Stories of Sunderland soldiers will be shared at a weekend of commemorative Somme events at Beamish.
As part of the events to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme at the museum, which run from July 1-3, St Aidan’s Cub Scouts, from Grangetown will perform a song they’ve written about Sunderland footballers’ experiences during the Somme, working with Beamish and Lake Poets musician Martin Longstaff.
Former player Charlie Buchan, who made more than 400 appearances for Sunderland, saw action at the Somme, while Norman Gaudie, a committed pacifist, was imprisoned as a conscientious objector. The Songs of the Somme project is delivered by Music in the Minster and Sunderland Library Services as part of Asunder, a Sunderland-wide programme commemorating the battle.
As well as re-enactment groups, bands and displays, the museum will be sharing the stories of local soldiers involved in the Somme, including Thomas Hewison, Thomas Pascoe and Reginald Baty, and the effect on North East communities.
On Friday, July 1, 100 years to the day since the battle began, a minute’s silence will be held at 11am. A procession will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 2pm featuring bands, infantry and others involved in the event.
Paul Foster, Beamish’s Historic Events Officer, said: “The region was so heavily involved in the Battle of the Somme and the loss was felt across the area so, on the 100th anniversary, we wanted to remember those who lost their lives and the communities left devastated by the campaign.
“During the centenary of the First World War, Beamish has been commemorating different aspects and events of the conflict. The Battle of the Somme was a key event, which comes to everyone’s mind when you think of the war, we felt it was important to commemorate this centenary.”
The event will include performances by the Borneo Band and Durham and Northumberland Wing ATC on Saturday and Sunday.
Visitors can see the Manchester Regiment First World War re-enactment group (Sunday), the Gordon Highlanders (Friday and Sunday) and the Durham Pals living history group all weekend. Watch the 16th Lancers Cavalry unit and visit the 29th Field Kitchen throughout the weekend.
The narrow gauge railway in The Colliery Yard will be running during the event, featuring War Department light railway vehicles. And Wessington U3A’s film, Washington Men at the Somme, will be premiered. There will be a display from the group and others, including the Felling Heritage Group and Live Wires, with First World War telegraph equipment.
First World War trench art will be on show, as part of a joint project between Beamish and the Newcastle University. The North East War Memorials Project will give visitors the chance to search its extensive database on Friday and Sunday.
There will also be a first aid unit, the entertainment corps will be visiting on Saturday and Sunday, and visitors can make a postcard for the soldiers.
The first day of the Somme, July 1 1916, is described as the worst day in the history of the British Army, with more than 57,000 casualties, of which almost 20,000 men were killed or missing. Find out more about the Battle of the Somme Centenary programme of events at www.beamish.org.uk.