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South Shields soldier’s tragic tale of war in the spotlight

Reginald Daniel
Reginald Daniel

A library assistant from South Shields, who lost his life in one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, will form the focus of a new exhibition.

Reginald Daniel was 29 when war broke out and was immediately mobilised to France where he fought in the trenches for four years.

Killed during the Battle of San Quentin, just six months before the guns fell silent, his is just one of the lives to be honoured at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, South Shields.

Marking 100 years since the end of The Great War, South Tyneside Remembers WW1 looks at how the war affected the lives of those who worked at South Shields Public Library at the time.

The exhibition, at the venue’s Caer Urfa pod, focuses on Reginald whostarted working at the library in 1899 – aged just 14.

When war was declared he joined the Northumberland Hussars and, for the following four years he regularly sent letters home to his parents, John and Caroline, at 64 Ocean Road, sharing some of his experiences with them and his seven siblings.

Although the letters were censored, they reveal much of what he saw, from the destroyed villages and towns, to the vast zeppelins that glided overhead.

Reginald, who reached the rank of Sergeant, was killed on 23 March 1918 in the first attack of the German spring offensive.

Tania Robinson, head of marketing and culture at The Word, said: “It was, in every way, as far as it could be from the South Tyneside coast and, as desperately sad as Reginald’s story is, this exhibition reminds us that there were tens of thousands of men like him who never came home.”

As well as the chance to read Reginald’s letters – which reflect the experiences of many of those who fought – visitors can search for information about their own relatives who served in WW1.

South Tyneside Remembers WW1 will open Thursday and is free to visit.