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School marks death of First World War pilot with new memorial

Students and staff at Carshalton secondary school, Stanley Park High, marked the 100th anniversary of the death of a First World War pilot by unveiling a unique permanent memorial, created by students.

The memorial commemorates the life of Second Lieutenant Thomas William George who lost his life on 18 October 1917 in Queen Mary’s Hospital, which was then situated on the school site.

Lt George was in the Royal Flying Corps and served on the Western Front in 1916. The following year he was training to be a pilot at Plough Lane Airfield, Wallington. He died as a result of injuries sustained in an accident while flying a Sopwith Pup A650 when the aeroplane broke up in the air.

The six metre memorial, situated on a grass slope behind the school, is based on a traditional RAF roundel, using concentric red white and blue circles made from coloured chippings. A maple tree has been planted within the circle in recognition of the Canadian regiment Thomas served. Around the memorial there are interactive information displays telling the story of Thomas and the role of aviation in the First World War.

The school marked the anniversary of Thomas George’s death with a special assembly on 18 October, during which the last elements of the memorial were added, including the information display, which contains a copy of a letter sent by Thomas to his brother, Robert, who was on active service in France. The letter was written less than four weeks before he died.

Students in Year 8 who are studying a Remembrance project took part in the assembly, along with Year 11 horticulture students who created the tribute. As part of their studies, the Year 8 students visited Ypres and have created an exhibition that is open to parents and the local community.

Sutton is the first council in London to partner with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) on a project to commemorate people from the borough who lost their lives in the First World War. To get involved with Sutton’s Living Memory project email suttonremembers@gmail.com