Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The first few days at the City of Coventry Boarding school (a description)

We received this from an ex pupil who wishes to remain anonymous... it provides a good insight into how it felt to be sent to the school at 11..

The first few days….
The night before the big day, we (being me and my parents), are sitting at home making last minute preparations, checking that all the labels are in the clothes before packing them into my “little man” suitcase, because tomorrow it is of to BOARDING SCHOOL. Time for bed now, really can not sleep that much because in the morning have got to get up and go to a school that is miles away from home, new set of boys, new teachers…. I am not sure I want to go. My 11 year old mind is working over time, not knowing what to expect, but as my parents keep telling me … you will get a good education … it will be fun… make a man out of you…. not many boys get the chance you are getting…. and more that I can not remember.

It is now morning and I am dressed in my new school uniform, short grey pants, grey socks, grey shirt with a school tie denoting the “house” I belong to, blue blazer and blue cap, both with newly sewn on school badges. Everyone is silent in the car as we drive to Pool Meadow where I will get the bus to school. We park the car and I see all the other boys dressed like me, but some are in long pants (wonder what that means), the ones in suites must be the teachers.  My dad gives my suitcase to a man that throws it up on to the back of a lorry. OK I am now getting scared, they are telling us to get on the bus, mine is Mortimer… really have changed my mind about this Boarding school thing but my dad and mother are saying their goodbye’s, saying they will see me on visiting day, me I am clinging on to my mother like there is no tomorrow – come to think about it there will not be if I get on that bus. My parents are saying all the right things again …you will get a good education … it will be fun etc. Some how I get from clinging to my mother to a seat on the bus, sitting next to another boy who looks like me, even to the tears running down his face.

An hour or so into the ride I sort of get my mind off the terrible ordeal I am about to face and look round the bus, there are a few boys like me and my traveling partner, young, in short pants with caps, tears down their faces but the majority are not wearing caps and some are in suits… these must be the teachers I saw in Pool Meadows (later to find out they were the senior boys – in their last year). My traveling companion and I try to talk, but I think we are both to scared of what is going on to make much sense of what we are saying. We are now far away from Coventry, in the middle of no mans land when I get to see where I will be spending the next 4 years of my life…. Help !!! It looks like a concentration camp.

We are now unloaded off the bus and sent to our “Houses”. We now have to make our beds…. (With hospital corners - never heard of those thing before) Make a bed !!! My mum always made mine. Plus you had a choice of up or down, never saw bunk beds before.  Not sure how many time I tried until I finally got the bed to the satisfaction of  House Master Thorne. Now remember on laundry day you take the top sheet and make it the bottom sheet put on a new top sheet and pillow case.

The only thing I remember about the rest of the day is the first dining hall experience, waiting outside the dining hall for supper. Being called in, standing at a square table with seven other boys, who seem to get progressively bigger (2 first year, 2 second year, 2 third year and at the head of the table 2 lasts year). Then the teachers filed in and from somewhere I heard “for what we are about to receive may the lord make us truly thankful, Amen. You may be seated. The serving order is Blount Dudley Mortimer”   Then a mad dash for the counter where you get a tray, load it up with rectangular aluminum serving dishes bring it back to the table where the head of the table gets first serving. No elbows on the table the head of the table says…. I soon forget and have a sharp pain on my shins, no elbows on the table I am told again.

No much to remember until shower time. If I am not scared by now I soon will be. Here we are all lined up in our dressing gowns with our towels and our kit at the end of the bunk beds. Marched outside across to the showers (what! This hell hole has no indoor plumbing?) Getting naked (most of us new boys had never done anything like this) and being scared to death. Running through the shower, being told by the house master to go back and have a proper shower. Brushing my teeth, then running back to the dorm. Jumping into bed, just to get warm. Some time later a booming voice announces “lights out”, now we are completely in the dark, scared, as this is the first time ever away from home, thinking ‘I want my mummy’. I then begin to cry, sobbing uncontrollably, SHUT UP I hear shouted out from the dark, really did not help as I continued to cry, a few more shut up’s but to no avail then IF YOU DON’T SHUT UP I AM GOING TO BASH YOUR FACE IN that got my attention. I am now silent but I hear other first years crying, it was as bad for them as it was for me. Now I know where the saying cry oneself to sleep comes from.

The next few days were spent asking anyone in authority (even the kitchen staff) to let me make a phone call home. The only phone I knew of was in the dining hall and seem to be locked all the time or was it guarded by one of the teachers. Had to tell my parents what a mistake they had made, did they not know this was a death camp full of all sorts of bad things, I was going to die honestly die if they did not get me out of here. Had to tell them about the gun turrets they had at night to keep you in, they were not visible during the day, only at night. No one would let me use the phone. So now to plan B…………. run away, but how, I really did not know where I was. I got it, walk down to the main entrance turn left get to the main road and hitch hike and tell anybody that you needed to get to Coventry – matter of life and death. That did not work as Tanky Thorne saw I was missing and drove down the main road and picked me up. All the way back I was telling him about the Big Mistake of me being here, if only my parents knew they would come and get me….. I think he had heard it all before as he did not take any notice of my please.

After that I sort of fell in to the routine that was school life, but now, more that ever convinced my parents did not care about me and only sent me here to get me out of the way. Cross country, what’s this stuff , you want me to run through farmers fields, stream’s, ford’s and main roads are you crazy ….. apparently not, you had to do it. More ammunition for my plea to my parents to get me out of here “cruel and unusual punishment”.
Finally Sunday night comes and you get to write a letter home, mine was great, outlining all the things that were wrong with this place, including the slavery part, even threw in the 'you do not love me any more bit'. Then the icing on the cake ……. Cry a few tears and smudge the ink, that’s really going to get them to come and take me out of here.

Now Monday morning is here ……………… where are my parents!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sort of got it now, my parents are not coming to get me… more ammunition about how terrible the people at this school are, keeping my letters from my parents. Now I really do have to get away, the only way I am going to get all this information to my parents is escape. Once I tell them all about this hell hole they will keep me home. The planning begins, first find out where Coventry is from here,. O.K. now we can not travel in the school uniform, and need a good head start so they do not know I am missing. This coming Saturday after breakfast will fit all my requirements, I am gone.

That did not work ………………………… more planning is required. Visiting day is here, where are my parents, OK they are not coming, should be here by now, its gone 9.00 o’clock….. finally show up. Now they will find out what a big mistake they made the slave labor, cruel punishment (still have not got over that cross country thing) and all the other horrors that I have endure the last few months. To no avail, what I have suspected it true…. Brain Washing (BW), that is the only thing that makes sense, with all the horror stories I have told them they still want me to stay! Now I know I have to get to Coventry, the BW device they have at this school could not reach that far….could it? Spent the rest of the year trying to escape, I think I did make it once. But I was wrong the BW device did reach as far as Cov…. They drove me back!

Authors note, I still do “hospital corners” when I help my wife make the bed, I even inspect her’s!!


  1. Excellent post - just one thing bugging me at the very end when you say..." I even inspect hers !" - inspect her what!

    Signed "The Original M28"

  2. Reminds me of my first few weeks in the Army...