Charles Henry Yeaman was born on 11 May 1890 to Robert and Annie Yeaman, the youngest son in a family of eleven children living in Gateshead. Robert Yeaman was a schoolmaster who had himself been a student at Bede 1870-1871, rising to become a headmaster before retiring in 1916 after 47 years in the profession. Robert maintained his connection with Bede throughout his long career and is mentioned attending a Bede College dinner as late as 1938. When he died in August 1940, aged 89, a short obituary in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle credited him with being the oldest former pupil of Bede College.
Charles Yeaman was educated at a number of council schools in Gateshead before becoming a pupil teacher. The Elementary Education Act 1870 provided for training to take place at specialist pupil—teacher centres alongside teaching practice at elementary schools. Charles attended the Gateshead Pupil—Teacher Centre for three years while assisting at Shipcote and Victoria Road Council Schools. He then trained at Bede College in Durham 1910-1912, and in the 1911 Census is recorded as being resident at the college. In April 1912 Charles passed the examination for the Archbishops’ Certificate and on completion of his training in July that year became a Certified Assistant at Dunston Hill Council School, an impressive building that still exists at Four Lane Ends, Dunston.
Whilst at Bede College Charles had been a member of the Durham University Officer Training Corps, and consequently he was quickly promoted from the senior division of the Durham University Contingent to probationary second-lieutenant on 28 January 1916. In February 1916 he was given permission to enlist by the County Council Education Committee and joined the 3/7th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. His military career was brief: he was admitted to Armstrong College Hospital in Newcastle with appendicitis and died on 15 September 1916.
On 19 September Charles was given a military funeral and buried at St Edmund’s Church, Old Durham Road, Gateshead. The Newcastle Journal carried an extensive report describing his coffin, draped with the Union Jack, being borne on a gun carriage with six of his fellow officers as pallbearers and accompanied by a military band. A firing party of 40 men fired a volley over his grave in Gateshead East Cemetery.
Charles is commemorated on the Durham County Council war memorial, and the County Archives have published a short biography (with posthumous portrait), from which this article has drawn. A stained glass window and plaque were dedicated in September 1920 by Archdeacon Percy Derry at St Edmund’s Church, but both were lost when the church was demolished in the 1960s. While Charles Yeaman’s grave is acknowledged by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, his name is not listed on any Bede College war memorial.