The DCLI Bell of the 8th Battalion


At the top of the first set of stone stairs on the first floor of Bodmin Keep is a large brass bell hanging on the wall. You can often hear a curious younger visitor giving the rope a swing to hear the deafening ring.

This bell was made new for the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (DCLI). During the First World War the number of battalions expanded significantly as more and more men joined up. The 8th DCLI came into existence early in 1914 under the command of Colonel John Hamilton Verschoyle, and the bell was used in Sutton Veny Camp, in Wiltshire where the battalion trained. The proximity of Sutton Veny to Warminster and Salisbury Plain was an ideal location to barrack troops and train them prior to deploying to northern France.

The DCLI Bell at Sutton Veny Camp 1914

Remarkably Verschoyle was over 60 years old when he and the 8th Battalion were sent to Macedonia during the First World War. Bulgaria had entered the war on the side of the Central Powers, invading Serbia in October 1915. The 8th Battalion were amongst the troops sent out to the region in 1915 to help the Serbians on the Salonika Front (or Macedonian Front), although the allied troops came too late and with insufficient force to prevent the fall of Serbia. The Salonika Front was very similar to the Western Front with an extensive muddy trench system.

Bodmin Keep, is a museum dedicated to preserving the stories of the DCLI, you can visit the museum Monday to Saturday 10 – 5pm where you can see more amazing artefacts from the First World War and much more.