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News > Of Interest > From The Archive: The Campbell College Pipes and Drums, Speech Day 1943

From The Archive: The Campbell College Pipes and Drums, Speech Day 1943

Looking back on the tradition of Speech Day
28 Jun 2023
Written by Claire Bunting
Of Interest
Pipe Band in the quadrangle July 23rd 1943
Pipe Band in the quadrangle July 23rd 1943

Our Headmaster was recently passed some photos of our Campbell College Pipes and Drums taken in 1943, from a relative of the Drum Major John Rowley Williams (2886). A Yates's man, as well as being active in the Pipe Band, John was also Head Prefect, a member of the swim team, and the Shooting VIII. On looking at the prizes awarded that Speech Day, we see that John achieved the Army English prize.


It has been a long-standing tradition that the Campbell College Pipes and Drums support a range of events, including Speech Day. We thought you would enjoy seeing these photos of the band taken 70 years ago on July 23rd, 1943 and also the back of the photo, where John had written the names of all the band members:


Of note is that the photos was taken at Portrush as the College was in use as an army hospital at this time. You will also see the Geelong Drum in the centre of the photo, which was recently restored and played at Speech Day last year. Follow this link to learn more.

It is heartening to know that amongst the chaos of WWII, normal school events could still take place. However, one must wonder about the concerns students would have been experiencing regarding parents, older siblings, uncles and aunts, cousins, friends and teaching staff who may have been in service defending our democracy. Looking back at the Headmaster's Report of Headmaster Gibbon presented on Speech Day, this was raised with those in attendance:


Extract from Campbellian Magazine Vol 10. No 10, p230. December 1943

The Headmaster’s Report (Colonel Gibbon)

…I turn now to the Old Boys. Naturally in this, the fourth year of the war, pride of place goes to those who are on service. There are roughly 1725 Old Campbellians between the ages of 17 and 45. Of these we know that 850 are serving or have served since the beginning of the war in one or other of the three combative services. This represents 50 percent of the total number between these ages. The list of Old Boys serving in Dominion or Colonial or Allied Forces is still far from complete. Then one remembers that there are many others employed in other services vital to winning the war, and from which they may not be released, it is an amazing record for a school of the size in a voluntary era.

The last page of your programmes contains the names of those Old Boys who have gained decorations for distinguished was service since 1939. You will see that there are 44 of these. It is a record of which we are very proud. There is another list headed “Pro Patria,” placed, temporarily on the wall in the entrance hall though which you passed on your way up here which bears the names of 52 of our bravest and best. They are not forgotten and the day will come later when past and present member of the School, once more united in our old how, will publicly remember them as we do now.

The war hit our School very hard. For its duration, we have lost our School buildings, last a large part of our teaching staff and in consequence of both, to some extent, lost our intake of new boys. But five years in the history of a School is but a short time, and I am confident that, when peace and our Old Boys return, Campbellians will look back with pride on the war record of the school and Campbell will go forward with strength renewed like the eagles.

Ne obliviscaris




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