HEADMASTER'S LETTER by J.R.F.
It is good to be in print again! In Downhills, just as in Fleet Street, two things
will help to ensure the continued production of a magazine - its quality and the
loyalty of its readers. I am sure you will agree that this issue is solid evidence
of an improvement in quality, and when I recall that our last duplicated edition
was sold out, I have no doubts about the loyalty of the readers. Of course, the
potential business men among us will hasten to remind me that I should also have
related success to economics, but, the enterprise of our Printing Club has made
such a reference unnecessary, since their labour and enthusiasm have cut our costs
to a minimum and enabled us to publish this new edition at a rock bottom price of
one shilling! I am greatly heartened, then, when I think that this measure of
success which we have achieved is the result of hard work, devotion and enthusiasm
on the part of many people.
I congratulate you all on the magazine and look forward with confidence to its
EDITORIAL by A.J.S.
The poor editor, who happens to be the poor printer, too, begs his readers' indulgence
for the many shortcomings of this, his first venture into the printed book.
However, there have been many school activities which have been far from amateurish.
Most recent is the success we have had in local athletics. It is good to note that
in the year in which the 'Spurs made the "Double," we made our own double - our
boys and girls won their respective local championships. Moreover, we set up new
records in the process and everybody concerned is warmly congratulated. When we
recall the poor facilities which we have for training, this success is truly
One does not normally report G.C.E. success in the summer edition of a school magazine,
but this year we can record with pleasure the success of 15 of our pupils who took
their "O" Level English last November - eight months early.
One of the least pleasant things about the end of the year is the saying of good-byes.
To the pupils who are leaving, we say a hearty "Good luck" and we hope to see them
many times as Old Scholars.
But we have to say good-bye to some members of staff as well, and nothing can make
Mrs. Cleare and Mrs. Leech have left us since our last edition and now we must say
good-bye to others. Mr. Thomas retires and as we wish him many years of well-earned
rest, we recall that he was teaching at Downhills before most of our present pupils
Mr. McInnes and Miss Allinson leave us to go to other posts and we wish them every
Mr. Dunhill is getting married during the summer and we wish him and the future Mrs.
Dunhill every happiness.
Our Fête this year was held on Saturday, 17th June, and although preparations had
been going on for some time, things really began to hum on Friday.
The shelter in the boys' playground was a cross between Billy Hunter's hide-out and
a timber yard. Crates of lemonade, sacks of coconuts, and a large case of apples
sat amid stacks of timber, sawn ready to be built into stalls.
Somebody suggested that Room C was so named as C for Chaos - perhaps because of the
piles of goods sent by parents; perhaps it was the multi-coloured bunting that lay
everywhere, or perhaps it was the mountain of papers, lists, plans and notes
drifting around the room.
Willing helpers came to school on Friday evening to build the stalls, price the
goods, and iron the bunting. Eyes kept turning to the doubtful sky, and forecasts
ranged from heatwaves and cloudbursts. Never had so many meteorological experts
met beneath one sky!
However, the weather was kind, and apart from a gusty breeze, the day was fine.
Paddy the Donkey, kindly lent by his owners, Mr. and Mrs. Young, arrived with his
little cart. The ice-cream was soon sold out and new supplies had to be rushed in.
Coconuts were shied, pennies were rolled, darts were thrown, refreshments consumed,
prizes won, goods sold, gifts raffled, weights guessed, tins tumbled - in fact,
all the fun of the fair.
Nearly £70 was raised for the funds of the P.T.A. and all those who helped are
congratulated and thanked most warmly.
The following letter has been received from an old scholar, who has begun training
to be a nurse.
University College Hospital.
June 23rd, 1961.
Just a few lines to let you know how I am getting on at the hospital. I arrived
here yesterday morning and have spent these two days getting used to the life of
When we arrived we were shown our rooms, which are very comfortable and cosy, with
plenty of room for clothes and books. We are allowed a wireless set, or a record-player
or tape recorder, but of course, one is expected to have consideration for others,
especially those on night duty.
We spent yesterday afternoon being fitted for uniforms, and hearing about our duties
and studies. Our day starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m., when we are free for the
evening, assuming that we have done all necessary studying.
We are expected back by 10 each night, except Saturday, when we may stay out until
midnight. Once a week, in addition, we may stay out until 11 p.m.
It can be seen that no prospective nurse need worry about losing her evenings while
To-morrow we put on our uniforms and we are to be shown round the wards. Then will
start the serious business of training to become one of those people who achieve
the satisfaction, even if not of seeing the complete recovery of every patient, at
least of helping to make them more comfortable.
OUR SHIP: THE SS BEAVERFORD
by R. Hollister & H. Chimchirian (5C)
"We adopted the Beaverford before the War and there were strong ties between the
ship and school. Members of the crew used to come here and we used to visit the
"Then the War came and there were no more pleasant tea parties either at the school
or in the Beaverford."
(Extract from Memorial Service, Mr. N. Mercer, Headmaster, 20th May, 1944.)
The SS Beaverford, a 10,000-ton liner of the Canadian Pacific Line, was adopted by
the school in 1936. Until the outbreak of the War, ties between school and ship grew
close with visits by pupils to the ship and by the crew to the school. When the
Beaverford was on her many transatlantic runs, her chief engineer would keep in touch
with the school.
In 1939, by order of the War Cabinet, the Beaverford was commissioned to carry war
materials and cargoes so vital to Britain in her struggle. This made her a desirable
prize for the hungry Nazi navy, which was intent on choking Britain's supply line,
making her easier prey for the German jack-boot.
In late October, thirty-seven ships gathered at Halifax, Nova Scotia, to form a
convoy under the protection of a solitary converted merchantman, the Jervis Bay.
Converted with a few meagre 6-inch guns and with a top speed of 14 knots, she was
outmanned, outgunned and outpaced by the least of the Nazi navy.
Dusk on the 5th November, 1940, a German raider is sighted to the port beam of the
Jervis Bay. Whispers spread through the convoy and they scattered. The Jervis Bay went
out to meet her foe, dropping smoke floats to hide the convoy. The raider, the Admiral
Scheer, contemptuous, ignored her and fired at the convoy. Scheer knew she was out of
the range of the Jervis Bay's guns. Gradually, the Jervis Bay closes the gap and the
Admiral Scheer is forced to fire upon her. Although hit by the Nazi salvo, the
Jervis Bay stubbornly carries on. Soon the Jervis Bay is ablaze, her fo'c'sle blown
away, and she slowly sinks. Within thirty minutes the bloody Atlantic had claimed
The Captain of the Beaverford, Hugh Pettigrew, realising the danger to the defenceless
convoy, ordered his ship to steer directly towards the Admiral Scheer. Everyone on
board that ship must have realised that they had no chance against the Germans, but
the morale was such that they would have sacrificed themselves to a dozen raiders.
The Admiral Scheer had no option but to fire at the Beaverford, and for five hours
the Beaverford drew her fire, zig-zagging over the ocean, away from the convoy.
The Beaverford was sunk in mid-Atlantic, five hours after the engagement. Due to her
and the Jervis Bay, the Convoy was able to scatter so effectively that on arrival at
England thirty-three of the thirty-seven ships had got through.
The great effort of the two ships which were lost with all hands created a large
amount of interest when in 1944 the action was described in the Star.
The conclusion of this account returns to our school, for on 20th May, 1944, a
memorial service was held at this school in honour of our heroic ship. The service
was conducted in the presence of the widow of the Beaverford Captain, and the
representative of the Canadian Pacific, Captain R. N. Stuart, V.C. An original water
colour of the ship was unveiled and £150 collected for relatives of the crew. The
simple inscription on the programme can sum up the sentiment then and now - "The
Path of Duty was their way to Glory".
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