Australians assisting project research

THE list of casualties provided by the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project published in the News Guardian on July 28 included details of Nicholas Mainger, killed at the battle of Fromelles (Somme), in July, 1916.

And following the item in last week’s edition concerning the campaign in Gallipoli, the project was contacted by a project in Australia which is assembling details and photographs of all men from the Commonwealth of Australia who were killed or listed missing in the Dardanelles peninsular battlefields.

The project in Australia is now assisting the North Tyneside group to trace details of any men on the Tynemouth Roll of Honour who are known to have served in the Australian Imperial Forces.

Details of the service records of Nicholas Mainger have been sent to the project and will be reported in a future item.

Unfortunately there is no picture as yet of Nicholas, who had been a seaman for 21 years before enlisting.

His next-of-kin was given as a Robert Mainger, living at the same address given for Nicholas on the Roll of Honour – 7 Stormont Street, North Shields.

If any reader knows of a relative of these men, or John Mainger, of North Street, Milburn Place, North Shields, and who may have any further information, or would like copies of the information received from Australia, the project would be pleased to hear from them.

The casualties list for this week includes three men for whom more information is sought and who have interesting connections to major aspects of the war.

William George Roper was a former pupil of Tynemouth Municipal High School and is shown on the School’s ‘Record of Service in the Great War’ as having enlisted in June, 1915.

At the date of his death in action he was a Corporal in the 1st Battalion, Special Brigade, Royal Engineers.

The description of his unit was a euphemism adopted to conceal the true nature of its work installing and operating the poison gas apparatus brought into use by Britain following the first introduction of chemical warfare by German forces in April, 1915 at the second battle of Ypres.

The project is seeking more information about him as he is not obviously connected to Tynemouth apart from his schooling.

Born in South Africa, his parents were living in Colchester by the time the Roll of Honour was published in 1923.

Two local men serving on an Admiralty trawler had a part in an aspect of the war which has much greater recognition in the history of the Second World War but was of equal importance during the First.

John High and Robert Newson were members of the crew of HM Trawler John High, lost when hit by an enemy mine in the White Sea, near to Archangel in the far north of Russia.

Keeping the sea lanes open to Imperial Russia, via the dangerous and inhospitable waters off northern Norway, was equally vital in the First World War as goods and munitions could not be got into or out of the Russian Empire via the Black Sea because access through the Dardanelles was denied by Turkey.

The fact that the ship has the same name as its skipper has pointed to a number of interesting areas for research.

But it seems that only one of the 15 crew survived the explosion.

The first mate was standing on the bow and was thrown into the water and later rescued, suffering only shock and the effects of immersion in the icy Arctic waters.

Apart from John High and Robert Newson, all other crew members were from elsewhere, serving as members of the Royal Naval Reserve.

The trawler had only been built in 1916 in Aberdeen for Robert Hastie, of North Shields, a well-known local businessman on the Fish Quay and a figure involved in many local institutions.

It may well have been that John High was a holder of ‘shares’ in the vessel as it was common practice to invest in fishing boats on the basis of 16 shares, taken up by a number of investors; these often including members of the crew, particularly the skipper.

Anyone with information about the John High or the two crew members noted in the casualties list is asked to contact the project.

The project has recently completed the installation of a number of computers to allow research to be carried out from the workroom in the Linskill Centre.

Anyone interested to learn more about the Tynemouth project or volunteering is welcome to contact them at the Linskill Centre from 10am to 4pm on weekdays (Monday – Friday).

THIS week’s list gives details of the men who were killed or died in the month of August, 1916.

Armstrong, Richard, age 21, Private, 1st Battalion Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers, KIA, 9th, husband of Elizabeth Mann (formerly Armstrong), 33 Porchester Street, Tyne Dock.

Cranston, N, Private, 1st/6th NF, KIA 13th, details needed.

Dodds, Joseph Blankly, Lance Corporal, 1st Battalion NF, KIA, 18th, 35 Thrift Street.

High, John, RNR, LAS, HM Trawler ‘John High’ 7th, 20 St John’s Terrace.

Jones, John W, Private, 1st Battalion Cameronians (attached), enlisted KOSB, KIA, 20th.

Long, J, Australian Imperial Forces, 18th, details needed.

McMullen, Thomas John, RGA, KIA, 27th, Chirton Hill Farm.

Newson, Robert, Chief Engineer, HM Trawler ‘John High’, LOAS, 7th, 73 Howdon Road.

Normandale, John, age 60, skipper, ss Langley Castle, LAS, 21st, husband of Theresa, 22 Sibthorpe Street, buried Preston Cemetery.

Riches, John Chalder, age 23, Corporal ‘B’ Company, 8th Battalion Yorks Regiment, DOW, 7th, 42 Bedford Street, husband of Elizabeth Allaway (formerly Riches).

Roper, William George, Corporal, 1st Battalion Special Brigade, RE, KIA, 24th, former pupil Tynemouth High School.

Scott, Ernest Frederick, NF, KIA, 2nd, 129 Howdon Road.

Swan, William, West Yorks Regiment, (POW’s Own), KIA, 9th, Camden Lane.

Williamson, Thomas James, Private, 6th Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, KIA 18th, 301/2 Norfolk Street.

Wood, George Huntley, Captain, New Zealand Medical Corps Regimental, MO to Wellington Mounted Rifles, KIA, 11th, Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.


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, e-mail or write to Tynemouth World War 1 Commemoration Project, c/o Essell, 29 Howard Street, North Shields, NE30 1AR.