We recently kicked off a new project with students and staff from Teesdale School, aiming to equip them with the research skills to be able to uncover stories from their home communities across the Teesdale area. One of the significant factors of Teesdale is that it has relatively “static” communities – meaning that the names we find on the War Memorials across the area are the same that appear on the registers in school today. This gives us a great starting point from which to work from, with participants able to not just explore their own family roots – but helping to map those of their classmates too.
Kicking off the project, we were joined over a Thursday lunchtime by Major Chris Chapman from Catterick Garrison. Chris was able to give a fantastic presentation to the students focussing on the key dates of the First World War, as well as the creation of the Pals Battalions by Lord Kitchener – that were to have such devastating consequences for small communities like those in Teesdale – as in some cases whole villages were wiped out in single offensive, particularly at the battle of The Somme.
It also provided the students with the opportunity to handle a variety of objects including medals and a decommissioned Lee Enfield rifle, as well as seeing how some military technologies had advanced over the last 100 years – particularly the design (and effectiveness) of helmets!