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Lord Durham’s Comrades’ Battalion

City Company Departs for Cocken Hall

Lord Durham’s Comrades’ Battalion

City Company Departs for Cocken Hall
Singing and whistling in the happiest of strains, the Durham City and District Company of the County Comrades’ Battalion raised by the Earl of Durham, Lord Lieutenant, left the Cathedral City on Friday morning last; and marched to Cocken Hall, where they have been billeted for further training. Some 150 strong, the men under the command of Sergeant Instructor J Chaplin, paraded shortly after 10 o’clock on the university playing field, where they were inspected by Colonel Bowes, Colonel Rowland Burdon, and Colonel Tristram, who were accompanied by the Mayor of Durham (Councillor C Caldcleugh), Councillor W Thwaites, recruiting officers, the Deputy Mayor (Councillor R McLean), Councillor E Picton, etc. all of whom were greatly impressed by the smartness of the “Pals”.

Before departure, the Mayor of Durham stepped forward and briefly addressed the men. He said that both the City and County were deeply indebted to them for the noble and patriotic way they had come forward in the hour of trouble to help their King and Country, relinquishing their home comforts in order to go forth to fight the country’s battles. They who were remaining at home would be doing all they possibly could to assist in upholding the honour and dignity of the Empire. Proceeding, the Mayor said he hoped to have the privilege of welcoming them back to their native home safe and sound. He wished them goodbye, and a safe return.

Forming up in marching order the men, headed by Sergeant Instructor J Chaplin in charge, marched along Old Elvet, Silver Street, and the North Road in the direction of Cocken Hall. Crowds of citizens watched them leave the city.

Arrival at Cocken Hall
The “Pals” reached Cocken Hall shortly before 1 o’clock, and then found a pleasant surprise awaiting them in the shape of a first class hot dinner. Needless to say the manner in which it was “dished up” was in every respect satisfactory to the Pals. The afternoon and evening was spent in sorting out the kit. The men were up early the next morning and underwent drill before breakfast was partaken of. The remainder of the day’s work was varied by trench digging. Probably some of the Pals who have previously been engaged in sedentary occupations found the pick and spade somewhat uncongenial at first, but this was soon overcome, and they adapted themselves admirably to the work. The whole of the men seem greatly attached to their new surroundings and before very long will be “licked” into a really smart and valuable battalion.

Divine Service
On Sunday the “Comrades” attended Divine Service on the lawn in front of the hall, the service being conducted by the Reverend HW Stewart, vicar of Lumley.

What is happening at Cocken Hall
600 Men Accommodated
Happy as “Sand-Boys”
Since their arrival at Cocken Hall on Friday morning last, the city members of Lord Durham’s Comrades’ Battalion for Durham County are getting accustomed to their new surroundings in a manner sufficiently evidenced by their ever smiling countenances. At the time of writing their number has been added to almost daily and the total number accommodated is practically 600, whilst we understand from official quarters that the remainder of the battalion, which will eventually total something like 1100 are expected to be called up very soon. The companies at present on duty at Cocken Hall comprise representatives from Durham, Darlington (who arrived on Thursday after an enthusiastic send-off), and Bede College, but temporary accommodation has since been found for the latter contingent at Rainton.

Cocken Hall, which is the property of Lord Durham, is charmingly situated on an eminence within beautifully laid out grounds, bounded on the east by deep dells shaded with stately forest trees, and washed on three sides by the winding river Wear. From its grounds is obtained a remarkably fine view of the ruined priory of Finchale, and varied and beautiful are the scenes within these grounds which abound in nature’s wondrous charms. In 1804 it became the residence of a community of Teresian nuns from Liere in Belgium; but in consequence of the opening of a colliery in the neighbourhood they removed to Field House, near Darlington, in 1830.

Of later years, the Hall has undergone modern alterations.

Our representative’s visit to the Hall on Tuesday revealed scenes of much activity, and it was evident that great keenness prevails among the men. The Hall is admirably adapted for the purpose, being fitted throughout with electric light, whilst the rooms in which the men are quartered possess all the necessary comforts. Of course some of them are still feeling the effects of sleeping on floors but gradually they fall into line and with the aid of overcoats and blankets are very soon enjoying a delightful snooze. Reveille is sounded at 6am, but the general parade is not enforced until 7 o’clock, when Swedish drill exercises are indulged in. Breakfast is served at 8, following which the men undergo saluting drills, squad drills, etc. until 11, also from 12 o’clock until 1 o’clock, when an excellent dinner is partaken of. Drills in the afternoon last from 2.30 until 5, and after adjournment for tea, the men are dismissed for the day. Many of them in their leisure time are keen followers of the “Soccer” code, and we hear of some exciting matches being played, especially between rooms 21 and 14.

Lord Southampton is expected to take command of the battalion in the course of a day or two, but
at present the brunt of the work is being borne by the acting adjutant Captain GC Roberts. The following officers are at present in residence at the Hall:
FT Tristram
G Neville
CW Tilly
WG Hutchence
P Kayll
R Robson
HW Tait
G Warmington
JAV Boddy
JR Harraton
R Burdon
HW Hawdon
EW Ormiston
WR Darwin
H Clark
A lot of hard work is also being done by Quarter Master Robson of Darlington, Sergeant Major J Chaplin of Durham, Company Sergeant Majors Smith, Dobby, and Lax. Those at present acting in the capacity as sergeants are Messrs Whitehead, Westwater, Brownless, Miles, Wilson, Bainbridge, Greenwell, Corker, Pickles, Oliphant, and Warwick.

Excellent arrangements have been made in regard to providing food for the men, Messrs Burton and Co. of York, having the contract in hand, whilst a large marquee is to be erected for use as a canteen.

On Tuesday morning another large batch of “Comrades” arrived in Durham City from Stockton, and after a short stay, during which one or two young men from the City joined their ranks, proceeded to Cocken Hall by road. They arrived at the latter place about 12:30, and partook of dinner, following which they proceeded to Rainton, where they are now being quartered.

Date: 2-Oct-1914

Author: Durham Advertiser

Reference: D/WP 75 (Microfilm M1/62)

Where to find this: Durham County Record Office

Contributed by Durham County Record Office

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