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Manchester High School for Girls

A Community Remembers

At Manchester High, we have been remembering all those who lost their lives whilst in service to their country this week.  To tie in with our school theme of community, students have been looking at the impact that war had on communities during their assemblies and in particular the devastating repercussions of the Battle of the Somme on the Accrington Pals.

The Pals battalions of World War 1 were specially constituted battalions of the British Army comprising men who had enlisted together with the promise of serving alongside their friends, neighbours and colleagues.  The Accrington Pals from Lancashire consisted of around 800 young men who were virtually obliterated within 20 minutes of taking part in the Battle of the Somme – a tragic shock for their community who lost an entire generation of men in a single day. 

History Teacher, Miss Martin, explains why the focus this week has been on this particular group of young men. “We chose the Accrington Pals because they were similar in size to our own school community which allowed us to pair every student with a soldier from the battalion.” She continued, “students were asked to find out what happened to their given soldier by finding their name on one of the lists pinned up in school.”

Scanning lists in this manner was often how loved ones discovered the fate of their friends and family and it was therefore poignant to see students reading the lists and connecting with their soldier.  Every student was asked to write the name of their soldier on one of three coloured petals, the colour of which represented their destiny – red being killed, berry wounded and purple indicating they became a Prisoner of War.

These petals have now been creatively brought together outside the main school hall by Miss Welsby and Miss Martin to give the illusion of a poppy blowing its petals down the corridor.

They will remain on display for the foreseeable future to commemorate Remembrance Day 2021.