Doves are very much associated with peace, but during the Great War many birds, including doves and pigeons, were used to transfer messages from headquarters to the front lines. So it was fitting to create a memorial artwork which featured this bird. The Great War touched virtually everyone not only at this school, but also in other schools across the country. So we felt that the most appropriate way of marking a hundred years since the end of the conflict was to involve every pupil at the school.
Every pupil in the school has written the name of a person who was killed or served in the Great War on a ceramic dove. In some cases this is a family member or family friend, or it is someone who features on their local or the school war memorial. The flock, which numbers around 850 birds, flies from our Remembrance Tree which was planted in 2014, seemingly through the School Chapel
In the Prep School there is also a memorial installation with around 330 doves – one for each Prep pupil and one for every member of staff. The Prep doves are located at the memorial stones, situated between the car park and Lower Prep building, which mark the boundary of the barracks which used to be located on the site at the start of the twentieth century. The doves swoop around the memorial stones and head off towards the town.
Every dove in Ipswich School’s Memorial Artwork features the name, or names, of those who served in the Great War. Individuals were selected by pupils across the Prep and the Senior School and a few of the stories behind them are listed below.
William, John and Samuel Cowell
This Year 11 pupil chose three brothers who appear on the Coggeshall war memorial. William was born in 1889 and was a labourer. He originally tried to enlist in the Suffolk Regiment in 1914, but was turned down on medical grounds only to enlist with the Warwickshire Regiment when they were stationed in Coggeshall in 1915. He was killed in December 1917. The next brother was John who was born in 1893 who was also a labourer. He joined the Essex Regiment and was killed in May 1915 in the Second Battle of Ypres (his body was never found), quite probably from German gas which was used for this first time in this occasion. The younger of the brothers was Samuel, born in 1895, who was a butcher’s labourer. He joined the Essex Regiment in November 1914, but was medically discharged with TB the following year and was to die in Colchester Sanitorium in 1917.
A Year 10 pupil chose Aleksandr Dmitriev, a relative who was born in Poland. Alesandr finished cadet college in Polotsk (Russia) and in 1913 became an ober-officer in the army of the Tsar. During the war he was a signalman, artilleryman and a person responsible for fortifications. He was to die in 1940.
A Year 7 pupil chose her great grandfather, Alexander Eric Morrison who was one of three brothers, the other being Fraser and Henry, all of whom were lieutenants in the Australian infantry. All three served in Gallipoli and later in France. Herbert died of wounds sustained from machine gun fire in August 1918. It was initially thought that Henry died at the same time, but it was later discovered that in fact he had been taken prisoner. Alexander survived the war.
Arthur Reeves was a deeply religious man, a founder member of the village Methodist Church and a gifted organist. When his conscription papers came he was torn between the desire to do his duty and his deep Christian beliefs that it is wrong to kill. He registered as Conscientious Objector but volunteered to go to the front as a stretcher bearer. He refused to carry a gun as he said there was no circumstances where he would ever be willing to take a man’s life. He spent the war carrying injured men from battle fields to field hospitals. He was severely injured after being mustard gassed. He returned home, to the delight of his family but was never able to work again. As a CO he was not entitled to an Army pension and was never well enough to work again. He died some years later from the damage done to his lungs in the trenches.
This pupil chose Sung Ching-lung as the person to put on the doves. Since WW1 did not occur in China, it still left a huge impact on the country. From the research they did recently, they found that China also took part in the war. In 1916, the British Government recruited 21000 labourers to fill the manpower shortage caused by the casualties during WWI, the labourers were formed a number of countries including India, Egypt and China. And Sung Ching-lung was a part of the Chinese Labour Corps. According to Wikipedia, a total of about 140000 Chinese workers served on the Western Front during and after the War. By the end of 1917 there were 54000 Chinese labourers with the British Imperial forces in France and Belgium. The workers helped build munitions depots, supported the frontline troops like unloading ships and repairing road and railways. After the war they also helped to recover bodies of soldiers and cleared the mines. Sung Ching-lung’s cause of death is unknown but many of these workers died from poor diet, the Spanish influenza or were killed while helping the frontline. And those who survived were either transported back to China or stayed in France, Belgium or the UK.
The making of the doves
Each ceramic dove has been handcrafted by Ipswich School’s Art Department. The doves project was also supported by Emma Robertson of EJR Ceramics, a former member of staff in the Ipswich School Art Department. www.ejrceramics.co.uk