Archive Item of the Month – November 2011

As November is traditionally a month of remembrance, our item this month is from a selection of material we hold relating to the wartime experiences of staff and students. Pictured is the identity bracelet worn throughout World War II by St Mary’s College Principal Miss E. W. Jones, in post from 1936-1960.

Citizens had to wear I.D. bracelets throughout World War II in case of disaster such as being a victim of a bombing raid. It is a poignant reminder of the human cost of war.

Students from our predecessor institutions St Paul’s College and St Mary’s College have left a variety of archive material which tells their story. Following the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, buildings belonging to both St Paul’s College and St Mary’s College were requisitioned by the government. St Paul’s College second year students were sent to the brethren teacher training college of St John in York, whilst first years went to either Saltley College in Birmingham or Culham College in Oxfordshire. St Mary’s College moved to Llandrindod Wells in Wales. Whilst there the recently built Fullwood Hall at St Mary’s College (now Park Campus) suffered bomb damage in 1940.

By 1941, both colleges were able to return to Cheltenham, where teaching and learning carried on in the face of wartime privation. St Paul’s College formed their own Home Guard, and students recorded eyewitness accounts of frightening air raids. A bomb narrowly missed the main college building in 1943 (the Quad building at Francis Close Hall), landing next to the Porter’s Lodge on Swindon Road.

We currently have a display of archive material relating to the wartime experiences of the 1940s in the Archive Room at FCH (QU024). Please come and have a look.

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