ON a wall inside the entrance to Bournemouth School in East Way is a brass-plated plaque which relates to a significant period in the history of not only the school but also of a “visiting” school whose pupils were also to become occupants of the then modern building.

This September marks the 70th anniversary of that union – brought about by the start of the Second World War.

The inscription reads: “This plaque unveiled in 25 September 1992 acknowledges the kind co-operation of the staff and pupils of Bournemouth School where all facilities were shared by masters and boys of Taunton’s School from Southampton during the evacuation years of the Second World war 1939-1945. Old Tauntonians of that period are privileged to refer to this building as their old school.”

It was on Saturday September 2 1939 that more than 600 pupils from Taunton’s School left Southampton on Bournemouth-bound trains as wartime evacuees.

This was on the day after Hitler’s armies invaded Poland and the day before Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain dramatically announced, on the radio that, this country was at war with Germany.

The plaque followed a visit made a year earlier by six old Tauntonians who were visiting their wartime school exactly 50 years on from when their own Taunton’s School careers began.

During that visit memories abounded, particularly while returning to their old form rooms as well as the laboratories, workshops, art and craft rooms, and what was once the gymnasium.

Nostalgia, too, was felt when they entered the hall where morning assemblies were held and where rows of schoolboys faced the stage on which sat their masters wearing gowns. When the headmaster, Mr F Hemmings, entered the hall, masters and boys alike would stand as a token of respect. Even the teachers called him “Sir”.

It was ironic, perhaps, that Bournemouth School’s new building was opened in September 1939 and the Taunton’s pupils were the first to occupy it.

After the evacuees had settled in with their foster parents in their new homes, in areas such as Winton, Moordown and Charminster, the first task for the two headmasters – Mr J E Parry (Bournemouth School) and Mr Hemmings (Taunton’s School) – was to inaugurate a workable education system for more than 1,200 of the host pupils and their wartime guests.

For the first two terms, one school occupied the building each morning for a week with the other school using it in the afternoons.

Saturdays were included and this routine was considered “two-thirds education”, with extra homework enforced.

In May 1940 a new education programme was introduced. During one week the Bournemouth boys would have their English, history, geography and mathematics lessons in the form rooms while the Taunton’s boys would be taught in the laboratories, workshops, art and craft rooms, with use of the gymnasium.

These sessions were held in the mornings and then the programmes reversed for the afternoon, and the following week, they would switch.

Additional accommodation was rented to relieve the school’s population pressure, namely a hall in Sutton Road and in the Roman Catholic hall.

A major interruption occurred in June 1940. In the aftermath of Dunkirk, the school was closed for education so that it could be used, temporarily, to accommodate first French, then British soldiers.

This military occupation lasted from June 2 until June 26 when the boys returned.

Although I and my contemporaries did not begin our Taunton’s School education until September 1941, another significant June date lingers in my memory.

On June 6 1944 the first lesson we had was English, taken by our school’s senior English teacher Dr HM King (later to become Speaker in the House of Commons).

Before starting the lesson, Dr King spoke of BBC announcer John Snagge’s dramatic news that “D-Day has come...” referring to the Allies’ landings on the Normandy beaches.

Dr King said simply: “When you can, keep our soldiers in your thoughts and in your prayers.”

After his retirement, he became Lord Maybray-King. He died in 1986 aged 85.

Tauntonians ended their evacuation in March 1945, a few weeks before VE Day.

On March 27 Bournemouth School staff gave a farewell social to their Taunton counterparts and Mr Parry spoke of the “happy spirit of co-operation” during the evacuation.

In reply, Mr Hemmings replied: “Had we been permitted to choose a school to which we were to be evacuated, we could have made no happier choice.” Co-operation overcame all difficulties, he added.

Today, significantly, the Taunton School/Old Tauntonians plaque is positioned near a memorial that lists the 111 Old Bournemouthians who lost their lives during the Second World War.

A total of 130 Old Tauntonians were killed during the conflict, including Leading Seaman Jack Mantle, who was Southampton’s only Victoria Cross holder during that war.