Date Posted... Jun 6th 2024

Marking D-Day 80

June 6th marks 80 years since the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy. D-Day was the largest seaborne invasion in history and, alongside airborne operations, was the turning point towards the liberation of France and Western Europe in World War II.

Assemblies at Prep and the Senior School allowed our pupils to reflect on the magnitude of this historic event. Mr Johnson talked of Cornwall and the South West’s role in the landings, quoting a veteran from Plymouth, Bill Johnstone, who was 21 at the time of D-Day. He said, “You did what you had to do, and when the day arrived that was what it was like, and you did it.”

Mr Johnson went on to reflect on the courage needed to face such adversity and asked, “When it truly matters for your friends, for our School, for the communities we are part of, or for the society in which we belong, do we individually and collectively have the courage to look beyond ourselves?” He encouraged our School community to find a balance between collective needs and individual wants and encouraged discussion around this in lessons throughout the week.

At Prep, Rev Helen also looked at Cornwall’s role in D-Day and how Trebah, Turnaware and Falmouth were three important beaches and coastal areas involved in supporting the troops on their historic departure to Normandy. She noted, “It is fitting perhaps that Cornwall played such a key role in the multi-national effort that was D-Day, because it embodied in a powerful sense our Cornish commitment to ‘One and All’. She reminded pupils that, by working together, we can achieve incredible things.

The Assembly finished with Rev Helen asking our School Community to always strive to remember those who fought and died for us and to honour their memory and sacrifice, before leading a prayer and a minute’s silence.

In lessons, our 3rd Year historians have been studying World War II and today looked at sources to help them to better understand D-Day. From veteran accounts and reconstructions, it was wonderful to witness the palpable respect that these young people showed for our D-Day veterans as they better understood the very harsh realities of the war.

Our lucky 1st Years were treated to a visit from Mrs Jobling, whose grandfather, Philip J Wagener, served as a Private First Class in the 175th Infantry Regiment in the US Army. His regiment played a crucial role in the Omaha Beach landing, one of the most fierce and bloody battles on the 6th of June 1944. Sadly, Philip died in a military hospital a few weeks after D-Day and was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, which recognises commendable action for those wounded or killed in combat.

Mrs Jobling brought in the medal for our pupils to see, alongside maps and books from Normandy. It was a truly humbling and special moment as our pupils once again reflected on the bravery and courage shown on D-Day by the Allied Forces, some of whom were the same age as our Sixth Formers when they went to war.