WWI Zeppelin Commemoration 1917-2017
On 19th October 2017, our Year 4 pupils took part in the commemoration of the Zeppelin raid on Northampton one hundred years ago. This civic event organised by the Mayor of Northampton was especially important to us because two victims of that raid Lily and Gladys Gammons were pupils of our school. Indeed, there is a plaque at the front of our new school declaring their school mates great sadness at their death in the air raid of 1917.
Researching the History
The children researched the events of that night from newspaper reports at the time and by interviewing the great great grandson of one of the victims who still lives in Northampton.
The Northamptonshire Independent reported in 1917:
“The bed was set on fire. Mrs Gammons was severely injured and burned and died in a few minutes and the children were so severely burned that the heroic rescue by a private soldier availed not in saving their lives.
The soldier - Private A.E. Bazeley who was on leave and was sleeping with his wife and two children in the front bedroom of the house which was struck - acted in a manner beyond all praise. Hearing the explosion he rushed into the burning room and rescued first Lily then Gladys whom he handed out of the window of his own room to neighbours in the street below. Seeing that his mother-in-law was beyond human aid he next placed his children and his wife in a place of safety. Not till then did he leave the house. He jumped through the open bedroom window into the street below, secured help, and most gallantly forced his way back into the house and with buckets of water extinguished the flames. His gallantry will we hope meet with the recognition it so thoroughly deserves.”
In our RE lessons we have been looking at what peace means to people of different religions around the world. We have found that it does not matter what is the colour of your skin, where your parents were born, or what religion you follow, to live in peace and harmony with others is valued by everyone.
When Lily and Gladys attended our school 100 years ago, almost all the children would have been born in St James and they would all speak English. We are pretty certain that in their prayers they would all have been praying for peace and an end to the First World War.
Today at St James, we have children from all over the world who speak more than 44 different languages in their home. However, we all still wish and pray for peace in our world.
On the morning of the 100 year anniversary, our school councillors went to Dallington Cemetery and laid a bouquet of paper flowers that we had made on the Gammon’s family grave. On each petal we wrote the word for peace in a different language spoken at home by our children in Year 4.
After a commemorative plaque was unveiled at the newly renamed Gammons Square in St James, the children brought the ceremony to a cheerful end as they led the community in singing World War One favourites of ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ and ‘Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag’.