The remarkable success of the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project, which was recognised this year by the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, was the result of an incredibly large volume of work by more than 100 local people, and some further afield, who dedicated thousands of hours to researching the men of Tynemouth Borough who fell in the Great War.
The online database at www.northumbriaworldwarone.co.uk is the enduring record of their sacrifice, which is available to anyone looking for information about a relative killed in the war and who was a local resident, or connected to a family in the borough where a man had emigrated or moved away.
Now renamed as the Northumbria World War One Commemoration Project, the team has evolved and new recruits have joined, while some have been obliged to cease regular involvement.
Aspects of our work continue, for example maintenance of the Memorial Garden we created in an overgrown courtyard at the Linskill Community Centre, which features, as far as we know, a unique war memorial in the UK, showing the names of more than 1,600 of the Tynemouth casualties, displayed street by street.
Meanwhile, the task of researching the World War I casualties of the other parts of the modern borough of North Tyneside is proceeding, with our database expected to increase to contain more than 4,000 names.
In October, we also placed the first blue plaque for a casualty not from Tynemouth when Sgt Andrew Neil was commemorated at his former home in Westmorland Street, Wallsend.
It was installed on the occasion of the dedication of his newly placed CWGC headstone at Wallsend cemetery, following a long correspondence to rectify the oversight to grant him that recognition in 1919, when he died as a result of wounds.
The Blue Plaques initiative is commented upon by hundreds of residents in the North Shields and Tynemouth areas, where we have now installed more than 250 plaques on the homes of casualties, if their former home still stands.
We now need a new team to undertake the work of seeking agreement from home owners and occupiers today to extend this programme across the rest of the borough. Anyone interested to be involved in this aspect of our work should contact the workroom at Linskill to discuss how they can help.
Finally for 2016, we were delighted to learn that our famous and popular commemorative ale Tyneside Tommy has been recruited by Nicholson’s Butchers in Whitley Bay to reinforce the flavour of its steak pies.
Now, alongside the many local off-licence retailers selling the beer with the unique biographical ‘dog tags’, Nicholson’s also has an off-licence to allow you to savour the ale without a pie crust.
Full details of the more than 1,800 Great War casualties from Tynemouth are available on our website at www.northumbriaworldwarone.co.uk
New volunteers are welcome to join the project, the commitment of time is entirely at your discretion. To find out more, contact email@example.com or call into the workroom at Linskill.