The Ryleys honours past pupils who fought and died in WW1

This week, as the country marks 100 years since the end of the First World War, The Ryleys School remembers its ex-pupils who fought and died in the two world wars, including Lieutenant Colonel Wilfrith Elstob who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.

Elstob, who attended The Ryleys from 1895 to 1898 served with the Manchester Regiment from 1914 to the day he died in 1918. Over the years, pupils have enjoyed researching about Elstob's life.

There has been a great deal of research documented on him, including the last few hours of his life and it's said that Elstob had assured the Manchester Brigade Commander that "the Manchester Regiment will defend Manchester Hill to the last." He maintained to the end the duty which he impressed on his men, saying, "Here we fight and here we die." One survivor said that last words Elstob used to him were "Tell the men not to lose heart. Fight On!" In the final minutes of his life, a last assault was made by the enemy who called on Elstob to surrender, he replied "Never" and was killed.

Elstob's words are remembered every day at The Ryleys School as a mural stands within the dining room for all the children to see with the words "Here We Fight and Here We Die," painted onto the wall. The school named its four houses after war heroes, including Elstob, along with three other men, Waterhouse, Hoyle and Wilson.

This week, the school received a visit from Paul Lee, a representative of Memorials To Valour, an organisation who are documenting all of the 628 men who were awarded the Victoria Cross throughout the Commonwealth. Mr Lee took a photograph of the mural and beam with Elstob's name on it so that he can include it into a book of remembrance for all the men who were awarded the Victoria Cross.

In lessons, the children have been making poppies and learning the song 'Jerusalem' to sing in Friday's assembly. In the assembly, a pupil will play The Last Post on the trumpet and the whole school will hear the names of the 42 ex-pupils who fought and died for their country.

"As Memorials to Valour, our mission is to record all memorials to all Victoria Cross recipients worldwide and we were delighted to witness how The Ryleys remembers its former pupils and to hear that every November the school has its own Remembrance Service when the names of 21 former fallen pupils are read out from the First World War.

Paul Lee of Memorial in Valour said: "Wilfrith will be commemorated in Chichester, his birthplace, on 11 November with a commemorative VC paving stone which one of our team will be attending. Memorials to Valour will be honoured to supply photos of this unveiling to The Ryleys.

"It is our belief that Wilfrith would be very proud that he and his fellow fallen pupils will never be forgotten. It was very evident that The Ryleys do care and remember and we commend you for that."

Headteacher, Mrs Julia Langford, added: "Each year on the Friday before Remembrance Sunday, the school comes together for a special assembly. It's a moving occasion where I read all 42 names of ex-pupils who served in wars. Many of the children may be too young to understand the full impact of what these men did for their country but as they progress through the school as a Rylesian, they will take with them the pride of being part of the school's history."

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