Two Old Nottinghamian brothers fighting fascism (1)

There is an interesting letter in the School Archives which begins:

“On December 10th 1988, my son, daughter and myself were visiting Nottingham to see my granddaughter who is at Trent University. We arrived on the Saturday morning, and found my old school, opposite the Forest but with locked gates. Then we suddenly noticed the gates opening. It was one of the teachers preparing to drive out before locking up. We were warm in our anoraks but although he was only wearing light clothes, this kind teacher offered to show us around the outside of the school buildings. The site of the former “Fives” court was, he told us, blocked by a newer building. Memories began flooding back.”

The writer was John T Jackson who left school in 1935 at the age of twelve. His father’s job was transferred to Birmingham and he and his brother transferred to Solihull Grammar School. Here are the school gates on Forest Road in 1932:

Here are the two fives courts, now replaced by the Sports Hall:

When young John Jackson attended the junior school, Mr Day was the headmaster. One day the boys were all taken outside to see the flight overhead of the new airship, the R101.

The buildings had not changed much as the little group all walked towards the front of the school. Mr Jackson remembered that the steps at the front of the school led to the Headmaster’s room. Then they saw the War Memorial. Mr Jackson had not realised that it would contain so many names. Over two hundred had died to halt fascism. He scanned the names, picking out his brother “Jackson RR”. He was very grateful to see this tribute to the courage and sacrifice that he and his fellow pupils had made.

Robert Renwick Jackson served in the RAF as a pilot in No 40 Squadron based at Chelmsford and flew on low level night intruder missions against enemy targets. In 1943 he was shot down in the coastal area of northern France. He and his observer are buried at Grandcourt in France:

After taking a few photos, John Jackson returned to his car, thanking the teacher for his kindness. When they found the gates locked they had been ready to accept that the best they could manage was to look from outside.

John Jackson had a far luckier war than his brother. He trained as a navigator in the RAF and was stationed at Kinloss in Scotland. His captain was Mac Hamilton, and they survived two tours in Bomber Command. After ten trips to Berlin with 619 Squadron, the whole crew volunteered to join 617 Squadron after Gibson’s successful raid on the dams. 617 was then commanded by Leonard Cheshire who had a precision way of marking targets with special bomb sights. They carried the Tallboy bomb weighing 12000 lbs and attacked special targets such as the U-boat pens, certain tunnels and canals, and rocket sites. Their last two operations were against the Tirpitz battleship. It took a total of three attacks to sink the Tirpitz.”

To be continued………..

 

6 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, France, History, military, Nottingham, The High School

6 responses to “Two Old Nottinghamian brothers fighting fascism (1)

    • Yes, indeed. If either party had been a minute later, there’d have been no interesting letter!
      Having said that, there are usually one or two teachers knocking around the school on Saturday mornings as sports teams depart or arrive back after their game. Occasionally, the teachers on duty for Saturday Detention are needed, and they might be around too.

  1. GP

    The feats that generation pulled off were incredible!

    • Yes, indeed! And when the British forces were all demobbed and had returned, they set about building a new and better country, with slum clearance, new homes built, new schools and the National Health Service set up. That was all made possible by the landslide victories in the elections which threw Churchill out. He was judged to be good for war, but not quite as good for peace.

  2. How nice of the teacher to show them around. A chance to revisit those old fond memories. Just lovely.

  3. Thank you. It was a very nice gesture, but I think we both know just what wonderful people teachers are.
    We have a steady trickle of Old Boys coming back to the school and if they want a tour round, it is usually one of the office staff who do it. They invariably take the visitor to see specific places that he has requested to visit.

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