A Police Community Support Officer and keen historian is to help tell the stories of the fallen heroes from his beat as his force pays tribute in the run up to Remembrance Day.
PCSO Jim Tuckwell has patrolled the streets of Sunderland for 13 years, spending his days helping the community and speaking to residents.
But when he’s not on the beat, PCSO Tuckwell is a keen historian who has extensively researched the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) regiment during the period between the end of the First World War and 1946.
Now, in the lead-up to Remembrance Day which will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, he is keen to remember some of the region’s policing casualties, including those from the city and South Tyneside.
Every day, starting from tomorrow and through to Remembrance Day, PCSO Tuckwell will remember a fallen police officer who lost their life in the line of duty by posting their individual stories on Twitter account @NPSSunSW.
PCSO Tuckwell's uncle Cpl JWS Bill Gibson was killed as he served in the Second World War, while other members of his family have also helped defend the country.
“It’s never been more important to remember those who fought to defend our country, and I thought this would be a good way to pay tribute and extend my personal gratitude to those who gave up their freedom to ensure the freedom of future generations,” PCSO Tuckwell said.
“My research into police casualties during the wars came about as a result of my research into the DLI.
"I feel the period between 1920 and 1946 is a neglected period of British military history, and I have an interest because of my own family connections.
“My uncle was killed on June 14, 1944 serving with the 6th Battalion of The Durham Light Infantry.
"My father also enlisted into the DLI and was due to join the 2nd Durham Light Infantry in Burma, but was transferred to another unit when the war ended.
“I was brought up on stories of my uncle, and feel it’s important to keep those stories alive.”
As part of his research, which includes scouring county records, poring over newspaper archives and speaking with the families of former servicemen, PCSO Tuckwell has set up a website which he runs to provide a comprehensive history of those who proudly served their country.
His research into the fallen heroes of yesteryear has led to some interesting conversations with members of the public during his day job with Northumbria Police’s Southern Area Command.
Among those he has researched is Sunderland soldier, Frederick Whelens Robson, who served with 14th DLI in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, Sunderland.
Private Robson had been a professional footballer who was capped for Scotland at international level.
“Every soldier who served had a different story to tell, many never spoke of their experiences and others told only the humorous tales, avoiding the horrors they often encountered,” PCSO Tuckwell said.
“The reluctance of these men to speak to their families of their time in the DLI leads to a natural curiosity into what their relatives actually did and that`s where my research actually comes to the fore.
“Families contact me and ask me what their relatives did and I do my best to help them. In return, their stories are added to my website and together we build a history of the ordinary soldier who served in the ranks of the DLI during the given time period which you will find in no published work.
“Some colleagues and many local residents are aware of my passion and have asked me to research their relatives, which I have done with various degrees of success.
“I have over the years found details of many soldiers for local residents and even restored a photograph of a Merchant Navy Captain killed in action in 1940, who was the father of an elderly gentleman who resides on my foot beat.”
Keep an eye on @NPSSunSW tomorrow to see the first of 11 local heroes who will be remembered each day after making the ultimate sacrifice in their fight for freedom.
PCSO Tuckwell's website can be found via https://durhamlightinfantry1920-46.weebly.com/