They cleaned, tidied and trimmed the Dukies section of the cemetery. Phil was sure that before his first visit to the Cemetery, it had been unattended and neglected for years. Setting to work with sickles and clippers, the volunteers cut the grass, pulled up the weeds, collected the twigs and leaves and burned the debris. It was great fun, he relates, 'for one wonders how we were to be trusted with matches.'
The toughest job was cleaning and scrubbing the headstones. It meant removing the accumulation of years of lichen and grime. As our chronicler recalls, the work brought with it an unexpected mix of emotions: delight and laughter, happiness and a sense of freedom from being out of school, making fires, collecting and burning the rubbish. But with the merriment and larking about came other emotions, those waves of sadness at the thought of those fellow Dukies who had died so young. There was also a strong sense of achievement and pride for having done something to clean and tidy a this tiny corner of England for the visitors who might come to read the headstones and appreciate the care taken to preserve their memories. Visitors did come. Mrs Fiona Archontoulis, whose forebear WO1 Alfred Fowler (1865-1963) (see Warrant Officer Alfred Fowler) was in charge of the School's infirmary until the outbreak of the First World War.
Mention has already been made of RSM D. Haig (1917-1986), known as Duggie Haig, formerly of the Corps of Royal Engineers and the RSM of the School from 1960 to 1980. Little is known of his military career, but it is entirely possible that he began his military service as a boy apprentice in the Royal Engineers at Chatham. Be this the case or not, it is certain that because the school authorities chose company sergeant majors and regimental sergeant majors with extreme care, one may be sure that RSM Haig had outstanding qualities. Besides, most RSMs of the School have been chosen from the Brigade of Guards, so there must have been something special about RSM Haig. Writing of his former RSM, Phil Roberts remarked that he was '…well liked and feared not a little'. Such regard, esteem and frankness for a member of the School staff does not come with more candour than that.