Wednesday, 22 August 2018

History comes alive as Camborne Youth Band travels to the Western Front

Camborne Youth Contesting Band will follow in the footsteps of Cornish miners who signed up in 1914 and travel to France and Belgium this weekend - taking a 100-year-old bugle back to the Western Front. 

This is part of our Heritage Lottery funded project, Heart of Conflict, marking the centenary of World War One.

On Saturday 25 August, the Band will visit the French town of Estaires where the Cornish miners were stationed from 1914-16 and play the historic bugle. In the Band is Corey Williams, aged 13 from Baripper - the great great grandson of Fred Negus, the original owner of the bugle.

“This is a trip that the Band will never forget,” says its conductor and musical director Alan Pope. “We’re honoured to remember the Cornishmen and countless others who served so bravely.”

Fred was one of a group of Dolcoath miners who joined the 25th Field Ambulance in 1914 after war broke out and went straight out to the Front.

Ralph Williams, Fred’s great grandson, has been one of a number of people raising funds with his wife Tina for the trip. He agrees that it will be of great significance.

“It’s important for us to remember those men who put themselves in great danger throughout the war,” he says.

The trip will also mark three historic rugby matches that the men played at the Front in 1915 after Camborne Rugby Club sent out a ball. The Field Ambulance organised games between Cornish and Devon teams – and descendants of men who played still live in Cornwall now.

“When they wrote back to the local paper, the men said that one of the matches was played on Whit Monday – but instead of the music of the Band in Camborne, they had the music of the guns,” says Ralph. “One hundred years on, we’re taking a Band from Camborne out to play in Estaires.”

On Sunday 26 August, the Band will play at the Menin Gate, Belgium, where tens of thousands of men who died in World War One - but have no known grave- are remembered.

We'll be staging an exhibition about the trip at Heartlands, Pool, this autumn – reporting back on everything that happened.

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