By Shelley Marsden
PUPILS across North Tyneside have each received a brochure detailing the role the area played in the First World War.
The brochure is the culmination of a ground-breaking project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to develop a comprehensive database of the 1,700 soldiers from the old borough of Tynemouth who died in the Great War, many of them of Irish descent.
Tyneside contributed many battalions to the conflict including the Tyneside Irish battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who were cruelly decimated on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, in July 1916.
Each school’s allocation of brochures was sponsored by businesses throughout Tyneside with the Newcastle upon Tyne-based Tyneside Irish Centre sponsoring St. Stephen’s RC Primary School of Longbenton.
Secretary of the Tyneside Irish Centre, Tony Corcoran said, “As part of our St. Patrick’s Day festivities the Tyneside Irish Centre holds a shamrock wreath laying ceremony every year to commemorate the Tyneside Irish battalions who fought in the First World War.
“Other events are being planned by the Centre over the next four years of commemoration, so we are very pleased to be associated with this excellent brochure as part of those events and with St. Stephen’s, a school we’ve had connections with over many years.”
Since the community heritage project launched three years ago, the Tynemouth website has received nearly 2 million hits.
The award-winning database, exploring the wartime experiences of a North East UK riverside community, has received praise from the Imperial War Museum in London and was mentioned recently in the House of Commons by North Tyneside MP Alan Campbell.
The former Borough of Tynemouth marked its war dead with a Roll of Honour published in 1923 containing very brief details of some 1,700 local residents known to have lost their lives due to causes associated with the war and their service.
See www.tynemouthworldwarone.org, where you can also buy a copy of the brochure.