Metro tribute to South Tyneside family's World War sacrifice

Nexus customer services director Huw Lewis, war veteran George Woodall, and Metro services director Chris Carson with the poster
Nexus customer services director Huw Lewis, war veteran George Woodall, and Metro services director Chris Carson with the poster

A seafaring family from South Tyneside are being honoured for the role they played serving their country in the First World

The Bays family from South Shields are the subject of one of a number of moving stories about north east railway workers who served in the conflict.

The poster tribute to the Bays family

The poster tribute to the Bays family

Their contribution is being marked by a series of posters which have gone on display on the Tyne and Wear Metro system.

Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, commissioned the displays to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, which falls on Armistice Day on Sunday.

Five different memorial posters - one for each district of Tyne and Wear and each adorned with poppies - have been created as part of the project.

Fallen soldiers, those who served at sea, and the roles of women during World War One are featured.

The Bays were a South Shields seafaring family of long- standing.

William Bays, a stoker in the Mercantile Marine, was born in 1840 and married Emma Whitehorn in 1864.

Six of their sons served at sea during World War 1.

They were:

*William Bays, born in 1866, served in the Mercantile Marine

*James Bays, born in 1868, was a sea–going fireman in the Mercantile Marine

*John Whitehorn Bays was born in 1871 and served in the Royal Naval Division. He was accidentally killed by an explosion on the destroyer HMS Albatross on November 27 1915 and is buried at Immingham Cemetery.

*Robert Russell Bays was born 1877 and was a stoker in the Royal Naval Reserve

*Simon Frazer Bays was born 1880 and was a leading stoker in the Royal Naval Division

*Joseph Bays was born 1886 and was a petty officer in the Royal Naval Division

William and Emma Bays also had five grandsons who also served during the war.

They were:

*William Bays Heslop, born in 1888, who was a steamship fireman in the Royal Naval Reserve

*John Bays Jnr served in the Royal Naval Reserve

*William Logg was born 1892 and was a private with the Border Regiment

*James Bays Duncan, born 1898, served as a sapper in the Royal Engineers

*John Duncan was a driver in the Army

*Robert Russell Bays and William Bays Heslop were aboard HMS Hogue on September 22, 1914, when the ship was torpedoed by a German u-boat U9.

The ship capsized and sank with the loss of 48 lives.

Both men survived and continued to serve.

The memorial poster will be on display at South Shields, Hebburn and Jarrow and Bede Metro stations:

Nexus customer services director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “It has been a humbling experience for us to be involved in this project as we play our part in commemorating one hundred years since the First World War came to an end.

“I hope that our customers will take a few moments out of their Metro journey to have a look these displays as the whole nation prepares to honour the courage and sacrifice of the fallen on the centenary of Armistice Day.

“As a railway operator which is part of the everyday life and culture of the North East we wanted something that paid a fitting tribute to the sacrifice of railway workers who answered the call to fight.

“Local historians and history societies have put a great deal of work into this project over the last few months and our thanks go to them for doing such a brilliant job. They have come up with a series of evocative memorials which are a fitting and very moving tribute to those who gave their lives in the First World War. It’s something that we must never forget.”

A range of local historians worked closely with Nexus to deliver the project ahead of Armistice Day on Sunday.