Deadlock ends on the Western Front but casualty toll mounts

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AFTER almost four years of trench warfare punctured by a number of costly failed attempts to begin the expulsion of the invading forces of Germany, the war moved into its final three months.

And in a period known subsequently as the 100 days, Rawlinson’s Fourth Army conducted perhaps the most successful campaign fought by any British fighting force, before or since.

The British were now mostly battalions filled with conscripts led by NCOs and officers who had survived the previous four years of trench fighting.

The casualties reported to families in Tynemouth contained many young men – half of this week’s list were aged 19 or under.

The toll includes no less than four former pupils of Tynemouth High School and an assistant master.

The school had only opened in 1904 and provided more than 380 men to serve in the military and merchant naval services during the conflict.

The headmaster and chairman of the trustees of the school compiled a record of service which shows the extent to which the former grammar school boys suffered an above average casualty rate.

Contrary to one of the many myths of the war, officers, particularly those in the junior ranks, suffered an extraordinarily high casualty rate – 27 per cent of second lieutenants were killed in action or died of injuries.

Their life expectancy in the front line was only 42 days.

So dangerous was their position that they were forced to abandon officer’s uniforms and dress as the men; with only a small identifier on their battledress to indicate rank.

The army had been forced to restructure the brigade composition of four battalions to three in early 1918 and many of the ‘pals’ battalions had been reduced to mere skeleton structures with all their effective men transferred into other units of the army.

Thus many of the local men killed in this period were former members of the Kitchener New Army battalions, who found themselves dispersed into units with no geographical associations to Tyneside.

This was a deliberate policy to dilute the casualty rate in local communities by ending the danger of substantial numbers of men from small areas being lost together in disastrous attacks.

The project workroom is open from 10am to 4pm each weekday for visitors and for anyone interested to learn more about the project and how to get involved.

The exhibition featuring Richard Simpson, survivor of the HMS Hampshire but killed in 1917, is currently on view at the Oddfellows Arms, Albion Road, North Shields.

The battle of the Somme exhibition is at the Low Lights Tavern, Brewhouse Bank, Fish Quay, North Shields.

As part of the series of events in this year’s Heritage Open Days taking place across the region from 6th. to 9th September, there will be a conducted walk (2 hours) in Preston cemetery looking at some of the family memorials and Commonwealth War Graves for men on the Tynemouth Roll of Honour; with a commentary on some of the unusual circumstances of the casualties and their war service records. This will take place at 1.30pm on Sunday 9th. September, 2012. Places should be booked in advance by telephoning (0191) 643 7413/7420. A second walk at may be organised subject to demand. More details of the Heritage Open days programme across Tyne and Wear can be found at www.twhods.org.uk A booklet with full details of all events is also available form libraries and other venues across the five boroughs.

THIS week’s casualty list gives details of men from the former Borough of Tynemouth who were killed or died in August 1918.

Adams, George Ernest, age 31, Private, 12th/13th Battalion NF, died a prisoner of war, 2nd, 54 North Street, husband of Jane E Adams, son of James and Henrietta.

Brown, Joseph, age 52, 1st mate, ss Eros (London), torpedoed, 6 Argyle Street, son of John H and Margaret. Tower Hill Memorial.

Didsbury, Ernest Cordes, age 18, Private, 15th Battalion DLI, KIA, 24th, son of Mrs Didsbury, of 29 Rosebery Avenue, formerly gardener at Clementhorpe, Preston Park, home of Alderman Richard Irvin, who also lost a son.

Glaister, George Frederick, age 28, Lieutenant, ‘C’ Company, 2nd Battalion Tank Corps, KIA, 1st, residing Preston Village, assistant master, Tynemouth High School, born Preston Lancashire, son of Joseph and Ruth, 22 St Paul’s Square, Preston.

Graham, Joseph Cyril, pictured, age 18, Private, 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers, (City of London) Regiment, KIA, 26th, 23 Percy Gardens, son of Edith and late Joseph, former pupil Tynemouth High School.

Graham, Daniel, age 21, Private, 1st Battalion, East Yorks Regiment, DOW, 27th, 5 Huntingdon Place, son of Daniel and Margaret Banks Graham, born Blyth, former pupil Tynemouth High School, previously NF, enlisted June 1916.

Howe, Harry Daniel, age 25, Gunner, 290th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, KIA, 22nd, 122 West Percy Street, son of Harry and Jane Anne, of 20 Wilson Street, Sunderland, husband of Dorothy, former pupil Tynemouth High School – see story.

Lamb, Robert, Private, 1st/7th, Middlesex Regiment, KIA, 30th, 5 Norham Terrace, Percy Main, born West Stanley, formerly 12th Battalion NF, wounded June 1917.

Miller, Robert Hopper, age 19, Private, 10th Battalion East Yorks Regiment, KIA, 15th, son of Mr and Mrs David C Miller, Parkside, Park Terrace.

Phillips, Ernest, age 21, Private, 1st Battalion NF, KIA, 23rd, 72 Belford Terrace, son of William and Anne, of Newburn, born Whitley Bay.

Potts, John Robert, age 19, Private, 1st Battalion East Yorks Regiment, KIA 23rd, 23 George Street, son of James and Margaret. Vis-en-Artois Memorial.

Reed, Thomas Carniby Irvin, age 18, Private 1st/4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment, KIA, 23rd, son of Maria Wheatley and late William Thomas, 41 Alma Place, former pupil Tynemouth High School.

n Anyone with information on this week’s list 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.

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