Remembrance: Friesthorpe family feature in documentary series

Beechey family in theearly 1900s EMN-170511-103728001

The tragic wartime tale of a Friesthorpe family is the topic of a special series of documentaries hitting the airwaves this week.

To mark remembrance week, BBC Radio Lincolnshire is telling the story of the Beechey family.

Amy Beechey, the brothers' mother EMN-170511-103718001

The Rev Beechey and his wife Amy raised their 13 children in the village.

The eight brothers all served in World War One but five were never to return.

Barnard (38), Charles (39), Leonard (36), Frank (30), and Harold (26) were all killed during the war.

The family was one of only three families in the UK to suffer such losses.

Barnard Beechey, the eldest brother and first to die. His body was never recovered. EMN-170511-103707001

In a special documentary series starting on Monday November 6, BBC Radio Lincolnshire journalist Michael Hortin travels in the brothers’ footsteps to Belgium, France, Greece, Turkey, Tanzania and Australia, where each of the brothers served.

He will leave behind special crosses at the locations where each of the brothers are buried or commemorated. All the crosses have been crafted from the same stone that was used to build Lincoln Cathedral.

The five locations Hortin visits are:

White City Cemetery CWGC, France - on the grave of an unknown soldier, as Barnard’s body was never recovered.

Harold Beechey fought in the war as an Anzac EMN-170511-103739001

Dar Es Salaam CWGC, Tanzania – in memory of Charles

St Sever CWGC, Rouen, France – to remember Leonard

Warlincourt Halte CWGC, France – in tribute to Frank

Perth Cathedral, Western Australia. The body of Harold, who fought as an Anzac, was never found. A cross in his memory will be permanently installed in the military chapel in Perth on Remembrance Day.

Leonard Beechey was the final brother to die in World War One EMN-170511-103749001

A final cross will be installed at St Peter’s Church in Friesthorpe, the Beechey family’s local church.

On Friday, November 10, there will be a special service in the church as the final cross is put in place.

Michael also explores the unique archive of letters the brothers sent home to their mother during the war and speaks to descendants of the brothers and historians to piece together the story of the family.

Michael Hortin said: “The story of the Beechey family is a tragic one, played out across the battlefields of World War One around the world.

“The letters really help to bring back to life the brothers, making them much more than a name on a headstone.

“By taking a cross to them, we felt we were reuniting them in an act of Remembrance and also bringing part of their home county to them.”

Friesthorpe Church EMN-170111-103021001

BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Editor, Charlie Partridge added: “This was a unique journey, bringing a family who suffered unimaginable losses back together 100 years on.

“It is a Lincolnshire story but it spans the world.

“We feel that we have given a bit of Lincolnshire back to our “Beechey Boys.”

The Beechey family became well known when, in April 1918, Amy Beechey met King George V and Queen Mary just three months after her last son had died.

The Queen thanked her for her immense sacrifice and expressed sympathy. But Amy simply replied: “It was no sacrifice ma’am, I did not give them willingly.”

The documentary series will be broadcast on BBC Radio Lincolnshire Monday to Friday at 11.40am, starting on Monday November 6.

There will also be a two hour documentary broadcast on Remembrance Sunday at 1pm.

Supporting content films will also be available online:


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