Shrewsbury School

BBC 'World War 1 At Home' feature - 'Shrewsbury School: The Teachers Who Went to War'

Monday 4 August 2014

The lives and friendship of two Shrewsbury schoolmasters who fought in the First World War and died within months of one another at the Battle of the Somme are commemorated by BBC Radio Shropshire as part of the BBC's national 'World War 1 At Home' project. 'The Teachers Who Went to War' was broadcast on Radio Shropshire on 4th August 2014, the centenary of the day Britain declared war on Germany.

Evelyn Southwell and Malcom White joined the Classics Faculty at Shrewsbury in 1910. Both were in their twenties and were natural and gifted teachers, warmly respected and admired by their colleagues and pupils alike.

A fellow teacher, Ronnie Knox, said of them: ‘Of the junior masters at Shrewsbury I can honestly say that I never came into contact, in all my life, with a group of minds so original ...  Southwell and White left behind them a language and tradition of the strangest eccentricity and the most penetrating humour.’

Their characters and humour and their deep love of Shrewsbury School are vividly captured in the letters they wrote to each other and to fellow members of staff and pupils. These letters and other writings were published after their deaths by their colleague H.E.E. Howson as ‘Two Men: a memoir’.

The Radio Shropshire feature ‘The Teachers Who Went to War’ includes an interview with Dr Mike Morrogh, recorded last term just before he retired from the History Faculty and as the School Archivist. Extracts from the letters of White and Southwell are read by Rory Fraser and Ralph Wade, both in their final term as students at Shrewsbury. Staff at Radio Shropshire were apparently so struck by how beautifully they read these letters that they decided to extend this particular broadcast to six minutes, rather than the more usual three or four.

You can listen to it via the BBC Radio Shropshire website: Shrewsbury School, Shropshire: The Teachers Who Went to War

This broadcast forms part of the BBC’s ‘World War One At Home’ project, which is gathering together stories from across their network of regional radio and television stations. Each story focuses on a particular place – now including Shrewsbury School – to show how the events of the war affected the lives of individuals living and working there. Around 1400 stories will be broadcast throughout 2014 and thousands more will be published in 2015 and beyond. All the stories are being published online, where they will remain indefinitely as a digital archive.

'Two Men: A Memoir' can be downloaded to read at http://archive.org/details/twomenmemoir00soutuoft

More information about Shrewsbury School during the First World War is available in the Old Salopian section of this website: OS First World War

Some of the photos from the School’s Archives of the period are published in the Summer 2014 edition of The Salopian Magazine. One of these photos, taken on Field Day in 1915 and showing young cadets of the OTC engaged in a mock charge, was re-enacted by current members of Shrewsbury’s CCF last term in memory of the boys and masters who fought and died in the War. The re-enactment and the story behind the original photo have been made into a film by Shrewsbury School TV: CCF cadets re-enact 1915 photo

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