An Anniversary, April 25th 1915 – 2015
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge, April 25th 1915.
The College of St. Hild and St. Bede, Durham University is holding a Ceremony of Sounding Retreat at the college War Memorial to commemorate the occasion.
The War Memorial at St Hild and St Bede College, Durham University.
At the War Memorial today, everyone will be thinking of the young student teachers who posed so confidently for their freshman photograph in the autumn of 1912. They were looking forward to 2 interesting years at Durham University in which they would be taught the skills needed to pursue a fulfilling career in teaching, their chosen profession:
Throughout 1913 and most of 1914, these Bede boys filled their days with study and all those college activities – journalism, music drama and sport – which make up student life. They were at the Army Training Camp in Conway, North Wales posing for photographs with pipes and bottles of beer when they heard that the outbreak of WW1 was imminent on August 3rd 1914.
They spent their last night in their college after rushing back to Durham to be formally mobilised on August 4th 1914 before being sent to the east coast near Whitburn, to guard against invasion.
They formed part of A Company, of the 8th DLI and afer eight months of coastal duty and training and they all jumped onto the ‘Berlin Express’ at Newcastle station, joking ‘Bede v. the Kaiser’!
Less than 2 years after their freshers’ photograph was taken, these ‘Bede boys’, most of whom had never been further afield from Durham than Conway and the east coast, found themselves being rushed to the front line near Ypres just hours after the first poison gas attack of the War. Their orders were to try to hold a four mile gap in the Allies’ defences.
They were teachers, not soldiers, they were all full of life and none of them was older than 21.
Sitting on those red London buses singing and cheering, with brand new wills in their pockets and dressings and iodine to treat the wounds they would sustain in their field packs, they were enroute to the guns on the front line. Among them were:
& Bob H
The college kindly sent me an invitation to attend The Ceremony of Sounding Retreat.
However, I cannot go. I am in Ypres with the Chairman of the Village Hall. We are spending the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge on the battlefield.