History Shapes Everything...

History Shapes Everything...

Postby kerchi » Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:18 pm

1. The following is a transcript from the Cumbrian newspaper, The News & Star, which the editor has given special permission to be shown here.
2. Please note that due to certain copyright issues images from the original article cannot be shown.

History shapes everything. Our regiment was in Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, in World War One. Some things never change.

THEY lived and died knee-deep in cold, muddy water, hundreds of miles from home. Life was brutal, even by the awful standards of warfare, for the thousands of Cumbrians who fought for their country at the Battle of the Somme.

During the First World War this piece of northern France was the site of one of history’s bloodiest conflicts as Allied forces attempted to break through German defences. The battle lasted for a little under five months in the second half of 1916. By the end of the first day nearly 20,000 British soldiers were dead. By the end of the battle more than 200,000 men had been killed.

Tony Goddard does not claim to know what it must have been like to be trapped in that living, dying hell. But he hopes that his efforts will give visitors to the Border Regiment Museum at Carlisle Castle a taste of what many of their forefathers endured.

Tony, the museum’s assistant curator, has spent four months designing and building a 35-foot-long replica of a British army trench at the Somme. The idea was born during discussions about the battle’s 90th anniversary.

In the weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday hundreds of people have already seen the hundreds of sandbags and dozens of corrugated metal sheets; the guns aiming up and out of trenches topped with barbed wire. Underneath sandbag roofs live plastic dummies clothed in military uniforms who dine on tins of Fray Bentos corned beef.

“When you dim the lights it can be really quite spooky,” said Tony. “Most of the Border Regiment’s battalions were involved in the Battle of the Somme. Out of the 700 men in the 11th battalion – the Lonsdales – they lost over 400. Every battalion lost a couple of hundred at the very least. We often have people here whose grandfather or great-grandfather would have been in a trench like this. On Monday someone was here whose grandfather was killed on the first day of the battle.”

“From an old black and white picture it’s hard to get an idea of what it was like to stand in a trench. This does give an idea. Unfortunately you can’t have it knee deep in water.”

The pupils of St Mary’s School in Harrington certainly seemed impressed. The museum visit was linked to their study of Remembrance Sunday. The children, aged six to eight, peered in at the dummies – “Hey, Kieran – check out this! There’s a gun!” – and swarmed around display cabinets filled with medals and uniforms. One boy grabbed the handle of an anti-tank gun and made “Rat-at-at!” noises.

Stuart Eastwood, the museum’s curator, said: “If these kids are third or fourth generation from Cumbria they’ve probably got a local family member who fought in the trenches with the Border Regiment. “I certainly think it’s important to remember, although the passing of time does make a difference to the impact things like World War One have on children today. It would be like us focusing on the Crimean War of the 1850s. But history shapes everything. Our regiment was in Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, in World War One. Some things never change.”

Published 11th November, 2006, The News & Star
In memory of John Bardgett (15309 L/Cpl.), 11th Border Regiment who died 1st July 1916.

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The Border Regiment Forum is a small and friendly community for anyone with an interest in the British regiment throughout its long and colourful history. The forum was set up first and foremost to bring together those with an interest and passion in the Regiment; to ask questions, share stories, provide knowledge and post photos relating to the regiment during the various conflicts and peacetimes it bore witness to.

  -  Cumbria's Museum of Military Life
  -  5th Border Regiment War Grave Project and Roll of Honour
  -  7th Border Regiment War Grave Project and Roll of Honour
  -  8th Border Regiment War Grave Project and Roll of Honour
  -  11th Border Regiment (Lonsdale) War Grave Project