Berwick army cadets appear on BBC Breakfast

Father-and-son Keith and Rory Marchant have appeared on BBC Breakfast to talk about the importance of passing on the story of the First World War to the next generation.

Friday, 26th October 2018, 5:05 pm
Updated Friday, 26th October 2018, 5:13 pm
Major Keith Marchant and Cpl Rory Marchant on BBC Breakfast with presenters Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty.

The pair, a Major and Corporal in the Berwick Detachment of the Northumbria Army Cadet Force, were invited to Media City in Salford on Friday following a recent trip to the Somme battlefields in northern France.

More than 3,500 cadets from all over the UK have travelled to the Somme in recent months to learn more about one of the bloodiest battles of the conflict.

The trips have been organised in the lead up to next week’s centenary of the end of the war.

Rory, 14, said: “I have been to monuments and battlefields before and they have always got some sort of emotional value to them but with the Somme trip it was just devastating when you see the names of so many people on the monument.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It had extra significance for Rory whose great grand-father John Collie fought on the Western Front.

“There are a lot of people I know who know nothing about their grandparents, uncles or even their fathers about what they possibly went through but massive wars like this really need to be remembered.”

Speaking to presenters Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty, Keith revealed that his grandfather was a volunteer who joined up in 1914.

“Although he was from a small village just outside Berwick he ended up in the Seaforth Highlanders where he was in the 2nd Battalion and he survived the four years of the war,” said Keith.

“The 2nd Battalion fought all along the Western Front, from the Somme to Ypres and many battles in between.

“He was injured and was gassed but survived that and returned to the line afterwards.

“He was a very proud man but like many of his generation he did not talk about the war a great deal.

“We got a few snippets from my father but it was just the odd thing, not the utter horrors, so it was things like standing in the trenches up to the thighs in cold water wearing a kilt and then trying to get all the lice out of the pleats.”

John, who lived in Foulden before moving to Berwick after the war, died when Keith was just eight.

“I remember him a little but he was ill the last couple of years of his life so I didn’t know him a great deal,” said Keith, who took the 104-year-old kilt along with an old photograph of his grandfather to the studio.

Speaking later about the experience of being on TV, he said: “It wasn’t as nerve-racking as I thought it would be.

“Charlie and Naga were really nice. We even had a chance to chat to them for a few minutes afterwards.”