PER ARDUA AD ASTRA – THROUGH ADVERSITY TO THE STARS

Louis Belloc (C1915) is an Old Gregorian with a great history. Not only son to a recognised British Catholic Author, Hilaire Belloc, and uncle to Dom Philip Jebb, a monk and previous Head Master at the School, but he also sacrificed his life during World War I. 

Louis was a pupil at Downside School from 1911 until June 1915 and was mentioned in Downside and the War. After his time at Downside he chose to move into the Royal Air Force and became Second Lieutenant, part of the 209th Squadron where he tragically lost his life on the battlefield on the 26th August 1918, aged only 20 years old. His death was seen as a great display of bravery as he dive-bombed a German ammunition train. The most notable Memorial Plaque to Louis can be found in Cambrai Cathedral, France. 

Louis’ history and his time with the Royal Air Force has been researched extensively, with details of letters and drawings between him and his father being at the forefront. Louis’ letters were always positive in tone with him once explaining how he wishes to ‘stay out here’.

Hilaire Belloc’s, cautionary verse, Matilda, which he wrote in 1907, has now become a new Downside Tradition initiated this year – the Michaelmas Matilda (or the MM for short!). First Formers will be challenged to learn and perform the poem for fellow pupils and staff on National Poetry Day (1st October) every year. This year’s First Formers are eager to take on this challenge so will recite the poem on 20th October in the Theatre Quad, as they cannot wait until next year’s National Poetry Day. Good luck to all!

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity.