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Old Ipswichians in the War

2019 is the 80th anniversary of the start of World War Two and the 75th Anniversary of “D” Day and it therefore seems appropriate to mark these dates by recording the bravery and service of some of those former pupils who fought during the conflict. Men who walked where you walked, sit where you sat and were Old Ipswichians as you are.

686 served, 63 were killed and 43 OIs were Prisoners of War. 121 decorations were awarded and it is perhaps inevitable that the exploits of those who received them will be given some priority.

Lt. John Low, at School from 1922 to 1925, served on HMS Unity, a U Class submarine which sank after a collision off the Tyne Estuary in April 1940. He was posthumously awarded the George Cross for extreme gallantry when he remained behind in the Control Room after the order to abandon ship was given. He calmly assisted all other members of the crew to escape but did not survive himself.

Another naval Officer, Lt. Commander Maurice Griffiths, at School from 1911 to 1918, was awarded the George Medal in 1941 for “his gallantry and

undaunted devotion to duty” in trawling for mines in the North Sea and de-activating parachute mines at the London Docks during the Blitz.

Crelin “Bogle” Bodie was at the School from 1930 to 1938 and was a member of the famous unbeaten 1937 rugby team. He volunteered on a short service commission as a Flight Lt. and became a spitfire pilot. He was posted to 66 Squadron at Duxford in May 1940 and features in the book “Aces High” which is a tribute to the most notable fighter pilots of the War.

He featured in the Battle of Britain with 5 enemy destroyed and 5 shared with a further 8 probables and 2 shared. In September 1940, his Spitfire was shot up and he belly landed in a soft field. He was awarded the DFC in November 1940 and his medal was later presented to the School by his parents. He wrote of his exploits at the time in a book entitled “10 Fighter Boys” and, on flying home after a mission, he mused, on looking down at the villages below him: “I hope the “all clear” had gone. I was tired. I’d done my best for them.” He was killed in a flying accident in February 1942, still aged only 21.

Captain Henry Warner was at School from 1923 to 1930. He joined the Territorial Army and from there moved into the Royal Artillery and was subsequently posted to France. Henry was rescued by one of the “Small Ships” from Dunkirk in 1940. He then served in Italy and, during fighting, he was directing gunfire with his walkie-talkie from a shell hole near a farmhouse under attack from the enemy who were close by.

He gave the unconventional order: “From my location 10 rounds gunfire”. The order was queried as the landing area of the shells was perilously close to his position. He repeated the order and the subsequent gunfire caused the enemy to go to ground. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the citation stressed that his courage, determination and personal example contributed in great measure to the complete defeat of all enemy counter-attacks. It is believed that he was considered for the award of the Victoria Cross. Later in the war he came across a Concentration Camp in Austria and was approached by a skeletal figure who asked him: “Are you an Angel?” He turned to his companion and remarked : “It makes it all seem worthwhile”.

We will remember them.

  • With thanks to Alan Wyatt, OI
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