Shell-shock talk will help fund memorial

A poster to advertise the Shell Shock illustrated talk.
A poster to advertise the Shell Shock illustrated talk.

The exhibition of work by the renowned local artist Victor Noble Rainbird currently features two paintings done in France in August, 1916, shortly after he arrived there with the Northumberland Fusiliers (2nd/6th Battalion) as part of reinforcements for the terrible losses suffered by the battalions of the Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish Brigades on July 1, 1916.

The paintings of scenes in front of Vimy Ridge and Armentieres were done when the Tyneside Scottish were in rest in a relatively quiet sector as they re-fitted and recovered from their losses in front of La Boiselle on the first day of the Somme campaign.

The two paintings are on display until Monday, August 24 when a special talk will be given in the Old Low Light exhibition space on the subject of shell-shock and the traumatic mental effects of the war, which afflicted thousands of men for many years after the end of the war and are believed to have contributed to the early death of Rainbird himself.

Ian McArdle, who has given several talks for the project, will consider the very controversial subject of shell-shock and the treatment of men by the military authorities, which was often far from sympathetic.

His talk commences at 11am and includes admission to the Heritage Centre and the exhibition of many Rainbird paintings, which has been very well-attended since opening on July 10 and will continue until September 6.

All proceeds from ticket sales for the talk will be going to the fund to establish a fitting memorial at the site of Rainbird’s final resting place in a pauper’s grave in Preston cemetery.

So far the sale of the exhibition catalogue and printed items of Rainbird’s works has raised more than £3,500 towards the fund to erect a sculpture, which will remind people today of the main inspiration for his works drawn from the local area and its life in the early part of the 20th century.

One of the finest ‘draughtsmen’ of his time, his great drawing skills were put to use in wartime on the Western Front where he drew dioramas to assist in the training of troops before going into an attack.

Tickets are available in advance from the Old Low Light Heritage Centre and from the project workroom at Room B9, Linskill Community Centre.

The project’s information centre in Front Street, Tynemouth, is open on weekends and some weekdays during the school holiday, and is also hosting a display and information from the campaign group looking to revive and restore the former open air pool at Tynemouth Long Sands.

Anyone with information about anyone killed or who died as a result of the war, from homes across all areas of the modern borough of North Tyneside, is asked to contact the project.

The Project Workroom at Room B9, Linskill Community Centre, Trevor Terrace, North Shields, is open from 10am to 4pm each weekday for visitors and for anyone interested to learn more about the project or how to get involved.

Our address is c/o Essell, 29 Howard Street, North Shields, NE30 1AR.