Halliday Sutherland

"A born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better." G.K. Chesterton.

Mobilising for war

iStock_000032288376SmallOne hundred years ago, Halliday Sutherland witnessed Britain mobilising for war in Devon.

On the morning of Sunday, 2nd August 1914, I walked from Bideford to the fishing-village of Appledore. My companion was a lady, and, as we entered the village, the postman was stopping at every door, and at every cottage he left a blue envelope. Then little groups of people appeared in the narrow cobbled streets. Most of them consisted of a fisherman, his wife and children. The men were reading the notice which the postman had left, the women were crying softly, and the children were playing around them. England had mobilised her Fleet Reserve.

At noon, we saw them go. They marched down to the harbour and embarked in boats which were to take them to the railway station on the other side of the River Torridge. The band of the local Boy Scouts led the procession. At the top of the harbour steps was the vicar, wearing his surplice. He was a stout, elderly man, and was said to have a weak heart. He shook hands with each man as he passed down the steps. Once the men were all embarked there was a silence, and  the vicar prayed. Then the boats pulled off across the bay. Lining the harbour wall were women, children, and a few old men. There was no cheering. Those women could not cheer. Thus the men of Devon and Appledore went to war, as their fathers had gone, over three hundred years before – to meet the Armada of Spain.


…from “The Arches of the Years” by Halliday Sutherland.

Top picture: Appledore, North Devon

Bottom picture: Bideford, North Devon.

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This entry was posted on 31 July 2014 by in War, World War 1.

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