One moment they were schoolboys – ordinary teenagers – strolling down their school’s tree-lined drive, studying in class, playing games, laughing with friends and performing on stage. Next, they were fighting in two world wars – 1700 young men battling to keep Britain free.
This is the story of a school at war – the boys and masters from a south London school who fought on every battlefront. It’s Emanuel’s hidden history – stories locked away in archives for decades. Published here for the first time these voices from the past reveal the contrast between a world at peace and a world at war. The dramatic exploits of Emanuel boys, from 1914 to the Liberation of Europe in 1945, are brought to life in their own words – through letters, diaries, documents and interviews. Lavishly illustrated with over 650 pictures this unique 637 page book tells the stories of former students who fought and died for their country.
Stories which feature in this book include that of Sebastian Coe’s father Percy Coe who was a POW in France before escaping and returning to England via six-months imprisonment in Spain; Gordon Murray, the creator of the Trumptonshire Children’s Television Series who landed at Gold Beach on D-Day with the Royal Corps of Signals; Brian Lightoller, who was one of the first casualties of the Second World War and who was the son of Charles Lightoller the most senior surviving officer of the sinking of the Titanic and Seymour ‘Peter’ Pike who was the lead signalman on Operation Chariot which resulted in the destruction of the dry-dock at St Nazaire in March 1942.
‘This is an exceptionally moving and well-researched book to commemorate the centenary of the Great War. Richly illustrated throughout and with illuminating biographies of members of the Emanuel School community in two world wars, it offers a unique tribute to the service and sacrifice of these generations. This book is a fitting memorial to the lost generation, and a wake-up call to the young of today to seek to emulate the courage and service or duty of those who attended school a hundred years ago.’ – Sir Anthony Seldon, Master, Wellington College