Emanuel School Second World War Memorial
The names of 94 young men are on Emanuel School’s Second World War Roll of Honour (See link above). This is not just a list of names; it is a group of individuals, who lived but brief lives. Gaze your eyes down the list of ages and the majority were killed in action in their mid-twenties. They knew so little of life. Some had married, but all too brief was their joy before the Second World War tore them from loved ones. It must have been unimaginable to have the one you love never come home, only belongings such as a log book, a ring or some other personal item. Their photos and memories were all that was left for their parents, families and wives. Their families may have remembered that last cup of tea shared before their young men travelled the world, in daring raids at sea, terrifying battles in the sky and arduous treks on land, fighting across the globe to defend a way of life.
I would often gaze at the Second World War memorial when I was at school. These young men sat where I once sat, in silent prayer or full song. Unlike them I have been privileged to live in a time of peace and it is fitting to pay tribute to those who fought for it.
Emanuel School rowing IV 1935 having won Staines Regatta
Among these names are those of Alan Skillern, who became a Major in the 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers and who in 1935 was Captain of Boats at Emanuel. Seen in the photo above, first from left, winning Staines Regatta in 1935. Alan was killed fighting in the Italian Campaign, near the Garigliano river in January 1944 and was discovered by his school friend, Stanley Charles Warner who was also in the 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers and who lost his life a year later. In the same photo is Kenneth Millist, second from left, a Battle of Britain pilot who was shot down and killed in North Africa in 1941. Also in the photo is Howard Gordon Cross, first from right, killed at Dunkirk. They look such happy young men, winning a race, sadly to be cut down in youth only a few years later.