Launch of First World War memoir a success

Author Sarah Reay with Hugh Pym at the launch. Picture by Alastair J Gilchrist
Author Sarah Reay with Hugh Pym at the launch. Picture by Alastair J Gilchrist

The BBC’s Hugh Pym was guest of honour at the launch of the memoir of a First World War Army Chaplain, written by his granddaughter from Northumberland.

The Half-Shilling Curate – A Personal Account of War and Faith 1914-18, by Sarah Reay and published by Helion & Company Ltd, was unveiled at the Literary and Philosophical Society Library in Newcastle during a champagne reception.

As reported by the Gazette last month, the book recounts the experiences of the Reverend Herbert Butler Cowl on the Western Front with the Durham Light Infantry and Northumberland Fusiliers.

Having been severely wounded during a heavy bombardment, he was on board the hospital ship Anglia when it hit a German mine in the English Channel. While recovering, the Half-Shilling Curate, as he was affectionately known by his family, was awarded the Military Cross for exemplary gallantry.

“Hugh’s grandfather was also a Great War Army Chaplain and he generously wrote the foreword to my book,” said Sarah, whose friend, pianist Deanna Bolton, composed a piece of hymnal music entitled The Half-Shilling Curate, which she debuted at the event.

“Hugh introduced the evening – during which I shared my memories of my grandfather, the background to my four-year project in researching and writing his story, and my joy that everyone can now share the life and times of an incredible man who had served his king, country and God 100 years ago.”