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A Schoolboy's War

Mike Wilson, Local Author and Historian

Second Lieutenant Topham Becher Dabridgecourt Hough, 8th East Yorkshire Regiment.

During October 2012, a box of World War One letters was re-discovered during reorganisation at Bridlington School. On 18th October, I emailed the School offering to create a book of the letters and Humanities teacher Roy Horobin became an enthusiastic supporter.

On 5th November, Chris Bonnett (author of The Great War Heroes of Bridlington) and I met Roy at the School. Chris and I examined one or two of the letters and were moved by the contents. We were given CRB forms to complete and on Tuesday, 20th November, I made my first visit to the School to begin the task of reading and typing every page of Second Lieutenant Hough's letters.

I quickly realised that I would need multiple visits to the School to finish the work. I decided to photograph each page of each letter and key the words at home on my desktop computer, using evenings and weekends when I could not be at the school.

I made a second visit on Thursday, 22nd November, and photographed nearly one hundred pages. These were keyed in and completed by late evening on the 23rd. Third and fourth visits to the School on 26th November and 29th November allowed me to photograph the remaining letters and by 30th November the letters were at last in the computer.

A few minor inconsistences of spelling and punctuation were corrected without in any way changing the meaning of the letters.

Research through the Bridlingtonian and Class Lists was also undertaken so that Hough's whole life could be recorded. Appendices were created and more information relating to World War One was written.

I would like to thank the School for this opportunity, and Bridlington Library and the School for access to required records.

It was an honour and a privilege to be allowed to handle and read the letters this 18-year-old had written to his parents from the Front.

We will remember him, and all who sacrificed their futures for ours.

The result was an illustrated book of Topham's letters, and the School and the Old Bridlingtonian Club bought copies for the scholars at the School.

Young Hough lived at 65 Tennyson Avenue with his parents. His father, also Topham Hough, was an invalid and research let me to believe that he had been advised to live nearer the sea. His quest for a good school for his young son led him to Bridlington Grammar School, and the family subsequently moved north from the West London area.

Topham attended School from the age of seven until he was 18. He then gained a commission. He trained in Aylesbury and Tring in Buckinghamshire before being sent to France in October 1915.

His letters home start in January 1915 and end end on 18th January the following year.

Topham served in the 8th East Yorkshire Regiment, and was engaged on sniper duties when he was shot in the shoulder and died. 

In September that year, his father passed away, and his mother Mary promptly joined the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps as a nurse in France.

Second Lieutenant Hough was buried in Dickebusch Military Cemetery, near Ypres, Belgium, on Grave H.4.

During 1914, children from Bridlington School travelled to Belgium and were able to visit Hough's grave.

Hough's name also appears on Bridlington's War Memorial, as well as on Memorial Boards at Bridlington School and Holy Trinity Church.

Second Lieutenant Topham Becher Dabridgecourt Hough
8th East Yorkshire Regiment

His story and letters are published in "Nothing More To Say . . . " available at Lodge Books in Bridlington, or from the author, Mike Wilson. Also available on-line through Kindle and Amazon.