Bottesford School during World War 1
Recorded in the School Logbook by the Head Teacher
By Sue Middleton
Bottesford Primary School kindly allowed access to the early school log books. These provide a fascinating insight into village life during the 1st and 2nd World Wars. This page gives a transcription of of entries for the 1st World War. We see the gradual mobilisation of the pupils to combat the growing food shortages and in the raising of war funds. We also see only partial recording of ex pupils lost in action in contrast to the detailed record of those ex pupils receiving battle honours.
Mr. Victor Collett was the Head Teacher of Bottesford School (Upper Mixed Department) during the period of the Great War.
The school log book, which dates from January 1901 until September 1928, was kept in great detail by Mr. Collett until September 1920 and then by his successors, Mr. Percy Lockley (until September 1927) and Mr. W. Cox (Head Teacher in September 1928).
Interestingly, as the pupils return to school after the Summer holidays, Mr. Collett does not make any mention of the outbreak of hostilities with Germany on August 4th 1914. Maybe he subscribed to the widely held idea that this would be a very short war and that it would be over by Christmas.
As 1914 drew to a close we see the gradual impact of the conflict on the life of the school. By November the school has begun to help the war effort.
The following entries are listed by year and the spellings and abbreviations are as in the log book.
Nov. 20 The scholars have formed a branch of the “Guild of Young Patriots”. They subscribe towards the purchase of wool, as the girls make body-belts, mittens, scarves and socks, for the sailors and soldiers. They are practising for an entertainment, to be given about Christmas-time, in aid of the funds.
Jan. 11 On January 1st the scholars gave an entertainment in the Schoolroom in connexion with the League of Young Patriots. The financial result has been that five pounds has been handed over to Mrs. Gilman, the local Hon. Treasurer of the British Red Cross Society. The members of the League have subscribed £2.2s.0. in pence towards the purchase of wool, and with the wool bought, they have knitted in school:10 scarves, 10 pairs of men’s socks, 16 pairs of men’s mittens, and 4 body-belts. These are to be sent to the British Red Cross Society.
May 21 This afternoon the scholars held a little Empire Day celebration – the school is to be closed on Monday May 24th – national and patriotic songs were sung and the flag saluted. The school flag will be flown on Monday.
Aug. 31 School re-opened after holidays this morning. Several of the bigger boys absent, by permission, to assist with the harvest.
Sept. 17 On Tuesday afternoon, a Roll of Honour, on which appears the names of ex-scholars who have joined the colours, was put up in the school.
Sept. 24 School closed all next week for potato picking.
Oct. 4 Last Saturday week, school children took part in “Saturday” collection for Dr. Barnardo’s Homes. A sum of £1.15s.11. was collected.
Oct. 15 Head Teacher is arranging for girls to knit garments for soldiers and sailors. Also for a concert and entertainment at Christmas for the Red Cross Society.
Oct. 22 School closed this afternoon for Concert for Red Cross – “Our Day” Effort.
Nov. 2 Ernest Jallands, Driver R.F.A., an old scholar, awarded the D.C.M. and the Russian medal of St. George – arrived home. Presentation to him in school tomorrow (Saty.) evening.
Dec. 16 Collections and subscriptions by scholars has resulted in 10s. being sent to the Overseas Club for Xmas gifts for troops and 5s. to National Egg Collection for wounded soldiers.
Mar. 17 On Monday last, the scholars brought oranges for “Jack’s Orange Day” – a scheme to supply the sailors with fresh fruit and vegetables. A large boxful was sent away.
Mar. 24 Monday last was a day for collecting eggs for the wounded. A total of 144 was obtained.
Mar. 30 School closed this afternoon for a memorial service for Lieut. M. J. Vincent-Jackson, only son of Canon Vincent-Jackson, Rector of Bottesford.
May 12 A collecting-box for Comforts for the Lincolnshire Yeomanry was passed through the school last week. Mrs. Hickson informs the Head Teacher that the box contained 19s.8d when opened.
May 15 Flag Day – in aid of Leicester Military Hospital – realised £5 on Saturday.
May 12 Yesterday (Sunday morning) all the public clock having been put forward in accordance with the Daylight Saving Act, the Sunday School met an hour earlier. This morning the Day School follows this example.
May 24 (Empire Day). A suitable programme of lessons in the early morning and a children’s patriotic display (beginning at 10.45.am) followed. Parents and friends present. A scholar’s collection realised 17s.9d. for the Overseas Club fund for Prisoners of War.
June 5 Saturday was Flag Day for the distressed people of Belgium and our “sellers” realised a sum of £2.13s.3d.
June 26 Saturday last was Alexandra Rose Day, for the Leicester Children’s Hospital and we obtained £6.4s.0d. in Bottesford.
June 29 The collecting box in school for the Prisoners of War (Leicestershire) Fund was handed to Mrs. Hickson today.
July 7 School closed this afternoon for three weeks holiday for the hay harvest.
July 31 School re-opened this morning. During the holiday a Flag Day for the Russian Red Cross Society realised £4.10s.0d.
Aug. 7 School closed this afternoon for a gymkhana to raise funds for Prisoners of War.
Aug. 25 School closed this afternoon for Harvest Holiday, to re-open on Sept.18. Last Saturday’s Flag Day (for comforts for wounded in Leicester War Hospitals) resulted in £3.8s. being forwarded to the Treasurer.
Sept. 26 Flag Day on Saturday last for the Lord Lieutenant’s Fund for Disabled Sailors and Soldiers resulted in £4.4s.4d. being sent to the Fund. It is pleasing to record that quite a large number of our children were usefully employed during the holiday in harvesting operations. Several children have been gleaning.
Oct. 3 War Savings Association.
The Certificate of Affiliation to the National War Savings Committee received today through the Leicester Local Central Committee.
The school was closed from October 9th until November 13th because of outbreaks of whooping cough. The infant school had already been closed from September 29th to October 14th because of the disease.
Nov. 24 The War Savings Association has made good progress. There are now 34 members and 15 Certificates have been purchased.
Dec. 1 A School Collecting Box in aid of a Leicestershire Prisoner of War has during November contributed 3s.11d. to the Local Fund.
Jan. 15 The total amount subscribed to the W.S.A. for the first quarter ending Dec. 31 was £25.7s.6d. and the no. of members 44.
Jan. 26 This week Messrs. H. Lenton and J.L. Ravell have audited the accounts of the Bottesford W.S.A. for the Quarter ending Dec. 31. 1916 and copies of the Return have been posted.
Feb. 16 This has been War Loan Week. A special effort has been made by the School W.S.A. To date, the total number of certificates is 122 and the number of members 78.
Feb. 23 This week, the Head Teacher has, through the scholars, made a special effort to encourage food production in the parish. The parishioners have been informed of arrangements made for the supply of seed potatoes and of arrangements whereby cottagers may help in pig-keeping.
The W.S.A. bought 10 certificates this week.
Mar. 2 A school collecting box made by Mr. G. Norris and Master Bernard Norris and presented to the school by them was used for the first time on Wednesday last. The Collection was in aid of the Fund for Prisoners of War.(Leicester and Leicestershire).
Mar. 16 The W.S.A. purchased 13 Certificates this week.
The School garden class has commenced operations.
Mar. 23 There has been some delay in the formation of the Garden class owing to the uncertainty of several of the bigger boys remaining at school this summer. The Head Teacher has however taken all the Upper Standard boys in demonstration lessons on gardening and hopes to be able to arrange for the exact constitution of the class next week.
April. 5 The total amount of the W.S.A. for the Qtr. Ending Mar.31st was £99.2s. and the no. of members 81.
Apr. 27 A start was made, with the newly registered class, in practical work on Tuesday and Thursday this week in the school garden. There are 14 boys in the class, working in pairs. Owing to the food shortage, the teacher does not propose to set apart a plot for flowers but to devote the flower plot to the cultivation of vegetables. Each of the other plots will include Broad Beans, Potatoes, Cabbages, Dwarf Beans, Carrots, Parsnips and Onions.
May 24 Empire Day. Thursday morning. Our celebration began with the hoisting of the Union Jack on the school flag staff. The Rector – Canon Vincent-Jackson and the Rev. G.L. Bennett attended and both gave addresses to the scholars. The children sang the National Anthem of the Allies and some patriotic songs and two scholars gave patriotic recitations. Later the children marched through the streets singing and returned to the School yard to salute the flag. A Collection was made on behalf of the Overseas Club Tobacco Fund. There was a holiday in the afternoon.
May 29 The sum of 17s.6d. realised from the School Empire Day effort has been sent to the Overseas Tobacco Fund.
Jul. 6 – Jul. 30 was the holiday for the Hay Harvest.
Aug. 24 – Sept. 17 was the Harvest Holiday.
Sept. 21 Arrangements are being made for the children to assist in gathering horse-chestnuts.
Lessons have been given this week on Food Economy and War Savings.
Next week will complete the first year of the School W.S.A. and special efforts are being made to increase the membership.
Lessons have also been given on the filling up of sugar forms.
Sept. 28 The total amount subscribed to the School W.S.A. for the year ending which ended this week was £245.17s.
Oct. 5 The Head Teacher has received a communication from the County Education Office asking for the collection of blackberries by scholars. As the blackberry season here appears to be over, a reply has been sent to the effect that it was not considered worth while to organise such a collection.
A good start has been made this week with the collection of horse-chestnuts.
Oct. 10 School closed this afternoon for children to gather blackberries.
Oct. 11 In spite of bad weather the children gathered twenty-four pounds of blackberries. School closed this afternoon for blackberrying
Oct. 12 Blackberries weighed this morning. Thirty six and a quarter pounds. Both lots sent to Melton Mowbray centre.
Oct. 17 School closed this afternoon for the scholars to gather blackberries.
Oct. 18 Rain yesterday afternoon interfered with blackberry gathering – only four and a half pounds got. School closed this afternoon for the same purpose as the weather appeared more promising.
Oct. 19 Total quantity of blackberries despatched to Melton today 24lbs.11ozs. Total up to date nearly 85 lbs.
Oct. 26 School closed on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for blackberries but owing to the lateness of the season, the children were not able to get any quantity. They were able however to gather more horse chestnuts and a considerable number of acorns. Head Teacher does not propose to continue these holidays further.
Nov. 23 Horse chestnuts sent off last Tuesday. Weight 4cwts. 3qrs. 24lbs.
Jan. 17 War Savings. In response to an enquiry from the Director, we have forwarded to the office particulars of the School W.S.A. These show No. of members of the Assocn.=(84chn + 12 adults) 96. Amount subscribed from beginning. Sept. 30th 1916 to Dec. 31st 1917=£320.1s.6d.
It was found on enquiry that the scholars had not contributed to any other War Fund.
Jan. 24 This week is Nottingham Tank Bank Week. In connection with this the School W.S.A. made a special effort and have been able to purchase 19 Certificates. Number of members is now exactly 100.
Feb. 15 A Note concerning old scholars and the War. The Head Teacher places on record that Sergt. Walter Hardy has been awarded the D.C.M. and Sergt. Chas. Albert Bend a Military Medal. The Rev. Cecil Daybell (another old scholar) is now serving in France as a chaplain to the Forces.
Mar. 8 A special effort has been made this week in connection with the W.S.A. effort.
Mar. 15 The Garden class for 1918 has been constituted and a start made this week. A quantity of school waste paper (2 and a half cwts.) has been forwarded from this school to Melton Mowbray the receiving depot.
April 12 War Savings. From the commencement Sept.30th 1916 to Mch.31st 1918, £440.4s.has been subscribed. No. of members now=117.
Apr 19 A further effort is being made through the school chn. to organise the collection of waste paper.
The Hd. Tch. has again undertaken to organise Flag Day collections for the village this year.
Apr 30 During the month of April the sum of £62.18s. was taken by the W.S.A.
May 10 The Hd. Tchr. Is arranging an appropriate celebration of Empire Day. Last Saturday’s Flag Day realised £4.8s.10d. – in aid of the Wounded Warrior’s Fund of the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
The help of the scholars has been enlisted in the formation of a herb garden and in the collection and drying of useful herbs and wild flowers.
A further organised effort is being made for the collection of waste paper in the village.
May 24 Empire Day was celebrated this morning. At eleven o’clock, the Rev. J. Walford presided and a number of parents and friends were present, and an entertainment of an educational character was given by the children. There was a holiday in the afternoon.
Jul. 5 The school was closed this Friday afternoon for three weeks that the scholars might assist with the hay harvest.
Yesterday July 4th Independents Day was honoured in recognition of the attachment of the United States to the Allied cause. The new American flag was hoisted from the school flag staff.
Aug. 23 School closed this Friday afternoon for three weeks for the harvest Holiday. Hd. Tchr. Is making arrangements for the collection of fruit stones and also for the blackberry “push”.
Sept. 20 Blackberries despatched Wednesday morning 116 and a half lbs. Thursday morning 58lbs. 10ozs.
It is recorded that the school closed for two afternoons a week until the end of October. During that time the total of blackberries picked was 46 stones.
Oct. 4 The school W.S.A. completed two years of working this week. The total amount subscribed is £648.17s.6d. during the last six months the membership has increased from 116 to 127 and the amt. Subscribed is £208.7s.6d.
News has recently been received that a former scholar and pupil teacher Capt. Bernard Ogden has been awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in France. The sad news has also been received that a former scholar and student teacher 2nd Lieut. Albert Asher has been killed in France while gallantly leading his men.
Oct. 18 The Military Medal for gallant service in France has been conferred on two former scholars:-Gunner Robert Mellors R.F.A. and Corporal Herbert Hudson R.F.A. This makes the sixth old scholar decorated for gallantry.
We regret to record the death of another old scholar Sergt. Fred Darby, killed in action in France Sept.30th 1918.
Nov. 8 Head Tchr. Has informed the Office of his endeavours to get 2cwts. of horse chestnuts.
Nov. 15 The news of the signing of the Armistice on Monday morning last reached Bottesford before noon. The Union Jack was hoisted and the children had a half day’s holiday. On Tuesday morning the scholars had an appropriate celebration in school and a holiday in the afternoon.
It is appropriate to record now the details of the influenza epidemic which was just beginning to affect populations in 1918. On November 18th 1918 when the children returned to school after the celebrating of the end of the War, the attendance was ”very , very low” in consequence of many children away suffering from influenza or bad colds. On November 19th, owing to the continued prevalence of influenza, the school was closed. The local Medical Officer of Health advised that it should remain closed until December 9th but on that date, he further advised that the school should remain closed until January 6th 1919.
When the school opened on January 6th, Mr. Collett noted that there had been many cases of influenza in the village and he regretted to say there had been six deaths, including one of the scholars, Doris Johnson of Class 1. He also regretted the death of Mrs. Henry Lenton, one of the School Managers and an auditor of the School W.S.A. from the same cause. January, February and March 1919 saw fluctuations in attendance due to illness and bad weather
Jan. 17 Sergt. Edgar Culpin of Leicester Regt. and a former scholar of this school has been awarded the Military Medal for Services in the Field.
Feb. 14 War Charity entertainment in the evening. Total subscriptions for the W.S.A to the end of January 1919 are £799.13s.
July 18 The Head Tchr has made arrangements for the scholars to participate in the Village Peace day Celebration tomorrow July 19th. The Managers have decided to give the scholars a holiday this Friday afternoon and the whole of next Monday.
The summer holiday in 1919 was also extended by one week, to celebrate the Restoration of Peace.
The entry in the log book for November 14th 1919 states that ” last Tuesday was Armistice Day and the Tchrs. gave special lessons during the morning session referring to the League of Nations and the sacrifices of our Glorious Dead in the War. There was a two minutes pause at 11 o’clock of “Silence” and “Remembrance”. The Rector The Rev. J. Walford gave an address to the chn. at 11.30. and on behalf of the managers gave the scholars a holiday in the afternoon.