We will not forget war heroes

British soldiers negotiating a shell-cratered, Winter landscape along the River Somme
Photo credit should read: PA/PA Wire
British soldiers negotiating a shell-cratered, Winter landscape along the River Somme Photo credit should read: PA/PA Wire
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Today we conclude our list of the 188 South Tyneside men who died on the very first day of the Battle of the Somme, which took place 100 years ago this month.

And we continue our tribute to the 516 local men who fell on the blood-stained foreign battlefield, fighting for king and country, by beginning an account (written by local historian Dorothy Ramser) featuring the life and death of First World War hero Charles Howey.

First, let us remember the men who died on Saturday, July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which 141 days later had resulted in more than a million British, Allied and German casualties.

They are:–

Private James Watkinson, 10/West Yorkshire Regt. (19971), 1 July 1916, aged 36. Thiépval Memorial. Pier and Face 2A, 2C and 2D. (842). (P).

Company Quartermaster-Sergeant Henry Milburn Weddle, 20/NF (Tyneside Scottish) (20/63), 1 July 1916, aged 43. Thiépval Memorial. Pier and Face 10B, 11B and 12B. (190). (P).

Private Arthur Whalley, ‘C’ Company, 27/NF (Tyneside Irish) (27/766), 1 July 1916, aged 36. Thiépval Memorial. Pier and Face 10B, 11B and 12B. (96). (P).

Private George William J. Whinney, 15/Durham Light Infantry (30579), 1 July 1916, aged 23. Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle. V.H.10. (4386).

Private George Edward White, 22/NF (Tyneside Scottish) (22/947), 1 July 1916, aged 22. Thiépval Memorial. Pier and Face 10B, 11B and 12B. (177). (P).

2nd-Lieutenant Nathan White, 21/NF (Tyneside Scottish), 1 July 1916, aged 30 or 31. Thiépval Memorial. Pier and Face 10B, 11B and 12B. (30). (P).

Private Joseph Hardy Wilkinson, 15/Durham Light Infantry (20094), 1 July 1916, age unknown. Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle. IX.D.3. (1947).

Private John Williamson, ‘A’ Company. 23/NF (Tyneside Scottish) (23/993), 1 July 1916, age unknown. Thiépval Memorial. Pier and Face 10B, 11B and 12B. (3822). (P).

Private Robert Wilson, 13 Platoon, ‘D’ Company, 22/NF (Tyneside Scottish) (22/1672), 1 July 1916, aged 32. Thiépval Memorial. Pier and Face 10B, 11B and 12B. (3904). (P).

Private John Wilson, 22/NF (Tyneside Scottish) (22/1672), 1 July 1916, age unknown. No CWGC entry. (1647).

Lance-Corporal Henry (Harry) Wilson, 1/Rifle Brigade (S/9170), 1 July 1916, age unknown. Serre Road Cemetery No. 2. I.E.27. (1775).

Private George Edward Youll, 20/NF (Tyneside Scottish) (20/1558), 1 July 1916, aged 35 (Born: 7 October 1880). Thiépval Memorial. Pier and Face 10B, 11B and 12B. (230). (P).

Dorothy begins her account by revealing that last year, Moira Howey visited the Thiepval Memorial and the Somme battlefields to pay her respects to Lance Corporal Charles Howey, the uncle she’d never known, but whose death had left an indelible mark on her family.

Charles Howey was the uncle of Moira,Veronica Baggott and Kenneth Howey, of South Shields. He served as a Lance Corporal in the 22nd (Tyneside Scottish) battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

“She had never seen a photograph of him until the day I found one of the young soldier in the newspaper while researching the circumstances of his death,” explains Dorothy.

“Incredibly it came to light almost 100 years after he died, appearing in the Shields Gazette, dated July 25, 1916, with the headline bearing the ominous title, “Killed in Action and Missing”.

“The accompanying story reported how the parents of C. Howey, who lived in the town, were asking for any information that could be provided about him, since he’d been posted missing on July 1, and almost a month later they were still desperate for news of his fate.”

He was eventually officially declared killed in action, and his date of death, July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

“No remains of the 30-year-old Catholic miner, of Westoe pit, who had lived with his parents George Watson Howey and Alice Howey at 11 Isabella Street, South Shields, were ever found,” says Dorothy.

“His name, which is inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, is all that remains to honour his courage,

“The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and built between 1928 and 1932, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the UK and South African forces who died on the Somme but have no known grave. There are 816 names of the men listed as missing in the Tyneside Scottish inscribed upon it.”

Later this week, Dorothy tells us about Charles, and recalls the battle through his eyes.