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Archive for October, 2018

The 100 year anniversary of Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War One, approaches on Sunday 11 November 2018.

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One of the displays in DIT’s collaborative exhibition, located in the Business Lounge in the 3 Whitehall Place London office.

The Department for International Trade’s War Memorial Research Group has been reaching out and connecting with school pupils across the UK in an effort to expand understanding of World War One amongst youngsters and to build connections between the modern day Civil Service and schools.

As part of this project, the group approached a number of schools with a connection to the Board of Trade War Memorial which ultimately led to working with two selected schools – St Julian’s, a secondary school in Wales and Northcote Primary School in Liverpool.

Both schools were selected to take part because of their connection with the memorial with both schools having a former pupil named on both the Board of Trade War Memorial and their own school war memorials.

Last week, Edwina Osborne from the War Memorial Research Group went to Northcote Primary in Liverpool, to see the amazing work that the pupils had created. The school spent the previous week learning more about WW1 and designing artwork to be included in the exhibition which is focused on the men named on the war memorial. The school also held a special assembly with the school choir singing a beautiful rendition of “Pack Up Your Troubles” and individual classes presenting their work and reading poems.

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A collage of a World War One solider, produced by pupils and teachers at Northcote Primary School in Liverpool.

James McTaggart Rennie served during World War One in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was born in about October 1888 and died aged 28 on 23 July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme whilst manning one of the Lewis guns. His body was not recovered and he is one of thousands of soldiers remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the dead and missing of the Somme. He previously attended Northcote Road Council School which is now Northcote Primary before joining the then Board of Trade in the Mercantile Marine Office. 99 pupils, including James are named on Northcote’s war memorial. Before the war, he lived in Plaistow and he is also remembered on the bells of the Memorial Community Church there.

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Sergeant James McTaggart Rennie.
Copyright: Galloway Gazette.

John Henry Nicholas was born in 1899 and died on 14 June 1918 aged 19. He was a former pupil of St Julian’s. During the war he fought in the 18th Lancashire Fusiliers. He is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial in France, as well as on the war memorials in St Julian’s School and on the Board of Trade War Memorial. Like McTaggart Rennie, he also moved to London for work and joined the Civil Service.

In December 1914, he wrote in a letter back to his old school extolling the benefits of working for the Civil Service. He says “There are always many vacancies here….the hours are very easy”. He goes on to say that they have a Cadet Corps where they work “but we do not like the idea of joining, as they have to drill”.

Both men’s stories and those of others are remembered via the exhibition, which is on display in connection with the Royal British Legion’s Thankyou 100 campaign, to say thank you for the sacrifice and bravery of a generation of men who served and fought in the unimaginable horrors of battle.

The group greatly thanks the hard work of all the pupils and teachers at both Northcote Primary and St Julians’ involved in preparing for the exhibition, as well as members of the Wheatsheaf Woodcraft Folk Group based in Enfield, London.

We hope both Civil Service colleagues and visitors to the Department for International Trade will enjoy the exhibition over the next few weeks.

The Board of Trade War Memorial is one of about 25 central government memorials dedicated to civil service employees who died in either the First or Second World Wars. You can see the  “More than just a name” exhibition until the 12 November in DIT’s Business Lounge of 3 Whitehall Place.

Additionally on the morning of Thursday 8 November, the group will host the department’s annual Remembrance Day service in the Business Lounge, which is due to be attended by the Secretary of State and Permanent Secretary as well as relatives of those who died.

After the commemoration on 8 November, Lesley Iles, the author of “They Rest from their Labours”, a book featuring two of the Board of Trade men who attended Southend High School for Boys, will give a short talk to interested colleagues.

If you would like to get involved and find out more about this exhibition, please contact war.memorial@trade.gov.uk or follow this blog.

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