South Tyneside Remembers… World War One

4 October 2018 – 20 January 2019

 Marking a 100 years since the end of World War 1, this exhibition in the Caer Urfa pod looked at how the war affected the lives of those who worked at South Shields Public Library at the time.

The exhibition focused on Reginald Maurice Daniel, who was born in 1885 and started working as a Library Assistant in South Shields in 1899. He had joined the Northumberland Hussars, a British Territorial Army Squadron, prior to the war and was mobilised almost immediately once war was declared.

Whilst away at war, R.M. Daniel kept in touch with his friends and family at home by writing letters; his friends and family sent these letters to The Shields Gazette to be published for the people of South Shields to read.

R.M. Daniel’s words from his letters were used throughout the exhibition to describe his experiences which reflected those of the millions of other men he fought alongside. As well as being able to listen to or read the letters, visitors could also search for their own relatives who fought in WW1 and find out information about their experience on the South Tyneside Remembers website.

R.M Daniel’s Letters

Letters from home were very important to the men who were away fighting during WW1. They raised morale and kept them in touch with what was happening at home. Letters from the Front were important to families, friends and colleagues too as they provided confirmation that their loved ones were alive and safe for now.

The letters that R.M. Daniel wrote home were gratefully received by those who knew him. They shared these letters with The Shields Gazette who regularly published them for the community of South Shields to read.

He was an articulate writer and his letters provide an excellent description of his life on the battlefields of France. His experiences, as he tells them, reflect those of the millions of other men he fought alongside.

You can listen to recordings of a selection of his published letters below or download our transcript of them.

Yeomanry in Action:

Published: 20 November 1914
This letter was received by Mr Ernest Bailey, Chief Librarian of South Shields Public Library.

Soldiers’ Rum Allowance:

Published: 8 January 1915
In this letter, R.M. Daniel addresses the debate that was had over the rum ration which was provided by authorities for soldiers serving at the Front.

Simply Great:

Published: 20 February 1915
R.M. Daniel discussing life at the Front.

A Frenchman with the Tyneside Dialect:

Published: 6 April 1915
This letter was received by Mr J.H. Wight who had filled R.M. Daniel’s place as secretary of the Westoe Bathing Club whilst he was away at war.

War Contrasts in France:

Published: 12 April 1915
This letter was received by Ernest Bailey and discusses life at the Front.

Longing for a Dip:

Published: 13 May 1915
This letter was received by J.H. Wight at the Westoe Bathing Club.

Optimists at The Front:

Published: 12 August 1915
The below letter was addressed to R.M. Daniel’s mother at 64 Ocean Road, South Shields.

Wonderful Trenches:

Published: 28 September 1915
In this letter sent to his friend, R.M. Daniel discusses the trenches at the Front.

Soldier’s Scathing Criticism:

Published: 14 April 1916
This letter discusses the Zeppelin raids that happened in South Tyneside as well as criticises the Government’s approach to the Compulsory Service Act.

Operating Theatre at The Front:

Published: 27 September 1916
This letter was received by R.M. Daniel’s mother, aged 64 at the time, and praises the hospitals near the Front.

Airmen’s Feats:

Published: 13 July 1917
R.M. Daniel praises the brilliant work of the newly formed Royal Air Service in this letter sent to his parents.

On the Heels of Fritz:

Published: 13 December 1917
R.M. Daniel sent the below letter to his parents having been serving in France since the beginning of the war.

R.M Daniel’s death

Sergeant Reginald Maurice Daniel was killed in action on 23 March 1918 at the Battle of San Quentin which was the first attack of the German Spring Offensive. Initially he was posted as missing and his family’s hopes were raised when it was reported that he was being held prisoner of war in Germany but this report proved to be false. In 1920 his body was moved from its temporary grave to his final resting place at Chauny Communal Cemetery in Aisne, France.