The unveiling of a poignant new war memorial in front of the Chapel was the focus of OC Day on July 1.
The statue, by leading British sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby (2 North 1964), was unveiled by General the Lord Richard Dannatt in a special ceremony that drew together several generations of Old and current Cranleighans. That was preceded by a special service in a packed Chapel.
At the heart of the memorial is a three-metre high sculpture made in bronze and Bath stone. It depicts a naked boy attempting to stride ahead into his future but who finds himself restrained by what appears to be the ruin of a conventional, stone memorial ravaged by further war.
Entitled Leaving, the dramatic sculpture is surrounded by sweeping glass panels engraved with the names of 382 former pupils who have died while in service during the School’s history.
General Dannatt said: “I think this is a most appropriate sculpture in a setting such as Cranleigh. It shows the vulnerability of youth and the hopes and ambitions of so many; it is therefore very appropriate to reflect that many young men from the school lost their lives giving us peace and freedom so that we can realise these ambitions.”
Dimbleby added: “My client for this commission has been the children, in particular those of school leaving age – whose predecessors one hundred years ago walked straight into war. Through conversations with these young people it became apparent that the desire for peace greatly outweighs the ‘nobility of death in battle’ and that therefore this should not be a ‘generic’ memorial, simply a listing of the fallen.
“This age is much more sceptical. Alongside leaving and service to the outside world, the sculptural element of this memorial is intended to convey vulnerability and the devastation of war. It is entirely right that the figure should be an unclothed youth. It shows us in our most vulnerable state of being.”
Engraved in the stone are the conventional words of commemoration “We will remember them”, seemingly damaged by gunfire to represent the destruction caused by World War Two. Also W.H. Auden’s foreboding “We must love one another or die”.
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War memorial unveiling, July 1, 2016