As Armistice Day approaches, we find ourselves in uncharted territory in terms of how we observe and commemorate those who sacrificed their lives during periods of conflict.

The Military History team at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) decided to observe this year’s Remembrance Sunday and Day – 11 November – as a collective group and together with their students produced a short video to form part of the commemoration of the First World War.

Military History students Matthew Richardson and William Cragg volunteered to read extracts from the letters of the brothers of the Beechey family. All eight of the young men of the Beechey family went off to fight in the 1914-18 conflict. The family lived in Avondale Street, Lincoln. Only three brothers would return, the loss of the Beechey Family, five brothers all told, was one of the gravest a single family suffered in Britain during the Great War. Amy Beechey, their mother, is buried in Newport Cemetery -- a short walk from the BGU campus. The members of the Beechey family who paid the ultimate sacrifice included:

  • Sgt. Barnard Reeve Beechey, killed in action – 25 September 1915, aged 38
  • 2nd/Lt. Frank Collett Reeve Beechey died of wounds – 14 November 1916, aged 30
  • L/Cpl. Harold Reeve Beechey was killed in action – 10 April 1917, aged 26.
  • Pte. Charles Reeve Beechey died of wounds – 20 October 1917, aged 39
  • Rf/m. Leonard Reeve Beechey died of wounds – 29 December 1917, aged 36

While the current COVID-19 pandemic has meant that our commemorative services and traditions will be altered this year, remembrance and commemoration of the sacrifices made during conflict can take a variety of forms. Whatever form it does take, the importance of continuing to respect and commemorate the fallen was emphasised by the youngest Beechey Brother during the war itself, in 1917.

One of the letters you can hear being read in the commemorative short film was written by the youngest Beechey brother, Eric – fortunately he survived the war, and was serving as an army dentist in Malta at the time he penned the letter. Having learned of the death of his brother Harold, the third to have fallen during the war, he wrote to his mother Amy emphasising the importance of ensuring their sacrifice was never forgotten.

‘I really cannot write much as I cannot realise that when I do get home, I shall not find any of the three of us who have paid the last tribute possible to the old country, have sacrificed their lives. We can only pay them the honour due to them, and reverence them forever in our memories’.

The commemorative short film will be played just before the two minutes silence on 11 November on the University's social media channels. It will also be available to watch after the silence here.

If you are interested in studying Military History at Bishop Grosseteste University please click here. You can also find out about the course at one of the forthcoming open days. For those interested in a taster session, please book onto the Military History masterclass on 17 November 2020.

You can follow the activities of the Military History team on Twitter @BGUMilitaryHist