16-Year-old inspired by five generations of military service honours war dead


As the nation prepares to honour its war dead on Sunday (11th November), one young man with a family history of military service that stretches over five generations is already planning his own naval career.

For RGS’s Alex C, the school’s Remembrance Day commemorations carry particular significance.

Both his father and grandfather were Naval Officers and two of his forebears served during the Second World War, with Frederic Watts, who served on HMS Grey Goose being awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

As Drum Major in the school’s Combined Cadet Force (CCF), he will be leading the school’s Remembrance Day commemorations from the front.

On Friday [9th], a whole-school service takes place, with all students and staff lined up in year groups along with the corps of drums, a bugler and the school choir. A wreath is laid in the main stairwell alongside the memorial board honouring those in the RGS community who fell in the First World War. A second wreath is laid in the RGS Remembrance Garden.

On Sunday, Armistice Day itself, the RGS CCF and Corps of Drums forms part of the Community Parade and lays a third wreath in the town.

Alex says that he has known that he wanted to follow the family tradition by joining the armed forces since he was still at primary school and that his father’s 20-year naval career has helped him ‘learn the ropes’ in the CCF.

It helps to know a bit about the culture and traditions – for example, to know that if an officer comes your way, you’ve got to salute.

He believes that Remembrance Day still has relevance for his generation and that the British Legion poppy appeal attracts support across the school and beyond.

As a follower of the Navy on Instagram, he also believes that social media has made military conflicts much more vivid to young people:

I think they were much more distant and remote to past generations. We have access to all the information right in our pockets. It definitely enhances our understanding although I don’t think anyone can properly fathom what it must have been like to serve on the western front [in the First World War].

After school and university, Alex hopes to go to Dartford Naval College and become a Weapons Engineering Officer or a Warfare Officer.

RGS Head Shaun Fenton said:

Remembrance is a very important part of our country’s heritage. I am very proud of all the young people at Reigate Grammar School as they set off to make the world a better place. Alex’s commitment to serve his country in the future makes him a role model to others.

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