Berkhamsted Group | 16.09.2014



During a week in which Berkhamsted School opened an Art Exhibition in the School Chapel  to mark the century of the start of World War One, Principal Mark Steed has written a personal tribute to former Headmaster Charles Greene, who endured the death in service during the Great War of 232 of his former pupils. 

Mr Steed also began a tribute to the Old Berkhamstedians (OBs) who died by announcing, 100 years on, the deaths of OBs in the assembly following the day they fell. A Berkhamsted School Twitter feed – @BerkhamstedWW1 – has been set up to commemorate individually those who fell on the 100th anniversary of their death in the instances where the details are known.  He writes: “Any head teacher who has been in a school at the time of the death of a pupil or of a recent leaver will know the sense of loss and helplessness that grips the school community. So when I reflect on the impact of World War One on Berkhamsted School, my mind turns to what it must have been like for Charles Greene, who was Headmaster at that time …” Greene was Headmaster of Berkhamsted School from 1911 until 1927, and is the father of celebrated author Graham Greene, who was born and educated at the School. “He had the unenviable task of reading out to the school in chapel the names of those former pupils who had died throughout the course of the war – and indeed beyond. Some 232 Old Berkhamstedians died in those years. He almost certainly knew personally the majority of the boys who died, as he had been at Berkhamsted since 1889 as a teacher, Housemaster of St John’s Boarding House and Deputy Head, prior to becoming Headmaster.” Mr Steed explains that Charles Greene annotated the Prefects’ Book, which each prefect signed on taking office, in red ink recording the military career and when each boy fell. “No one can read those words without feeling his pain and that of the community he led.”

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