Hoby – Commemorative Half Muffled Quarter Peal

4th April 2018 – Private Victor Albert Coleman

The first of six quarter peals at Hoby for the final year of the commemorations.  Today we are commemorating the death of Private Victor Albert Coleman.  He was the son of a farm labourer, born in Hoby in October 1893.  By 1911, he was still living in Hoby and worked on one of the local farms.  He initially joined the Leicestershire Yeomanry (a cavalry regiment).  He was a machine gunner when he joined the newly formed Machine Gun Squadron in February 1916.  Machine gunners often provided the infantry with the first line of defence, attracting enemy fire.  More than one third of the new Corps members became casualties, earning the nickname “the suicide club”.

During March and April of 1918, the Germans pushed towards Amiens to take control of that strategically vital communications centre.  To the East of Amiens (Villers-Bretonneux), on the 4th April 1918, there was a fierce defensive action by the British and Australian forces.  This is where Victor Coleman was killed in action.  This is now the site of an Australian war memorial as well as the cemetery where Victor is buried.

Posthumously, he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

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Australian War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux

The ringers met at Hoby Church ready to ring the quarter – although some of us were late due to the multiple road closures because of the local flooding.  We were determined to find a way through to the village to ring in this quarter.  We started with Reverse Canterbury Doubles before moving into Winchendon.  The transition was smooth and we continued to ring well.  We were ringing at a nice steady pace.  We were in the final stages of Winchendon when the ringer on the 2nd announced she was completely lost (… that ringer was me).  My announcement of being lost took everyone else by surprise that even the conductor was taken aback … between us, we managed to fire up.  This was not ideal, as we were already 6 extents into the quarter.  Our treble ringer needed a quick sit down and wrist guards tightened before we started the second attempt.

The pressure is now on to complete this quarter peal as we knew that a third attempt would be impossible.  We set off again with Reverse Canterbury.  This time, we rang at a much faster pace.  We had a successful transition into Winchendon and were so relieved when we heard the instruction to ring St. Nicholas.  At least this time we had gone further than the previous attempt.  It was an even bigger relief when we reverted back to ring a final burst of reverse Canterbury.

As always, it was an honour to ring for a local soldier who gave the greatest sacrifice for his king and country.

There are five more commemorative quarter peals at Hoby during 2018.  The next being on the 5th May 2018.  Details about the future half muffled quarter peals can be found via http://www.hobyanddistricthistory.co.uk/commemorative-half-muffled-quarter-peals/

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