King Edward VII School opened in 1908 and merged with Queen Mary School in1997. The Lidunian, the school magazine, first mentions the League of Nations in 1922 when the school was addressed by two Rhodes Scholars from Oxford University. Mr Hamilton, an Australian, and Mr Edwards, an American, were ‘eloquent in their admiration of this splendid cause, and appealed for support of the League of Nations Union’ (LNU). This was followed by Mr Frederick Whelen of the League of Nations Union who visited the school in March 1923 to explain the organisation and role of the League of Nations. He gave them a LNU flag. (1) No more visits by LNU speakers are recorded. However, the interest in internationalism continued through the active Debating and Dramatic Society.
The proposal that ‘A union between Britain and America would be beneficial to both countries’ was narrowly defeated in 1926. At a joint meeting with the Old Lidunians, in 1927, members debated whether ‘the adoption of fascism in Great Britain would be beneficial to the nation.’ The motion was lost. Disarmament was a topical issue in December 1929 when pupils defeated the motion ‘The powers should embark immediately on a comprehensive disarmament programme.’ The first speaker said that disarmament was one of the first duties of the League of Nations. Opposers argued that man can only develop by fighting and that if arms were retained it did not necessarily mean that war would follow. (2)
(1) The Lidunian, v.7, 1922-23. AKS Independent School Archives.
(2) The Lidunian Debating and Dramatic Society Book, AKS Independent School Archives.
D. Markwell, 2011. To ‘render war impossible’: the Rhodes Scholarships, educational relations between countries, and peace. Speech at the ‘Sailing Dinner’ of the Canadian Association of Rhodes Scholars, Ottawa.