Project volunteers to join tour to battlefields and memorial

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THE Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project’s first trip to the battlefields of the First World War will take place in May next year.

The five-day tour – from May 21 to 25 – is being organised in association with DFDS Seaways and will travel to Belgium and France.

Anyone interested in taking part in the tour can join project volunteers and others with a family or personal interest in the battlefield areas to be visited.

Full details of the tour and how to book can found at www.dfdsseaways.co.uk/battlefields2012 or by calling 0871 522 9955.

The tour will include visits to the major battlefield areas and memorials of the Ypres Salient, Vimy Ridge and the Arras area.

The project hopes that if the trip is well supported further visits will be organised over the coming three years.

The trip will be an opportunity for residents with family connections to the men commemorated on the Tynemouth Roll of Honour to see the places where they fought and died: something which was to be a major aspiration in 1918 for the families of the hundreds of thousands killed and missing.

The end of the war in 1918 brought great relief for many but for others only hopes for an opportunity to visit the areas where loved ones had been reported killed or missing.

Soon after the end of hostilities an announcement was made in Parliament regarding the provisional casualties for the war.

On November 20, 1918, the Shields Daily News gave details of the military losses, which were to be swelled considerably when merchant navy casualties were added to the grim toll.

These additional losses were a significant element of the names which would be included in the Tynemouth Roll of Honour – the losses of merchant shipping had been a great threat to the very continuance of the war by Britain and her allies in the early part of 1917 when the U-Boat menace was at its height.

The largest proportion of military losses were incurred in Belgium and northern France, where the British and Dominion troops had held a small length of the 600-mile trench system extending from the North Sea coast to the Swiss frontier.

It is sobering to reflect on the appalling losses incurred along barely 100 miles of front, where British troops were actively fighting.

The provisional figures showed 560,000 officers and other ranks killed in France and Flanders, but that figure was belied by the number of wounded – 1,860,000 (many of whom would succumb to their injuries over the coming weeks and years), and the further 320,000 missing – almost all of whom would be officially declared dead in the coming months.

The creation of the memorials to the missing would not begin for many years and the newly established Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission was faced with an almost insuperable task to trace and record the deaths of so many, when the chaotic nature of the final months of fighting from March to November had seen temporary graves obliterated and obscured by the to and fro of the final struggle.

On November 25, 1918, the Shields Daily News noted that the French had announced land would be granted for cemeteries for the burial (and reburial) of British and Dominion soldiers, and that such land would be held by the government of France on behalf of Britain in perpetuity.

The war graves commission has by its charter a similar perpetual responsibility for the maintenance of the graves and memorials of the two world wars.

The work of the commission around the world is testimony to how the nations of the Commonwealth have kept faith with the inscription on the many memorials in the vast cemeteries the project intends to visit – ‘Their name liveth for evermore’.

Project volunteers are being reminded of the closure of the North Shields Central Library for refurbishment and repairs from November 26.

A base for the Local Studies section will contain all the existing sources in the temporary library facilities to be operated from Monday, December 12, at the buildings of the former business centre (old library) in Howard Street, North Shields.

To find out more about the project and how to assist, call into the Project Workroom on weekdays from 10am to 4pm at Room B9, Linskill Centre, Trevor Terrace, North Shields.

THIS week’s casualty list gives details of men who were killed or died in November 1917.

Ballantine, Albert, age 25, 3rd Engineer, ss Axminster, torpedoed, 13th, 28 Military Road, son of Annabel and the late Thomas Boxshall Ballantine. Sunk by UC-3 off Lowestoft on route to Dieppe from Blyth. Commemorated – Tower Hill Memorial.

Berryman, John Walter, age 23, 2nd Lieutenant, 15th Battalion KOYLI, attached 2nd/4th Battalion, KIA, 27th, son of John and Ann, of 178 Stephenson Street, South Shields.

Collinson, Thomas, age 20, Private, 19th DLI, KIA, 5th, son of Mrs Waters, of 8 Crown Terrace, Beverley, East Yorks. A former Wellesley boy.

Dick, Thomas, Private, 9th Battalion NF, 25th, Union Street, North Shields. Details needed.

Dobson, George William, age 38, 2nd Engineer, ss Dunrobin (Newcastle), torpedoed, 24th, 132 Queen Alexandra Road, son of Mary and the late Thomas, husband of Annabelle (nee Lodge). Sunk by U53 off Lizard Point on route Almeria to the Tyne. Commemorated –Tower Hill Memorial.

Grant, Henry Joseph, Private, 2nd/7th West Yorks Regiment, (POW Own), KIA, 28th, 2 Dockwray Square. Cambrai Memorial.

Kennedy, John Joseph, Private, 1st/5th Loyal North Lancs Regiment, KIA, 30th, 12 Magnesia Bank. Cambrai Memorial.

Kipping, Wilfred, age 28, Private, 148th Company Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), KIA, 1st, 4 Cromwell Terrace, son of William and Catherine, husband of Eunice Kipping, 25 Raby Terrace, Gateshead.

Storey, Frederick, Gunner, 105th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, DOW, 6th, Murton House Farm, husband of Mrs L M A Bird (formerly Storey), of 54 Salisbury Terrace, Darlington.

Wallace, William, age 26, AB RN, Hawke Battalion, RND, drowned on active service, 17th, 29 Dockwray Square, husband of Bessie B Hogg. Buried in Glasgow. Key:

KIA – killed in action

DOW – died of wounds

LAS – lost at sea

NF – Northumberland Fusiliers

DLI – Durham Light Infantry

RND – Royal Naval Division

RNR – Royal Naval Reserve

RFA – Royal Field Artillery

n Anyone with information on this week’s list or who wants to find out more about the project, should visit www.tynemouthworldwarone.org, e-mail contact@tynemouthworldwarone.org or write to Tynemouth World War 1 Commemoration Project, c/o Essell, 29 Howard Street, North Shields, NE30 1AR.