Notes from the Head 15th November 2019

A big well done to pupils and staff for all their effort on Armistice Day.

Mr Cliff Halsall had contacted the school to ask if we could do anything to recognise Captain Nicholas Archdale’s (from Penbedw Estate) contribution within the Second World War and the liberation of Normandy.

This is always a very difficult subject to discuss with pupils but I think it is an important one. We need to study History so that we can appreciate our present and use our knowledge to guide future decisions.

Captain Archdale, as one of our local heroes, made a significant contribution. He was a member of the 7th Light House Infantry Parachute Battalion in charge of the Three Inch Mortar Platoon.

They were transported over in Lancaster Bombers in the early hours of June 6. Half an hour before them, a handful of gliders commanded by Major John Howard silently went ahead to land troops noiselessly, thereby taking the Germans by complete surprise. It was a "brilliant" operation, says Cpt Archdale.

Paras, including him, were then dropped inland to join them in the task of taking key bridges, principally Pegasus Bridge near Caen.

The speed and surprise of the attack enabled Allied forces to secure a road link for the invading troops pouring in from the beaches and overwhelming the underprepared Germans.

It was, says Cpt Archdale, the most momentous, unforgettable day of his life.

"I was dropped on the edge of a river bank quite close to Pegasus Bridge. We landed half an hour after the gliders and took over the defence of the villages of Benouville and Le Port.

Archdale. "The invasion was the turning point of the war."

After being demobbed, he returned to Wales to buy the land at Penbedw where he has farmed sheep and cattle ever since, now with the help of sons Edward and Christopher.

I asked Mrs Jane Meakin at Purple Platform would she come into school to work with the Key Stage 2 pupils in creating a ‘Play in a Day’ about Captain Archdale. The children worked really hard all day. Mrs Meakin did say she was especially impressed with Tilly, Peter and Oscar quickly learning their lines and actions. She also mentioned Osian and Callum for their wonderful depiction of the Lancaster Bomber and parachute landings.

The pupils were all fantastic, really well behaved and totally engaged with acting out Captain Archdale’s story.

The Community in Nannerch as always really turned out to support the event. I had warned Jane Meakin that we would have a substantial audience and she was very pleasantly surprised.

I welcomed everyone and then our Bishop’s Visitor, Rev Sue Moriarty, led us in prayer, and spoke about the significance of the colours within the poppy.

The children performed their parts so well, and you could see the variety of emotions on Captain Archdale and his families’ faces. He really had a chuckle at the scene where the children were pretending to be flying in the Lancaster Bomber and parachuting down.

We then had all the pupils singing and their voices were beautiful, and even the youngest pupils were really well behaved. It was then time for tea and cake, and the older pupils were allowed the time to speak to Captain Archdale and look at his medals including the French medal ‘Legion de Honore’. I was then amused as Rosa who had been invited as one of the special guests alongside her husband insisted on coming to help – which she appreciated.