An Anniversary, April 25th 1915 – 2015

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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.

Bede War memorial enlarged









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:

Bede College Freshmen 1912 (titled)


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.

WW1 army training camp group. 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:


WLS as a freshman


Tutty freshers' photo














& Bob H

Bob H 1
















An invitation:

The college kindly sent me an invitation to attend The Ceremony of Sounding Retreat.

Invitation to Bede ceremony for 100th Anniversary


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.

Yours ever,

The Agent signature

WW1 Centenary Information Correspondent: The Agent has just returned from a trip to Ypres where he has been researching WLS’s WW1 experiences and is helping to co-ordinate Castle Coop’s WW1 Commemorations.







  1. This is a fascinating and moving series of posts. I am deeply grateful to the Agent for all his research and I am sure WLS would be amazed to know that he is now featured in a running series of posts. It’s a beautiful day here – I was out for a walk with the dog a little while ago, thinking about them. It is hard to imagine what WLS and his colleagues must have felt like a hundred years ago.

    A ram caught in a thicket by its horns;
    Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
    But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.”

    • The agent got back home a hour or so ago – walked all over exactly where the 8th DLI were 100 years ago with a chap who does a lot of work for the DLI Association and who wore the DLI tie for them all.

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