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Friday, 28 July 2017

Heaviside Asides

This week, Jo reflects on the Heaviside commemorations and looks at some of the other people from Craghead and Stanley.

So, the dust has finally settled on the Heaviside commemorations, and we have started talking about the next Victoria Cross events (for George McKean, in April 2018). As with the completion of every large project, there is something of a feeling of come down when everything that you have been working towards for months is at an end. The dust may have settled on our celebrations of an extraordinary man and his deeds but the Durham at War website enables us to preserve not only Michael Heaviside’s history but also the stories of those around him. 

The Stanley News report of the parade for Michael Heaviside provided us with a fantastic basis for recreating the procession a hundred years later and was one of the sources that we used in the schools education sessions:

But it also hints at a number of other stories of the people of Craghead and Stanley, for example here are the words of Henry Greener from that report:
"He (the speaker) stood before them with not unmixed feelings, as they might guess; but one had got to weep with those who wept, and rejoice with those who rejoiced. His had been a time of weeping, and had he yielded to his own personal feelings he might not have been there; but he had set those feelings aside, and was glad of the privilege afforded him, in their name, of extending the most hearty and most cordial of welcomes to a man who had brought such honour to their village (Cheers)."
Harry Greener, Stanley News, 26 April 1917
Harry Greener, Stanley News, 26 April 1917
Just three months before, Mr Greener’s son and namesake, Harry Greener, had been shot and killed in France. His younger son, John William Greener, had just been discharged from the army as being medically unfit in June 1917 after having been shot in the face and gassed. He died in 1919. 
 
Harry Greener 
http://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/12536/
John William Greener 

Another name that stands out from the newspaper report is that of Anthony Kuhlman:
"The children having sung “Rule Britannia,” Mr A Kuhlman moved a vote of thanks to all who had lent motor cars and assisted in other ways. There were many proud faces round him, and he could say that was the proudest day he had had in Craghead."

The people of Stanley turned out for the Heaviside parade in 2017  (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
The people of Stanley turned out for the Heaviside parade in 2017  (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
It is perhaps surprising to learn that Anthony Kuhlman was born in Germany and that he had resigned from Stanley Urban District Council because of “international differences”. In spite of this, he appears to have thrown himself into preparations for the town’s festivities and was struck by the cohesive effect that the parade had:
"That day to him, coming through Stanley, South Moor, and there, had been wonderful. He had never seen a day like it; it was an eye-opener that he never expected. It just required someone to set the ball rolling, and it would gather moss galore and take huge proportions. He never saw such a crowd. The committee were thoroughly and highly satisfied with the response to the efforts they had made. They had done a little good, but their efforts, if not seconded, would have fallen flat. Everyone had pulled together, so making work a pleasure. They could not expect to have many days like that, which was one of work and pleasure."

Anthony Kuhlman
http://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/13412/
http://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/material/677/

Anthony Redhead Kuhlman (his son)
http://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/13437/

Friday, 21 July 2017

Brothers in arms

Recently, a member of the public submitted the story of his family’s First World War service to Durham at War. There were four Malia brothers who fought in the war, James, John, Joseph, and Thomas. They all served with the Durham Light Infantry (DLI), except for Thomas who served with the Royal Engineers. The oldest brother, James, had previously served with the DLI during the Boer War. However, John and Joseph are the focus of this blog post. Both were killed during the war, and their names were incorrect on their memorials.

John was serving with 15th Battalion, one of the two DLI battalions in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. John went missing and was declared killed in action. His body was never found, so his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial. However, his papers went through as Melia with an 'e', and this is the name that appeared on the memorial. Until recently. His great-nephew pulled together the evidence he needed, and submitted it to the Commonwealth War Graves commission. In 2005, the change was made.
John Malia's name corrected on the Thiepval Memorial, with thanks to the Malia Family and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
John Malia's name corrected on the Thiepval Memorial, with thanks to the Malia Family and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Joseph’s surname differed even more. He had been living with his aunt since the age of 14, and signed up under her surname of Clark. When James discovered this, he told Joseph that his surname was Malia and he should change it. However, Joseph was killed in action in June 1917, before he had done this. James wrote letters to the army asking that the name be changed. In 1921, they were told that he would still be recorded as Joseph Clark, but with the alias of Malia.

Once again, the great-nephew got together all the evidence for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and in February of this year, Joseph’s headstone was replaced with one now reading ‘JP Malia served as 11769 Private J Clark’.
Joseph's original headstone, showing the name Clark, with thanks to the Malia Family
Joseph's original headstone, showing the name Clark, with thanks to the Malia Family
Joseph's new headstone showing both Malia and Clark, with thanks to the Malia Family
Joseph's new headstone showing both Malia and Clark, with thanks to the Malia Family
You can read more about the Malia brothers on Durham at War: http://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/13462/

Friday, 14 July 2017

He ain't heavy...

This week, Jo writes about her involvement in the events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Michael Heaviside returning to Stanley after receiving the Victoria Cross.
The Heaviside VC paving stone and information panel, with wreaths placed after the unveiling (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
The Heaviside VC paving stone and information panel, with wreaths placed after the unveiling (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
For the past few weeks my life seems to have been dominated by a man who died in 1939. This may sound a little creepy but, in fact, it has been an uplifting and inspiring experience.

The meetings started in the dim and distant past. My diary shows that the first meeting we had to discuss commemorating Michael Heaviside’s homecoming was in July 2015. Daniel O’Brien of Stanley Area Action Partnership came to the Record Office to talk about recreating the parade that took place on 12 July 1917 to welcome back the town’s returning Victoria Cross winner. We talked to him about the fact there is surviving film of the parade, and the newspaper reports in the Stanley News which go into minute detail of who marched, the route, the bands, and the banners carried.
Michael Heaviside information banner next to Craghead Lodge banner (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
Michael Heaviside information banner next to Craghead Lodge banner (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
Fast forward almost two years – since the beginning of the year the meetings have come thick and fast. The number of people involved grew and sub-groups split from the main planning meetings that went from monthly, then bi-monthly, and eventually to weekly. However, one of the participants in the meetings did comment on how relaxed all of the meetings were. He attributed this to the swan syndrome; calm on top and paddling like hell underneath. I think it was quite a fair assessment. In fact, Mark Davinson, the County Councillor for Craghead, would often email there and then, announcing five minutes after a decision had been made that it was now all sorted!
Pupils of St Joseph's RC Primary and the Sacriston Lodge banner on Stanley Front Street (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
Pupils of St Joseph's RC Primary and the Sacriston Lodge banner on Stanley Front Street (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
For my part, I worked with the education officers of the DLI Collections to put together a series of workshops for primary schools in the area. The idea was to provide some background for the school children so they understood the significance of the day. We targeted the schools that had been along the original route of parade, with the hope that they would join the 2017 parade. It was often difficult to fit the sessions in around timetables, sports days, and other school activities, but it was great fun working with the kids and getting their reaction to their local hero. Watching some of the children that I had worked with talking on the local television news about Michael Heaviside and what he meant to them was an incredibly proud moment for me.
Horse drawn charabanc provided by Beamish (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
Horse drawn charabanc provided by Beamish (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
Beamish kindly lent some costumes for the children, but even those who weren’t wearing these costumes made an amazing effort to look the part. It has to be said that quite a number of the teachers and (cough) other County Council employees at the event enjoyed the dressing up as much as the kids did! Some of the grown-ups were so reluctant to give their costumes back that they were even seen in their outfits at the evening film showing.
Norman Heaviside in First World War uniform representing his grandfather, Michael (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
Norman Heaviside in First World War uniform representing his grandfather, Michael (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
The people of Stanley turned out to watch the parade, just like they did 100 years ago (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
The people of Stanley turned out to watch the parade, just like they did 100 years ago (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
But the parade was only part of the programme. In the morning, the Lord-Lieutenant of Durham, Sue Snowdon, unveiled the commemorative paving stone and plaque to Michael Heaviside in Craghead. Michael Heaviside lived opposite Bloemfontein School, and there was a suitable site here for the paving stone to be placed. All of the school children were in the playground to watch the ceremony. Once wreaths had been laid, we all crossed over to the school where a wall-plaque to Michael Heaviside has be erected by the Town Council. Bloemfontein also took their pupils to a special after-school club that volunteers from Beamish ran in Craghead Village Hall. The kids could dress in uniforms to do drill, make flags, play period games and swing on the ever-popular shuggy boats.
The plaque unveiled at Bloemfontain School (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
The plaque unveiled at Bloemfontain School (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
Children enjoy the shuggy boats (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
Children enjoy the shuggy boats (Photo by Durham County Record Office)
The evening finished with a rare showing of the film “The Battle of Arras” with a fascinating live narration from film historian, Alistair Fraser. Before the main feature the audience was treated to a showing of the film of Heaviside’s parade 100 years before, accompanied by a new piece of brass band music.

To say that it has been a busy couple of days is an understatement. Months of planning paid off and I am sure that anyone who was on Front Street in Stanley on Wednesday afternoon will remember the occasion for a long time to come. Hundreds of people lined the streets to commemorate one of their own who saved lives in the midst of war, and that is something worth remembering.

For more on Heaviside:
Stanley News report of the homecoming: http://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/material/140/

Our volunteer, Jean, has also put up a story about Michael's brother, Thomas, who served with the Canadian Army: http://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/13515/