THE catastrophic impact of the loss of life in the First World War on communities in the North East has been vividly brought home by a map created by a volunteer-run venture.
The homes of 1,050 war victims in the old borough of Tynemouth, which included North Shields, have been highlighted with yellow dots for each death on a 1915-16 map of the area.
The exercise, which illustrates the scale and concentration of the loss falling on tight-knit communities, was the idea of Steve Young, IT lead on the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project.
Steve created the “loss map” from an original at Woodhorn Archives in Northumberland.
Alan Fidler, leader of the commemoration project, said: “The map encapsulates the horror of the war and how it affected communities. It shows the enormous impact of the losses in the most dramatic way.”
Clusters of yellow dots line street after street. In Church Way in North Shields, 34 homes suffered a bereavement.
Other streets in the town which were badly hit were Stephenson Street, 28; Church Street, 22; Dockwray Square, 21; Chirton West View, 21; Hudson Street, 20; Addison Street, 18; Linskill Street, 18; Front Street and Milburn Place, 17; Bedford Street, 16.
The impact would have been greater, but the map does not include areas such as Percy Main, East Howdon and Cullercoats. There are also hundreds more victims to be researched and plotted on the map.
A Roll of Honour produced in 1923 carried the names of 1,668 lost as a result of the war, although this would not have been the full total. Nevertheless, 13% of victims on the Roll of Honour came from just 10 streets.
A smaller version of the map, with 950 addresses marked, has been printed with copies available at £2 from the Keel Row bookshop in Preston Road, North Shields.
All proceeds will go to the project, which is researching as many details as possible about each individual on the Roll of Honour so that a new version can be produced to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War next year.
The master version of the map will be a centrepiece of an exhibition planned for the centenary. A copy of the map has also been presented to North Tyneside Council Mayor Linda Arkley.
Mr Fidler said that the war losses for Tynemouth borough were twice the national average.
Factors include the number of men who were lost while serving in the fishing and merchant navy fleets, and those from the area’s heavy industries who joined up together in the “Pals’ battalions.”
Mr Fidler said: “It is inconceivable that anybody living in North Shields was not affected in some way by these losses.”
The worst day for the area was July 1, 1916 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme – which cost the lives of 80 local men.
The project is based at Linskill Community Centre, North Shields from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.