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The fallen pitmen who went to war

LOST ... George Frame, below, was a casualty of the Somme; above, the plaque presented to his next-of-kin.
LOST ... George Frame, below, was a casualty of the Somme; above, the plaque presented to his next-of-kin.

THE words still resonate today.

“The miner has played a splendid part in the war, and it is very gratifying to find that the records of their heroic service and sacrifice are not to be forgotten or go unrecognised.”

It was how, in 1919, the Shields Gazette commented on the massive part the North East’s colliery communities had played during the First World War.

Boldon Colliery, it was said, had one of the finest records in the country. When the call for volunteers was made, almost a thousand men “rushed to the colours.”

In the end, more than half the pit’s workforce joined the Services, of whom 130 never came home.

One of them was George Frame.

Tomorrow is the last chance to catch the Home of Heroes exhibition at South Shields Museum, which celebrates the borough’s role during the Great War.

And just slipping in almost past the post, among the exhibits, is the plaque you see here, which the museum has recently acquired.

It was presented by the Boldon Lodge of the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) to George’s next-of-kin, after his death while serving with the 8th (Service) Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers.

George had been born at Tyne Dock and by the turn of the century was living with his family in Lord Nelson Street. By 1911, they had moved to South View Terrace, Green Lane West, at Simonside.

The following year, in the summer of 1912, he married his wife, Bella (nee Urwin),

George died, aged 25, on September 26, 1916, a casualty of the Battle of the Somme.

He is commemorated on the rolls of honour of the Boldon Lodge of the DMA, which also features in the exhibition; on Boldon Colliery workmen’s war memorial, at St Simon’s Church at Simonside, and the Wenlock Road Methodist Church memorial cross.

It’s also interesting to look back, in contemporary reports, to how the colliery communities looked after their own during the war.

Thousands of pounds were raised by the miners themselves at Boldon Colliery to supplement family incomes, and to buy gifts of food and clothing that were sent fortnightly to men from the locality who were in the Forces.

Money was raised for an ambulance for the Front; for prisoners-of-war; and for a Heroes Fund, which saw each man who received an honour for bravery being presented with a gold watch.

Even the village Picture Palace cinema gave each man a £1 note.