War Memorials

After the War of 1914-18 the Revd CA (Chuck) Macvicar, the School Chaplain, produced with commendable speed a splendid memorial book commemorating those Old Birkonians who had given their lives in that War, most of whom he had known personally. Published in 1920 it contained short biographies of all those who died, together with photographs of all but one.

When the Second World War was over all that was published, in 1947 again compiled by 'Chuck' Macvicar, was a small booklet entitled 'War List, 1939-1946'. In 1995 the national preparations for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the end of the war inspired one Old Birkonian World War II veteran to suggest that a similar commemorative book be compiled to honour the memory of those Old Birkonians who gave their lives in World War II.

Whilst every effort has been made to supplement the information in the 1947 War List, the delay of 50 years has made it impossible to trace the relatives or close friends of many of those commemorated in the Roll of Honour. Consequently there will be many omissions and, maybe, errors of detail and the compilers will gratefully acknowledge any further information that the reader can supply. All additional information will be carefully recorded and inserted in the School Archives.

In compiling the Roll of Honour, the Archives team have tried to extract and record all available information in order to help to give a picture of the whole man. Inevitably this has produced an imbalance between those for whom no personal contact has been achieved and those for whom relatives or close friends have been traced and interviewed. The team trust that this imbalance will not give offence or cause distress.

No fewer than 96 Old Birkonians gave their lives between 1914-1918. By 1918 the school had only been in existence for 58 years and it was still a small school. By 1945, however, it had been going and thriving for 85 years and there were many more Old Birkonians living. Yet the casualties in the Second World War were mercifully lower than in the First as far as the armed forces were concerned although there was , of course, a high number of civilian casualties in the United Kingdom, particularly in London and the larger cities. The army was spared the tremendous waste of life that had resulted from trench warfare in the First World War but casualties at sea, both in the Royal and Merchant Navies, remained high and the loss of airmen was considerable. Nine hundred and sixty-seven Old Birkonians are recorded as having served in the forces between 1939-1946 and 86 of them lost their lives.

Families, though normally smaller than in 1914-1918, were not so badly hit. In World War I no less than three Ashcroft brothers and three MacSwiney brothers were killed and four other families each lost two sons. In 1939-1946 only the Radcliffes and the Kerrs lost two sons. In 1914-1918 large numbers of O.B.s served in the same battalions - particularly in those of the Cheshire Regiment and the King's Liverpool Regiment . Although in 1940 one battalion of the Cheshire Regiment had as many as eight O.B.s serving as officers, this was unusual.

Again in World War II the Radcliffes of Bidston were exceptional. All three brothers who had been to the school were commissioned in 9th Gurkha Rifles of the Indian Army, of which JR Morris (O.B.) was a senior officer (and eventually Brigadier, CBE DSO and Bar). At one time JR Morris, MD Radcliffe and PD Radcliffe were all in the 1st Battalion, while DC Radcliffe was in the 2nd Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles.
The researchers decided that, in addition to compiling the Roll of Honour, the War List should be brought up-to-date, with the additional information received, and incorporated in this book.


Word War 1 Memorial

"Dedicated to the memory of the old boys of Birkenhead School who gave their lives for others in The Great War trusting that their sacrifice may never be forgotten and that their example may live for ever to inspire succeeding generations of their schoolfellows."

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After the War the Rev. C A Macvicar compiled a list of 96  Old Birkonians who had given their lives in the conflict along with details of their Service and where they fell along with their final resting place. This information was then published along with, in all but one case, a photograph of the person. The book was titled "Memorials of Old Birkonians Who Fell in the Great War 1914 - 1918".                                                                                           

Subsequent research has discovered a number of Old Birkonians who fell in the War and were not included in the book.

In recent years the School has arranged for some pupils to tour the battlefields and war grave cemetries.

Memorials of OB’s who fell in WW1

After the War the Rev. C A Macvicar compiled a list of 96 Old Birkonians who had given their lives in the conflict along with details of their Service and where they fell along with their final resting place. This information was then published along with, in all but one case, a photograph of the person. The book was titled "Memorials of Old Birkonians Who Fell in the Great War 1914 - 1918".

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Memorials of Old Birkonian’s

1914 - 1918

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World War 2 Memorial

Inspired by the words of Winston Churchill on 4th June 1940

"We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall
fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence in the air, we shall
defend our island whatever the cost may be.
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields
and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

These Old Birkonians were among those who endured hardship, faced danger and gave their lives in the path of duty in order that we might live in freedom.

Let those who read these words ensure that their example and sacrifice be not forgotten.

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When the Second World War was over all that was published in 1947, again compiled by 'Chuck' Macvicar, was a small booklet entitled 'War List, 1939-1946'. In 1995 the national preparations for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the end of the war inspired one Old Birkonian World War II veteran to suggest that a similar commemorative book be compiled to honour the memory of those Old Birkonians who gave their lives in World War II.

Whilst every effort has been made to supplement the information in the 1947 War List, the delay of 50 years has made it impossible to trace the relatives or close friends of many of those commemorated in the Roll of Honour. Consequently there will be many omissions and, maybe, errors of detail and the compilers will gratefully acknowledge any further information that the reader can supply. All additional information will be carefully recorded and inserted in the School Archives.

In compiling the Roll of Honour, the Archives team have tried to extract and record all available information in order to help to give a picture of the whole man. Inevitably this has produced an imbalance between those for whom no personal contact has been achieved and those for whom relatives or close friends have been traced and interviewed. The team trust that this imbalance will not give offence or cause distress.

The list is based on the 1947 original, with some amendments as made in manuscript in 'Chuck's' own hand and with additions and amendments emerging from the recent researches.

The original List stated that it was "A summary of the war service of Old Birkonians in the Armed Forces" and that "it was found impossible to extend the list so as to include the names of those who were engaged in the various branches of Civil Defence or in the Merchant Navy.

The omission of their names does not mean that the vital nature of their services has been forgotten. As every form of war service could not be included it was decided to include the names only of those in the Armed Forces".

At this juncture it has been possible to add only the names of those Old Birkonians in the Merchant Navy who lost their lives, but not to trace all those who served in the Merchant Navy.

Honours and Awards for service during the war are shown after the description of rank, unit etc. Pre-war awards are shown immediately after surname and initials.

As stated on page four in the Introduction any further information to correct omissions or errors of detail will be carefully recorded.