Friday, 19 September 2014

The DLI at Large - WT Wyllie

William Thomas Wyllie, possibly 4th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry and the time of the photograph (D/DLI 7/1003/2)
D/DLI 7/1003/2 William Thomas Wyllie, possibly 4th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry at the time of the photograph
This DLI at Large post is inspired by a memorial one of the Durham at War volunteers saw in Portsmouth Cathedral. 

Captain William Thomas Wyllie was born in London in 1882, his family moving to Portsmouth in 1906.  He was the son of William Lionel Wyllie, a renowned marine artist whose 42 foot painting of the Battle of Trafalgar still hangs in the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth.  Educated at Eastbourne and Clifton, he later spent some time working at Elswick Shipyard, Tyne and Wear, and served as a bombardier in the Elswick Battery.

In January 1902 Wyllie was commissioned to the 4th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.  In 1910 he was employed with the West African Frontier Force before returning to England at the declaration of war.  Wyllie helped to raise the 10th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry and became Colonel Hubert Morant’s Adjutant.  In May 1916 he became a Brigade Major and lost his life on the Somme 19 July 1916.  

Memorial to WT Wyllie, Durham Light Infantry, Portsmouth Cathedral, courtesy of Memorial and Monuments in Portsmouth
Captain Wyllie's memorial in Portsmouth Cathedral is quite remarkable.  It is a bronze relief, measuring over 190cm by 50cm, of [Wyllie] at rest with the DLI insignia by his feet.  It bears the inscription:

"In loving memory of the second son of William Lionel and Marion Amy Wyllie. William Thomas Wyllie 2nd Durham Light Infantry killed in action at Montauban on the 19th July 1916 whilst acting as Brigade Major and buried in Mametz Cemetery.  He leaves a widow and three children."

Many thanks to Tim Backhouse of the Memorials and Monuments in Portsmouth project for permission to use the photograph.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Durham at War launched!

The Durham at War website is now live.  Go to and have a look. 

Of course, it is a work in progress, it is the beginning of a web of stories that will develop and grow over the next four years.  I believe you will be able to lose an afternoon to it as your eye catches something else interesting and before you know it, you will be somewhere far different from your starting point.  A colleague said that it is very representative of the way research actually works.

We had a successful launch event on Wednesday 10 September with an extremely entertaining keynote speech by television presenter John Grundy.

Member of staff showing the website
Member of staff showing the website
We will also have a stall on the 13 and 14 September at the Durham Light Infantry Reunion and First World War Commemoration Weekend.