In Memory: a WW1 centenary exhibition

In Memory: a WW1 centenary exhibition

By Cordelia Shorthouse (L6, A) 

During the week before Remembrance Day, Cheltenham College held an exhibition in memory of the Old Cheltonians who died during the Great War. The event marks the third of six annual exhibitions that explore the years 1914-19, with this year’s exhibition focusing on November 1915 – November 1916.

What is so special about this exhibition is the amount of different media used to express the devastating effects of war. The display begins with a black and white film featuring soldiers in the trenches at The Battle of the Somme and information about the fighting at Jutland. There was information discussing the changing warfare and lack of chivalry that came into practice during the First World War, in particular, the evolution of tanks and how such machines so heavily contributed to the devastating numbers who lost their life.

One of the highlights was that an Old Cheltonian had very kindly lent war medals won by other Old Cheltonians and it was fascinating to see these precious items in front of my very eyes. The next room and its contents struck me a great deal: Reverend Reginald, a former Headmaster of College, asked the families of pupils who had died for a photograph of their son as he was compiling a memorial album. He received a staggering 612 photos. Every single image received will be present in the final exhibition as part of what is now called the ‘Growing Wall’. This year the ‘Growing Wall’ showed the photographs of the 411 pupils and two members of staff who had died from the start of the war until 11 November 1916.  To see the smiling faces of these young men in their photos had a deeply saddening impact and made one understand just how many people were killed.

For the first time, pupil artwork was also displayed alongside the original artefacts and photos, which showed current pupils’ responses to the exhibition and the Great War. Ultimately, Cheltenham College’s “In Memory” exhibition was incredibly moving and a fantastic compilation to remember those who lay down their life for their country and their friends.

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