The Last Word

By Jack Divers | Posted: Monday June 10, 2019

From the first day of attendance at Otago Boys', it was very apparent to me to remember those that had come before us all.

Each week we read the names of those that gave their lives, fallen brothers, that walked the halls of our great school. To me they left this learning institution with more than just academic knowledge, but also an abundance of duty and ultimately sacrifice, beyond their own personal ambition. I would like to share with you my own family story and why reading of the book is special to me.

My family history lies overseas in the UK, mainly from Kent, South East England. My Great Grandfather was one of 16 children, with the oldest brother Frank. It is Frank that I draw my personal link to the Great War regarding duty and sacrifice, and why it relates to me now at Otago Boys'.

Frank William Powell was born in 1900, and was the first to of a few family members to enlist in the army. He enlisted into the Royal West Kent Regiment and like many others of his era, lied about his age to gain entry.

Frank was killed at The Battle of the Somme in France, at a place call Thiepval Ridge, a four day sortie into enemy territory. He was one of 73,000 allied soldiers killed and never found, in a matter of months, trodden into the mud of the Somme to lie there with his fellow brothers. Quiet and still, and as a constant reminder to the soldiers that survived. His recorded age of death was 17 years old, but in fact he was 16.


Sacrifice for many of us is known to be giving up someone or something for the sake of other considerations. For all of us sitting within this auditorium, sacrifice might be seen as putting that phone down to go to sleep early knowing you’ve got a test tomorrow, or for me deciding not to drink at a party because of training. All of us have an example of personal sacrifice, with levels on that sacrifice.

I would ask that when we continue to read from the book, that we do take the time to remember those past boys that gave the ultimate sacrifice that I would hope none of have to make. The fact that we still speak their names that is part of our school as a tradition that both supports our identity of being an OBs boy, and that a brotherhood remains regardless of time past.

I’d like to finish with a quote: “There is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.” - Simon Sinek.