FOR many years, students from Amery Hill School have assisted historian Tony Cross in remembering the casualties of the two world wars who are buried in Alton cemetery.
This year, volunteers from Year 9 cleaned the distinctive Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones and placed a cross of remembrance on each grave ahead of Armistice Day. In doing so, they learned something of the simple design of the headstones and the circumstances associated with the reasons why the men were buried in Alton, rather than on traditional battlefields.
The presence of a First World War memorial plaque on a traditional headstone gave students an insight into the grieving of families who had no burial place for their loved ones.
Other inscriptions on family headstones tell of a young man who perished with the loss of HMS Hampshire in 1916; another who died as a prisoner of war while in captivity in Turkey following the surrender of Kut the same year; and a young man who died on D-Day, June 6, 1944. All of these inscriptions brought home the scattered nature of the losses suffered by Alton’s families in the time of war.
Passers-by were impressed by the selfless actions of the pupils: a notable feature of the school’s community-minded students.
Headteacher Elizabeth Wylie said: “Wearing a poppy is the traditional sign of remembering those who died in the service of our country; giving one’s time to ensure the memory of those who were lost in past conflicts is maintained, is something more pro-active.”