World War, Cranleigh Prep will be filling a memorial wall with a montage of over 400 canvases of poppies in the School Chapel.  Everybody in the School has taken part, from all pupils and teaching staff to the groundsmen and the catering team.

Helen McNiven, Head of Art and her husband, Peter, the previous Head of the Senior School’s Art Department, ran an inset for all the staff as well as dedicating time in the pupils’ art lessons, to ensure that every person involved in school life had an opportunity to produce their own poppy canvas; most were painted and some are in mixed media.  The scale of the canvases is intended to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary and create a powerful visual commemoration.CPS_Staff_Poppy_Canvases_21253

Helen McNiven says “It has been an uplifting experience seeing everybody being challenged whilst enjoying the experience of coming together as a community to pay respect to those who have given up their lives for their country, including our own Cranleigh Prep School boys.”

With the help of the Old Cranleighan Society who have been doing some research, we have identified a further eight  Cranleigh Prep School boys who were killed during the Second World War.  We are hoping, over the course of the year, to put together a book detailing what we know about those who died in service.

An interesting footnote from Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery about Aubrey Beaty, who was at the Prep School from 1926-1928, who was awarded the Military Cross:

On the afternoon September 19, 1944, as German forces were pushed back by the Allied advance through the Netherlands, the first British soldier crossed into Germany. He was Aubrey Valentine Verney Beaty who was at the Prep School (or the Junior School as it was then known) from 1926 to 1928.

Beaty, who father was in the Indian Police Force, was a day boy, living with his aunt in the Village during his time at the school.

By 1944 he was a captain in command of a troop of Q Battery 21 Anti-Tank Regiment as the Allies attacked the bridge at Nijmegen on the Dutch-German border.  On September 18  he had captured 35 Germans and handed them over to the Americans, and after a skirmish with German snipers he crossed the bridge into Germany itself at around 2pm.

He immediately went to help the Americans who were under attack at the town of Beek and after a fierce fight, he covered the American withdrawal before retreating himself.  He was wounded by what is now called friendly fire and rejoined his battery later in the evening.  He was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the action, his citation mentioning that he was believed to be the first member oif the British ground forces to cross into Germany.

Beaty, who went to Bedford School after leaving Cranleigh, served throughout the war, being evacuated at Dunkirk and then returning to France on D-Day four years later.  He also took part in the liberation of Brussels. He was demobbed in 1947 and went into publishing.  He died in 2009 aged 92.


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