Military, Social and Transport History
November 2018 sees the one hundreth anniversary of the end of World War One. In commemoration of the large numbers of men and women who were involved in that conflict, and particularly those who lost their lives, we give below an account of just one of those heroes of 1914-18 - together with links to the citations of the other ten local men who won the Victoria Cross during those years
Robert Beatham VC
Robert Matthew Beatham was born in Glassonby on the 16 June 1894 and baptised at Glassonby Methodist Chapel in the following September. He was the sixth child of John and Elizabeth Beatham, who had a total of nine boys and one girl born to them. Robert attended Maughanby School from 1899 to 1908, when he left to go into farm service. In 1914, he and his older brother Walter Henry decided to emigrate to Australia, sailing for Melbourne on 18 June 1914, two days after Robert’s 20th birthday and only ten days before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo and the descent into war; they arrived in Australia on 29 July and war was declared by Great Britain on 4 August 1914.
Both brothers quickly joined the Australian Imperial Force and by May 1915 Robert was in Egypt, fighting in the Gallipoli campaign, before returning to Australia. Late in 1915 he was sent to France, where he was wounded in August 1916 in the Somme campaign. In October 1917 Robert was again wounded at Passchendaele, but by February 1918 he was back on active duty. He had two further periods in hospital before taking part in the final action that led to the award of the Victoria Cross and his death two days later. The citation for the award read:
For most conspicuous bravery and self- sacrifice during the attack north of Rosieres, east of Amiens, on 9th August 1918, When the advance was held up by heavy machine- gun fire, Pte. Beatham dashed forward, and, assisted by one man, bombed and fought the crews of four enemy machine guns, killing ten of them and capturing ten others, thus facilitating the advance and saving many casualties. When the final objective was reached, although previously wounded, he again dashed forward and bombed a machine gun, being riddled with bullets and killed in doing so. The valour displayed by this gallant soldier inspired all ranks in a wonderful manner.
Lydia Gray, 2018. For a fuller account of the life and background of Private Beatham VC, click here
Cumbria Libraries and archives have a number of Indexes and Resources on the Great War. Of particular interest is the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald Index of Soldiers
For images from the 2014 CCHT Schools WWI project, click here
For images of WWI War Memorials, click here
Other aspects of Military, Social and Transport History follow, below