St John's School in Wartime

A blog about the history of St John's School Leatherhead in wartime and those Old Johnians who served in the First and Second World Wars.

St John’s School, Leatherhead and the Great War 1914-1919

St John’s School, Leatherhead and the Great War 1914-1919, written by school archivist, Sally Todd, and former staff member Neil Pudney, was published by the School on 25 November 2019. The story told in this book is one of bravery and service, of tragedy and loss. Beautifully designed and illustrated, it details the lives of pupils, staff, alumni and the School itself, during one of the most tumultuous periods in modern history.

 All 21 boys who left School at the end of the Summer Term, 1914, enlisted in the armed forces, many foregoing prestigious university places, to serve their country. Of these, nearly half were killed in action. In total, 162 former pupils and staff are known to have died as a result of the war and. Stories of many of these Old Johnians are told in this book, alongside accounts of those who served and survived.

 The impact of the war for those who spent the war years at School in Leatherhead is described and illustrated by first-hand accounts from Old Johnians who were at school during the Great War, and provide a vivid insight into the challenges of daily life of a school in wartime. Food and the lack of it was uppermost in their minds. They describe lessons and learning and the excitement of taking part in or watching the various sports and team games. In addition to their accounts, we relate tales of wartime heroes, including the two OJs who won the Victoria Cross, families who lost loved ones, and the young men who gave up the prospect of a university education to serve their country, only to be killed in action.

 Many of the stories told here are enhanced by brief biographies giving further background information and celebrating the wide range of accomplishments and achievements of these Old Johnians. The memorials dedicated after the war, in memory of those who gave their lives, were designed to ensure that their efforts and sacrifice would never be forgotten. This book is a further tribute to all those Old Johnians who served, died or survived the Great War.