HUNDREDS of students shared a two-minute silence in the company of a former army cadet who reflected on what life was like in Coventry during World War II.
War veteran Gordon Tucker, who regularly meets with Grace Academy students for breakfast as a community volunteer, vividly remembers the war and recounted his experiences of being in Coventry during the Blitz to 800 students.
After joining the Royal Warwickshire 7th Battalion of the army cadets, Gordon eventually found himself being sent to serve in Korea.
He later served in Egypt at a United Nations buffer zone along the Suez Canal.
However Gordon was living in Coventry during the Blitz, and he strongly remembers his sisters being told by his Dad to go and see the devastation of war.
He said: “We were still on rationing and I remember we all rushed to the sweet shop when they came off rationing.
“I used to look at Canley Temporary School where a huge pile of mud emerged in the grounds.
“It baffled me until they told us to go down into the air raid shelter and learn how to get out of the exit.”
Speaking about his scariest moment from the Blitz, Gordon said he remembers when his sister wouldn’t get out of her bed during a raid – and he feared for her safety.
He said: “My sisters were fired on by an observation plane once and had to run to a nearby air raid shelter for protection.
“I remember the war all year round because I used to sit around the fire while my father told us stories about the war.
“I wept when he told me about his best friend John Cross dying.
“One memory is of Dad saying he heard moaning in the corner of one of the trenches.
“He found a cape where one of the enemy soldiers was hiding with two pistols in his hand.
“Towards the end of the war, practically a whole army surrendered to my Dad and his few mates, and someone asked him ‘What shall we do?’
My Dad said to take their rifles off them.”
Gordon’s father started his life in the military as a Territorial Army Cadet, though he soon found himself recruited into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry 2nd Battalion.
Incredibly, Gordon’s father was told to get off the ship moments before it was due to sail away from Southampton.
He did, and he later received the news the ship and all its crew had been sunk in the English Channel while on its way to the front line.
Gordon said: “It is good to remember the war and all those all died and, because of their sacrifice, we can read, write and worship in a free way, and a testimony to that is this Academy here today.”
Year eight student Connor Grant, who is a member of the Academy’s cadet regiment, joined in the ceremony.
He said: “I joined the cadets to go on camps and help to improve the environment around me.
“I’ve looked after old people in health care and helped with activities to raise money for Macmillan such as coffee mornings and cake sales.
“I’ve done all my army training – apart from shooting – including skill at arms, field craft, drill and marching.
“From history you learn a lot about the war that you don’t know and the army mantra is ‘Remember lest we forget’.”