Your World War One Heroes: See our seventh gallery of readers' family stories and pictures

To mark the centenary of the start of WW1, we have created galleries of memories and mementoes which have been passed on through generations of North East families

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and we have assembled galleries of pictures, stories and mementoes in tribute to the North East men and women who lived and died during that terrible and extraordinary time.

Have a look at our first gallery here

Have a look at our second gallery here

Have a look at our third gallery here

See our fourth gallery here

See our fifth gallery here

Have a look at our sixth gallery here

These stories are also in the gallery above.

Thomas Atkinson Parker

Matthew Parker, his son, tells the story: "Dad was from Blaydon and must have been one of the first to enlist. At Gallipoli he was left out for dead but was brought in by the Canadians. The family doctor, Dr Morrison,  was also at Gallipoli and heard that dad had been wounded. He went around all the English field hospitals but could not find him as he was in a Canadian one.

"A few years ago I was told that when Grandma Parker went to visit him in hospital at Liverpool, she walked round the ward two or three times before she recognised him. I never heard him speak of Gallipoli.

"Dad also served in the trenches in Flanders. His best friend became trapped in underwater barbed wire, whilst swimming, and was drowned. Making his coffin was one of Dad's most difficult jobs. One thing I remember him talking about was the camping arrangements. When they camped beside a river or stream, the watering order was (starting upstream) drinking water for the men, drinking water for the horses, washing for the men and washing for the horses.

"Towards the end of the war, when the Germans were retreating quickly, the British were bussed to the front to relieve those already there. They would then have a short rest before the process was repeated.

"Dad died in April 1959, aged 63, largely due to heavy smoking."

Richard (Dick) Harker

Eva Davison of Chester-Le-Street, his great niece, tells his story: "Dick was my grandma's elder brother and hero. He was a professional footballer and was signed from Newcastle to Crystal Palace in 1905.

"He joined the Northumberland Fusiliers with his pals at the beginning of the war. He was reported missing in action on 9th April 1917 at Arras. My mam remembered being taken by her mother to meet the troop trains arriving at Newcastle, Gateshead and Felling stations at the end of the war, in the hope that Dick may get off a train, having lost his memory. He never did.

"His name is on the Arras Memorial in Faubourg-d'Amiens Cemetery and on the memorial in Heworth Church."

James Beach

James was the great-great-uncle of K Brough of Gosforth, who tells his story: "James enlisted in 1914 at West Moor, he was 19 years old.

"He was a Private in the ''A'' Coy 1st/6th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. His service number was 240329. He died at the age of 23 on 20/9/18 and is buried in the Leuze Communal Cemetery in Belgium.

"His death location was France and Flanders. He fought in the Western European Theatre and was awarded the Victory and British medals Roll number 0/1/105B26 page number 5871.

"He was the son of William and Rachel Beach of Letchwell Cottages in Forest Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne."

Joe Armstrong

Jack Armstrong, of High Spen and now living in Burnopfield tells us this story about his father, Joe: "On leaving school my father worked in the coal mines and when WW1 broke out, he enlisted in the Royal Naval Division in 1915. He did his tours of service at Dardanelles and Gallipoli fighting the turks In 1916 he transferred from the RNI into the Royal Navy aboard the Battleship Resolution. He spent most of his time aboard the Resolution until February 1918 came this big mission in which volunteers were mainly asked to undertake, which was the Battle of Zeebrugge. The raid on Zeebrugge, night of 22nd and 23rd April 1918, was classed as a suicide mission.

"The training and special preparation started February 1918 and from 4th April onward, to get the practice right this was carried out at Chatham dockyard The mission was to block the canal at the mouth entrance to stop German submarines entering and coming out of the canal harbour. On the night of the operation there were three boats commissioned to do this job, it was midnight when the first boat entered the harbour canal when the tide was low The boat went in mainly to destroy the submarine's nets by means of sinking the boat by blowing up the engines to scuttle it. The crews of the boat were picked up by motor launches. The second boat in was the "Intrepid" and this boat had to be scuttled in the mouth of the canal entrance crossways. Again crews being picked up by tug boats or motor launches. The third and last boat to enter the canal was the "Iphigenia" and this boat was the one my father was on - Joe Armstrong Stoker, able seaman. She had to be scuttled across the bows of the Intrepid to complete the blackage of the canal. At this time the wind had changed and blew the smoke screen away which had been laid down before the operation started This meant the Iphigenia came under heavy fire from the mole battery guns.

"She was hit twice on the starboard side, shells cutting the steam pipes, this enveloping part of the ship's steam but it did get the job completed and block the mouth of the canal. There was a slim chance of escape from these three blocking ships, but the mission was well carried out. After the Chatham training my father made it back safe and well with only a tracer scar on his right leg, but there were three crew killed on his rescue boat. Quite a few commanders were awarded with the Victoria Cross.

"On my father's home-coming the field club in High Spen presented him with a gold watch for his recognition of bravery.

"There was also something special laid on at High Spen Picture Hall for his service at Zeebrugge. After being demobbed he went back into the mine and altogether did 46 years in the mines. After WW1 my father died on 25th Feburary 1975, aged 83.

"I was proud to be my father's son."

John Snowdon

Reg Snowdon of Ponteland, his son, tells his story:  "Johnny Snowdon was born in 1893. His father was a Freeman of Alnwick so Johnny was educated at Alnwick Grammar School.

"He served his time as a comp with The Alnwick Gazette before joining the staff of The Newcastle Chronicle. Not tall enough to be a gunner, in 1916 Johnny enlisted as a driver with the Royal Field Artillery.

"Posted to France, he was promoted gunner when the taller men had all been killed. Johnny was wounded in 1917 at Passchendaele. Seated on the side of a shell crater, tying up his bootlaces, he found he could not stand up.

"A piece of shrapnel from a nearby shell-burst had carried away two inches of bone  from his right leg.

"Three years and twenty-seven operations later, he ended his convalescence in a Yorkshire hospital. Wearing the invalid’s

blue suit and red tie, he also met his future wife in the Valley Gardens, Harrogate.

"For the rest of his life, permanently deaf from the gunfire and limping with a surgical boot on his short leg, Johnny continued as a linotype operator, mainly setting-up the small ads for the Chronicle.

"In his spare time he lovingly tended his garden. Johnny died in 1973."

Alexander Stephenson

Enid Stephenson of Boldon, their Niece,by marriage, tells his story: "George, one of three Stephenson brothers to enlist, was injured and sent home to recover. He then deserted and worked as a miner. When Alex was reported missing presumed dead, George went back to France and survived the war. We think he went back to look for his brother. Their story is told in the book of the Tyneside Irish.

"Alex was never found and his name is on the Thiepval Memorial."

George Edward Sinclair

Julie Hewitt Harris of Gosforth, their Granddaughter, said: "My grandfather saved a 5 year old German boy from drowning by diving into the river in 1919 in Germany while still a serving soldier."

Patrick Butler

Cheryl Potter of Wideopen, his great-great-niece, tells his story: "Joined 1st Tyneside Irish, lived in Newcastle since he was 7 years old.

"Died 1st July 1916.

"His brother Michael died same day, he was in the Northumberland Fusiliers I believe.

"Patrick Butler was mentioned in the book Tyneside Irish 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th (service) battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers by John sheen.

"Patrick was born in Tipperary."

Charles Miller Duke

Linda Alvis, his great-grandaughter, tells the story: "Back in the late 1800s, my great-grandfather Duke was a steward on the Royal Train and on one of his journeys south he met Mary Avenell in Kent and brought her back to Helmsley Road Newcastle as his wife.

"Mary Avenell bore him 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls. Bertha, Caroline May, Irene, Lily, Constance, Charles Miller, Arthur, William, Robert and Ernest.  Caroline May was my Grandmother.

"Charlie went off to war with the Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish), became a Sergeant and was looking forward to coming home and marrying his fiancée. 

"One morning in March 1918 his mother told the family shed had a vivid dream in the night. It seemed as if the wall of the bedroom opened and in came Charlie, calling out to her, Mother. She knew then he had died and it turned out to be true.

"In due course she received his Victory Medal with accompanying document thanking her for Services Rendered.  She had to sign and tear off a slip at the bottom of the document and return it to prove she had received it.  The serrated edge of this very formal notification was a terribly sad reminder which moved me to write the poem Remembrance.

"Charlie's name is on the Arras War Memorial."

John Henry Taylor

Linda Alvis, his grandaughter, tells his story: "My grandmother Caroline May married my grandfather John Henry Taylor from Newcastle. After a spell in Manchester they returned to the north, settling with their family in Roxburgh Terrace, Whitley Bay near sister Bertha Jenkinson's large family in Holly Avenue and Rene Newman who ran the famous newspaper and sweet shop in Station Road.

"John Henry fought in Italy during WWI and luckily survived, although with shrapnel still embedded in his back to the day he died in his 90s. 

"He also lost a young brother in the war, Herbert Emptage Taylor RE., who died just 20 days after Charlie. Herbert's name is on the Ploegsteert Memorial.  Both remembered with honour.

"Way back in the 1960s, my grandfather John Henry was featured on BBC TV Look North as The oldest errand boy in the North! He was in his 70s, still delivering meat from his son-in-laws shop (Ewen's Butchers in Whitley bay) and on a heavy duty bicycle. 

"He was a dear old cheerful chap and much loved in the community. My Father was from Bristol which is where I live now, but my mother's Northumbrian family were always very dear to me and I spent many happy times with them as well as a wonderful term at the old Park School in Whitley Bay.

"Sadly very few of that extremely large family are now left!  The memories are still wonderful though.  Charles Miller Duke and Herbert Emptage Taylor, together with the millions who fought and died for their country, never to return home, the unfulfilled promise of  their lives before them, should not be forgotten."

Robert Gutherson

Colin Wheeler tells his story: "Of all the memorials in the valley, none is more poignant than one that might pass unnoticed by the passer by. It takes the form of a glass panel bearing the name Warlencourt above the front door of a house in Thropton.  It was there that Barbara, the widow of Private Robert Gutherson lived and brought up her three children in the house and shop she had built in the centre of the village.

"Robert died just two days short of his 34th birthday, during an attack on the Butte de Warlencourt, in the final stages of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Robert Gutherson, a fine looking soldier, was the son of the later William and Isabella Gutherson of Thropton.  He had married Barbara Laidler in 1910 and she bore him three children, Annie, William and Catherine. 

"He was employed as a postman and joined the 17th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers, in which he was serving in France at the time of his death.

"Postcards addressed to Master Willie Gutherston during his time in training at Marske before going to France show him to have been a devoted father, and in one of these he advised his three year old son: "When Daddy is away, you will have to look after Mummy."

"The Butte de Warlencourt is an ancient burial mound in the Somme départment of northern France. The hill had earned an evil reputation during the battles of WWI, because it dominated the British lines and was used for artillery observation by the Germans.  It was very strongly defended and a number of attempts to capture it had met with heavy casualties. The Commanding Officer of another North East battalion said later: "The Butte itself would have been of little use to us ... but it had become an obsession. It loomed large in the minds of the soldiers in the forward area ... so it had to be taken." Zero Hour on 14th November 1916 was in the early morning and, by late evening, the attack had failed and the Battalion had withdrawn with heavy casualties.  One of these was Robert Gutherson.

"He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, one of over 71,000 men of the British and South African armies who perished in the battles of the Somme and have no known grave.  His name appears on a number of the Valleys Memorials and a font in his memory was to be found in the former Presbyterian Church in Thropton, bearing the inscription:  "To the Glory of God and in memory of Robert Gutherston who was lost in the Great War 14th Nov. 1916 Presented by his widow and family. Dedicated 28th May 1939."  He has never been forgotten by his family."

Private Henry Bell

Private Harry Bell (no 1952) N.F.A. R.A.M.C. Northumbrian Division, who had been at the front about 18 months, was killed by shell-shock on October 1st, 1916. 

Private Bell, prior to the outbreak of war, was employed as a Linotype Operator at the Mail and Leader Office, Newcastle on Tyne.  After serving his apprenticeship at the Durham Chronicle, he moved to Bishop Auckland, and for several years was on the composing staff of the North-Eastern Daily Gazette.

For some considerable time he acted as branch secretary at Bishop Auckland, and took an active interest in matters pertaining to the welfare of the T.A. Private Bell also took a prominent part in the Labour and Trade Union movement.

He is described by a chum, who had written a touching letter of sympathy to Mrs. Bell, as  "a good lad and always working for the benefit of his comrades.  He was busy right up to the time of his death, and suffered no pain". Private Bell was 33 years old.

We are grateful to readers for helping us build up a marvellous collection of stories and pictures in our galleries of Your WW1 Heroes this year. While we are happy to accept submissions which may be published in the future, we are no longer looking to regularly publish new galleries.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer