On November 11th 2016, Taunton School International Middle School held an assembly for Remembrance Day. Mr Ngo’s tutor group, made up of seven students from Russia, France, Japan, Germany, China, Spain, and Tajikistan, gave a moving presentation which included listening to the “Last Post” and a recitation of ‘In Flanders’ Fields’ by John McCrae. They spoke about the importance of reflecting on past and current conflicts as well as remembering those whose lives were affected.

We then welcomed Mr Jim Booth, a 95 year old World War II veteran, to speak to us about his involvement in D Day. He was part of the Combined Operations Pilotage (COPT) whose main job was to carry out a reconnaissance of the beaches, spending two days in a submarine with four other men. They couldn’t stand up and had to live off tins of beans and cups of tea. One sleeping bag was shared between the five of them; they took it in turns to have a three hour nap. After dark they came to the surface to wait for the BBC code, indicating that the planes were leaving. There was no code that night because the weather was too bad, so the submarine had to resubmerge. The signal came at 0445 the next morning; they knew the British boats and planes were on their way with hundreds of thousands of soldiers.

The mission was a success. Mr Booth described it as an ‘exciting operation. Anything could happen at anytime […] but I felt trained for the job’. When asked about the war in general, he said it was ‘horrid. I had loads of friends killed. I hope it never happens again; I hope we’ve learned.’ It was a truly memorable morning, rendered all the more meaningful by the international nature of all who were present, staff and students alike. The future is in the hands of our pupils who are learning to accept, appreciate, and be inspired by the cultural differences of their peers.