Sunderland MP backs appeal to raise £45,000 for new website in memory of fallen soldiers

George Ryall, was killed at the Battle of Arras in April 1917.
George Ryall, was killed at the Battle of Arras in April 1917.

A Sunderland MP whose great uncle was killed in the First World War is backing an appeal to raise thousands of pounds to keep a memorial website to the fallen active.

The North East War Memorials Project (NEWMP), a registered charity with a small band of dedicated volunteers, aims to ensure that every single person who from the region who falls in war is remembered.

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott.

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott.

However, the project’s website is over a decade old and is “creaking at the seams”.

It requires an urgent upgrade and, unless £45,000 can be raised, the valuable resource will disappear.

Now Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott is calling on the public to help donate towards an appeal to raise the cash and keep the website going.

Ms Elliott’s great uncle George Ryall, was killed at the Battle of Arras in April 1917.

George, who worked as a tram conductor for Sunderland Corporation before the war, died after coming under heavy shelling and machine gun fire on the front line.

He left a wife and two children back on Wearside in Westcott Terrace, Roker.

Ms Elliott said: “Not only would our region lose an indispensable source of history and heritage should this happen, but our final links with many local heroes of the past would also be severed.

“This would indeed be a sad loss – which is why I am supporting NEWMP’s appeal.

“For just a few pounds people can sponsor an online memorial and ensure all our heroes are forever remembered.

“More than 25,000 Sunderland soldiers stepped up to fight for King and Country in the Great War – with one in 10 never returning.

“A great many more men and women have died in subsequent wars.”

The names of over 7,000 Sunderland fallen are recorded on the NEWMP site, including George.

Ms Elliott added: “Our family is lucky.

"George’s bravery is recalled on several surviving local memorials – including the Roll of Honour at St Andrew’s Church in Roker and on a wooden plaque at Sunderland Minster.

“We can still visit these, and pay tribute to him.

“A great many other local memorials have, however, been lost over time, such as those in churches, chapels and businesses bombed in World War Two.

“This is where the NEWMP on-line memorial is vital.

“It allows each, and every, North East war hero to be remembered.

“The sacrifice of all those who lost their lives should never be forgotten.”

NEWMP secretary Dorothy Hall said: “We cover from the Tees to the Tweed and there are nearly memorials on our list.

“It’s a nice way of keeping the memorials to these people alive.”

Those interested in supporting the appeal should contact Dorothy via email for further information on dorothy@newmp.org.uk or visit the NEWMP website at www.newmp.org.uk