Barnes School History

Much the same games were played as now but hardly any Badminton or Volleyball. Instead, there was some Tennis. There was no swimming pool as there is today. Just the stream which had no water when it was most sought after in the summers.

The A.F.I. – Auxilliary Force, India; the G. I. P. Rly. Rgt. – Great Indian Peninsula Railway Regiment; Cadet Company, Barnes School; strength, 2 officers and 60 cadets; officer Commanding Lt. A. A. Anthony, Second-in-command Lt. W. R. Coles.

That sounds a rigmarole perhaps but it was very real in the life of the School from 1927 to 1947. All the senior boys joined as soon as they were fifteen. There was regular army uniform: khaki shorts and tunic, grey shirts (everyone called them greybacks), ‘Ammo’ boots and everlasting putties that had to be continually wound and unwound and rolled up tightly. And, of course, extra large army topis with the G.I.P. flash. As accessories, there were webbing belts and shoulder straps, ammunition pouches, haversacks and knapsacks; real bayonets and rifles. They seemed to weigh a ton to new recruits. The armoury was in the steel-doored room next to the Science Laboratory and the clothing store was in the room leading off the present Class X Science.

Parades were held on Friday evening and Saturday morning – before breakfast. There was endless polishing of boots, belts and buckles. The buttons and badges were black. Company-Atten-tion! Slope Arms! Present-Arms! What punctilious smartness was drilled into everyone before a ceremonial parade. And no amateur stuff either. A regular Staff Sergeant from the army put the Company through its paces. Then how everyone chucked out his chest at the Guards of Honour for Lord Brabourne, Sir Roger Lumley and others. Boots were useful for their click when smart turns to right or left were ordered but oh! their weight on route marches, and the blisters! Highlights of the year were the shooting classification and the annual camp with the rest of the battalion. On the 25 yds. miniature .22 range in the school the early training was done. Then came the annual classification into 1st. Class shots, 2nd. and 3rd.

This was done with live .303 ammunition on the military ranges. The kick of the recoil bruised many a shoulder. The butts party whose duty it was to look after the targets and signal back the scores took more delight at waving the red flag for a miss than at planting the white disc over the bull.

One of the darkest secrets of history is how one year Devlali was captured by the Barnes Cadets. Boxing night saw at least half a dozen Cadets matched against the privates and corporals of the other companies of the Regiment. With the coming of war in 1939, how valuable became those A. F. I. certificates gained in School. Victory in 1945 was closely followed by Independence in 1947. On the very morning of August 15, all A. F. I. units were disbanded forthwith-by express telegram. So passed a phase of Barnes that will not return.

The 1930’s were times of stringency and change. Barnes was in a money crisis. All over the world there was a depression. Trade was bad everywhere. Businessmen went bankrupt. Many people lost their jobs and those who kept them had their salaries reduced. Barnes was affected along with everyone else. Apart from the general world-wide trouble, the school had for the first six years at Devlali not paid its way. Every year there were deficits running tens of thousands of rupees. Many of the original staff left around these years. Mr. Evans decided to retire in 1934 and Mr. W.R. Coles succeeded him as Headmaster in May. He was only thirty and not very experienced. Ahead stretched years of the strictest economy but gradually debts were cleared. By 1939, reserve funds were being built up.