The former Fonthill School saw many of its former pupils and staff go to fight in World War I. Indeed, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Fonthill School was renowned for preparing young men for officer service in the Royal Navy and Army. Of those who responded to the call, over sixty died. The youngest of these was Midshipman Vernon Hector Corbyn who was only 16 years old when he died in the first September of the war. The majority were young men in their late teens and early twenties, volunteering straight from their senior schools or universities, taking up junior officer positions. As Armistice Day approaches, we remember all those who served.

As part of the WW1 centenary commemorations, the Imperial War Museum (IWM) asked the public to contribute to a permanent digital memorial of all who served.  Using our archives, including never before published photographs, Ann Hacke – an IWM volunteer and former Foundation Trustee – created a community for Fonthill, the result of several years of detective work in some cases to identify photographs and personal details.

Ann’s research led to other discoveries: this included reuniting a long-lost personal photograph album with the family of a dead soldier and the reuniting of two individual memorials, which once hung in the school chapel, with their families. One of these was a memorial in honour of Second Lieutenant Michael Arthur Raymond Barthorp. Michael’s memorial was rededicated and placed in the regimental chapel of Michael’s Northamptonshire Regiment at Holy Sepulchre Church, Northampton, where a memorial to Michael’s own father already rests. At the rededication, the obituary originally published by Fonthill School was read aloud.

You can access the Fonthill School Lives Community here.