Page 36

34

ALUMNI NEWS

st. george’s school

// SPRING 2018

A day of infamy, a lifetime of memories Life on campus for members of St. George’s Class of 1943 involved not only studying for exams, but watching for German aircraft and U-boats as well. Now, as this chapter of America’s “Greatest Generation” comes to a close, not many members of the Class of ’43 remain, but those who do still recall life at school during the country’s entry into World War II. Class of ’43 alumni Peter Ward, 93, and Robert Merrill, 94, first met as students at St. George’s, but developed a friendship that has endured the test of time. There are five living members of the Class of ’43, according to Ward’s Class Notes in this issue of the Bulletin. Ward still remembers when he and Merrill hijacked a diesel-powered steamroller from the head of the machine shop on campus and took it on a joyride. “Bob (Merrill) and I managed to get the steamroller started and we ran it about 100 yards before they discovered it and we were, in some way, disciplined for doing a thing like that,” said Ward. “He and I had some laughable times.” “It was a diesel which was much harder to start because there was no key,” said Merrill. “You had to figure

out which valves to turn to get the oil to flow to the engine — a much more challenging and satisfying experience.” Ward, an honorary trustee who served on the St. George’s board from 1966 to 1978, acting as its chair from 1972 to 1978, went on to become a partner at New York City law firm Chadbourne & Parke and has been Merrill’s personal lawyer for 50 years. “We were very close at school and I always admired his intelligence,” Merrill said of Ward. “I think it’s very comforting to know that you have someone who you know you can trust and who has no ulterior motives — and that friendship has gone down in the family.”

ENTERING THE WAR Like the 35 other members of the Class of ’43, Merrill and Ward were on campus when news arrived of the attack on Pearl Harbor. “Our daily life really didn’t change very much,” Ward said. “Though when we graduated, we all went into some branch of the service.”

Ward was in his dorm room in Sixth-Form House when he first heard of the Pearl Harbor attack. “When Pearl Harbor happened, well the only thing we had to look forward to was being drafted into the army and I didn’t really want that. I had been on the water so much, I enlisted in the Navy,” said Ward, a lifelong sailor. Merrill can’t recall where he was exactly when he heard the news. “[But] I can remember [thinking], ‘where the hell is Pearl Harbor?’,” he said. After the sneak attack, the St. George’s chapel tower was turned into an aircraft spotting station, which was manned 24 hours a day by students and faculty. “We had a routine; we had a telephone there. The idea was if you spotted what presumably was an enemy airplane, you could call in. I do remember our code name was Gertrude,” Ward said. “Well most of our reports either turned out to be our own airplanes or maybe a seagull flying by. Nothing ever happened. No enemy planes.”

Bulletin Spring 2018  

The alumni magazine of St. George's School

Bulletin Spring 2018  

The alumni magazine of St. George's School