Why are we running this project?
World War One is still important to many people today. Some remember the war because they lost family members. Others remember the sacrifices made. Some simply find it a moving and interesting historical subject.
We want to tell the stories from our own archives, detailing the lives of the young men and women who were educated here and putting that into some sort of national context.
The Foundation is responsible for two school, QEGS Wakefield and Wakefield Girls’ High School. Hundreds of “Old Boys” of QEGS, often called “Old Savilians”, went off to fight in the war. Many more had important jobs back in Wakefield helping to produce equipment and to keep the country going.
The same can be said of Old Girls of the High School. Many saw service in the Medical Corps, while others took over administrative roles both local and nationally. For a time even the School itself became a hospital for wounded soldiers.
At the end of the War the Old Boys and Old Girls came together with the Schools and built a war memorial. They pledged never to forget the great sacrifices made during the war, and most importantly, never to forget those who gave their lives.
It is in that tradition that we celebrate the lives and achievements of those Teachers, Parents and Pupils who were involved in the war and our work is dedicated to all those lives were cut short.
Why the Foundation Schools?
Grammar School alumni suffered disproportionately heavy losses during the Great War. Whereas some 11 per cent of all those who served in the war died as a direct result of the fighting, the figure for grammar school and public school boys was over 18 per cent. Those who left school between 1908 and 1915 died at even higher rates, serving on the front line as junior officers or as pilots in the Royal Flying Corps. Some served in the rank and file, others as junior officers, their shiny cap badges offering up targets for enemy snipers. Medics, preachers, auxiliary staff were also to be found amongst our Old Boys and Girls.
It is also worth remembering that secondary education was not universal in 1914, and over 25% of the boys at QEGS Wakefield at that time were on some sort of bursary or scholarship. These young men, and the young women at WGHS, were among the brightest and the best the city and region had to offer. The service they gave was critical to the war and to the rebuilding of the city and nation after it.