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Cap of Fallen Bablake Boy

This cricket cap belonged to Bablake School pupil Frederick Harris who lived in Coventry and was killed in the First World War on 28th April 1917.

Bablake is one of the oldest schools in the UK, thought to have been founded in 1344 by Queen Isabella. When Frederick attended Bablake School in the early 1900s, it was next to St John’s church on Hill Street, Coventry. The cap is part of the traditional ‘whites’ worn by the school cricket team and is made from felt with the school badge on the front. 
Frederick joined the 2/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, which was formed in Oxford in September 1914 as a second line unit, and was deployed to France in May 1916.

Nearly a year later, a raid was planned on the German enemy line to the north-east of Saint-Quentin in Aisne, France, on Saturday 28th April 1917. The aim was to attack the enemy's front, kill or capture as many Germans as possible and then retire. The raid began at 3am and while German forces were initially taken by surprise they quickly recovered and defended themselves. By the end of the raid two machine-guns and one protesting prisoner had been dragged back to British lines. The German trenches had been overrun and many of their occupants had been killed or wounded. The official list of British casualties included a number of wounded and missing after the raid, and eleven losses, one of whom was 20 year old Frederick Harris. He was 20 years old.

The Herbert’s new exhibition, The Great War: Coventry Story opens on 2 August 2014, and will include objects and artefacts relating to the First World War which have been donated by local Coventry residents. The exhibition commemorates the centenary of the start of the First World War, and visitors will be able to find out about the experiences of Coventry people on active service, the key role that the city of Coventry played in war production, and how the city has commemorated those who served in the war.

You can also find out more about Coventry’s part in the First World War in the Herbert’s History Gallery.

Written by Ali Wells, Keeper of Collections at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum