Remember Him at the Altar

Bloxham School and the Great War

Matthew Dixon, Simon Batten

The stories of 80 men from a small school in Oxfordshire who fell in the Great War, and of the impact of the war on the school.
Date Published :
August 2022
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
106 b/w & 8 color photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781915113641
Pages : 236
Dimensions : 9.75 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : Available


On 22 July 1916 Lieutenant Arthur Stevens of the 9th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, sat down to write a letter to the chaplain of his old school, Bloxham School in Oxfordshire. Informing him of the death of Gordon Peecock, an officer in the same battalion as well as a contemporary at Bloxham, he had a favor to ask of the Rev. Hugh Willimott: ‘As his closest friend out here, I would like to ask you to remember him at the altar.’ Peecock was killed by machine gun fire coming from Prussian positions to the North of Ovillers on 7 July, a week into the Battle of the Somme. By the time the school received Stevens’ letter the summer holidays had begun, and so it was not until the first Saturday of term in September that Gordon Peecock’s name was remembered in the school chapel, and by this time Arthur Stevens too was dead, killed in early August at Pozières, a couple of miles away from where Gordon was killed. Arthur Stevens was 19 years of age.

Taking one small boarding school in rural Oxfordshire, this book tells the story of the 80 Bloxhamists who died in the Great War, tracing their lives from school to the grave, but it also examines the experiences of those who served and survived and looks at the way in which the lives of those at home were affected by the war. The authors take the story up to the present day to study the way in which the remembrance of those who fell has changed over the years, and what these changes tell us about how we view the war.

The two authors are uniquely well qualified to tackle this subject, having dedicated many years to researching the lives of the men whose stories form the centerpiece of this book. This research project, often a long and difficult process, is itself part of the story of how the 80 men continue to be commemorated at their old school.

About The Author

Matt Dixon is a second generation Old Bloxhamist and has a degree in Modern Languages from Birmingham University. Having a lifelong interest in the Great War, he is a battlefield guide, researcher and genealogist, and runs a successful Great War podcast. His passion is the lesser-known 1915 battles in Artois. He is married with two children and lives in Reading.

Simon Batten studied Modern History at Jesus College, Oxford, where the experience of studying under Sir Michael Howard inspired him to pursue his interest in military history. He has taught History at Bloxham School since 1985 and is also the school archivist; he also coaches rugby. Simon has conducted numerous battlefield tours and has written articles on British commanders in the First World War, as well as lecturing on the subject. His twin interests in sports coaching and military history has led to a fascination with the question of how armies learn from their experiences and how they prepare for war. He is the author of A Shining Light (2010).

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