Letters to the teacher from the frontline

Wellingborough launch of book about old grammar school: l-r John Garley, with authors Graham & David Tall.'11/12/12
Wellingborough launch of book about old grammar school: l-r John Garley, with authors Graham & David Tall.'11/12/12
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Letters written to Wellingborough Grammar School’s headmaster and his staff during the war years have been turned into a new book.

Former pupils, brothers David and Graham Tall, recently launched Mr Woolley and the War Years, which is a follow-up to their 2006 book, Memories of Wellingborough Grammar School.

The second book provides the full text of letters sent from old pupils to the school, which is now Wrenn School, during the war years.

Graham Tall said: “At the book launch for Memories of Wellingborough Grammar School in 2006 we discovered that the Wrenn School still had letters written to Mr Woolley and his staff during the war years. Mr Woolley and the War Years focuses on the story of the second headmaster, Mr Woolley, and what happened to the school in the war years. It begins in 1937 when Mr Woolley came to the school and the difficulties that he faced as his staff, and later his senior prefects, were called up for the war effort while the school contended with two successive waves of evacuees and a regular turnover of teachers. He appointed ‘lady masters’ for the first time and kept the school going with male teachers who were either too old or unfit for duty.

“The story is told against the background of the evolving stages of the war, as our old boys joined the forces and fought on the sea, in the air, and on the land, in Norway, on the continent at Dunkirk, in North Africa, in the Mediterranean and in the Far East, through D-day, and the atom bomb in Japan. It stands as a memorial for our boys, who defended our nation, giving details of their valour.

“The letters illustrate the long training and waiting times. Some are a guidebook of places visited. Some are dry, matter of fact, statements. Many illustrate the boys’ love for their school and indicate how Mr Woolley wrote to them. Finally, they demonstrate the loss, love, and faith of the parents of the boys who died.”

Copies of the book are available to buy from Wellingborough Museum and the Old Grammarians Club in Oxford Street.