From the classroom to the trenches - The Solihull Observer

From the classroom to the trenches

Solihull Editorial 29th Dec, 2014 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016   0

STORIES of sons, fathers and brothers who served, fought and died in World War One have been shared throughout 2014 in the news and within communities as the 100th anniversary since the outbreak of the war was marked.

Families and historians have been researching the names men, and boys, who appear on memorials in communities and the names which have been mentioned by families over the years.

But it was the stories of former Solihull School boys and teachers which inspired John Loynton to put pen to paper and write a book dedicated to pupils who served in the trenches.

There were just 200 pupils at Solihull School during this time and three teachers were also killed during the war and several others fought and returned.

“It started when the headteacher asked me to write a story for the school magazine to commemorate the start of World War One but one thing lead to another and I found myself with enough information to write book on the soldiers from the school.” John explained.

“I found what the boys had got up to at school in the years before they signed up from where they came in sports day to if they played on the football team.

“It made their stories come to life and make the soldiers seem more human and the more I got to know them the more I had to find out about them.”

However, the information the 65-year-old gathered was more than enough to write the article which was first put to him and he approached the Headteacher to help turn Solihull School During the First World War into a book which he accepted.

Over the next few months John found out more about those from the Warwick Road who enlisted and sailed across the seas to France.

John has been able to write biographies for 52 of the 55 Solihull pupils were killed during World War One through his research.

Through his research, John discovered that war memorial at Solihull School is missing five of the names, which was largely due to the fact that media reports at the time weren’t accurate. Those too young to fight heard about news from the front in School Assembly including the deaths of 22 of the 55 in battles including at Ypres and The Somme.

John said: “To be able to produce this history was not only a privilege but quite an emotional and humbling experience, as the life and times of Silhillians from 100 years ago emerged from the pages of the available records.

“What stands out is that they were a generation that had to face the ultimate, unimaginable horror of war and responded with courage, dignity and spirited determination.”

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