Harrow County School for Boys

Harrow County at War again...

by Alex Bateman

Having had many of the School buildings commandeered by the War Office, the problem of space once again rose its head.  In 1943 huts were erected so that many classes could again be taken at HCS, although the Harrow School laboratories continued to be used.  By this time, hours were almost back to those of pre-war days.

As their predecessors at done during the First War, boys carried out many war related duties, in particular fire watching, and later on, air raid duties, providing an early warning telephone system.  The School had no adequate air raid shelters, but on at least one occasion, local civilians used its corridors to escape the flying bomb menace.

In February 1941, No. 551 Flight (later 551 Squadron),of the Air Training Corps was established, and they too carried out many duties.  Camps and flying days were available, as well as sports, and various competitions.  A 1940 camp to Pershore (the scene of a 1917 Scout camp) saw some 65 boys fruit picking, while in 1942, HCS boys put in around 10,700 hours of work at various camps, such as those gathering the harvest or timber.  During term time, they directed their efforts to fund raising for such causes as the Old Boys Comforts Fund and Prisoner of War Fund, while in 1941 over 3000 was raised during 'War Weapons Week'.

It was inevitable that many former pupils would of course find their way into the forces.  With the School that much older, the numbers were much greater, as were the amount of losses.  Some 143 lost their lives, with one killed as a civilian.  Although four masters served (Mr Crinson, Mr Lunson, Mr Webber and Mr Watson), none made the ultimate sacrifice.

The wartime years took their toll on Randall Williams and the coming of peace in 1945 also saw his retirement.  In 1943 he had been ordained as deacon, and became a priest the following year.  However, he remained close, becoming curate of St. Mary's, the Church on the Hill.

The post war years were ones of great change for Harrow County, not least with the transition to peace, but also a reformed Education Act.  The Middlesex Education Committee had a policy of making only temporary appointments at that time, realising that many worthy applicants were still serving in the forces.  It was on this basis that Donald Crowle-Ellis took up his position as head of HCS in 1945.  He had served himself until 1943, when he became an Inspecting Officer to the ATC, and was a keen sportsman. 

The new Education Act of 1944, provided universal free education, and the first of these boys arrived during Crowle-Ellis' first term.  The School had been full in 1939, and after the war, accommodation was becoming a serious problem.  The extensions started before the war still had not been completed, and no solution could be seen on the horizon.

Within a year a new headmaster had been appointed.  Many had thought that Donald would become the permanent head of HCS and protested when it was realised it was not to be the case.  He had established a great rapport with both staff and boys, and many were sad to see him leave.

1946 saw the arrival of Dr. Alexander Simpson, a Scot with high standards, who was to change the School in all areas in the years to come.  With the ATC Squadron becoming almost redundant, Simpson became the architect of a new Cadet Force, having an emphasis on leadership and practical skills.  Commanded by fellow Scot Major Bigham, the new unit paraded for the first time in March 1947.

The following year, additions to the War Memorial to include the names of those lost during the Second War were unveiled.

return HOME