In May 1940, the senior members of the OTC (Officers Training Corps) had climbed up to the School Tower and carved their names and their message on a stone window sill. It is still there today, eighty odd years later:
Richard Milnes again had a poem published in the School Magazine in December 1936. It was entitled:
“SINGEING THE KING OF SPAIN’S BEARD”:
“The sun beat down on the Spanish fleet,
As loaded with treasures she lay;
Her sailors slept in the noonday heat,
Not a guard watched over the bay.
We wound in the cable as evening fell,
When a mist rose up from the sea.
My heart beat fast as we breasted the swell,
For all alone were we.
The night was black, not a single star,
Smiled down on the “Golden Hind.”
We could hear the billows over the bar,
And we blessed the darkness kind.
We waited, three score of British Lions,
Our cannon and pistols primed;
I heard the clatter of grappling-irons,
Then over her rail we climbed.
Then suddenly rose a warning shout
From a ship just over our lee.
We tried the swarthy Dons to rout,
But all alone were we.
Then as we fought with our backs to the mast
There came a cry from the right.
“Golden Hind ! Ahoy ! Avast !”
And we knew ‘twas the “Silver Sprite.”
Over the plank stepp’d the Dons of Spain
And her treasure lay in our hold.
There never will be such a fight again,
As was fought in those days of old.”
Given that he was only 13 years old, not a bad effort! At least it rhymes, something which few poets achieve nowadays. The following year saw Richard move into the Upper Fifth Form Classical with Mr Duddell aka “Uncle Albert”. As always for examination purposes, the 27 boys in the Form were combined with the 29 in Mr Palmer’s Upper Fifth Form Modern. Richard came 13th equal of the 56.
Here’s Mr Duddell in 1932 and 1942:
This year Richard passed his School Certificate. In 1938-1939 he moved into the Classical Sixth Form, where Mr Gregg was his Form Master in a form of 13 students. The following year was Richard’s last in the High School. He spent it in the same Form, this time with Mr Beeby. Richard left on July 30th 1940, presumably the last day of the Summer Term. He was 17 years old and had achieved quite a lot this year. He had passed his Higher School Certificate (Classics) and in what was now called the Junior Training Corps, the JTC, he had joined the Air Cadet branch where he became a Lance-Corporal. He was awarded his much coveted “Certificate ‘A’” qualification which proved his good knowledge of military basics, and allowed him to be considered there and then as a potential officer in the part time Territorial Army. Richard also won the JTC contingent’s Musketry Prize. In the realm of sport, he won his full First XV colours in Rugby after being awarded his Second XV Colours the previous season.
This year, in Rowing, he also won his Colours and Blazer for the Second IV.
Richard then, left the High School on that last day of the Summer Term, July 30th 1940. Neither he, not his friends, could have been particularly sure about how the war would turn out and whether England would be invaded and conquered by Christmas. Still less did Richard know that he had 1,281 days left before he died in a place which, at this point, he had never heard of.