The First World War in Stretton on Dunsmore

The school logbook records

Laying a wreath at the monument to the review of the 29th division in March 2015 before setting off to Gallipoli (2009)
Anne Langley

Surprisingly the entries in the Stretton on Dunsmore elementary school logbook for 1914 do not mention the war at all.

The King reviews the troops before Gallipoli

In February 1915 the children voted against their prize money being given to the War Fund (because they had already had two collections for this purpose). In March the children were given a holiday to watch the King review the 29th Division of the Army as the troops marched along the nearby London Road (prior to embarkation for the disastrous Gallipoli campaign). ‘The School children had a splendid view of the King reviewing the troops last Friday. Very few people were present and we were within twenty yards of his Majesty the whole time. About 35,000 troops passed by’ (entry for March 15th).

Harvesting potatoes

In September a local farmer applied for 13 boys to help with the potato harvest. They were refused permission (but 10 of them took themselves off for three days anyway). A fortnight later 12 children were absent picking potatoes. In 1916 the May Day festivities were cancelled because of the war but Empire Day was celebrated. The head-teacher Mr Fell applied to join the army and in June he was called up. Miss James (a teacher from Kenilworth) took over. In October the school bowed to the inevitable and gave the children a week off to help with the potato harvest (and in future years they shortened the summer holiday and gave the children two weeks off in October for this purpose).

Picking blackberries for jam

In 1917 Mr Fell visited the school in July when home on leave. In September the children were given afternoons off to collect blackberries to make jam for soldiers and sailors (a total of 312 lbs being sent to Rugby).

Collecting eggs and the influenza epidemic

In February 1918 several children were absent viewing “The Tank” in Coventry. In May the children were collecting eggs for wounded soldiers in local hospitals (a total of 421 eggs were sent). In July the influenza epidemic affected four teachers and many of the children (although no deaths were reported in the logbook); occasional cases continued until November. The children had a holiday to celebrate the armistice on November 11th. In January 1919 Mr Fell returned from the army and Miss James quietly left the school.

Does anyone know anything about “The Tank” in Coventry?

References: See Warwickshire County Record Office CR 699/4. Further log book records from the First World War can be seen in this article.

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