Fallen heroes of the First World War remembered in exhibition

Peter Welsh of the Harraton War Memorial History Group with some of the First World War memoriabilia belonging to local soldiers that forms part of an exhibition  at Washington Art Centre, 'Set in Stone'.

Peter Welsh of the Harraton War Memorial History Group with some of the First World War memoriabilia belonging to local soldiers that forms part of an exhibition at Washington Art Centre, 'Set in Stone'.

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THE stories of brave Washington lads who lost their lives in the First World War will feature in a new exhibition.

The display, which is curated by U3A Wessington War Memorials Group, will be at the Arts Centre Washington for two weeks.

Over the past few years the group of about 25 has gathered information about men and women named on the Harraton Parish war memorial at Fatfield, the Washington and Barmston Parish memorial in the village and the Usworth memorial in Holy Trinity Church, Usworth.

Now members have put it together as an exhibition that commemorates those who laid down their life for community and country.

Former Pennywell School teacher Peter Welsh, a member of the War Memorials Group, said the exhibition was a real insight into the lives of the fallen heroes.

The 62-year-old, from Fatfield, said: “The exhibition is called Set in Stone, but the point of it is that we didn’t want them to just be names set in stone.

“We want people to see who they were.

“We look at war memorials but we don’t know who they were.”

The lives and service of nearly all those who died from 1914-1918 will be displayed in the exhibition.

Peter said: “It’s very gratifying when people see it all, and have read about a man who died a long time ago and it touches them, then people spill out and tell their stories.”

There are maps of Washington in 1919, an address book and a condolence book that show where soldiers lived, where they are buried and how many dependants they left behind.

Peter said: “One local man played for Clapton Orient and had a six-foot memorial stone unveiled in his honour in France as recently as 2011.

“One Harraton family lost four sons, three in France and one killed by a bus on Durham Road, Birtley, while home on compassionate leave.

“One man lost an eye at the Somme and his daughter still has the glass one that replaced it.”

He added: “The vicar of Usworth’s son was among the fallen, but the vast majority of the men who fell were pitmen, men who’d thought at the outbreak of war that it was a chance to get away from the pit, win some glory and be home by Christmas.”

The exhibition is at Granary Gallery, Arts Centre Washington.

It will run from November 3 to 17.