On Sunday 13th November 2022 the College community came together in a moving Remembrance Service, to pay homage to the hundreds of former Framlingham College pupils who lost their lives fighting in war.
The poignant service led by College Chaplain Revd Brynn Bayman, also welcomed Commodore Robert Bellfield as guest speaker, an OF who spoke movingly about the importance of remembering those who fought for our freedoms and learning lessons from wars and conflicts which have preceded us.
The College has over 250 Old Framlinghamians who died in wars. All those attending the service were provided with a poppy, on which the name of one OF who died in battle was written. Every member of the congregation was then invited to lay their poppy on the alter and pay their respects to those who had fallen.
Commodore Robert Bellfield addressed the College community firstly stating what “an immense privilege (it is) to be standing here in the Framlingham College chapel on Remembrance Sunday.”
He recounted his own memories of being a pupil at the College on 4th May 1982, and hearing the news that Royal Navy warship HMS SHEFFIELD had been struck by an Argentine Exocet missile in the Falklands War, losing 20 of her crew as a result. A day which he described “for many in the Armed Forces as a year that will be in their memories forever.”
He told the congregation that “Suddenly, the grim realities of a war being conducted 8,000 miles away, in the South Atlantic, off South America, were brought home to us here in rural Suffolk. Sailors, who only a few weeks before were on a visit to Gibraltar after a major fleet exercise in the Mediterranean – had lost their lives in the tyranny of war. I remember a sombre and reflective mood in the House – war had become a reality for our generation. HMS SHEFFIELD was the first Royal Navy warship to be lost since the second World War.”
He went on to tell the harrowing recollection of the HMS SHEFFIELD tragedy and the loss of his comrades from Able Seaman Chris Purcell – known as Percy – who was a 22 year old Able Seaman Gunner.
He reminded the congregation that for so many of our brave service men and women, constant flashbacks and survivor’s guilt remain with them, as it has done for Percy 40 years later, where not a day goes by without thinking about their experiences and the comrades lost to war, and whom they will never forget.
Commodore Bellfield urged the congregation to consider the importance of service and to be a person who “stands out from the crowd and volunteers for the duty that no one else wants to do” and to “have a sense of duty, think of others and be proud of it.”
He also encouraged College community members to not only reflect upon those who sacrificed their lives for others in war, but to remember those who survived, and those who suffered life-changing injuries, both physical and mental.
He said: “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, was never talked about after the terrible wars of the Twentieth Century and it is only recently, after the traumatic events in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the reality of war and what conflict does to the mind has been understood. I therefore ask you to remember those who lost their lives on active service in all conflicts; right up to the present day, as well as all those who have served, and their families – particularly those who still live with the legacy of war.”
He reminded the congregation to consider the immortal paragraph in the poem ‘For the Fallen’ by Robert Binyon, and during the 2 minutes silence asked those present to pick the name of a fallen OF on their poppy and say “We will Remember Them”.
The Remembrance Service on 13th November was preceded on 11th November by the customary two-minute silence in which our pupils were led out to the front of school at both the Senior and Prep School to honour the two minutes silence and remember those who have lost their lives in battle.
“They shall grow not old, as those who are left grow old: age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”