The AGM of the Old Catton Society was held prior to the evening’s meeting. The Committee now consists of those members who were already in office during the previous year. No new committee members were forthcoming
The evening’s speaker was Susan Sharp, a retired teacher from Gresham’s school, whose subject was the social history of the school and the pupils who enlisted during the first world war.
Susan gave her presentation with slides starting with the history of the School from it’s humble beginnings in the 16th Century up to the present time.
It’s first boarders, in 1914, numbered 40 boys and it was a unique venture for the school. The school was run on very authoritarian rules and the boys were subject to very basic conditions as far as beds and personal hygiene was concerned . The school grew with new buildings added and so able to take in more boys. She also covered the war years when several of the leaving pupils destined for Cambridge or Oxford Universities enlisted and joined the war.
She gave several examples of the young men who went to war. One of 17 who joined the Navy was drowned when his ship, the Invincible, was torpedoed in the Battle of Jutland. Within in two days of his being involved in the war. A second young man was on the ship that took out a U-boat from which an enigma machine was recovered before it sank, so helping to shorten the war.
Other boys were in the other forces and especially the army, and commendable reports home to their families and to the authorities gave honourable accounts of their bravery when leading their troops. Most of these young men were officers by virtue of their education.
The memorial in the chapel at Gresham’s pays tribute to all those pupils who have been given their lives during the war years.