Our ANZAC Story
Harefield Hospital was known as Harefield Park before the 1st World War. It was owned by an Australian millionaire called Charles Billyard-Leakes. In 1914 he was too old to join the army so he decided to help the war effort by offering his home and grounds as a field hospital for ANZAC soldiers.
Many ANZAC soldiers fought in the Gallipoli Campaign in Turkey. It was a fierce and terrible mission and led to great loss of life and serious injury for the soldiers. The injured were brought back by boat to England and many came to Harefield.
Unfortunately not all the soldiers survived and the coffins were taken on a trolley down the hill to St. Mary's Church to be buried. The Headteacher of Harefield Juniors, Mr. Jeffries, saw this one day as he was looking out of the school and saw the coffin had no covering. He rushed out taking the Union Jack flag that every school had, stopped the procession and draped the coffin with the flag. From then on every serviceman who died at the hospital had the school flag draped over his coffin on its way to be buried. From that moment on the school had forged a strong and unbreakable link with the ANZACs.
The original flag was restored and handed back to Adelaide High School on Thursday 2nd August 2012. Harefield features in the Adelaide High School Prospectus and one of our teachers, Miss Pearce, is from Australia and knows the school well. To find out about how it has been restored click here.
The Mystery of Harefield’s Flag
In 2015 Harefield received some correspondence from Elise Younger who lives in Wembley. She had found, whilst clearing her loft, some photographs pertaining to the school and some correspondence that was written in the 1950s. One item was a typed manuscript that was sent to the Australian Herald, and the author, Cal Younger who wrote of a “little school” in Harefield that still remembers the ANZACs. The letter also went on to state that the ANZAC Service at St. Mary’s Church was broadcast live by the BBC and that the Australian Cricket team of the day visited Harefield. The main thrust of the story regards to Harefield School receiving a new Union Jack – as the original one from the Great War had been given to Adelaide High School in Australia. There were photographs of Harefield’s headteacher, Mr Morris, receiving the Union Jack from dignitaries. This Union Jack flag is still kept by the school today.