Shared war links explored

Northumbria World War One Commemoration Project Grand Book Sale.
Northumbria World War One Commemoration Project Grand Book Sale.

The project’s latest exhibition was opened by Col David MacDonald, US Army, assistant military attache at the US Embassy, London.

He came to North Tyneside for a flag-raising ceremony at the council offices at Cobalt Business Park and to plant a tree in Northumberland Park on July 4, to mark US Independence Day and remember five men, including one from North Shields and a US citizen, killed on February 3, 1917, shortly before the US entered the war.

Funded by the US Embassy in London, the exhibition examines the many links between the north east of England and the US forces in World War I.

The exhibition is at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre, Clifford’s Fort, on the Fish Quay until Sunday, after which it will transfer to Washington Old Hall, County Durham.

Sunday also sees the second book sale by the project at the heritage centre, with 1,500 second-hand books on sale, many in pristine condition.

As a special offer on Sunday you can gain entry to the GI Geordies exhibition and get a voucher for admission to the heritage centre (£2), redeemable against any book purchases over £5.

The exhibition space also has a fascinating display of materials and decoupage about submarines, an intriguing insight to the design and layout of these vessels.

On Tuesday Dr Dan Jackson will be at the Low Lights Tavern to give the second of his talks about Military Chaplains in World War I. The talk, With God On Our Side, is at 7.30pm, at the pub in Brewhouse Bank, North Shields. This will be the last of our monthly talks until September.

As July moves on we approach the centenary of the opening of the savage Third Battle of Ypres, better known as the Passendael (or Passchendale) campaign – a bloody struggle that ran for four long months until the mud and winter rains ended operations.

We will be remembering the many local men who died in that debacle, which came to rival the Somme as a byword for indomitable courage in the face of impossible conditions.

In the period of the Passchendaele campaign about 125 local men died and have no known grave. They are remembered on nearly 150 panels at the Tyne Cot memorial and amongst the headstones for men buried in the cemetery. Sadly, only a handful have an identified grave.

Tyne Cot is the largest British military cemetery in the world, but of the 12,000 men buried there, more than 10,000 headstones bear no name, only the simple inscription ‘A soldier (sailor) of the Great War’, with Kipling’s words, “Known unto God”.

In a similar timescale, the Somme campaign of summer 1916 took a much higher toll on the communities of North Tyneside, with more than 417 local men named on the great memorial to the missing at Thiepval. The Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish Brigades took the heaviest casualties of all British units on July 1, 1916.

New volunteers are welcome to join the project, the commitment of time is at your discretion. To find out more contact tommy@northumbriaworldwarone.co.uk or call into the workroom at Linskill Community Centre, North Shields, open 10am to 4pm each weekday.

We welcome enquiries and information about relatives lost in the war.

The Memorial Garden is open for public visits during the opening hours of the centre, 8am to 5pm daily.