History of deaths of war heroes are revealed at Portsmouth school

MEMORIAL Mayfield School headteacher David Jeapes, centre, with school archivist Gerry Oldfield, and pupils, from left, Katherine Kenward, Cameron Hall, Bethany Grennfell and Phoebe Hollaway, all 15. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123123-1)
MEMORIAL Mayfield School headteacher David Jeapes, centre, with school archivist Gerry Oldfield, and pupils, from left, Katherine Kenward, Cameron Hall, Bethany Grennfell and Phoebe Hollaway, all 15. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123123-1)

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A DOCUMENT has been uncovered which holds the history of a North End school war memorial.

The file contains the names of the 75 former Mayfields School pupils listed on the memorial, as well as personal details and information about their deaths in combat in the Second World War.

Each entry also has pictures of where the men are buried, their junior school, and their father’s occupation.

It was discovered by the school’s archivist, Gerry Oldfield, who is putting together an exhibition of school memorabilia for its 80th anniversary next month.

He said: ‘I found the document lying in a box in the deputy headteacher’s office.

‘No one knew anything about it, and no one has any idea who wrote it.

‘Whoever it was, it is an act of total dedication – a real labour of love.

‘I’m astonished that anyone would go to all that trouble, it’s just incredible.’

Each of the men listed have a heroic tale behind their death, including Pte Robert Edwards Johns who was a paratrooper and died at the age of 16.

Other stories in the document include 21-year-old Sgt Terence Arthur Harold Gough who was a fighter pilot and shot on the first day of the Battle of Britain.

Lt Cyril Tom Blair, who died at the age of 27 on board battlecruiser HMS Repulse during Force Z – when she joined battleship HMS Prince of Wales and four destroyers to intercept the Japanese invasion near Malaya.

David Jeapes, the school’s headteacher, said: ‘It’s humbling to reflect upon the sacrifices these men made for their country.

‘One of the young men was only 16 years old – that’s the same age as some of our students now.

‘To think that some of them were that young and out fighting for us makes me so proud, and it makes me realise just how high a calibre of students we have here at the school.

‘Now their stories have been revealed, we’re going to make sure they’re always remembered.’

The document will be on display at the school’s community open day on October 7 to celebrate its 80th anniversary, alongside an exhibition.

An oak tree will be planted in the grounds by pupils and there will be tours of the school at the event which is on from midday to 3pm.