Thursday, 31 October 2013

How Do You Wear Your Poppy?

This is great video from The Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal on how to wear your poppy.  

Find out more about this years Poppy Appeal here:

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Stockton Needs You!

On 26th October we attended ‘Stockton Needs You!’, a First World War public awareness event that can only be described as a success for the town’s library hosting it.  

Our display at the Stockton library event

We took along some of the photographs from the 18th Battalion collection, as well as being on hand to answer queries from the public.  We were there along with representatives of Teesside Archives, Tees Archaeology and other groups and museums.  In the reference library there were also volunteers on hand to help people with their family history.

Elsewhere there were foods to try from both British and German front lines, and a reminiscence box which included scents of leather, Germolene, and roses among others (the apple one was lovely).
Knitted poppy made by Ingleby Barwick Knitting Group
Crafts were on display by both the Teesside WI and the Ingleby Barwick Knitting Group, the latter of which had knitted poppies for The British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

The library also launched their new membership card featuring Stockton’s Victoria Cross winner, Sergeant Edward Cooper, of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, who received the medal for actions he took on 16 August 1917.

The day was rounded off with singing led by Mike McGrother; male voice choir Infant Hercules; and the Stockton Town Choir.

Mike McGrother, Infant Hercules, Stockton Town Choir

Our next event is one of our own on Saturday 9th November, a drop in day held in the Durham Room at County Hall, between 10am and 2pm.  We will be showcasing some of the Colonel HHS Morant records; updating visitors on the progress of the project; and inviting people to help us match up some more faces in the 18th Battalion photographs.

Further information will follow.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


On Saturday and Sunday, 19-20 October, we took a collection of photographs of the 18th (Service) Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, to Beamish Museum. The event was timed to coincide with the Durham Pals recruiting weekend at the museum. The Durham Pals group re-creates the life of soldiers in the 18th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry during the Great War. 18 DLI was a Kitchener Army unit, made up of men from all walks of life from across the County of Durham or with links to the area.

Members of the Durham Pals group looking at photographs of the 18th Battalion, DLI, at an event at Beamish

We laid out hundreds of photographs in the room above Barclay’s Bank to display the collection in a way that has never been seen before, and asked visitors to help to identify some of the people and places in the photos. The photographs show soldiers enlisting and training in the county in 1914-1915 in great detail and proved very popular with visitors.

One visitor said ‘The exhibition gives a real sense of what it felt like at the time to be part of the recruitment drive.  The camaraderie shines through’. 

Through the window you could see the Durham Pals re-enacting the drill and manoeuvres depicted in the photographs.

Durham Pals group preparing to march at Beamish

The Book, ‘War History of the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry’, written by the Commanding Officer at the end of the war, tells how the battalion was raised in September 1914 after a meeting of a committee of gentlemen from the county, headed by Lord Durham.  The battalion would be funded by subscribers, the list of names can be found in the book, and the first appeal raised c. £10,000.  Lord Durham also provided Cocken Hall as a base for the new battalion.

As well as being a County battalion, the majority of the men being recruited from the region, it was also a Pals battalion.  This meant that friends, workmates, and family members could sign up and serve together, intended to encourage enlistment.  Of course, once fighting began, this would have serious ramifications on families and communities. 

A series of photographs of the battalion (D/DLI 2/18/24-65) were produced at points throughout the recruitment and training process of 1914-1915, which were published to encourage recruitment.  The photographs didn’t have much contextual information, but in many cases, locations were determined by knowledge of the battalion's movements, and comparison with other photographs.  Equally, very few names are given, however, in his book ‘Durham Pals’, author John Sheen found names for some men from other sources.  What we would like to do is improve the information we have, locating unidentified places, matching faces and names, as well as identifying, where possible, when the same men occur in different photos, such as:

You can see the same man in these two photographs, only identified in the first one as Private J. Oliver 
Members of 18th Battalion, DLI, at Cocken Hall, one soldier also appears on the photograph below, 1914-1915 (D/DLI 2/18/24(108))
D/DLI 2/18/24 (108)
Members of 18th Battalion, DLI, at Cocken Hall, one soldier also appears on the photograph above, 1914-1915 (D/DLI 2/18/24(30))
D/DLI 2/18/24 (13)

As a result of this event we now have a positive identification for the sousaphone player in the battalion band.

More information on the 18th Battalion can be found in:

‘War History of the 18th (S.) Battalion Durham Light Infantry’, Lieutenant Colonel W.D. Lowe, DSO, MC, Oxford University Press, 1920

‘Durham Pals, 18th, 19th and 22nd Battalions of The Durham Light Infantry in the Great War’, John Sheen, Pen and Sword Military, 2007

Thursday, 17 October 2013


Welcome to the blog for the project First World War in County Durham.  The aim of this project is to gather and connect information about the people, places, events and objects associated with the First World War (WW1) in the historic county of Durham, between the Rivers Tyne and Tees. Coverage includes the area to the south west of the present county that was in Startforth Rural District, Yorkshire North Riding, during WW1.

We would like volunteer help to collect as much data as possible, check its accuracy, and organise it so that it can be linked to an interactive mapping website. The proposed mapping website will also publicise WW1 centenary events and ongoing research projects in 2014 - 2018.

The first stage of this Heritage Lottery Fund project runs to the end of 2013. If the application for second stage funding is successful the main project will run from 2014 to 2018. The website will go live in August 2014 and volunteers will be able to contribute content until at least 2018.
If you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities, you can follow this link

The intention of the blog is to:

We will also be attending the event at Beamish on the 19th and 20th October 2013.  We will be bringing copies of hundreds of photographs of the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry in 1914-1915.

Find the Bank building in the town. Upstairs you can help to identify some of the soldiers and locations in the photographs.

For information about Beamish Museum and how to get there please visit  (entrance charges apply)