Marjon remembers

marjon remembranceDuring the Great War over 2,000 men who trained as teachers at St Mark or St John served in the Armed Forces. At the latest count 194 died either in the War or as a result of the War.

Our alumni served in every theatre of the war, the majority experiencing the horrors of the Western Front and seeing action in major battles such as Arras, Ypres and The Somme. Many alumni served in the Middlesex Regiment and saw service in India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Palestine and experienced a different kind of warfare where the largest cause of death was disease.  A small number transferred into the Imperial Camel Corps and were involved in long range desert work.

Several alumni were taken prisoner after the fall of Kut and suffered very badly. A small percentage of our men served in the Royal Navy and the Royal Flying Corps. This was a time when service was expected. Owing to their education and leadership skills many Marjon alumni were to be commissioned as junior officers.

Our alumni were awarded a great many honours for bravery and we can be proud of over 60 Military Cross (MC) winners. Whilst not every teacher was in the National Union Teachers (NUT) their records show that 231 of their members received the Military Cross and our teachers accounted for nearly 25% of that figure. One achieved the Military Cross on three occasions; he was Captain Harold Arthur REDDING M.C And 2 bars.

Harold REDDING was born in 1888 in Waltham St Lawrence, Berkshire. His father was a Head Teacher and Harold trained as a teacher at St Mark’s between 1914 and 1916. Like the majority of the Year he had enlisted in the Middlesex Regiment before receiving a commission in the Suffolk Regiment.  His awards were posted in the London Gazette and the citations are listed below.

harold redding military cross

Our fallen heroes are buried or commemorated in a dozen different countries as well as on local memorials. The Marjon war memorial lists their names in tribute. Ongoing research has identified the following names that are not listed on our Memorials and we will remember them with a new dedication this year.

  • George CLEMENTSON
  • Thomas Bell INGLIS
  • William George Kenneth TITE
  • James Gordon SHARP
  • Charles Archibald VORLEY
  • Henry Hope HUNT
  • Howard John MEE
  • Geoffrey Charles FOSTER
  • Herbert John Clark WADE
  • Grosvenor Frederick WOOD

Here is a snapshot of some of the stories I have uncovered:

Sir Lewis Tomas CASSON –actor and husband of Dame Sybil THORNDIKE, MC won on the Western Front for work with Chemical Warfare (Gas).

Sidney Frank FOOKS – originally served in the 12th London Regiment but transferred to the Royal Air Corps and later the Royal Air Force and rose to the rank of Captain. This unsung hero never spoke of his war exploits and lived to the grand old age of 103,  MC won for action on the Western Front.

2nd Lieutenant William James FIELD MC did not live to receive the award. The award was presented to his father by General Lee publicly in the presence of the Mayor and people of Beccles, Suffolk in 1916.

Harold Mynett GLASTONBURY served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Rifles. In 1913 he married Irene L. Jennings. She was the sister of another St Mark man; Reginald John JENNINGS. Both men were in the same year at College and joined the 18th London Regiment together.  In 1915 both men were sent to France. Irene received the news that her brother had been killed on 25th September, 1915 within a year she received another telegram informing her that her husband had been killed on 1st July, 1916.

Every soldier had his own story, mostly only known by family and friends, nearly all forgotten. Plymouth Marjon University will hold a World War 1 Remembrance Event on Friday 9 November with a short service in The Chapel and acting students reading letters from Marjon alumni who served in WW1.


About the guest blogger: Christopher Elliott formerly worked at Marjon’s Starbucks and is now volunteer war researcher at Marjon Archive.

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One comment

  1. Excellent and important research here by a person who has valuable skills and experience and makes it all look easy. The piece also suggests the richness of the Marjon Archive and of the distinguished history of the College(s) and their alumni. Congratulations and please keep up the good work.

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