New Beacon Pupil’s Letter to Sevenoaks Soldier

Young people across Sevenoaks have been invited to send letters to those who served in The Great War as part of this month’s centenary commemoration. In a collaboration between Sevenoaks Town Council, the Sevenoaks WW1 project, and MySevenoaksCommunity, a bespoke poppy post box was created by local carpenter Terry Malone and placed in the foyer of the Stag Theatre.

We’ve had a terrific response from young people in the town and all of the letters received will be scanned and uploaded to the Sevenoaks Town Council website as well as our own.

We’re very pleased to print below one of the first letters, from Samuel Tansley aged 11, a pupil at the New Beacon School.

Before the war, Siegfried Sassoon and his brother, Hamo, were pupils at the New Beacon, along with the sons of the Rector of St Nicholas, Guy and Kingsley Rooker. The sons of the Vicar of St Mary, Kippington, Piers, Austen and Sidney Thompson, were fellow pupils. All of those boys, apart from Hamo who was killed at Gallipoli in 1915, survived. In total there were 37 casualties amongst the School’s former pupils. Samuel Tansley decided to write to one of them: Alan George Livesey of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Dear 2nd Lt Alan George Hilton Livesey

My name is Samuel. I have written to you to thank you for your sacrifices and exploits during the Great War. Like you did, I attend the New Beacon School in Sevenoaks. Unlike you, I have never seen the horrors of a battlefield, the brutal clamour of war, the cruelty of man set against man, under instructions to kill. I have known the fear and the crippling dread of an unknown and horrible death.

What I do know is peace and freedom and a life lived under free skies and friendly times. I know when I wake up, that I will have a good day because you suffered so many bad days for your country, your family, and your friends and for the children of the future, like me.

When you were at school, you played football, like me. You studied hard and went to university, earned a degree and started your career. But then the war came and you did your duty. They found your body at the edge of the German trenches, you had died leading your men into action, a hero. Your short life will be remembered by me and by others. We are truly grateful that you stood up and walked into No Man’s Land with such courage until you couldn’t walk any further. You were twenty six years old when you died.

I hope that you found some comfort amongst your fellow soldiers and knew how your sacrifice would be remembered. Perhaps you would never have imagined that a boy from your old school writing to you 100 years after you fought your last battle. I am writing your name at the top of my letter because your story spoke to me. I hope that my words express my admiration and awe.

Congratulations to Samuel for his excellent letter. There’s still time to post entries and we look forward to posting more.

New book now available!

Our new book, Sevenoaks – The Great War and its Legacy is now available. The book is on sale at Sevenoaks Bookshop, at other stockists, and direct from us at books@sevenoaksww1.org for £14.99 plus p&p.

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The book looks at all aspects of the war in the town, from the men who went away to fight, to the arrival of Belgian refugees and life on the Home Front. Author, Matthew Ball, takes the story of the men who survived up to the 1960s during the 50th anniversary and records how the town has been marking the centenary.

Matthew will be signing copies from 14.30 on Saturday 10th November and will also be at Café on the Vine after the Remembrance Sunday Services (details below).

Cemetery Talks

To mark the publication of the book, Sevenoaks WW1 is giving guided tours of Greatness Cemetery on Saturday 3rd and 10th of November starting at the chapel at 10.30. Tours last for approximately 1 hour and take in a range of local residents who were involved in the conflict. We visit the grave of a Crimean veteran who was involved in recruitment drives and that of Percy John Brooks, a victim of an early Zeppelin raid.

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Matthew Ball leading a WW1 Walk at Greatness Cemetery

The Stag Theatre has it’s own Remembrance season, including a play based on the experiences of Belgian refugees in Sevenoaks, researched by Sevenoaks WW1.

Performances are on 1st and 2nd November with a programme of talks and Q&A from 6.30 before the play begins.

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Our twitter feed @7oaksww1 is regularly updated with more information but if you have any queries then please email matt@sevenoaksww1.org

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