Book Launch: Bromsgrove School at War & in Wales 1939-45

Posted: 18/11/2019

The history of Bromsgrove School in the 20th Century was deeply affected by both two world wars. In the first conflict 96 Old Bromsgrovians died; in the second 103. After publishing a history of the School and the Great War in 2014, former Deputy Headmaster Philip Bowen now publishes ‘Bromsgrove School at War and in Wales 1939-45.’ OBs died retreating to Dunkirk; in the Battle of Britain; North African deserts; going down with their ships; on D-Day; at Arnhem; in the advance on Germany and in harrowing circumstances in the Far East. Many joined the R.A.F. and died in fighters and bombers.

The most striking contrast for the School was the Exile. Many Public Schools were forced to leave their premises, often because of the danger of air-raids, but Bromsgrove’s spacious and secluded campus was needed for war work. There is some mystery about what went on at School. It was certainly a retreat for the India Office and some say the Churchill tank was designed here. The Headmaster, David Walters, was summoned to London at the end of 1938 and told that in the event of war the School would be occupied. He could only divulge the plan to his Chairman of Governors, Lord Cobham. A Welshman, Walters visited several small towns in mid-Wales and at the end of a long, frustrating January day reached the smallest town in Great Britain – Llanwrtyd Wells. He had found a temporary home which was destined to take on the appearance of a university town. Once war had broken out, in days he masterminded the transfer of a boarding School and its equipment. Huge pantechnicons made 60 journeys in all. It was a remarkable logistical achievement. The School returned in 1943.

The vast Memorial Chapel at Bromsgrove School is a lasting monument to the Fallen in both world wars. At its completion in 1960 the Mr Routh - Headmaster - said to the School 'This place enshrines the memory of those who gave their lives so that you are sitting here in safety today. Never I charge you forget that you are treading on hallowed ground.' That is still remembered and respected by today's students.

Philip's book will be available to purchase from the School Shop. priced at £20 for the paperback and £40 for the paperback in a presentation box. Please email or telephone 01527 579679.


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