Chairs That Stand Empty
8 November 2017 (17:00)
Beyer Lecture Theatre, The University of Manchester
One hundred years after their deaths, The University of Manchester is holding a special event to commemorate the lives of 40 students killed in World War One who came from just one of the University’s halls of residence.
More than 250 students and staff from Hulme Hall in Rusholme went to war between 1914 and 1918. Forty did not return home.
This group forms a significant proportion of the 600 staff, students and Officer Training Corps members who lost their lives during the First World War. They were all linked to The Victoria University of Manchester and The Manchester Municipal School of Technology, which today form The University of Manchester.
At the event on 8 November, some of their stories will be told by former Hulme Hall resident James Hern, who has spent the last five years piecing together never before published letters, photographs and documents for his book Chairs that Stand Empty.
These include the story of Arthur Lord from Colwyn Bay who had won a scholarship to study medicine, but joined up and lied about his age at least twice. He was promoted to Captain at the age of 19 but died of his wounds after being shot by a sniper in 1917 in France.
The talent of Murray Chapman from Gloucestershire was also never to be realised. The former geology student turned airman was killed in a mid-air collision in February 1918, just two years after he’d married his wife Olive. After his death his family published a book he had written and illustrated, entitled Dragons at Home.
Another scholarship student, this time in history, Robert Bedford from Manchester fought in Gallipoli, Egypt and France where he was killed in March 1918. Before joining the army, Robert had been an active part of the University community as a member of the Historical Society and the University Officer Training Corps.
Author James Hern, who will be delivering the talk said: “Hulme Hall has been a home away from home for students since 1870 but in all of that time, this was its most severe test as a community. Just as in wider society, the war took many lives which were full of unrealised potential, but through their varied and courageous stories we have the opportunity to remember them.”
The event on 8 November forms part of a major University of Manchester project being carried out throughout the World War One centenary period to commemorate the role of staff and students in the conflict.
Attendance to the event is free, but people wishing to attend are asked to register.