Remembrance Day 2021
Remembering those who have lost their lives – including our own Old Westbournian
When the whole school gathered to observe a minute’s silence on Remembrance Day, Thursday 11 November 2021, we were joined by special guest of honour Mr Ken Organ. His father, Flying Officer Kenneth William Organ, an RAF hero, was also a Westbourne pupil from 1929 to 1934, and lost his life at the age of 24 in the Second World War, dying before his son was born.
At school Kenneth was a key player for the cricket 1st XI. He was by all accounts a conscientious, respectful, thoughtful and helpful pupil – a shining example of our values in action. Indeed, the blazer on display in Junior School reception belonged to Kenneth.
Introduced by our Headmaster, Mr Organ told us how his father enlisted at the age of 19 because: “He couldn’t see his home city suffer such damage and destruction.” On a weather forecasting sortie to gather vital weather intelligence, Kenneth and his crew came back and advised the military to delay D-Day by one day, resulting in saving thousands of lives when the beaches of Normandy were invaded.
His postings included Coastal Command in Scotland; Malta in 1942 with 69 Squadron where he helped to carry out torpedo attacks on Axis shipping and Devon with the 172 Squadron at RAF Chivenor where he carried out anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic. Finally, it was while on weather forecasting duties with 518 Meterological Squadron that his aircraft collided with another in bad weather over the Atlantic. 16 men lost their lives, the youngest just 19 years old.
Mr Organ said: “My father was only 24 and he and the other men never saw the victory which they were fighting for, but I would like to think that they knew that we were going to win – and indeed we did – so we may live in peace and freedom.”
We heard how Westbourne’s boarders were evacuated to the outskirts of Sheffield including Kenneth’s uncle, another Westbournian. Mr Organ laid a wreath, the school’s oldest and youngest pupils laid poppies and trumpet player, Brian Winter played a poignant rendition of the Last Post.
We have also discovered that in 1940 when the Luftwaffe targeted the city during the Sheffield Blitz, part of a house on Westbourne Road took a direct hit – this now belongs to Westbourne pupils, George and Lola Brereton.
In so many powerful ways, the memory remains of the two world wars and those who lost their lives.
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
By Thomas Campbell