11 November 2021
The assembly opened with the singing of ‘I Vow To Thee My Country’ by Isabella Morgan (Year 12). Mrs Kyle, the Head of Girls’ Division, spoke about the history of Remembrance, including the vastly different ways that the signing of the Armistice in 1918 was observed on the front lines and at home, and recalling why poppies are a symbol of remembrance with a reading of the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae. She said: ‘Remembrance honours those who served and those who continue to serve to defend our democratic freedoms and way of life. We unite across faiths, cultures and backgrounds to remember the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces community from Britain and the Commonwealth.’
Mr Britton, the Head of the Bolton School Foundation, spoke the Ode to Remembrance at 11 o’clock to begin the two minute silence. Girls’ Division choral group the Accidentals sang ‘Jerusalem’ to bring this solemn moment to a close.
Mrs Hone, Girls’ Division Head of Classics, then took the audience on a brief walk through Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium to discover more about three individuals buried there: John Hartington, a Bury Grammar School pupil who died aged 21 shortly before the battle of Passchendaele; Charles Herbert Turner, a member of the Royal Fusiliers and an Old Boy who attended Bolton School from 1903-04, who died of wounds in 1918; and Nellie Spindler, a military nurse and the only woman buried in this cemetery, who died aged 26 in 1917 after being hit by an exploding shell. She said: ‘I urge you to continue the tradition of Remembrance, and other traditions, because they are a channel for the spiritual essence of our ancestors to enter our own hearts. You will see eloquent signs of tradition everywhere in uniforms, monuments and weaponry, and perhaps most potently you will hear it in music.’
Mrs Hone and Mrs Kyle then introduced a series of musical performances on the bagpipes from Jasmin Hyland, Pipe Major and Secretary of the Bolton Caledonia Pipe Band, who joined the Girls’ Division assembly after playing at the Remembrance Day commemorations at Bolton Town Hall. She piped ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ and ‘Flowers of the Forest’ in the Hall before walking about B Corridor playing ‘Amazing Grace’: an atmospheric moment for all those watching the livestream in school, as well as for those in the hall as they listened to the music move through the school building.