Category Archives: Engagement Centres

The Dominion Geordies – An AHRC Living Legacies Supported Project

Poster depicts rate of interest repaid to lenders – It was the 3rd and final peace loan. With thanks to the Australian War Memorial.

In this Guest Blog, Dr James McConnel from Northumbria University talks about the emigrant ‘Geordies’ .

Much has recently been written about the ‘myths’ associated with the ill-fated Dardanelles campaign of 1915–16 in relation to their importance for Australian and New Zealand perceptions of the war and, in particular, the conflict’s role in shaping national identity. But one myth that persists in is that of the ethnic homogeneity of the armies involved. After all, the ‘Turks’ were an assemblage of Greeks, Jews, Arabs, Germans, and Turkish soldiers, the ‘French’ forces included North Africans and Senegalese troops, while the ‘British’ included English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish units. And yet, the same heterogeneity was also true of the Anzacs.

That non-Australian accents are conspicuously absent among the Australian characters in Peter Weir’s 1981 film Gallipoli (and the growing number of film and TV representations of the campaign) is indicative of this particular myth. In fairness, there has been some scholarly recognition of the presence of Irish and other European immigrants in the Australian Imperial Force, but the presence in the Australian army of significant numbers of British and more specifically English-born men has received much less attention. As the scholar Kent Fedorowich has noted, this is not unique to Australia, as ‘historians have ignored … the experience of thousands of British-born migrants who … enlisted in their respective dominion forces and served overseas’ during the First World War. Nonetheless, in the case of Australia, it arguably reflects the role of Gallipoli in the post-war construction of Anzac heroism.

Studio Portrait of Private Kirkpatrick
Portrait of Private Kirkpatrick. With acknowledgment to Australian War Memorial.

Indicative of this de-anglicising phenomenon are the fortunes of one of the most famous Anzacs of all: John (Jack) Simpson Kirkpatrick. As a result of his exploits at Gallipoli ferrying wounded comrades to safety on a donkey, Kirkpatrick posthumously became the embodiment of Australian ‘mateship’ and ‘larikinism’. That this ‘true Anzac’ was originally from North Shields in the North-East of England and had only been in Australia a matter of years before he enlisted was not always apparent in the ways that he was remembered there. Instead, he was assimilated into a post-war construction of heroic Australian masculinity. And yet, for all his notoriety, Kirkpatrick was far from unique, as there would have been plenty of Australian (and New Zealand) soldiers with British, and particularly English, accents among his comrades at Gallipoli, as well as among the Australian and New Zealand units who later served with such distinction in France.

Private Kirkpatrick helping an unnamed wounded soldier, who is seated on Murphy the Donkey. With acknowledgement to the Australian War Memorial.

Australia (unlike Canada) did not distinguish between England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales when recording the origins of its British recruits during the war. As a result, it is difficult to be precise about the English component in the AIF. Analysis of Australian attestation papers for the period up to June 1915 by Robson suggests that the British-born made up ‘nearly one in four of all recruits’. Approximately 27 per cent of the first AIF contingent (totalling 20,626) were British born, with estimates varying between 18 and 22.5 for the war as a whole. By comparison, Winegard claims that of the 8,417 men of the first contingent of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 25.6 percent had been born in the UK, while figures for later in the war (1916–18) indicate that English-born enlistees accounted for 14 percent of recruits. Among these thousands of men and women were a sizeable number who – like Kirkpatrick – hailed from the North-East of England.

Preliminary analysis of the data generated by the ‘Dominion Geordies’ project (supported by the AHRC-funded Living Legacies First World War Engagement Centre based at Queen’s University Belfast) suggests that a little over 7,000 men and women from the old counties of Durham and Northumberland served with the land forces of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada between 1914 and 1918. Of these, about 40 percent served with the Australian and New Zealand armies during the First World War (the bulk serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force). Having established this, the project’s next phase is to understand this phenomenon within the context of the much larger story of ‘Geordie’ migration that long pre-dated 1914, since these men and women were members of what has recently been termed the ‘English Diaspora’. Often seen as ‘invisible migrants’, English emigrants were part of a significant outflow that was facilitated by faster steam boats, railways, and telecommunications: in 1913 alone 389,394 people left Britain, a large number of them being English people who travelled to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. As such, the ‘Dominion Geordies’ project seeks to locate wartime service in relation to the pre-war migration experiences of emigrant North-Easterners and – crucially – their later post-war journeying.

By using the term ‘Geordie’, we are aware that the name is often used to describe the people of Newcastle and Tyneside, but it has been used by scholars to describe the people of the wider North-East region and it was used more broadly in the early twentieth century in the British and empire press to include Durham and Northumberland. In seeking to find volunteers across the world who will help the project to research the lives of these soldiers, we’re using the term because it’s internationally recognisable.

The project is partnering with the path breaking HLF-funded Northumbria World War One Commemoration Project (NWW1), a community initiative that is researching the war dead of the modern borough of North Tyneside and building on the success of an earlier HLF-funded project on Tynemouth. This type of community-university collaboration is at the heart of the Living Legacies First World War Engagement Centre’s mission. NWW1’s experience in mobilising community volunteers, and its expertise in designing and developing databases, has proved vital during the early stages of the Dominion Geordies project. The project launched its global appeal for ‘citizen historians’ in January 2016 and has already secured much favourable coverage from the Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian media. This, in turn, has led to offers of help from dozens of volunteers from all three former Dominions, who will use the online resources created by the project to help them undertake research. This research will eventually populate the freely-accessible database and provide material for a short documentary film and a number of scholarly articles looking at the service of emigrant ‘Geordies’ in the context of migratory patterns before and after the First World War.

John Kirkpatrick, stood on Wharf with two mates, believed to be at Bunbury, WA c 1912. With thanks to Australian War Memorial.

Your Community in the First World War: A Roadshow

The five First World War engagement centres are working together this autumn to run three free and open events featuring speakers, workshops, stalls and networking opportunities.

8th September 2015 at the Imperial War Museum North, Manchester

9th September 2015 at the City Museum, Leeds

10th September 2015 at Newcastle University

How did the First World War affect your community? Do you know where the people named on your war memorial fought and died? What was life like for those who went away to fight? What happened to those who stayed at home? Did the First World War change things for women? Industry? Social welfare? What was its global impact and how did colonial troops experience it?

We invite you to explore your community’s connection with the First World War and meet up with others already doing so. These three events, in Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle, will bring together community groups and other organisations who are working on projects around the heritage of the First World War, or who are interested in developing such a project. There will be an opportunity to share experiences, explore possible sources of funding (especially the Heritage Lottery Fund), exchange ideas, and learn about free support and resources, including how and where you can showcase your findings online.

This roadshow is co-hosted by the five First World War engagement centres funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Each centre represents a network of academic support and has various areas of expertise regarding First World War research. You can access their support when developing you own projects.

At each event we will also be offering an opportunity to learn how to digitise, record and preserve your community’s stories and memorabilia. The availability of this opportunity will be based on demand, so if you are interested in taking part in this digitisation workshop, please register for this when booking the event. You will be asked to submit a short statement of what materials (photographs, letters, diaries etc.) you would like to have digitised and how it would benefit you and/or your community group.

Places at these events are free, but limited, so book early to ensure a place.

World War One events this June in Belfast

A number of events this June in Belfast will be encouraging the public to engage with their local WW1 history. The events are part of the nationwide Connected Communities Festival.

West Belfast WW1 Soldiers – Living Legacies Centre a digital walking tour

belfast boysThe walking tour will take place in and around the Falls Road, West Belfast, an area rich in contested cultural heritage and with strong community interest in WW1. This venue has been chosen given its immediate proximity to the areas of interest on the walking tour. The tour is built around original data gathered by Prof. Richard Grayson on the origins of the local men that served in the FWW.
This event is open to the public and is a cross-community event, we are hoping to encourage members of the Nationalist Community to participate and engage with their WW1 heritage.
20th June 2015, An Chulturlann, West Belfast, BT12 6AH

Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich website – Cultúrlann produces a vibrant Arts Programme that promotes Irish language and culture while creating an attractive meeting place for tourists and locals alike.
A review of Professor Richard Grayson’s book “Belfast Boys” can be found here.
More information on the Living Legacies project can be found on the website
The event will be using #GIStourFallsRoad


ulstermuseumNational Museum Northern Ireland – First World War tour and workshop at the Ulster Museum

This venue has been chosen given its unique collection of WW1 materials, staff expertise and knowledge. In addition NMNI is a partner of the Living Legacies Engagement Centre. The event will feature a guided tour of the Home Rule to Partition section of the Modern History Gallery and will cover events from 1912-1922. There will then be a break for refreshments and this will be followed by an interactive handling workshop involving FWW artefacts. The main benefit to the attendee is an improved understanding of the past, including a broader knowledge of the nuances and complexities of the war.

23rd June 2015, Ulster Museum, South Belfast, BT9 5AB

More information on the National Museums of Northern Ireland can be found on their website.
More information on the Reminiscence Network Northern Ireland can be found on their website.
More information on the Living Legacies project can be found on the website
The event will be using #UlsterMuseumTour
2013-10-14-insigniaArts for All – Mural exploring the years 1914-1918

This event involves both the launch of a new FWW mural and a piece of interactive drama/performance from ‘Medal in the Draw’ by Dr. Brenda Winter-Palmer – LL, QUB. The event will take place in Tigers Bay, North Belfast on the 25th June, provisionally held. Tiger’s Bay is traditionally a strongly loyalist area of Belfast with a high degree of deprivation and strong community interest. The mural reflects a range of perspectives on the war, including women’s role on the Home Front, shipyard strikes and soldiers employed to make crosses to mark the graves of the men who died. The plays script is used as a stimulus for the audience’s questions and the actors then engage with the audience in character. The venue was dictated by the mural location, which is of itself the product of one year’s community research. The event is open to the public and is a cross-community event. The event will be publicised through all partners (see links).

25th June 2015, Tigers Bay, North Belfast

More information on the Living Legacies project can be found on the website
More information on arts for all can be found on their website.
More information on ‘The Medal in the Drawer’ can be found here.
The event will be using #WW1TigersBay

Image Copyright © 2013 Extramural Activity