World War 1 Centenary

The Agent is helping to co-ordinate Castle Coop’s efforts to commemorate WW1. Villagers have visited the battlefields in Ypres and the Somme in 2014 and more trips are planned for next year.

Captain Frank G. Harvey

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Captain Frank G. Harvey

Captain Frank G. Harvey

In memoriam Bede College, A Co, 8th Battalion DLI…

Part 3

(click here for Part 1 and Part 2)



Just before WLS and his friends, Tutty and Bob H. posed for this photograph at the Army Training Camp in Conway, whilst on their Senior Year summer vacation,

WW1 army training camp group. 1914



Bede College, Durham, had bidden farewell to a long-serving member of the Senior Faculty, Captain Frank G. Harvey.

Harvey was a much admired member of the Bede staff, and greatly respected by the students who affectionately nicknamed him, ‘Captain Cardboard’. When interviewed by Harry Moses in the 1980s, WLS spoke of him with much affection, saying with enthusiastic emphasis,

“…oh, he was a great fellow!’

Captain Harvey in 1912:

Captain Harvey

A Warm Tribute:

The Bede strapline






The frontpage of this June 1914 edition of the Bede College magazine, features a warm tribute to Mr Harvey who was leaving Bede after 14 years to study for a BA at Cambridge.

The Bede tribute to Mr. Harvey



Just 2 months before the outbreak of WW1, Capt. Harvey thought he was going up to Cambridge University in October 1914. He had no idea that his immediate future would actually lie far away from Cambridge’s academic cloisters,  commanding his former students in Front line trenches.



Captain Frank G Harvey – a brief biography:

Frank G. Harvey joined the Bede Staff in 1900, straight from Peterborough Training College. His appointment was as Arts Tutor and Assistant Master in the Model School. In 1902, there is a Sgt. F.G. Harvey in the Bede Company (then part of the 4th Volunteer Battalion D.L.I., later 8 Bn. DLI in 1908). He was a keen tennis player, coach of boats and President of the College soccer club. In 1904, Frank Harvey was appointed the headmaster of Gilesgate Council School in Durham and trainee teachers from Bede (including WLS) used to hone their classroom skills there.

 As all fit students were expected to join the Bede Company on starting college, WLS and his best friends amongst the Junior Year of 1913, Tutty and Bob H  knew Harvey (who had been promoted to Captain in 1909) very well.

Captain Harvey commanded ‘B’ Company (the Bede Lads) until the Territorial units were re-organised shortly after the commencement of the First World War, to reflect the organisation of the regular battalions i.e four companies per Battalion and not eight. When the Durham City Platoons merged with the Bede Company to form the new ‘A’ Company, it was commanded by Frank Harvey.

Thus it was their well-loved Captain Harvey who led the Bede Lads, (including WLS, Tutty and Bob H ) off to fight in WW1.

Wounded in the hip and hand at Gravenstafel in 1915, Captain Harvey was sent back to England then returned to France in 1916 and promoted Major.

A Distinguished Post-war Career:

Frank Harvey finally made it to Cambridge. After WW1 ended, he went to Queen’s College, where he took a degree in History at the age of 42.

He joined the Army Education Corps as a Captain in 1921 and was posted to India.

In 1926 he was appointed M.B.E. In 1928, he was promoted Major. In 1931 he was with London District as Command Education Officer and was presented to King George V. He retired in 1937.

 (All information courtesy of Harry Moses)
It must have been extremely comforting for WLS, Tutty and Bob H, who after all were only just out of their teens when they were suddenly all caught up in WW1, to have the steadying knowledge that they were to be under the command of an extremely fine man whom they already knew, liked and respected.

Yours ever,

The Agent signature



(click here for Part 1 and Part 2)

WW1 Centenary Information Correspondent: The Agent is passionate about barbecues and Manchester Utd. Football Team; he 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.
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A Prototype Display for the Ceramic Poppies

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A Prototype Display for the Ceramic Poppies



A Prototype Display for the Ceramic Poppies:


Since the 5 ceramic poppies arrived from The Tower of London, we have been trying to come up with a way to put them on display in the Village Hall so that they can be used to commemorate the  5 soldiers from Castle Coop who were killed in WW1.

Ceramic Poppies


Arranging the Poppies for Display:

The poppies arrived on quite long steel stalks – about 14″ or so and we’ve been trying to think of a way to arrange them so that they can all be seen together in a way that doesn’t look too stiff or formal.

Here is what we’ve come up with!


 The Prototype

Step 1:

Amazingly, the Chairman of the Village Hall has an original WW1 barbed wire screw  picket. It was found on a Somme field as part of the annual ‘Iron Harvest‘ and he’s very kindly donated it so that the ceramic poppies can be displayed against it.

During the First World War, screw pickets were used for the installation of wire obstacles; these were metal rods with eyelets for holding strands of wire, and a corkscrew-like end that could literally be screwed into the ground rather than hammered, so that wiring parties could work at night near enemy soldiers and not reveal their position by the sound of hammers.

(source: Wikipedia)

It still has a bit of (modern) Somme mud on it.


We thought we’d try entwining the poppies around it, bending the steel stems so that the flower heads face upwards as if growing towards the sun.

ceramic poppies arranged 1




























Step 2:

The Castle Coop gamekeeper then produced a bit of barbed wire which the Chairman of the V. H. wound around the whole thing, having bent the stems a bit more:

Ceramic Poppies arranged 2




























If other villagers give the arrangement the thumbs up, we’ll need to encase it inside a box frame. Then it can be put on permanent display inside the Village Hall next to or near the Rolls of Honour on which the names of the 5 soldiers are written.The Rolls of Honour



What do you think?

Do you think it will look appropriate?

We are all very anxious to show the Poppies off to best advantage.

Yours absolutely thrilled to think that our 5 poor soldiers will now each have their own poppy by their names in their own Village Hall,

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The Ceramic Poppies have arrived!

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The Ceramic Poppies have arrived!





The Ceramic Poppies have arrived…



& they’re so beautiful!


Ceramic Poppy Booklet

The 5 ceramic poppies – bought in honour of the 5 soldiers who enlisted from Castle Coop and who were killed in WW1 – have arrived safely.

Poppy with certificate



Here they all are:


5 ceramic poppies


Just as each soldier was an individual so each of the ceramic poppies is different from all the others.

ceramic poppy 1













Ceramic Poppy 2









Ceramic Poppy 3










Ceramic Poppy 4









Ceramic Poppy 5




















I can’t get my head round holding these poppies here in Castle Coop,  knowing that they were part of that incredible display at the Tower of London. It is amazing to think that those poor 5 soldiers who were killed, all have their own poppies now, right here in the village they once lived in…

poppies 1


What a thrill!

Yours feeling rather awestruck,

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WW1 Army Training Camps

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WW1 Army Training Camps


In memoriam Bede College, A Co, 8th Battalion DLI…

Part 2

(click here for Part 1)



Enlisting in the Territorial Army just before the outbreak of WW1:

“Any smart lad who wants good pay, good food and good sport should join this distinguished regiment”


















Picture credit: The Durham Light Infantry Museum


When WLS became a student at Durham in 1912, there was a Territorial Unit already attached to Bede College. He and his best friends, Tutty and Bob H enrolled immediately as did all their fellow undergraduates . None of them had any idea that WW1 was imminent and none of them had any intention of becoming soldiers rather than teachers.

Once a week, instead of playing sport in the afternoons, the Bede Collegers would put on their army field dress and were drilled by the Sergeant Instructor. They drilled, marched and practiced loading and firing their rifles. In the summers, they were sent off to Army Training Camps.

In 1914, there were 50 students in the Junior Year at Bede College Durham  and 51 in the Senior Year. All were enlisted in the Territorial unit attached to the College and together they formed A Company of the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry. In those days, a Company was made up of 100 men,  8 companies forming together to make up the Battalion. When A Company was sent to the Front in 1915, 99 men from Bede went to France. The only 2 who were missing were one who was medically unfit and one CO (conscientious objector).

WW1 Army Training Camps:

Years later, the distinguished American  John Pershing  (who became General of the Armies,the highest authorised rank in the United States Army), wrote about British Army Training Camps during this time:


“Soon after our arrival in Europe careful study was made of the methods followed by our Allies in training combat troops. Both the French and British maintained continuously a great system of schools and training centres, which provided for both theoretical and practical instruction of inexperienced officers and non-commissioned officers.

These centres were required not only to train new troops, but to prepare officers and soldiers for advancement by giving them a short course in the duties of their new grades. These school systems made it possible to spread rapidly a knowledge of the latest methods developed by experience and at the same time counteract false notions…

…The rifle and the bayonet are the principal weapons of the infantry soldier. He will be trained to a high degree of skill as a marksman, both on the target range and in field firing. An aggressive spirit must be developed until the soldier feels himself, as a bayonet fighter, invincible in battle…”



By 1914, these camps were dotted all around the country.

In an article written for the Summer 2014 edition (no.28) of The Durham Bugle (the magazine of the DLI Museum Friends and the DLI), Harry Moses writes:

Annual Territorial Camp in July was eagerly looked forward to… Held over two weeks, manoeuvres, drills, shooting and field exercises took place. Competitions were organised and Bede men […] performed very well. 

In the Autumn 2014 edition of the same magazine, Harry Moses states, ‘Annual camps gave a short experience of ‘real’ soldiering.‘ He continues with  his account of the Training camp experiences of The Bede College Contingent, A Co. 8th Bn DLI, writing :

The 1912 camp was held …in very heavy rain which turned the fields into a sea of mud. There were many moans about the mud and the almost impossible task of keeping clean. Tents were errected, palliasses filled, which soon became damp in the inclement weather. Manoeuvres, drills and route marches in full marching order filled much of the time. Rations were issued – sausages, coffee and bread – and each unit did its own cooking. Some men were trained as scouts and took part in exercises to loacate an ‘enemy’ with much hilarity when they lost their way and failed to find the objective!



Durham Light Infantry recruits in training, 1915.

Picture credit: Tynemouth 1914-18

Sometimes the soldiers were housed in wooden huts but the students from Bede College camped out in tents like the ones pictured below.

 Manchester Training Camp:

army training camp 2








Ashridge Camp, Ashridge Park, Herts, Training Camp

troops-ashridge-1914-marching-tents w1200


In all, WLS  together with his fellow students from Bede spent a month in Army Training Camps in Scarborough and Conway.

At the Camps, they were issued with their kit including several pairs of Army Ammunition boots. Most of these apparently they immediately sold on to miners who deemed them perfect for working down the pits. (I shouldn’t think John Pershing or his fellow British Army bigwigs knew about this particular method of income supplementation.)

WW1 army ammunition boots


One pair of Army Ammunition boots however, WLS made sure to hang onto for as he said later, they were  the ‘most comfortable boots I ever had in my life!’

Apparently they lasted him throughout the 15 months he spent serving in the Army and ensured he never any trouble with his feet whilst in the trenches.



Years later, WLS made a recording about his memories of those days, He didn’t mention anything that sounds at all like John Pershing’s description of training camps – nothing about being “trained to a high degree of skill as a marksman, both on the target range and in field firing” or about being turned into “… a  bayonet fighter, invincible in battle” .

Instead WLS  seemed to have only happy memories of his Training Camp days. He described how they were given every afternoon off to go off into Scarborough or Conway to have fun and gave his verdict as, “We all enjoyed it!”.


WLS at Conway



















In this photograph taken at Conway Army Training Camp in 1914, these 10 friends from Bede are posing for the camera in front of their field tent with their pipes &  bottles of beer placed as prominently as their rifles & bayonets. WLS  (aged 20) is pictured seated in the second row in the middle of the group, Tutty is in the middle of the top row without a cap, leaning on Bob H (in field dress) next to the chap with the mallet on his shoulder.


None of these young men had factored the outbreak of WW1 into their plans for the future.


Yours ever,

The Agent signature


(Click here for Part 1)

WW1 Centenary Information Correspondent: The Agent is passionate about barbecues and Manchester Utd. Football Team; he 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.


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Armistice Day: in memoriam Bede College, A Co, 8th Battalion DLI

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Armistice Day: in memoriam Bede College, A Co, 8th Battalion DLI

Armistice Day: in memoriam Bede College, A Co, 8th Battalion DLI…


I cycled the Royal British Legion’s Pedal2Paris ride in memory of WLS.

He was wounded fighting in Ypres in May 1915 but unlike those commemorated by the Ceramic Poppies at the Tower of London, survived to live a long and happy life.




During the four days of the cycle ride at memorial services held in Calais, Abbeville, Beauvais & Paris, I thought a lot about WLS and his 2 best friends at college, Tutty

Tutty freshers' photo















& Bob H

Bob H 1

















They enlisted together and I wondered about what happened to them after they marched out of Durham on their way to fight in WW1.

Since I returned,  the Agent has been very busy trying to discover all that he could about  A Company, 8th Battalion DLI during the time they were serving near Ypres and has volunteered to write down his findings for The Awesome Hen.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                From Durham to Ypres…

Part 1

Following the outbreak of WW1 in 1914, WLS enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry, joining the 8th Battalion, A Company. Although he came from Corbridge in Northumberland and his younger brother Joe joined the Northumberland Fusiliers, WLS was a student member of Bede College (now The College of St Hild and St Bede), Durham University, (Picture credit: The Collegiate Way)

Hild Bede College






and so joined the DLI with all his college friends.

The undergraduate students were formed into a Territorial Unit which became A Company in the 8th Battalion of the DLI.

Photographs  show these young men who were all training to be teachers, busy enjoying every aspect of university life. The Durham Bugle which is the magazine of the DLI Friends and the DLI reproduces in its Summer 2014 Issue (28) a 1912 photograph of Bede College Rugby players  and states:

The College laid great emphasis on fitness of body and mind and sporting activities fill the articles written by the students [in the College Magazine, ‘The Bede’], Soccer, rugby, hockey, tennis, swimming, cricket were amongst the games competed between juniors and seniors of the College and rival colleges.
Bede cricket


Before they’d celebrated their 21st birthdays, WLS, Tutty and Bob H. had  exchanged their football kit & cricket bats for  DLI cap badges.

DLI cap badge




It is difficult looking at WLS’s Bede College Freshers’ photograph

Freshers-photo WLS 3


knowing that none of the men pictured nor their families had any idea that they would all be swept up in WW1 within months of this photograph being taken .


Part 2 to follow.


Yours ever,

The Agent signature



WW1 Centenary Information Correspondent: The Agent is passionate about barbecues and Manchester Utd. Football Team; he 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.


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Poppies at the Tower of London!

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Poppies at the Tower of London!



 Poppies at the Tower of London!





The ceramic poppy memorial at the Tower of London is simply amazing.



Yesterday  the Chairman of the Village Hall & I nipped up to London & met the Agent outside a pub called The Hung, Drawn and Quartered on Tower Hill.  We all wanted to see this incredible display before Remembrance Sunday and spent the afternoon at the Tower of London, taking it all in and  admiring it.

poppies 1


We spent ages watching volunteers busy planting some of the last of the 888,246 that make up the display.


poppies 5


The Agent disagrees with me (& indeed, feels so strongly that he was moved to write a firm letter to BoJo, Mayor of London) but I am so glad that the some of the ceramic poppy memorial will remain in place at the Tower until the end of November so that as many people as possible can get to see it.


Yours totally struck by the eloquence of all those poppies and by the genius of ceramicist Paul Cummins who had the idea behind the ceramic memorial in the first place,

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Tim Holyoake who blogs at: Just One More Ten Pence  has published some really good photos of the poppies  -much better than mine – and also, a post  which made  the Agent exclaim, ‘Good Man!”

Post Script: 11/11/14

The last poppy was planted by cadet Harry Hayes, 13, from Reading Blue Coat SchoolArmistice Day

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Pedal2Paris was AWESOME!

Posted by in Castle Coop News, Cycling from London to Paris for WLS & the Royal British Legion, World War 1 Centenary | 16 comments

Pedal2Paris was AWESOME!

Those of you who have been loyally following ‘The Awesome Hen’ will know that at the end of last year I had a sudden rush of blood to the head & signed up for the Royal British Legion’s Pedal to Paris 2014 Bike Ride. It was an attempt to do something personally to honour the memories of the Bede Boys -WLS, Tutty and Bob H and to commemorate the Centenary of WW1 by trying to raise money to help today’s gallant service men and women and their families.

Nearly 300 cyclists gathered at Greenwich

to start the ride and we all finished at the Arc de Triomphe 4 days later.


It was one of the very best experiences of my life; I loved every minute! Without your fantastic support, I could not have done it and I thank all of you very much indeed.

By looking on the web-site of the Royal British Legion, you can see how the charity uses money raised in donations to improve the lives of servicemen and their families. By looking at my blog (Category: ycling from London to Paris) you can read about my efforts to learn to ride a bike properly and  (LOL) turn myself into a long distance cyclist.




Yours encouraging anyone who’s thinking about doing something similar to go ahead and do it – it was fabulous!

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The Route!

View Pedal to Paris in a larger map





Wreaths were laid to commemorate those who died:

Pedal2Paris wreaths

and funds raised to support for those who survive:

RBL cause

(youtube video source: The Royal British Legion) 






TAH donations 5








Pedal2Paris crew 1

 (photo credit: Dave Hayward)







pedaltoparis luggage 1


 (photo credit: Dave Hayward):

(Youtube video source: British Forces News)






They welcomed us with ceremonies at their war memorials in Calais:

P2P Calais war memorial


P2P Abbeyville


P2P Beauvais

 and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris:

P2P tomb of unknow soldier 1


  (photo credits: Dave Hayward)

with bunting in Auchy la Montagne

Pedal2Paris, Auchy la Montagne1

and with a feature article written by Monique Biéri the ‘Courrier Picard ‘ at Poix de Picardie:

Pedal2Paris article1







both before:

Pedal2Paris good luck cards1

and afterwards:


Peda2Paris flowers




W. L. S.






both in his youth:


and in his old age:








Yours feeling absolutely thrilled to have been part of The Royal British Legion’s Pedal2Paris ride, 2014,

Pedal2Paris 2014 1

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