Our poignant new War Memorial by leading British sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby was unveiled on July 1st, 2016, by General the Lord Richard Dannatt. in a special ceremony that drew together several generations of Old and current Cranleighans.
The date marked both the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the end of the school’s 150th year. A fitting tribute to remember the past and look towards the next 150 years at Cranleigh.
At the heart of the memorial is a three-metre high sculpture made in bronze and Bath stone by Nicholas, an Old Cranleighan himself. It depicts a naked boy attempting to stride ahead into his future but who finds himself restrained by what appears to be the ruin of a conventional, stone Memorial ravaged by further war.
Entitled Leaving, the dramatic sculpture is surrounded by sweeping glass panels engraved with the names of 384 former pupils who have fallen in battle during the School’s history.
Engraved in the stone are the conventional words of commemoration ‘We will remember them’, seemingly damaged by gunfire to represent the destruction caused by World War Two. Also W.H. Auden’s foreboding ‘We must love one another or die.’
This is a most appropriate sculpture in a setting such as Cranleigh. It shows the vulnerability of youth and the hopes and ambitions of so many; it is therefore very appropriate to reflect that many young men from the school lost their lives giving us peace and freedom so that we can realise these ambitions
My client for this commission has been the children, in particular those of school leaving age – whose predecessors one hundred years ago walked straight into war. Through conversations with these young people it became apparent that the desire for peace greatly outweighs the ‘nobility of death in battle’ and that therefore this should not be a ‘generic’ memorial, simply a listing of the fallen. This age is much more sceptical. Alongside leaving and service to the outside world, the sculptural element of this memorial is intended to convey vulnerability and the devastation of war. It is entirely right that the figure should be an unclothed youth. It shows us in our most vulnerable state of being.
This piece profoundly captures the pride and the courage that all the young men from Cranleigh would have walked out of the school gates with as they headed towards the front lines to fight for their country. This piece does not glorify the war, nor does it celebrate our triumph, instead it sincerely honours the bravery and valiance that these young men fought with. Without these men who stood calm and defiant in the face of death, our country would not be as we know it today. “We Must Love One Another or Die” portrays the stark reality of war and the overwhelming sense of unity not only within the Cranleigh community but across the country.