Fallen teacher who was First World War hero is remembered by Milton Keynes students

John Graham Gillam remembered
John Graham Gillam remembered

A young Fenny Stratford teacher who lost his life in the First World War has been given a poignant tribute by current pupils.

Lance Corporal John Graham Gillam was 24 died in the Battle of Loos in September 2015. His body was never recovered and there is no known grave.

John Graham Gillam remembered

John Graham Gillam remembered

A talented rugby player, he taught at Fenny Stratford boys school, in the building now occupied by Knowles Primary School.

Nearby Sir Herbert Leon Academy is the oldest secondary school in Milton Keynes and can trace its roots back to the Fenny boys’ school in the Victorian era.

Sir Herbert Leon staff and students have spent months raising funds to buy an official Silent Soldier statue - and they decided to name him after John.

In a special assembly this week, the whole school paid tribute to John and also announced the launch of an annual trophy in his name for the student who has contributed most sport.

John Graham Gillam remembered

John Graham Gillam remembered

Head of history Paul Salver said: “This has had a profound effect on our students. By giving our Silent Soldier a name it has shown a human face to make a personal connection to remember the sacrifices of many young people in the Great War.”

He added: “It is humbling to reflect that many of those that died in that great conflict were only a little older than our students”.

John was one of the first volunteers and joined the 7th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment in August 1914.

After training, he and his comrades landed in France on the 2nd September 1915 and went almost immediately into the front line. Just three weeks later John was dead.

He had lived with his wife – who was also a teacher - in Fenny Stratford. His parents lived in Winslow and he is named on the town’s war memorial there. Unfortunately, despite extensive research, the school has been unable to trace any living relatives.

Record show John played Rugby for Olney until he was scouted by Northampton Saints.

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