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Willenhall Road School boys on a canal barge trip in 1926

Willenhall Road School boys on a canal barge trip in 1926

Willenhall Road Board School, which later became Willenhall Road Senior Girls and Boys Schools, is the predecessor of the present Deansfield High School, in Deans Road, Heath Town. There are two log books available for this school for the First World War period, one for the Boys School and one for the Girls School.

Express and Star report on the Canal barge trip 1926

Express and Star report on the Canal barge trip 1926

The Boys School log book talks of the war very regularly, and from quite early on. Already on 30 September 1914, the book states that “A form of prayers, to be used in time of war, sent by the education committee…will be read today & in future, in addition with the usual prayers.” A number of the male members of staff are recruited into the army. A Mr David, who joined in December 1914, on 29 September 1915 “paid us a visit this morning while home on leave.” On 4 February 1915, “Mr A. J. Hill, a senior assistant, left school this afternoon in order to join the army.” By 17 January 1916, he is known as “Sergeant Hill”. There is also a note on 31 January 1919 that Mr Hill, “who has returned from the army, will resume duty on Monday next.” He later became Headmaster of the school. Finally, there is a Mr Guest who, on 16 November 1915, was “given permission to leave at 2.30 to go to the ‘Recruiting office’.” By 31 March 1916, “Mr Guest left today: ‘called for service’: this teacher makes the third from this department who has left to join the army.” Mr Guest also returned to his duties on 10 February 1919. There appears to be no further record of Mr David.

Fund-raising activities for the war are also organised within the school, such as on 21 October 1918, when “Great efforts are being made this week to get as many ‘War Loans’ brought as possible, in view of ‘Feed-the-Guns’ week, which is fixed for next week.” Unfortunately, the war also affects the school in other ways, as on 29 September 1916 Miss Holland “received [news] that one of her brothers had been killed at the front.”

The Girls School log book contains much less detail about the war. Other than two notes on 11 October 1915 and again on 31 January 1918 stating that “the schools are to be closed tomorrow (Tuesday) & on Wednesday, in order that the teachers may assist in completion of military forms.”, there is no mention of events on the continent.

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