A CHANCE discovery of letters written during the First World War has opened up a world of local history for students at Bridlington School.
Head of Humanities Roy Horobin stumbled across the collected letters of Topham Becher Dabridgecourt Hough, of Tennyson Avenue, who attended Bridlington School around 100 years ago, during a reshuffle at the school.
Written to family, and possibly his girlfriend, the letters tell the story of Topham’s time spent serving in the First World War between October 1915 and January 1916.
Students from Bridlington School’s A-Level History class have examined the letters, and recordings of the students reading out the letters will be aired on BBC Radio Humberside over the coming weeks.
Mr Horobin said: “It was purely by chance that we came across the letters. I had been speaking to a researcher at the radio station and I knew we had some letters somewhere, and then we found them on a shelf when we were re-organising.
“They are marvellous historical documents. To think that looking out of the window of my classroom, I am looking at the same sight that Topham would have had. To have access to a historical record of someone whose life would have shared so much with the students in our class really brings history to life. His life would not have been so different to our students.”
The letters document Topham’s experiences as a Second Lieutenant in the 8th Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment. He died in January 1916 after being caught by a German sniper, and was believed to be aged 20.
Lawrence Pearson, 17, is one of the students who had his reading of Topham’s letter recorded for the radio.
He said: “It personalises the war, it is someone who is from our town and not far from our age. It helps you learn things that you would never have done before.
“We did a big section on World War Two last year, so to hear more about the First World War is interesting.”
17-year-old Nathan Harrison said: “He was just an average guy from Brid, but then he found himself in a war. When he talked about his life in general you can understand what he experienced.”
Although the students are not studying World War One in class, the letters have still been a valuable educational tool, according to Mr Horobin.
He continued: “It is not just about teaching kids to pass exams, universities and employers are looking for a more rounded knowledge. You couldn’t fail to be interested in these letters, it is about enrichment.
“Topham wouldn’t have spoken that differently to the students here now, so listening to them reading them out is fascinating. They are such a valuable historical document.”
A-Level student Sam Alexander, 17, added: “Myself and Dan (fellow student) are studying the First World War in English, we are reading Birdsong, so this is really helpful and interesting.”