and their British counterparts. The key focus of this trip was remembering the two old boys of West Buckland School who died during the campaign and other North Devon soldiers who primarily served with the North Devon Hussars. George Pearce Mortimer attended West Buckland School between 1892 and 1893. He served with 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) as part of the final allied offensive in Gallipoli at Suvla Bay where the plan was to support the ANZAC’s breakout to the south and take strategic positions to the north of the peninsula. George was killed on the 26th September 1915, aged 38. The School’s Register goes on to reveal the circumstances surrounding his death and explains that he, ‘was killed by a sniper while in charge of a listening patrol on the Gallipoli Peninsula.’ His body was not identified by the end of the war and so he is remembered at the Helles Memorial at the southern tip of the peninsula. A wreath was laid at the memorial on behalf of the OWBA and one of our present students, Isobel Fincher (11G), read a moving eulogy that she had written in advance. The second Old Boy remembered was Ernest George Symons, who had landed at Gallipoli with the North Devon Yeomanry on 8th October. They were originally going to be part of a new offensive but by the time they arrived this had been abandoned by the military commanders and a week later discussions began to end the campaign altogether. This meant that the North Devons spent their time carrying out general duties only. Ernest was killed on 4th November by a shell which exploded in the trench where a number of soldiers were located. We once again laid a wreath in memory of Ernest but as well as a card written by Jamie Conchie, President of the OWBA, the wreath also contained a card by Ernest’s surviving nephew, John Squire (C 1933-1936). John had kindly visited school a week before our trip and as well as bringing in family items he also told us about his memories of his uncle. As well as visiting the key battlefields, the group also visited the ancient city of Troy and an independent Turkish school called Cannakkale College where we met the Headmaster and the students spent some time socialising together. At one cemetery, the head gardener for the CWGC in Gallipoli talked to the group about the management of the cemeteries on the peninsula. The students were a real credit to the school and the personal stories of our former students made this a very moving and thought-provoking trip. Chris Allin 01-S
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