School 4

This website provides a cameo picture of the short lives of six ex-King’s School pupils, killed during the First World War. Their histories, in some cases sparse, have been compiled by a small team, working with the School, its archivist and, where possible, the co-operation of surviving family members.

The School’s visits to the European battlefields of the First World War began in the early 1920s; vivid memories were recorded by Eric Sutton and Fritz Bombard. After a gap, they continued in the late 1970s with mixed groups. Since the 1990s they have been taking place on an annual basis, as an integral part of the School’s GCSE History course.

In 2004 Canon Ray Jones, Chaplain of St. George’s Memorial Church in Ypres, invited the School to erect a brass memorial plaque to those ex-pupils killed in the Ypres Salient. Initial research led us to six soldiers out of the total of 29 King’s School casualties – all six are either buried in Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries in the Ypres area or, having no known grave, have their names engraved on Ypres’ Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing. Their plaque was dedicated at a special service in July 2005, attended by Governors, staff, students, Old Petriburgians and today’s members of the soldiers’ families.

In 2007 the same team began to research two further casualties, the Burks brothers of Eastfield, killed not at Ypres but at Loos (1915) and on the Somme (1916), within twelve months of each other. The results of this research will added to this site in due course.

Between them these young men had already served as ‘Soldiers of the Queen’ in the dust of the South African veldt, fighting in an army still learning the lessons of the Crimea, against the Boers armed with the best of modern German weapons. They had seen bitter struggles too in the heat of the swamps and jungles of German South West and German East Africa, and the terrible slaughter that had engulfed men of Australia and New Zealand alongside the British and Indian Armies in the sea and on the land of the Gallipoli peninsula.

Four survived these actions only to fall in the mud of the pockmarked lunar landscape that was Passchendaele, Ypres 1917.

Six valiant Old Petriburgians, small but vital pieces of the mosaic that is our nation’s record of the 20th century.

To the right are links to brief accounts of each man's life.

Trevor Elliott

Deputy Head Teacher