The First World War contribution of South Tynesiders on the front line on land, sea and at home is revealed in a major exhibition which opened yesterday.
Home of Heroes: South Tyneside in the First World War will be on show at South Shields Museum and Gallery until January 24.
Museum Manager Geoff Woodward said: “The research conducted by staff and volunteers for this exhibition is exceptional and really helps bring this exhibition to life.
“Seeing the effort that individuals went through as part of the war effort is fascinating. I hope visitors to the museum will feel inspired to research their own family history from the First World War as well as sharing some their personal stories.”
Many people from South Tyneside served in the Merchant Navy and the area’s miners also volunteered en masse.
From Whitburn Colliery, 1,474 men joined up, 1,100 men served from St Hilda Colliery in South Shields and 304 men from the pit at Boldon Colliery. At Harton Colliery in South Shields, 1,130 went off to war, of whom 140 would not return.
On show are metal panels which are part of an extensive memorial originally displayed at the Marsden Miners’ Lodge on Imeary Street, South Shields. Members of this lodge worked at Whitburn Colliery.
Although it is not clear when the memorial – which lists the names of lodge members who served in the Forces during the war – was unveiled, a report from 1920 mentions that £1,000 had been “devoted to the erection of a suitable war shrine which would shortly be unveiled in the Lodge room.”
The memorial was dismantled when the hall was converted into St. Bede’s Parochial Hall in 1971 and the panels were stored, it is believed, under the stage in the Armstrong Hall in South Shields.
Out of a total of 30 panels, eight are missing, including three which list those who died in the war. It is hoped that the exhibition will lead to the discovery of the whereabouts of the missing panels.
Exhibition curator Adam Bell said: “Perhaps when the hall was being converted and the panels taken down, people whose relatives appeared on the lists decided to take those particular panels for safekeeping.
“They may well be in attics or garages. It was a massive memorial and it would be great if we could trace the missing pieces. So many miners volunteered for the Forces that you wonder how they kept the collieries going.”
In the exhibition is the war Roll of Honour of the Boldon Lodge of the Durham Miners Association.
The local lodges of the association kept busy fundraising for war related charities and doing all they could for their members at home and abroad, as well as their families.
At Marsden Lodge, a Military Death Legacy of £10 was paid to dependants of members killed in their country’s service.