A packed out church service saw the start of emotional commemorations on Friday of the bombing of Petworth Boys’ School.
The thanksgiving and memorial service was attended by pupils from Petworth CofE Primary School, followed by the annual laying of wreaths at Horsham Road cemetery and a reception at the school.
Some of those present were survivors or relatives of those who were in the school when it was hit.
Cyril Baigent’s brother survived the bombing after his father dug him out of the rubble.
He said the service was ‘very emotional’. “I liked the children coming in, I thought that was good because it was Petworth school that got hit.
“This brings it all back I suppose, but it does feel like it was a long time ago.”
The pupils sang ‘This Little Light of Mine’ towards the end of the church service and stood respectfully in silence to remember the 28 boys who died on that day.
Other attendees included Canadian high commissioner Lt Col Simon Rushen, who saluted at the graveside memorial alongside primary school pupils after laying a wreath on behalf of his country.
Afterwards, survivors talked to some of the children at the school.
Headteacher John Galvin said although some children would not have fully understood the memorial on the day, he hoped it would be something for them to reflect on in years to come.
He said: “We wanted to give them a sense of how thankful we should be for what we have and where we live.
“It was very tastefully done. It was brilliant how so many people came back to the school and our Year 6s went in there and they were sitting down talking to the survivors and relatives of the people who lost their lives.
“That really was such a worthwhile experience for our children.”
See centre spread, page 42