Sir Anthony Seldon, former Headmaster of Wellington, leading political historian, author and now Vice Chancellor of Buckingham University, was the main speaker at Dragon School’s recent WW1 Commemoration.
Referencing his book ‘Public Schools and the Great War – the Generation Lost’, Sir Anthony challenged the myth of the incompetent officer class. Public school educated officers, he argued, were imbued with idealism and a sense of service. Their rate of death was nearly twice the national average. “They clearly weren’t far behind the lines, sipping claret,” Seldon concluded.
The two-day event, held at the Dragon School in Oxford, welcomed over 450 pupils, current and past parents, Dragon alumni and the wider community. Sacrifices made by former Dragon pupils and staff were remembered, while exhibits and activities explored the deep impact the war had made on individuals, the school community and society.
Children handled WW1 objects and dressed-up in period outfits with help from Vicki Wood from the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock. Corporal Parsons, a pre-war regular of the Essex Regiment, reinforced the Army of the Western front by drilling young raw recruits. Dragon pupils read classic WW1 poetry, and stories and artefacts linked to current staff, pupils or Old Dragons were on display.
‘Corporal’ Richie Parsons from Parsons Period Presentations puts raw recruits through their paces
Genealogists from Oxfordshire Family History Society traced ancestors involved in the Great War. Neil Pudney, member of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides and the Western Front Association, along with Charles Oldershaw, Old Dragon, shared their collections of WW1 artefacts and identified items brought in on the day including WW1 medals, a bayonet and a Prussian helmet from 1914.
Many took time to reflect and view ceramic Remembrance poppies made by pupils, at the School’s War Memorial.
Visitors were also able to take a little respite with refreshments from the Essence of Vintage Mobile Tearoom.
John Baugh, headmaster of the Dragon School, said: “Getting the balance right between commemorating our war dead and acknowledging their sacrifice with engaging children about the horrors of the Great War is no easy task. Victoria Humble-White, Alumni Officer and Sam Claydon, Website Manager created a truly memorable and thought-provoking Dragon event that visitors will reflect upon for years to come.”