Band of TEN brothers

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Band of TEN brothers

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 25 maart 2014, 21:16

When the call came to serve King and Country, all the sons in one family went off to World War One. Amazingly, every one came home

Calpin brothers, aged between 18 and 37 in 1914, fought in First World War
They were praised by King George V and the prime minister of the day
Calpins thought to be the biggest band of brothers ever to go to war
Family speak of their 'deep admiration' for the brothers from York

The call went out across the land just hours after war was declared.

‘Your King and Country need you,’ the adverts implored, urging Britain to fight the oppressor in what was already being heralded as ‘the greatest conflict in the history of the world’.

In their modest homes in terraced city streets, the Calpin boys barely hesitated. There were ten of them back then, all aged between 18 and 37. Two were already in military service for British Empire forces abroad and all were willing to put their lives on the line for liberty.

So in the space of those chaotic few weeks in August and September 1914, as the nation prepared for war against the Kaiser, all ten would answer the call to fight in the trenches of France and Flanders or defend the nation at sea.

And, incredibly, all appear to have come home alive.

A century on, the Calpins are being hailed as the biggest band of brothers ever to go to war. Yet the full extent of their selfless patriotism is only just re-emerging after their place in history faded into virtual obscurity.

Their unique example earned public thanks and congratulation from King George V, the prime minister of the day, and the lord mayor of their home city of York. Their names were trumpeted in a recruiting drive at the time and even broadcast in local cinemas.

Today, as Britain prepares to honour all those who served in the First World War, few have ever heard of them.

Yesterday their family spoke proudly of the brothers’ legacy and of ‘deep admiration’ for the way they responded to the call. None knew the Calpin boys had been praised by the King until told this week by the Daily Mail.

In a Buckingham Palace letter, we can reveal, the brothers’ parents Sarah and Patrick Calpin – a housewife and her builder’s labourer husband – were told His Majesty had heard the news ‘with the deepest gratification’. He offered the new recruits ‘best wishes for success, health and happiness in their noble career’.

Michael Calpin, a grandson of Able Seaman Ernest Calpin, who served on HMS Dreadnought, told the Mail: ‘My father was always a little bit disappointed that they didn’t seem to get the recognition they deserved. It’s an astonishing thing for ten brothers all to go to war and it’s highly unlikely it will ever happen again. I’m really pleased to think that what they did is being recognised.’

Last night Guinness World Records was examining the information with a view to including the band of brothers in a new listing.

The Imperial War Museum said it could find no record of the ten – but described the story as ‘hugely interesting’. It plans to contact relatives to consider including the brothers in forthcoming exhibitions.

Most of the family lived in the early 1900s in a less than affluent area inside York’s city walls. The Calpins originally came to England from County Mayo, Ireland, driven out by the 19th century potato famine. Patrick and Sarah were born in York and raised their children there.

In September 1914, the classic image of Lord Kitchener declaring ‘Your country needs YOU’ began to stare out from countless walls and buildings across Britain. Six brothers signed up for the Army, most with the East and West Yorkshire infantry regiments.

Among them was James Calpin, a 32-year-old former Yorkshire boxing champion who had served in the Boer War. Two more brothers joined the Royal Navy.

Arthur Calpin, 24, had served nearly eight years in the Army and was in India when war broke out. William Calpin, 32, had been serving in Malta. Soon they would reunite with the other eight to fight ‘the Hun’ on land and at sea.

Although First World War records are sometimes inconclusive, it appears that Mr and Mrs Calpin saw all their boys come home despite overwhelming odds.

William was wounded in action, but, like the other brothers, returned to join his family.

An ‘Acting Corporal A Calpin’ with the East Yorkshire Regiment, Mentioned in Despatches and listed in the London Gazette in 1917, was almost certainly Arthur.

Also in 1917, David, the youngest of the ten, was serving on HMS Ariadne when it was sunk by a German U-Boat. He was rescued from the water but suffered severe exposure. Although he returned to work for a few years after the war, he died at the age of 32. Private John Calpin, the eldest brother, was gassed in the trenches in France and shipped back to hospital in Nottingham. He sent a Red Cross postcard to his wife to let her know he had landed safely in England, but died in November 1916 at the age of 39.

Ninety years later the father-of-seven’s grand-daughter Brenda Allison and other family members tracked down his overgrown grave in York and held a Remembrance Sunday service there. Mrs Allison, 79, still has the postcard her grandfather sent home.

‘I’m very proud of our family history and of the way the brothers responded,’ she told me.

‘They obviously had a very strong patriotic spirit. But from the very first day they got over to France it was an absolute bloodbath. I hope it may never happen again but if it did, I do think today’s generation would respond.’ ... -home.html
NEC JACTANTIA NEC METU ("zonder woorden, zonder vrees")

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