Centenary salute to Sheffield scouts’ leader

priest, Lt Edmund Yerbury Priestman
priest, Lt Edmund Yerbury Priestman
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A century ago, Sheffield scoutmaster Edmund Priestman set sail to fight in the trenches at Gallipoli.

Edmund, from Broomhall, was the leader of the 16th Westbourne Scouts, and had signed up to play his part in World War One with the 6th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment.

But Lieutenant Priestman never made it home to Sheffield - instead he was killed in action aged 25 on November 19, 1915. His letters home were published a year later, giving a first-hand account of life at the front.

Now, 100 years on, the Broomhill scouts are commemorating Edmund and the other troop members who lost their lives in the war.

Beavers, cubs and scouts have been learning about the conflict, and an evening in Edmund’s honour is taking place on the anniversary of his death. His story will be told and a plaque is set to be unveiled.

Mike Cassels, the group’s treasurer, said he was also hoping to trace surviving relatives of the troop’s members during World War One, to invite them to the event.

“Edmund led a small group of men to take a strategically important hill, but having taken it relatively easily the Turkish troops came back again in far greater force. Priestman died very bravely defending his post to the last,” said Mike.

A hill in Gallipoli is called Priestman’s Post, a name shared by the scout group’s hut on Spooner Road.

Before enlisting, Edmund had been a dedicated scoutmaster, cycling up to 80 miles a day to check on members of his troop deployed to guard reservoirs around Sheffield against the threat of poisoning by German agents.

Throughout his service he kept in touch with the boys, sending back drawings and poems to be sold to raise funds. Edmund would be proud of the group’s ‘very healthy’ membership today, Mike added: “All of the sections are doing really well - we’ve got a waiting list for cubs.”
n Email mikecassels@btinternet.com for details.