May 4, 2020

Remembering VE Day at LP

“Our first thoughts, then, are for those who have fallen and for those who still suffer. Beginning at home we remember over thirty young men who once sat where you now sit, who worked within these walls and played on your playing fields but who will never come here again. They died for great ideals. We remember them and for their sakes we sanctify ourselves, dedicating our lives in the same spirit, with the same courage, with the same hopes. Again, we remember all those thousands like them, all gone except their works, which will live after them only if they live in us.” Powerful words from Edgar Castle, Head of Leighton Park during World War Two, at the Service of Remembrance and Dedication held on VE Day in 1945 in Peckover Hall.

Further on, in words that resonate today, he said ““And we must be encouraged. For if cruelty and greed are not dead, neither are courage, love and generosity. Even amidst the devastations of war these great virtues have shone through the lives of me and women everywhere – over the ocean of darkness and death has flowed an ocean of light and love. Charity, neighbourliness, imagination, intelligence-these are our weapons.”

An anonymous author writes in “The Leightonian” about other events of the day which ended up “By 10.30 there was a marvellous blaze, which along with a few home-made fireworks from the roof of School House which helped the singing develop into a mildly wild sort of merriment, unfortunate only that it knocked the Bursar into a puddle….the number of boys who extended their celebrations to a midnight expedition into Reading has not been estimated.”

Read the text of the service, and the student observations of the day, and more, in the July 1945 edition of The Leightonian 1945_07.

Read more about the fascinating story of Leighton Park during the Second World War in “Great Ideals Reaffirmed: Leighton Park and World War Two” was published by the Archives team. To buy a copy, price £8.50 plus £1.50 UK p & P, email the office.

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