The story of two Sunderland footballers who went to fight in World War One

Sgt. Bill Elliott of Beamish Museum, putting 'new recruits' through their paces as part of the half term activities at the Museum.
Sgt. Bill Elliott of Beamish Museum, putting 'new recruits' through their paces as part of the half term activities at the Museum.
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FROM fighting for a win, to fighting for the King – the tales of two Sunderland players and their role in the First World War will be told as part of a week dedicated to the conflict.

Beamish Museum is running a series of training camp activities and displays during half-term after working with communities in the north of the city.

Charlie Buchan (left) Sunderland strip former SAFC player'Charlie Thompson (right) old ref number  Sunderland strip former SAFC player'old ref number sport 6 38'circa 1920s  1921 1922 1923 1924

Charlie Buchan (left) Sunderland strip former SAFC player'Charlie Thompson (right) old ref number Sunderland strip former SAFC player'old ref number sport 6 38'circa 1920s 1921 1922 1923 1924

Visitors will be able to discover the story of Black Cats legend Charlie Buchan who fought in the war, as well as Norman Gaudie, a Sunderland AFC reserve team player, who was a conscientious objector.

Charlie, who was born in 1891, is considered one of the club’s greatest goalscorers, netting 209 times in 370 appearances between 1911 and 1925.

He was part of the 1912-13 First Division title-winning side, as well as being an FA Cup finalist in the same season as the team narrowly missed out on the double. He also won six England caps, scoring four times.

During the war, he was a Grenadier Guard and saw action at the Somme, Cambrai and Passchendaele, being awarded the Military Medal in 1917.

Sgt. Bill Elliott of Beamish Museum, putting 'new recruits' through their paces as part of the half term activities at the Museum.

Sgt. Bill Elliott of Beamish Museum, putting 'new recruits' through their paces as part of the half term activities at the Museum.

Norman, the son of a Quaker and an accounts clerk for the North Eastern Railway, had his claim for total military exemption refused after a tribunal in East Boldon and was made exempt from combatant service only. 

He was part of a group sent to Richmond Castle, North Yorkshire, before being taken to France and threatened with execution if they continued to ignore military orders. The sentence was later commuted to 10 years’ penal servitude. Families visiting the museum can also take part in drills and sports challenges in The Pit Village camp, as well as sampling food from the field kitchen, exploring the tents, from medical to laundry and looking at a delousing machine.

Uniforms can be tried on, cards made and parcels packed for soldiers on the front line, with morale-boosting songs to be sung in the chapel.

There will also be a recruiting station ready with the “King’s shilling”.

People will also hear about Victoria Cross hero DLI Private Michael Heaviside, while First World War exhibitions from local history groups and work from schools will also be on display.

Gemma Stevenson, the museum’s community events officer, said: “There are some amazing stories, some of which may have been forgotten or never told before.

“In 1915, there was a big drive towards recruitment, so we’re telling that story this February half term.”

Almost 2.5million men joined the British Army during the first 18 months of the First World War and after they enlisted, men were sent to local army camps, with basic training including physical fitness and drills.

The wartime activities are part of four years of commemorations at Beamish to mark the centenary of the First World War.