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Battlefield Trips

it was one distinguished old harrovian who conducted the heroic retreat from mons, so it was another who led the 1st army on its triumphant return.

The Harrovian, 1918.

Each summer, the boys in Harrow’s Shell (first) year visit the World War One battlefields in Belgium (Ypres) and France (the Somme), to recognise the sacrifice of the Old Harrovians who died there. The Chaplaincy plays a key role in leading reflections, and the History and English departments provide historical and literary context, respectively. 

In September 2012, the HA co-ordinated a three-day visit to battlefields and memorials with a connection to Harrow in Flanders and northern France.


  • The grave of Captain Colyer-Fergusson VC (The Head Master’s 1890³), who was decorated for his gallantry on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917;
  • Ploegsteert, where Winston Churchill spent five months in 1916, commanding 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers;
  • A private memorial to 2nd Lieutenant George Marsden-Smedley (The Park 1911³), who was killed outside the village of Guillemont, aged 19, leading an attack on a German trench in August 1916;
  • Ginchy, where Captain the Hon Harold Alexander (The Head Master’s 19061 - later Earl Alexander of Tunis) was a DSO in September 1916;
  • Cambrai, the scene of the first battle at which tanks were deployed in large numbers and for which Captain Walter Stone (The Head Master’s 1906³) was awarded a posthumous VC;
  • Flesquieres, where Lord Gort (Small Houses and The Head Master’s 1900²) was awarded his VC in 1918; and
  • Le Cateau, where former President of the HA, General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien (The Head Master’s 1871³), and his Corps fought a successful ‘stopping action’ against the German First Army – the consequence of which was an orderly retreat to the Marne, rather than the destruction of the BEF by the Germans.     

In October 2015, the HA staged another trip to the French and Belgian battlefields, to commemorate the Old Harrovians who fought in the Ypres Salient (1914-18), at the Battle of Loos (25 September to 18 October 1915) and at the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815). 


HA Battlefields tour 2015: Places of interest

  • St George’s Church in Ypres, where a memorial plaque was dedicated to the OHs who lost their lives whilst serving in the Ypres Salient, with a service conducted by one of Harrow’s Chaplains, The Revd James Power, and the resident Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Brian Llewellyn;
  • The grave of Captain Colyer-Fergusson VC (The Head Master’s 1890³);
  • Hill 60, where, for his bravery on the night of 20/21 April 1915, Captain Geoffrey Woolley VC (latterly, Chaplain at Harrow and then Vicar of St Mary’s, Harrow on the Hill) was later awarded a Victoria Cross; and
  • The grave of Scholar, Monitor, Head of School, Captain of Cricket and latterly Assistant Master and Hon. Secretary of the HA, Charles Howard Eyre (West Acre 1897³), in the British military Cemetery at Dud Corner.