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Commemorating Scotch's World War I sacrifices

Scotch College is planning to commemorate the sacrifices that its Old Boys and staff made during the ‘war to end all wars’.

ABOVE: PART OF THE HONOUR ROLL ON THE EASTERN WALL OF THE MEMORIAL HALL.

LEFT: LIEUTENANT NORMAN GREIG

RIGHT: TURKISH OFFICER ZEKI BEY STANDS NEAR WHERE SCOTCH TEACHER LIEUTENANT NORMAN GREIG WAS KILLED ON 12 JULY 1915. (PHOTO TAKEN IN 1919.)

Next year sees the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign. Many former students and staff of Scotch College contributed to that campaign, as they did throughout World War I.

Eleven Old Boys of the School were killed at the landing on 25 April. Two of the senior commanders at Gallipoli were Scotch Collegians: Brigadiers John Monash (1881) and James McCay (1880), both of whom went on to more senior positions.

Thirty-three Old Scotch Collegians are buried or commemorated on the Gallipoli peninsula. About 40 died either in the fighting or as a result of wounds sustained in the Gallipoli campaign. They were involved in every major operation at Gallipoli, with three killed at Lone Pine and another three dying in the charge at the Nek, which features in the film Gallipoli.

Scotch Collegian J D Burns (1914), who died on the Peninsula, wrote The Bugles of England, a poem which became famous throughout the world. In the remaining three years of the conflict, Scotch Collegians made further great sacrifices. More than 1,200 former students served, at least 215 (and five staff members) were killed, about 200 men were decorated, and Monash rose to command all Australians on the Western Front.

Scotch College will be commemorating the sacrifices that its Old Boys and staff made at Gallipoli and in 1916-1918.

One of its major projects for the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign is the restoration of our beautiful but rather faded Honour Roll on the eastern internal wall of our Memorial Hall. This Honour Roll was erected by the School's Dramatic Society in 1936. The wonderful stained glass windows above it had been unveiled on Armistice (Remembrance) Day in 1930. The Honour Roll stands above the stage in the hall, and is visible to boys at the Assemblies held three times a week, and special annual Assemblies for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.

Unfortunately the 205 names on it are now difficult to read from most seating positions in the Hall. At least 22 Old Boys who were killed in the war are not mentioned there, mainly because their status has been discovered since 1936. The School plans to restore the roll to something approaching its original beauty. We also intend to add the names that were inadvertently left off.

Another project to which the School is committed is the creation of an online database concerning Scotch Collegians who served in World War I. In 2015, entries will be created concerning every Scotch Collegian killed during the war.

We aim to create entries the following year on Scotch Collegians who won honours and awards, and in subsequent years to write entries on the remaining 800 or so Scotchies who served in the war. This will create a permanent record, to which readers from the Scotch and wider communities will be able to offer additional information.

On some of these Old Boys we have a great deal already, while on others only a few details. Where possible we will provide a photograph, and biographical details about each man’s time at Scotch, his service and death.

One example of a person about whom we have a good deal of information is Norman Greig, a teacher at the School who was killed near ‘German Officers’ Trench’, Gallipoli on 12 July 1915, as a 24-year-old lieutenant.

After the war Zeki Bey, the Turk who had been in command there asked Charles Bean, the Australian official historian, about the identity of the ‘very handsome, fair-headed, square shouldered boy and a most gallant officer’ who fought to the death rather than surrender to Bey's men that day. Bean ensured that Greig’s photograph appeared in the official history.

Other School plans for the centenary include a student tour to Gallipoli and the Western Front in September 2015. We intend also to conduct special ceremonies on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. Next year promises to be one of fascinating and moving reflection on the meaning of Gallipoli, and especially the sacrifices of those who fought there.

DR MARK JOHNSTON – HEAD OF HISTORY

Updated: 23 October 2014