Relatives of Chichester WWII heroes sought as book is published

From left: Former Chichester High School for Boys headteacher, John Child; Current headteacher Joanne McKeown; and Colin Snook.''Picture contributed.
From left: Former Chichester High School for Boys headteacher, John Child; Current headteacher Joanne McKeown; and Colin Snook.''Picture contributed.

Relatives and descendants of some of Chichester's WWII heroes are being sought as a new book chronicling their sacrifices is published.

The lives of WWII servicemen from a Chichester High School for Boys are to be remembered in a new book detailing their stories.

'The Fallen', features the biographies of the former staff and students of the school, also known as the Old Cicestrians or Old Boys.

When the idea came up at an Old Boys committee meeting it was handed to Colin Snook, a committee member for 19 years, to compile the stories of the men.

He said: "It's always bothered me that we read out the names of the boys who lost their lives, but it's two and a half generations on and no one knows who they are."

Colin said it was important to know the men they pay tribute to.

"Eighteen months later and four nights a week, I produced a book. I spent hours and hours in the local library." Colin described the process as 'exciting, difficult and frustrating'.

The 83-year-old has also asked for descendants and relatives of the servicemen to come forward.

"If this was the war I could go round and knock on their doors. I could have gone to see them but this is two-and-a-half generations on," Colin said.

"Any descendants/archivists will in the future have a starting point for their research. Those who paid the ultimate price will not be forgotten.

"It is hoped that this news will reach out to descendants of the Fallen Old Boyds via the columns of the Observer who will respond and contact the author."

One of the men chronicled in the book is J.R.B. Meaker, a former reporter for the Chichester Observer, who died at the age of 21 on September 27 1940 when his Hawker Hurricane was shot by a German Junkers 88 over Sussex.

Meaker ejected from the aircraft but was struck by the tail resulting in his death. His body and unopened parachute were found in Brightling and his aircraft came down at Dallington.

A excerpt from The Martlet 'School News' in December 1940 read: "Remembered as a lively young and enthusiastic reporter he was buried with full military honours at West Dean Cemetery. Chichester High School for Boys Headmaster E.W.Bishop attended his funeral and a School wreath was laid."

Copies of the not for-profit ‘The Fallen’ publication can be obtained from Colin Snook at 01273 452601 strails@btinternet.com