Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Beginning of the End, or the End of the Beginning?

Writing towards the end of August, I have much to report.
The last few months have been particularly busy, with a large investigation into OEs who fought in the First World War in preparation for a book by Anthony Selden, research into the origins of Crawfurd House in preparation for the reunion and the mammoth task of publishing the biographies of OE Doctors, prepared by Dr Michael Salmon (OE). I also spent time researching possible house names for Epsom College, Kuala Lumpur and on replying to a large number of enquiries.
My first involvement with archival resources came in 1979, when I wanted to teach about the First World War to the Middle Fourth, and realised that a large number of OEs would have been involved. The information was available in the Register, 1855-1955, but to count and organise I needed to use something. We had the first computer in school (made by Southwest Tech), but the only way to use it was to write our own program. Eric Huxter helped, and we tried to process the results, but it was our ignorance of how to organise the facts to be countable that finally defeated us. What did we want to count, how could information be sorted. What were the important facts? 33 years later, all these problems have been solved, so that the horror of the statistics is clear to all:

  • There were 275 boys in College in Michaelmas Term 1914.
  • 942 Old Epsomians are known to have served, the vast majority as doctors.
  • 155 Old Epsomians died, of whom we have only one still uncertain. One was a housemaster, Mr. Addenbrooke.
It does not look as though I will be available in College for Remembrance Day this year, but I hope that the College will be reminded of these statistics.
Unfortunately I have to take a couple of months away from the College, hoping to eventually be able to resume my duties. Until then, do remember that:
A school is a school is a school, until it has it's own history...