Hitchin pupils who died in World War I remembered in Belgium ceremony as book launched

Andy Gibbs Yvonne Limbrick, Jean Handley Laying the wreath

Andy Gibbs Yvonne Limbrick, Jean Handley Laying the wreath - Credit: Archant

As the nation commemorates the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I in 1914, former pupils of a Hitchin school have been remembered to coincide with a book launch.

Yvonne Limbrick, Andy Gibbs, Jean Handley A wreath for remembrance, at the Menin Gate

Yvonne Limbrick, Andy Gibbs, Jean Handley A wreath for remembrance, at the Menin Gate - Credit: Archant

Remembered with Pride tells the story of 68 former pupils of the Hitchin Boys’ British School – now the British Schools Museum in Queen Street – who lost their lives in the conflict.

The book, published by Hitchin Historical Society, went on sale at the weekend and is the culmination of many years’ research by Jean Handley, a museum volunteer and resident of Sandon near Baldock.

The idea to delve into the personal lives of the boys and research their gallant military service was motivated by Jean’s father Cyril Payne, who encouraged her to find out more about her uncle William Payne, who was killed in 1917 while serving Gallipoli.

To mark the launch, Jean attended a ceremony at the Menin Gate in the Ypres region of Belgium on Saturday along with many people who have been part of the process, including British Schools Museum manager Andy Gibbs and Yvonne Limbrick, who helped found the museum.


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Together the trio laid a wreath to remember the 68 serving pupils from the school who were killed at the memorial, which names nearly 55,000 military personnel whose bodies have never been found including seven from the Hitchin Boys’ British School.

Earlier the group had visited the nearby Tyne Cot Cemetery where a further 35,000 missing soldiers are named and two past pupils are interred.

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Saturday also saw the opening of a new exhibition – A School at War – at the British Schools Museum when a memorial board to the 68 pupils was unveiled by relatives of two of the former pupils who died in the Great War.

The exhibition runs until November – visit www.britishschoolsmuseum.org.uk for opening times – while Remembered with Pride is available in the museum shop at £12.95.

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