Last time, we met Richard Milnes who left the High School on the last day of the Summer Term, July 30th 1940. Further south, the Battle of Britain was about to reach its peak.
Neither he, nor his friends, when they carved their names and their message on a stone window sill in the High School Tower would have known how the war would turn out.
The Germans were certainly well ahead so far. And to add to England’s troubles, the American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose this day to give his firm promise that he would never ever send “our boys” to war.
I don’t know if it was a desire to leave something defiant that could not easily be wiped away, but Richard and his friends climbed up into the School Tower, the one that dominates the skyline of the city, and carved their names and their message on a stone window sill. It is still there today:
“The following were members
of the anti-parachutist squad
May 20-21, 1940 (being first to do so)
RA Palmer, JS Gibson, DJ Furley,
RM Gunther, RB Holroyd,
RV Milnes, R Mellor, JMT Saunders”.
JS Gibson worked in the Preparatory School from September 1938. He left in November 1941 and served, it is believed, in RAF ground crew, although these particular men are members of the RAAF:
By 1943, nine of the 32 members of staff had gone off to fight for their country. They were CH Beeby, AR Davis, JS Gibson, F Greener, WD Gregg, JS Hunter, KC Lewis, AR Pears and AW Thomas. All of them survived as far as I know. Mr Gibson left the RAF in 1945 but did not return to the High School.
Another member of the anti-parachutist squad, Robert Bernard Holroyd, lived at 4 Bonington Road in Mapperley:
Robert came to the High School on September 20th 1934 as Boy No 5844 and he left on February 11th 1941. He had passed his School Certificate in 1939.
In the OTC and the JTC he reached the rank of sergeant and passed his Certificate ‘A’. The latter attested the holder’s abilities in battle drill, command, including drill commands, drill, map reading, range work requiring a minimum score with .22 rifle and weapon training. The holder was considered “eligible for consideration for a commission” in the Territorial Army. In the first few months of the conflict, many holders of Certificate ‘A’ were also considered eminently capable of teaching conscripts how to march, salute, shoulder arms and so on:
Robert also attended the Air Cadets and became a Lance Corporal, a Corporal and then a Sergeant by 1940. In sport, he won his First XV Colours and was Captain of Rugby in 1940-1941:
He was “An enthusiastic footballer whose keenness is an example. An accomplished hooker. Defence sound.”
At the School Sports Day in 1940, he was the “Victor Ludorum”, the best all round athlete. He was a good, enthusiastic rower and was awarded his “Blazer for Rowing”.
During the war, he became a Signalman in the Royal Corps of Signals. Let’s hope that he never exhibited the same levels of criminality as Reginald Lawson, the clergyman’s son, punished in 1911 for “signalling words of an indecent nature by semaphore”.
On May 23rd 1942, that Certificate ‘A’ paid off when Robert Bernard Holroyd was made a Second Lieutenant. He stayed in the forces after the war, because on May 3rd 1952 what had been an emergency commission as a Lieutenant was firmed up to a real commission. I have found out no more than that, and Lieutenant Holroyd can now walk off into history. Let’s hope he was happy and lived to be a hundred!