The annual Old Bordenian Remembrance gathering took place at the School at 11a.m. on Saturday 9th November 2013. In the past, it has been held in the School vestibule beneath the Honours Boards which record the names of Old Boys who died on active service in both World Wars and other conflicts. However, this year – because of the numbers attending – it took place in the Old Hall, appropriately beneath the plaque which records the Association's gift of the turret clock in memory of WWII casualties.
A further change was due to the absence through ill health of Denis Jarrett, one of the progenitors of this annual event, and of Bryan Short who formerly conducted the service of remembrance. Bryan Short's place was taken by the Reverend Stanley Evans. Others who took part this year were Graham Barnes, Chris Laming. Marc Stewart, Ken Sears, who laid the wreath after a one-minute silence, Tim Westby, the current School Captain, and Sixth Former Lois Wakefield.
It was a simple but moving service, attended among others by relatives of Terry Barry, Harry Hartridge, George King and James Wildish, Old Bordenians who were casualties of the 1939-45 War. It was an opportunity for us collectively to acknowledge the sacrifice which each of these 99 Old Bordenians made, and to pay tribute to them.
Afterwards, Marc Stewart read out the biography of Terry Barry which he has compiled – to give us a flavour of what these biographies contain and how they help to give depth and breadth to the names on the Memorial Boards.
Marc has provided a summary of this biography:
Terence Barry was born on 6 June 1921, the second son of Patrick Barry, an admiralty clerk, and his wife, Margaret, both of whom originally hailed from County Cork, Ireland. Initially educated at St. Edward’s Roman Catholic School, Sheerness, Terence won a scholarship to Borden Grammar School in September 1932. He proved to be an outstanding scholar, securing a Higher School Certificate – equivalent to today’s A Levels – in no fewer than four subjects, a feat for which his name was inscribed on the Honours Boards in the Old Hall. Outside of his academic studies, he was appointed a prefect and vice-captain of Swale House. He left to read Modern History at Merton College, Oxford, but his university career was soon interrupted by the exigencies of the Second World War: while still a student, he served in the University’s Senior Training Corps and then enlisted into a territorial battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. Awarded second class honours in the first part of his degree, Terence was selected for officer training emerging five months later with a second-lieutenancy in 1st London Irish Rifles (Royal Ulster Regiment). The battalion subsequently received orders to prepare for overseas service and, while on embarkation leave, Terence took the opportunity to visit his former teachers at Borden Grammar School. This was an event that one young schoolboy, Desmond Keohane, could vividly remember some fifty years later: in a letter to The Maroon, he recalled how “Terry Barry, a prefect in our first term at Borden, came into our English lesson with Mr Tempany in Room 3, resplendent in his officer’s uniform, with a magnificent green plume in his beret.” Terence and his comrades were posted to Iraq, and remained here until ordered to proceed to Egypt in June 1943. Only one month later, however, the battalion embarked for Sicily, seeing action here for the first time. Following the invasion of the Italian mainland in September 1943, Terence and his comrades embarked for Salerno and then pushed north toward the so-called “Gustav Line”, a formidable enemy position that ran from one side of the Italian Peninsula to the other, blocking the Allies’ advance to Rome. The outer bastion of this position was a mountain known as Monte Camino, rising some 3,000 feet above the surrounding valleys and which had to be captured before the Allies could even contemplate launching an assault on the Gustav Line itself. Following the failure of a previous attempt to secure the mountain, the task fell to 1st London Irish Rifles and their comrades in 56th London Division. The assault began on 3 December 1943 and, after eight days’ bitter fighting, Monte Camino was unexpectedly abandoned by the enemy. Some eighty men from 1st London Irish Rifles lost their lives in the attack, one of whom was Terence, killed by enemy mortar fire while leading a patrol on 5 December 1943, aged only twenty-two. Posthumously mentioned in despatches for his gallant conduct, news of Terence’s death eventually reached Borden Grammar School and Kenneth Sears, a sixteen-year-old schoolboy at the time, clearly remembers the shock with which this information was received by the school community. Terence was initially buried in Mieli, a small village at the foot of Monte Camino, before being interred in Cassino War Cemetery; his name is also commemorated on the war memorials of Borden Grammar School, Merton College, Oxford, the London Irish Rifles (located in Connaught House, London), and Sittingbourne (located on Central Avenue).
So far he has completed over 70 of these works – around 100,000 words, plus many pictures – and although it has been said before, we really do owe a huge debt to Marc for his scholarship and dedication.
Terry Barry's family brought with them several interesting and poignant items of memorabilia, including this wonderful cartoon which he drew, showing with remarkable accuracy the Head and five members of Staff attired for war!
Comment received from Greg Barry:
I attended the service in the Old Hall which bought back memories of standing in countless school assemblies and looking at my uncle’s name on the honours boards at the back of the stage. I was joined by six of my siblings as well as some of their partners and children; unfortunately my eldest brother Terry another old boy (1965-67) could not join us. The sixteen strong Barry family group included Dave Payne another old boy who was at BGS at the same time as me. Our father James (Jim) another old boy ( 1924-30 ) who sadly died in 2001 would have been very proud to hear Marc’s tribute to his younger brother. Terry and Jim’s younger sister Ellen is still alive and is very supportive of Marc’s project and has helped by providing additional information for the biography. The service conducted by Stanley Evans and the input by Marc were as always presented in a sensitive and professional manner and all of the family were impressed by the dedication that Mark has displayed in this very important piece of work to record the story of those that made the ultimate sacrifice.
We were moved to hear Ken Sears relate how he was in assembly at BGS when the death of our uncle was announced and the impact that this had on the pupils on learning that a prefect they had known had been killed in action. It brought home the realities of war to those boys.
Our family will continue to support Marc’s research and we look forward to attending next year’s service to hear Marc’s next presentation and I encourage other old boys to attend the service and bring their families to ensure that the memories of those former pupils continues to be recognised and to support Marc’s important and unique research. It is an opportunity to discover a personal insight to the stories of the lives and untimely deaths of the young men who were pupils at BGS. We will remember them.
Greg Barry (1971-1978)