265990 Private Albert Norris served in the Yorkshire Regiment, joining up sometime after January 1915.
For his service during the First World War he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. He was transferred to the Royal Munster Fusiliers and served at the garrison in Cork. Following the war, he ran a Draper’s shop in Tonbridge, Kent. In 1924 He married Myra Donovan. Albert’s step granddaughter is Dame Kelly Holmes, double Olympic Champion.
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Submitted by Mike Crisp. Private 47165 George Laws was by trade a painter and decorator from the small market town of Beccles, Suffolk. He joined the 22nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish) and served in France. On the opening day of Operation Michael, 21st March 1918 his battalion was in the front-line trenches around St Leger / Bullecourt where he was reported missing. His body was never recovered, and he is commemorated on the Arras memorial. According to the battalion diary they suffered 1,130 casualties on that day. George’s wife Gertrude, was heartbroken and never gave up hope of her husband being found, writing to the War Office on several occasions to try and gain more information. It was not until many months later friends of George visited her to relate that George was a member of a bombing party which went to a flank and were never seen again. Not only was Gertrude in mourning but also on the poverty line, forced to bring up 2 small children on her own. To help make ends meet she took in washing, sat with the dying, and laid out corpses for the local undertakers. Her son became the surrogate ‘man of the house’ and it was not until 1968 that he felt that he could leave his mother to get married himself. Gertrude died at the age of 97 in 1977.
John Matthew Hewison lived in Penshaw and enlisted at the start of the war at Shiney Row. He was the son of Matthew and Anne Hewison of Shiney Row and he was married to Agnes. He would have left for France in late August 1915 and the 8th Battalion would have been involved in training and undergoing acclimatisation visits to the front line when he was killed in action on September 22nd. 14961 Private John Hewison died at the age of 22 and had been in France for only 3 weeks. He was awarded the 14/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His wife inherited his effects of 14s/4d and a gratuity of £3-10s. He was buried at Brewery Orchard Cemetery, Bois-Grenier.
William Colling – Sunderland Joseph William Colling was the father of Brenda Crinall of Little Crakehall, who called in at the museum with a friend who wanted to contribute a story to the Ribbon of Rememberance. Brenda didn’t really know a great deal about her father’s participation in the war, but was interested when we offered to take a look and see if any records still existed from that time. As fortune would have it, her father’s service record was available to see and so we were able to piece together some of his experiences from the time of the First World War. Before enlisting Colling worked as a sorting clerk and telegraphist for the G.P.O. in Sunderland. Prior to going to German East Africa (G.E.A.) in 1916 he served for 13 months in France. Some of the most dangerous activities he undertook was to lay cables as close to the enemy lines as possible. These cables were essential for information and orders to be relayed to and from the battlefront. In 1916 the German plan for war in G.E.A. was to divert Allied forces away from the Western Front in Europe. Colling sailed from Devonport on the 8th of February 1916 and he arrived in Durban on the 6th of March.On the 14th of March he arrived at Kildini inlet near Mombassa. Over the next few months he and his comrades came under heavy attack several times as they advanced south towards German forces.This included fierce action near Kilosa….