When art, history and life collide

When I visited the IWM for Truth and Memory, the first painting was a traditional depiction of war: Defeat of the Prussian Guard

This is the Defeat of the Prussian Guard, Ypres 1914 by William Barnes Wollen.  It shows the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry fighting the Prussian Guard at the Battle of Nonne Bosschen on 11 November 1914.

At the time, I realised that one of my ancestors may well have been in this battle as he was in this battalion.  The coincidences with this painting are connected to my weekend trip to Ypres with our History Faculty.  We took 45 Year 9 students to Ypres for a whistle-stop tour of battlefields and war cemeteries and it was an incredible experience.  The students were so receptive to what we were sharing with them and behaved in the most respectful manner.

For me, it was particularly poignant as my ancestor is remembered at Tyne Cot, and this was on our iDSCN2766tinerary.  As a school, we wished to lay a wreath and it was decided that we should do this at the plaque where Spencer Salter Sturdy is remembered.  DSCN2764I told the story of the battle of his last day and challenged the students to find his name.  The way in which they did this was incredible.  Bringing the personal into a conflict that, to them, is so long ago, shows how important it is to keep the memories of what occurred alive and relevant in the present day. The students observed a two minute silence and it was very moving to be a part of this.

To have been able to visit Ypres was really special and to have been able to link my two loves: art and history was a genuine joy.


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