WATCH: Moving tribute to teenage soldiers killed on River Coquet

A moving tribute was paid today to 10 teenage soldiers killed in a wartime training exercise.

The Army recruits died on the River Coquet, near Guyzance, when their boat was swept over a weir and capsized on January 17, 1945.

Bernard Crewther and Burnett Seyburn at the memorial. Picture by Jane Coltman

Bernard Crewther and Burnett Seyburn at the memorial. Picture by Jane Coltman

The bodies of the young men, eight of whom were serving with the Durham Light Infantry and two with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, were found downriver in the following days and months. The last was not recovered until May 28.

Veterans and villagers gathered today to commemorate the tragedy on its 70th anniversary.

Among them were Corporal Bernard Crewther, who lives in Rothbury, and Sergeant Burnett Seyburn, who were stationed at Felton with the group.

Mr Crewther said at the service: “We were called out at night to go down the rive looking for bodies. It’s something I won’t forget. They were all lads that I knew.”

At the time, the troops were ordered not to talk about the tragedy.

Mr Seyburn said: “We were sworn under oath never to mention this under threat of court martial.”

Local historian Vera Vaggs discovered that the deaths had been reported in a newspapaer at the time. She helped to arrange the placing of a memorial at the site in 1995.

She said today: “It’s nice to think that they are not forgotten and we now have what is a very moving and very appropriate stone memorial here.”

Sandra Bell, whose uncle Alfred Yates was one of the men who died, and her daughter Charlotte were also at the service.

The Rev Kenneth Crawford, chaplain to the Durham Light Infantry, led the proceedings.

Wreaths were laid by the DLI Association, parish councillors and members of the community.

For more of Jane Coltman’s pictures of the commemoration, see Thursday’s Northumberland Gazette.