War and Peace

Last week we were visited at The Bowes Museum by Jennifer Sterland. Having travelled north to us from Nottinghamshire Рit just goes to show how far spread relatives with Teesdale connections have travelled. 

Jennifer was very keen to introduce to the stories of her two maternal grandparents Roy and Alice Helmer. Roy’s family, though having had an international existence prior to their arrival, chose to settle in Romaldkirk.



Having had such a multi-linguistic childhood, Roy was equipped with a number of languages including French and German – which when it came to war were of great use – bolstered by his experiences in the recently created Boy Scouts movement meant that he was a natural selection for the signals division, first with the 45th Infantry Brigade and the 15th Artillery.

His war was a lucky one – and as he returned home he was committed to tracking down a girl he had once met in the grounds of Barnard Castle at the age of 15. A young girl named Alice Sevier, visiting English relatives who worked as a Doctor in the town.

This might have been a harder task than Roy expected – but for the fact of Alice’s attempted escape from Russia to Finland with her family resulted in being captured by German Forces! Exchanged alongside her sister for German Prisoners of War, we are fortunate to see an exchange of letters between Alice and her brother, Richard.


Separate to being an incredible story of two individuals personal experiences through war and peace – the amounts of valuable informatio that has been presented to the museum in this unique collection of ephemera.

We shall be processing and posting more stories in the coming weeks – so stay tuned for more news about Roy and Alice!

You can find Roy’s profile on our Roll of Honour¬†here.

As always – if you or anyone you know has any information, objects or images relating to families from Teesdale during 1900-1920, we would like to hear from you! Please make contact via rupert.philbrick@thebowesmuseum.org.uk