The handsomely carved war memorial, a tribute to the 57 old boys of Northbrook School, Lee, who lost their lives in the war, was unveiled on Saturday afternoon, December 18, 1920, at an impressive gathering. Many of the old boys were present, together with a choir of present scholars, and numerous relatives of the fallen men. Colonel Assheton Pownall, Member for East Lewisham, who unveiled the memorial, was received at the school by a guard of honour of the 20th Battalion The London Regiment, under Lieutenant W. K. Brass. The men afterwards fell in alongside the wall upon which the memorial is hung.
Inside the school the Rev. R. Moddings, Rector of Lee, presided. He wore the uniform of a chaplain, with Lieutenant-Colonel’s badges and the ribbon of the Volunteer Decoration. Others with him on the platform were Colonel Aseheton Pownall, M.P., Mr. R. 0. Roberts, LC.C., the Rev. W. P. McDonald, Vicar of Christ Church, Lee-park, Mr. T. Edmondston and Mr. Hubert Ord. Mr. 0. B. Fluke, headmaster, and Mr. G. Bazeley, who was “head” from 1884 to 1902, were in the body of the large hall.
After the singing of “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” the Chairman said there were occasions when speech was out of place, and when feeling superseded it; times when there was an atmosphere in which they could. breathe something which touched every heart and soul. Those in any way connected with the school would think many things when they saw that memorial to the boys who had gone before, those who had been so full of fun and goodness, and, as the event had proved, so full of bravery. They were full of the true spirit of life, for whatever they might say or do, or however careless they became, the spirit of life remained sacrifice and service.
Colonel Pownall’s tribute.
“It was about twelve years ago that I last visited this school,” observed Colonnel Pownall, who recalled that he was then on the LC.C., and therefore responsible for the education of the children. Many of the boys who were then scholars had joined up in the great war, and many, alas, had given their lives. They were to unveil a memorial to 57 of the old boys who laid down their lives, and what brought it more home to him was the fact that no fewer than 15 of them served in his old battalion, the 20th London Regiment. He therefore had triple reason for attending: as being responsible for their education; as the commanding officer during the war; and as M.P. Those were the reasons which made him feel it such a privilege to be present, and pay a last tribute.
Memorial presented to the school.
Mr. Frank Slater, representing the Old Boys, said the memorial was unique, Inasmuch as the whole of the developing and craftsmanship was done by the Old Boys themselves; it was, he thought, unique In another respect, that it contained the names of a father and his son (H. Brain, senior and junior). The memory of those men would be kept green.
Mr. G. b. Fluke said he felt that was perhaps the moat eventful afternoon the school had seen since it was built 36 years ago. They had attended to do honour to the 57 boys who had proved their bravery on the field of battle, and had given their lives for us. The memorial would be the foundation of a brotherhood of old and present boys.
Quoting the, familiar and poignant lines on the Last Post and the Reveille, written by Rupert Brooke, Mr. Fluke went on to say that the Roll of Honour would be a heritage which would go down to posterity as an example of what the boys had done not only by their deaths, but he was glad to say, by the examples of their lives.
In conclusion, Mr. Fluke especially thanked Mr. E Gibbon, the designer; Mr. Arthur Leach, who did the Woodwork; Mr. G. Chapman, for the carving; and Mr. Stanley Weston, for the gilding. These were all Old Boys, and in every case he bad no doubt that their work was a labour of love.
He also was constrained to mention that the girls had a share in the ceremony, and had asked the acceptance of a silk flag, which had been handed to him by Miss Robinson.
The meeting concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.
Reference: Gregory, R.R.C & Nunn, F.W. The Story of Lee, London, 1923, pp 374-375. Illustration facing page 352.
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