A Stonyhurst schoolboy's history project led him to the Somme to find the grave of an old boy

A Lancashire schoolboy has taken a special interest in his Great War history project, which has led to a very special journey.
Patrick Thorpe, aged 11, researched the life of an airman who fell in the Great War – Major Joseph Creuss Callaghan of the Royal Munster Fusiliers and Royal Air Force.

Major Callaghan had attended the same school as Patrick, which is Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, and was therefore documented in the Stonyhurst War Record. Patrick found from this and other sources that Major Callaghan had been shot down as he fought alone against 25 German aircraft.

His two brothers, Stanislaus and Eugene, both in the Royal Flying Corps, were also killed in the Great War.

However, Patrick’s project did not end there. He was so interested by what he had learned that he persuaded his parents to take him to Contay, on the Somme, to visit Major Callaghan’s grave, where he laid a wreath and left a copy of his project for future visitors.
“I was really interested in Major Callaghan partly because he went to the same school as me and also because my dad is in the Air Force,” Patrick said.

“He was very brave, and died when his Sopwith Dolphin was shot down in flames. I had lots of different feelings when I found his grave – it’s almost as if I knew him.”

Patrick’s history teacher, Paul Garlington, said: “The study of an old Stonyhurst soldier is a vital part of our history curriculum in Year 7.

“The children are acutely aware of the fact that these young men from a century ago knew Stonyhurst as well as they now do. This research connects young minds with a difficult and emotive subject, focuses them on the important issues of commemoration and remembrance, and leaves a profound and lasting memory. They will not forget them.”