Display Reveals Kimbolton's Wartime Role
Eye-catching cabinet houses photographs and artefacts from World Wars I and II.
An eye-catching cabinet housing photographs and artefacts from World Wars I and II has gone on display at our Senior School. The collection is a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives fighting for their country, and an opportunity for pupils, staff and visitors to learn more about the wartime role of Kimbolton Castle, School, and Airfield.
The left hand side of the cabinet consists of World War I photographs and artefacts donated by School staff and families, while the right hand side is devoted to the 379th Bomb Group of the United States Army Air Force, which was based at RAF Kimbolton from 1943 to 1945. Our school is the 379th USAAF Bomb Group Association's official representative in the UK. The display case was made by our own maintenance team, funded by a generous donation from 379th veteran Bill Schlesinger, from Alexandria, USA.
The cabinet's unveiling this month marks 100 years since the end of the Battle of the Somme, on 18 November 1916. At a poignant School assembly to mark the anniversary, Maths Teacher Miss Helen Morrell described how her grandfather, Norman Collins, fought at the Somme as an officer of just 19 years old. She reminded pupils that those who had been on our Third Form Battlefields Trip had visited Newfoundland Park – the very place where Norman helped to capture the German lines.
Miss Morrell read from Norman’s memoir, Last Man Standing, where he describes taking his men over the top: “Men were dropping left and right. I have a vision of a Gordon Highlander pitched forward with his rifle and bayonet onto his knees. Stone dead. I had to keep up a certain bearing in front of the men and if you saw them wandering about … it was the officer’s job to form them into a fighting unit, no matter what regiment they were in. It took your mind off horrible things, knowing your duty.
“For a long time, the period of the war was longer than the next fifty years put together – it was the intensity of it. I have a greater chance of living for a week in my 90s than I did when I was 19. The men who died are soon forgotten by those who were not there, but they are never forgotten by those of us who still remember.”
The display cabinet, containing Norman’s wartime helmet, is now on permanent display next to the History and English classrooms in the Orangery – it’s well worth a visit.