The FiveVictoria Crosses of Bromsgrove School
I am delighted to be able to present here a small part of Nicholas Lovell's new publication, "VCs of Bromsgrove School." Mr. Lovell has given me permission to present his General Introduction together with an "Internet Edition" of one of the chapters and a special summary of another. The publication itself is available from Mr. Lovell at the school - price £3.99 + p&p. Follow the link to the Bromsgrove School Web-site at the bottom of any of my "Bromsgrove School VC " pages to find the email link to contact the school about ordering a copy.
The idea for this publication came to me during a visit to the Coldstream Guards Museum, on the Scottish border. At this Regimental Museum the visitor is informed that the Coldstream Guards, whose motto is 'Second to None', have won thirteen Victoria Crosses. This is a significant achievement when one considers that since the introduction of the medal in 1856 only thirteen hundred have been awarded. However, this statistic brought into focus for me the significance of the number of Victoria Crosses won by Old Bromsgrovians. The fact that former members of the School have won five V.C.s is clearly a magnificent achievement. Certainly the number is fewer than the Coldstream Guards', but this is one of the premier regiments in the British Army and the crack troops of guards regiments have been involved in almost every major campaign of the past one hundred and forty years. The number of men who have fought in the Coldstream Guards during this time must number tens of thousands. On the other hand, in the latter half of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries, Bromsgrove School, like many of the other public schools of the time, only had at most a couple of hundred pupils in any one year.
The Victoria Cross is the highest award for bravery in battle. The medal has been, and indeed still is, only awarded for exceptional courage displayed by members of the armed forces. Many recipients of the V.C. have had it awarded posthumously. Those who have lived to receive their V.C. from the reigning monarch have passed the remainder of their lives as members of a very special, almost revered group. The recipients of no other medal in the world excite as much interest from military historians as do winners of the Victoria Cross. Indeed, to this day files are kept at the National Army Museum on all the soldiers, sailors and airmen who has won the award, and these files are updated monthly. Any new information about the recipients, as well as articles, pictures or information as to the whereabouts of the medal itself are included.
The Victoria Cross is one of the most valuable medals in the world. This is not for the value of the metal from which it is made; indeed it is nothing but a bit of bronze attached to a dark red ribbon. The Victoria Cross is valuable for what it represents: each is a unique piece of military history and, when occasionally they are sold by collectors or by families desperate for money, their value is measured in tens of thousands of pounds.
Many V.C.s have been won by people who have given their lives to save others or have been so reckless with their lives that by any reasonable odds they should have lost them. This is the special appeal of the V.C. winner to me, and as a schoolmaster that is why I seek to tell my pupils about those from the School who have won them; I believe that people need their heroes and heroines. Sadly, this is an unfashionable idea and few of our present pupils know much about those Old Bromsgrovians who won the award. However, a knowledge of the history of the School and the achievements of its former pupils is instrumental in promoting high standards from current pupils and instilling a sense of pride in the School. A good school is instrumental in forming the values and beliefs of its pupils: it is therefore, in some small part, a school's achievement if one its former pupils wins the Victoria Cross.
This publication is an attempt to inform pupils (past and present) and interested members of the public about the circumstances in which five Old Bromsgrovians won this very special medal. Bromsgrove School is probably unique in that it possesses the V.C. of one of its former pupils, that of Captain Eustace Jotham. Few other public schools can claim to have had five former pupils who went on to win the Victoria Cross.
Copyright September, 1996. Nicholas Lovell
The five Bromsgrove School VCs are:
Lieutenant Commander Percy Dean
Captain Eustace Jotham (Summary Article)
Sergeant Nigel Leakey
Second Lieutenant Frank Wearne (Full article)
Field Marshal Sir George White
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