04 December 2001

Sixth form mutiny

Hi everyone
In an article entitled "How the sixth form seized an armoury and shut a school", published in "The Times" on Friday 24th January 1997, Robin Young, "Times" columnist and former Symondian, describes an insurrection which allegedly took place at Peter Symonds School in the early summer of 1957. The so-called "mutiny" centred on the combined cadet force's armoury. Apparently, pupils supplied themselves with Lee Enfield .303 rifles, Bren guns, thunderflashes and blank and live ammunition and managed to bring all classses to a halt.

The upshot of all this was that once and for all the myth that "Corps" was compulsory and not voluntary was finally exploded.

I personally was not aware of any of this – I was in the RAF at the time and wonder if anyone else

a./ Has read the article

b./ Remembers the incident and can add a personal perspective of events.



Peter Churchill


  1. Hi Peter   I was at Southampton University during the summer of '57, but no news of a rebellion reached me there.   Things must have been pretty desperate if it needed a mutiny to establish that "corps" was not compulsory; I opted out voluntarily of doing my "school national service", and other boys in my year did also; although we were not very popular wirh Mr Hammond, who was o/ic of CCF activities, we were grudgingly allowed to have that choice, although we were always regularly checked up on during the alternative "private study" periods that we were actually at school, and had n't slipped away to go home.   Regards   Peter Smith   

  2. The film 'If ....' was on the other day, maybe this incident was the inspiration! Actually I was just telling someone yesterday about how we boarders used to have a film on Sunday nights. In those days it would have been reels of 16mm I suppose. They were reasonably current, and no distinction was made about the age of some of the audience. I remember seeing a few films which were quite mind stretching at an impressionable age. 'If ....' and 'The Wicker Man' were two of them.   I remember that the upper sixth leavers in 1977 or 1978 managed to park the Bedford 3 ton truck on top of the armoury somehow, which was quite amusing. They had to get a mobile crane in to get it off again.


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