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Knights Templar School, Hertfordshire

Secondary school students mark the Royal Artillery war memorial with SmartWater © Duncan Soar Photography, 2012
Secondary school students at the New Zealand war memorial, London © Duncan Soar photography, 2012
Secondary school students meet War Memorials Trust Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall © Duncan Soar Photography, 2012
  • County name: Hertfordshire
  • Group/School name: Knights Templar School
  • Age group: 11 - 18
  • Group type: Secondary School

Baldock war memorial is at the heart of our town centre, in a prominent position on the high street, and yet, apart from on dates of national remembrance, it is easily overlooked as people go about their busy daily lives.

In 2011, as part of the refurbishment of the town centre, the area around the war memorial was landscaped with a remembrance garden and paved area. Pupils from the Knights Templar School in Baldock researched the Baldock War Memorial and learnt about its history and importance in the local community and the work of War Memorials Trust in protecting war memorials from vandalism and theft.

The project was initiated after a member of public expressed concerns to Hertfordshire County Council about young people skateboarding and riding scooters in the vicinity of the war memorial. As a result of this Ruth Cavender, the Learning Officer from War Memorials Trust, visited our school to give assemblies and remind us of the importance of war memorials. This prompted us to investigate further the history of our local memorial, complementing the work Year 9 are doing in history on World War One, and ‘building a greater understanding of our war memorial heritage’.

Having revisited the history of our local war memorial we were subsequently delighted to be offered the opportunity to take part in the official marking (with SmartWater) of an important Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park by War Memorial Trust’s Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, as part of the project ‘In Memoriam 2014’.

The research we did on the Baldock War Memorial revealed the following:

  • Baldock war memorial was unveiled in February 1921.
  • The inscription on the plaque reads “Our glorious dead, these men of Baldock, gave their lives for freedom in the Great War 1914 – 1919,” followed by the names of those who died during World War I.
  • A second inscription was added after the Second World War and reads “1939 After the Second World War 1945” followed by the names of those who died during World War II.
  • The war memorial consists of 5 plaques inscribed with names on the wall, crowned with a wreath. There are gates nearby. 
  • The plaques hold the names of 79 men, all of whom died in active service during World War I.
  • There are the names of another 34 men who died in active service during the Second World War.

Most of this information came from the internet; however we noted that it was surprisingly difficult to find much information on our local memorial.

Of the 79 names from WW1 and 34 from WW2 (the youngest of whom was 17) many are recognisable local names, including fathers and sons of the same family, still familiar in our local community (and even school community) today. Looking at the war memorial itself, we noted that not only were wreaths laid by community organisations such as the Scout Association and the Rotary Club, but also by individual families, which reminded us movingly that it is a place of private and personal remembrance for individuals and families, as well as for the community. We realised it can stand instead of a grave for those whose relatives were never recovered, which is why war memorials still hold such huge emotional and historical significance.

Having completed this research four students from Years 9 and 12 were lucky enough to attend the official marking of an important Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park by War Memorial Trust’s Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, as part of the project ‘In Memoriam 2014’. This event involved marking the war memorial with SmartWater ourselves and meeting the Duchess, who showed a real interest the history we learn at Knights Templar, especially the work Year Nine have been doing on World War I and what we knew about our local war memorial. Being able to appreciate what we had researched ourselves on a much larger scale, with a larger memorial such as that in Hyde Park, added more weight and significance to our project. We realised looking at war memorials and remembering those who died in our local and wider community makes the history that we learn about at school more relevant, and is a vital part of our national identity. The marking of the Hyde Park memorial with SmartWater is a very topical issue as currently UK war memorials suffer from around one metal theft a week. The copper and bronze stolen has relatively low monetary value but huge emotional and historical significance for both individuals and communities.

As a result of this project next time we walk through the town centre we’ll be sure to stop and remember the 113 names of local men on the Baldock war memorial, who gave their lives fighting for our country. The whole project was altogether very enjoyable and thought provoking, thank you to War Memorials Trust for the opportunity to take part!

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