The following is an excerpt from The Story of Shebbear College by Rev. Richard Pyke:
Chapter XVII – Two World Wars
‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’. – St. John 15.13.
When I went to Shebbear as Resident Governor, in 1915, the First World War had already begun to take its tragic toll of Old Shebbearians. And for another three years the list of the fallen grew, until at the end, it was seen that no less than forty-eitht old boys had laid down their lives. Among these were the names of those who, by their fine qualities of character, and intellect, had given assurance of lives of great usefulness and distinction. The distress of Mr. Rounsefell was obvious, when all too frequently, the news came that yet another had fallen. He hated war at all times, and many questions he left undiscussed, with the underlying conviction, that if better men had had the conduct of the world’s affairs, there would have been no war at all.
These boys went from a school with no military tradition, but they did not fail to prove their nurture, and to win distinction in the service of their country. Their graves lie on the Somme and on the Euphrates. Austin Clark was cited as the ‘beau ideal of a brave regimental surgeon’. Brigadier General J. Perry Davey, C.M.G., was the last Army Chaplain to leave the Gallipoli peninsula, and became Assistant Principal Chaplain to the Fifth Army in France. Other Chaplains honoured were E.J. Welcher and R.H. Woolridge. Col. Hek, and Col. Parkes, D.S.O., M.C., both commanded battalions of the Gloucesters.
The Old Shebbearians felt that the least they could do was to place within the school a memorial to their brave comrades, and a beautiful bronze plaque was placed in the Dining Hall, with the following inscription:-
1914 – 1918
In memory of all the Old Shebbear boys who have faithfully striven to follow the light, and especially to these our comrades fallen in war.
Over five hundred Shebbearians served in the two wars … Shebbear has always extolled every manly virtue, but it has abjured the pernicious philosophy that war is essential to a nation’s virility. The sword and the spear need not be thrown as rubbish to the void, but can be converted into instruments which produce rich harvests, and restrict all wild and wanton growths. The ideal is, and always has been to make of Shebbear what Carlyle designated Rugby under Arnold, ‘a temple of industrious peace’.