Hopes rise for an end to war

Lionel Percy Tate.
Lionel Percy Tate.

As November 1918 opened, the local population had rising hopes of an end to the seemingly unremitting tragedy of the four years long war.

It was a war that had consumed the flower of the nation’s youth and continued to exact a heavy toll of local men lost in the intense fighting on the Western Front up to the final days, as the German army began to crumble in the face of unrest at home and desertions in France and Belgium.

For many families on Tyneside the war would have a final cruel twist.

The Tate family, of Heaton, had seen their son Lionel Percy head off to war in 1914 from his job in the offices at Swan Hunter Shipbuilders.

A volunteer in the Northumberland Hussars from before the war his was the first Yeomanry territorial cavalry unit to go overseas, joining in the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914.

After three years of active service he obtained a commission and returned to France.

Tragically he was killed in action on November 4, less than a month after his parents had learned of the death of his younger brother Norman.

The project was passed this account of Lionel’s service by a family member Jenny Cowling, his great niece.

Lionel Percy Tate was born on April 17, 1892, in Newcastle upon Tyne, the eldest child of Robert William Tate and his wife Emma (nee Stainsby).

He attended Chillingham Road school and Skerry’s college in Newcastle and was working as an accounts clerk when he enlisted in the Northumberland Hussars (Territorial Army) on February 17, 1913.

Percy spent almost the whole war in France, with only a handful of days on leave in England each year.

He survived many terrible battles in France, including Ypres and the Somme.

He was appointed to a commission in the North Staffordshire Regiment in May 1918 and returned to serve with them in France.

He was killed in action on November 4, 1918. After surviving so much, serving throughout the war, it is so sad that he died within only a few days of the armistice.

This was also a tragedy for his fiancée, Cissy Dryden, who always kept a photo of Percy and never married.

Now, as the centenary of the Armistice approaches, the project has assembled all the work it has done over the past seven years in a series of exhibitions and collections.

All the material will be on display for seven days from Monday, November 5, at the Memorial Hall in Frank Street, Wallsend, from 10am to 4pm, except Sunday, when it will be open from 10am to noon. Entry to the displays is free.

For more details on the project, visit the website www.northumbriaworldwarone.co.uk

The Memorial Hall, Wallsend, will also be the venue for a concert at 7pm on Friday, November 9, to mark the end of the war and the second phase of the project.

The concert is titled Our Journey’s End after the famous, dramatic work of R C Sherriff. A wide ranging programme of music and stories of some of the 4,000 casualties of the war in North Tyneside will fill an evening of entertainment and reflection on the project’s work and the wartime experience of our community.

Tickets (£7) for the concert are available from the Memorial Hall, Frank Street, Wallsend, and the Project workroom at Room B9 – Linskill Community Centre.