Queen cheered by hundreds of children arriving for Mayflower School’s First World War bomb centenary
- Credit: Archant
Hundreds of children cheered the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arriving at the school gates at Mayflower Primary in Poplar to mark the centenary of the First World War air-raid in which 18 children perished.
The royal couple toured classes looking at the pupils special project work for the centenary of the first daylight air-raid on London in which Upper North Street school got a direct hit.
The children have been researching many heroic stories of what happened that day on June 13, 1917, when a bomb dropped by a German Gotha squadron exploded in one of the infant classrooms.
These include the story of five-year-old Rose Simons trapped for three days in the rubble and finally rescued by her older brother Jim who carries on digging, long after rescuers had given up.
A century on, seven year-old Ayaan Ahmed from Limehouse chose that rescue for the writing project which he read to the Queen.
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“The Queen said it was very dramatic,” Ayaan told the East London Advertiser afterwards.
“I’ve never seen the Queen before, but my mum has. I like the Queen. She is very, very old, but is very nice.”
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Headteacher Dee Bleach invited the Queen at the end of her tour to unveil a commemorative plaque, and explained what the children had gained from the centenary project.
“Our pupils have learned about the children’s lives in 1917 and about the 18 who died and their classmates who survived and have gained an understanding of life in Poplar,” she said.
“The centenary has brought our community together. This plaque will serve as a reminder for the people of Poplar about the history of Upper North Street School and be a symbol of remembrance to those lives lost 100 years ago.”
She turned to the Queen and added: “Your visit sends a powerful and unifying message to those living and working in Poplar today.”
The Queen, dressed in a blue turquoise A-line Stewart Parvin outfit with matching brim hat and aquamarine brooch with diamond clip, sat down to sign the visitors’ book, watched by Prince Philip in what is believed to be his last official public engagement before he retires.
The Royal couple emerged from the building to a sea of Union flags waved in the playground by 380 cheering pupils. More cheering crowds lined the narrow Upper North Street as their car left for Buckingham Palace.
The school visit followed a centenary commemoration at All Saints earlier, conducted by the Bishop of Stepney in the same parish church where the original funeral service for 15 of the children killed was held on June 20, 1917.