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Remembering WW1 - a very special visitor comes to Gateway

Remembering WW1 and the soldiers who left  Great Missenden, lay down their lives so that we might live. 

Some quotes from Year Six 

‘Incredible! I never knew the kit weighed so much!’ Tom St Clair B

‘Holding a fake grenade and seeing the Enfield rifle was amazing!’ Will S

All the children at Gateway were surprised to see our visitor, Mr Mark Smith, dressed in his great grandfather’s uniform, complete with kit bag. 

Mark told us how he has been researching his family history and discovered his great grandfather lived in a cottage just behind St Andrew’s bookshop, in the village. 

The whole school assembly and presentation to Year Six, was both fascinating and sad. Mark’s great grandfather, ‘Joe’ Wilson was one of the men who was killed in action. 

Last Monday was exactly 100 years since he lost his life. 

Listening to the story of how Joe had enlisted into the 2nd Battalion, Oxford/Bucks Light Infantry, trained and been sent to the Western Front, was fascinating. 

We read extracts from his letters home. Messages full of love and encouragement. He very much missed his wife and two children, Rosa and George.  There were photos of the regiment trooping through the snow and images that captured the harsh reality of war and life in the trenches. 

Some Year Six children were fortunate enough to try on some parts of the uniform but everyone looked with intrigue at the Enfield 303 rifle- now decommissioned. 

Joe died 8th October, 1918 and his name is inscribed on the village war memorial in the High St. We now know the poignant story behind the name.  He saved the life of an officer but sadly six months before the end of war, he was killed by an enemy fire and explosion, in the trenches. 

It was a memorable assembly and talk which the children enjoyed listening to. 

Mark is a medical researcher at Keele University but he has helped a local historian, Jill Robertson, write a book about the thirty nine men from Great Missenden. 

Millions of men died in World War One but through Monday’s assembly and workshop, their memory will live on. 

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