LOOKING BACK - November 9, 2017 edition

Missing Elborow School memorial plaque inspires book

Wednesday, 15th November 2017, 3:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:09 am

Howard Trillo couldn’t have found a more appropriate time of year to publish his third book about Elborow School.

He was inspired to write ‘Elborow School and the Great War’ by the discovery of an image of the Elborow memorial plaque, sadly not the plaque itself.

For some reason only 32 of the 37 old boys killed were named on the plaque. But Howard has managed to identify the missing five.

A pupil from 1955-59, he has dedicated his book to the 37 who gave their lives for King and Country.

Howard explained: “Tracing the stories of these men inspired me to research other aspects of the war which affected Elborow School, its Old Boys and staff, and also the contemporary war-time pupils themselves and their contribution to the war effort.”

Their individual stories are told (sometimes with a photographic record) as well as the experiences of those who survived.

The book also covers the impact on the school community which had been built up very successfully over the previous 14 years by headmaster Mr WT Simmonds, who’d gathered a team of enthusiastic teachers who shared his philosophy and empathy for the boys.

But like every other aspect of life in Britain, it was never quite the same again.

Howard added: “This is the third volume in the ‘Elborow Quartet’ which I hope will be of interest to surviving Old Boys of the school as well as their descendants.”

When he wrote his first Elborow book, published last year, Howard only knew the number of fallen, which was mentioned in Mr Simmonds’ 1921 annual prize giving address, not their names.

At that time it was believed that the memorial plaque, which had been placed on the wall of the school in December 1919, was irretrievably lost – a fact that has since been confirmed, but it did make a brief re-appearance.

He explains: “When the Youth Club closed around 2012, the County Council site was sold and eventually taken over by a charitable organisation who renovated the new 1975 building that had been erected on the site of the 19th century school.

“In the course of this renovation the plaque was found leaning against a back wall of a cupboard.

“The centre manager recognised it for what it was, and knew it was of some importance re the history of the site, and thankfully took a photograph of it, intending to keep it and place it in a suitable spot of the new structure.

“However, there was a lot of debris lying about, of all sorts of metal bits and pieces, and a firm was called-in to take all of it away. When the place was clear, several days/weeks later, he realised that the plaque was missing. On discovering this, in March 2017, an attempt was made to trace whether the plaque was ‘sold-on’ by the scrap merchants, but to no avail… at least we have the photograph!”

As usual, there are three versions of the book: Full colour £46, black & white £22 and an E-book (pdf) £6.99, available from www.lulu.com (and possibly the Rugby Visitor Centre Bookshop, in two or three weeks time).