Armistice Memorial, A Wreath for All

school pupils gather in the church for armistice day around a wall of wreaths they have made

700 pupils from 11 schools made and laid wreaths in St.John’s Church in Killingworth for an Armistice Memorial Service. There was one for each of the 293 men linked to the 1914 Parish who fell in the Great War.

The wreaths decorated  the church for a Civic Service on the 8th November 2018. At the service, each school also laid a white ‘Peace Wreath’ and the Mayor of North Tyneside, Norma Redfearn, met relatives of those who fell.

Each wreath had it’s own story to tell. Bailey Green Primary produced twin wreaths for brothers, David and  Ernest  Reed, whose father  David unveiled the church memorial in 1922, as well those for cousins George and Thomas Sancaster.

At Westmoor, pupils researched Charles Waugh, one of 3 local stokers who died with 1,263 when the battleship ‘Queen Mary’ sank in 1916 at the Battle of Jutland. They also made wreaths for Robert Rutherford, the school’s deputy headmaster, who died on the Somme and airman, William Kinghorn of the local George Stephenson Inn, who was at Rutherford College training to be a teacher when he enlisted.

Burradon Primary’s wreaths included one for George Hunter from the local Coop, brother of a former headmistress who was also said to have lost her fiancé in the War. Backworth Park Primary included  Raymond Foster Pratt, trainee surgeon and son of the headmaster at Dudley, whilst Fordley Primary’s wreaths included the 2 brothers William and Joseph Merryweather and their cousin William and 4 men related by marriage.

Amongst Holystone Primary’s wreaths were 3 for the Varley Adamson brothers, William, Charles and Frederick; 2 for the Carlyle brothers Matthew and James  and  2 for the Macmillen brothers John and Matthew .

 The pupils researched and got to know these men and there were emotional moments as they brought forward their work to lay it in the church festooned with individual wreaths made with thousands upon thousands of poppies.

All the pupils including those from Amberley Primary, Grasmere Academy and George Stephenson High, had lessons on the War, Armistice and Memorials. They were led by ‘Time Bandits’, the historical re-enactment group. There was a particular emphasis on the effect on families and communities but also, the War’s legacy for the world today.

The church was open for all to visit on the 9th and 10th of November,  before  Remembrance Day and the Centenary of the Armistice. The service was part of a Partnership Project* which began in 2014 with support from the HLF..

*Footnote: The Killingworth WW1 Partnership comprised 11 local schools, the Killingworth Local History Society and  St.John’s  Church. It received grant support for all it’s 4 years of activities from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The 1914 Parish included the communities of Benton Square, Burradon, Dudley, Holystone, Killingworth, West Allotment and Westmoor. It researched the military and family history of the 293 men with links to the 1914 Parish who died as a result of the war.

Some 2,000 local Year 6 and year 9 pupils were involved in storytelling sessions about the war and in a programme of visits and public lectures. It also included a relay walk with schools around 9 local WW1 Memorials with schools holding services at each, to mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme during which the Parish lost over 50 men. 170 of the Fallen were Northumberland Fusiliers with a large number from the Tyneside Scottish and Irish Battalions who suffered so heavily on the first day of the battle. The Parishes second greatest loss was at Passchendaele.