Never Forget – Emma pays tribute to the heroes of World War One

August 22, 2014

This month marks 100 years since Britain entered the First World War. The Great War was a conflict on a scale never before seen in human history, which took over a million British lives and changed our world forever. During the month, Emma has been privileged to share in a number of events and initiatives in the constituency that have been organised to remember the men and women from across our borough who served their country.

On 4th August Emma attended a commemoration service at St Hilda’s Church, arranged by the South Tyneside Armed Forces Forum. Afterwards, a crowd of about 250 people gathered outside South Shields Town Hall for the Beating of Retreat, which featured a performance by the 101 Northumbrian Regiment Pipe Band.

To commemorate the centenary of the start of the war, Ocean Arts, an organisation which supports adults with a learninOcean artsg disabilities, created the ‘Look to Your Front’ exhibition of artistic work. As part of the preparations for the exhibition, group members were briefed on the impact the conflict had at the time and its continuing legacy. Their learning inspired the 33 pieces of artwork included in the collection. The exhibition reflects both the experience of those who lost their lives on the ‘Western Front’ as well as those who kept the home fires burning on the ‘Home Front’. At the centre of the collection is a 10-panel piece which focusses on the famous Christmas ‘Football Truce’ between British soldiers and their German foes in 1914. Emma was able to visit the group whilst the work was being completed and was thrilled to be asked to attend the opening of the exhibition and present certificates of achievement to those artists whose work had been included in the collection. The exhibition is on display for all to see at the Fusion Gallery in the Customs House.


As part of the regional commemorations, South Shields Museum has compiled the ‘Home for Heroes’ exhibition. Emma found her visit to the exhibition particularly poignant displaying as it does the real life experiences of the men and women of South Shields. This exhibition aims to raise understanding of what the war meant to people in Shields – not just soldiers but shipbuilders, miners, mothers, fathers and children. The Great War profoundly changed the lives of people at home and on the battlefield, and every family in South Shields will have its own story to tell. The exhibition funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund is on display in the Museum until January 2015 as part of a four year project ‘Wor Life 1914-18, Tyne and Wear in the First World War’. It is an evolving piece of work and staff at the Museum are encouraging individuals with information about their ancestors to contribute to the database – be it photographs, letters or stories – by getting in touch and sharing their family’s history to help build a picture of life during the Great War.

Commenting on these initiatives Emma said,  ‘Although the war may seem distant to generations who did not experience it, we have a duty to reflect on our own history and never to forget the sacrifices of those who came before us. We should honour the fallen by remembering their bravery, but also by striving to protect the peace for which they fought.’


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