The last 1st XV before war broke out, all of whom served. Those circled were KIA.

Last night I went to the boy’s school to watch a performance of Journey’s End, the play by RC Sherriff set in the trenches in 1918, (oddly enough, in the same area where my great grandfather died, somewhat carelessly, only a month before the Armistice). Sherriff himself served on the Western Front at Vimy Ridge, Ypres and Loos.

The play was all the more meaningful given it was performed by boys the same age as those in the picture above and, because of the medium. We are so digitised in today’s life that when emotive stories are passed through the oral tradition the impact is all the more powerful. Some 725 former pupils and teachers of the school didn’t come home.

That the Great War is so deeply embedded in the nations DNA is clear but also puzzling in some ways, given just about every vestige of post Edwardian life has long since been abandoned. Perhaps we are all drawn to remembrance exactly because it remains one of the few collective high ideals we have along with, perhaps, the monarchy.

It was a sombre and stark way to begin the week of remembrance.