German ambassador pays tribute to children killed in First World War school bombing in Poplar
- Credit: Mike Brooke
The German nation should not be careless about the memory of the infamous First World War air-raid on east London when 18 children were killed at Poplar’s Upper North Street School, their ambassador told the centenary wreath-laying.
Dr Peter Ammon was one of those laying wreaths at the ‘Angel’ memorial erected in Poplar Park in 1919 remembering the 18 children killed when a German Gotha squadron crossed the North Sea to attack civilian targets in the British capital from the air.
The wreath-laying at the ‘Angel’ memorial erected by public subscription in 1919 at Poplar Park followed a memorial service at Poplar’s All Saints parish church attended by the Queen and Prince Philip in prayers led by the Bishop of Stepney.
“It was the tragic attack on this school that changed and shaped public awareness of the consequences of war,” Dr Ammon told the wreath-laying.
“One lesson we Germans have learned is that we should not be careless with our memories.
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“It shows in the end that friendship can grow out of hatred and tragedy after 100 years and we should not give up trying to overcome divisions between people today.”
The centenary also fell on the first anniversary of the Brexit referendum aimed at pulling Britain away from the European Union.
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“The UK and Germany despite our diverging prospectives on Europe are close friends and partners and will remain so,” Dr Ammon insisted. “We were at war in 1917, with thousands of young solders every day dying in the fields of Flanders or the skies above.
“Remembrance of the tragedy of 100 years ago defines our presence and out future. Let this remembrance be reason enough for us to continue for us and our political leaders to work to promote peace and friendship.”
He told the East London Advertiser afterwards: “We are in a period of friendship between out two nations. I could not find a trace of animosity.”
Stan Kaye, who has spent four years masterminding the Mayflower School centenary commemoration, presented a commemorative medal to the German ambassador to mark the 1917 tragedy at Upper North Street.
A school bell specially cast for the centenary was rung, followed by a trumpeter sounding The Last Post and two minutes’ silence.
The rest of the afternoon was a commemorative mini festival with a marquees set up for the families descended from the children of 1917 to meet. Many had come from around the world to be at the service at All Saints.
Children from several primary schools in Polar had the afternoon off lessons to witness the wreath-laying.
A First World War ambulance was on show, while a Fusilier from the Tower of London arrived in a First World War uniform and a Lee Enfield rifle giving demonstrations to youngsters about life on the Western Front.
Actor Andrew Ashmore arrived in mortar board and gown in the role of Upper North Street’s headmaster Mr Denner in 1917, who was also injured in the 1917 bombing, to demonstrate to today’s schoolchildren what lessons were like 100 years ago.
He had run a similar workshop at Mayflower School itself last month, playing the part of Mr Denner.
Also turning up was the Pearly Queen of Bow Vicky Groves with some of London’s colourful cockney pearlies who spend their ‘reign’ raising money for charity.