Retro: Doncaster search for World War One stories

Word War One soldier Henry Birkett Shimelds in uniform, brought in to Doncaster Museums by his great great niece Nicola Pollard
Word War One soldier Henry Birkett Shimelds in uniform, brought in to Doncaster Museums by his great great niece Nicola Pollard
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The story of Doncaster in World War One is being told in a project that aims to record as many stories as possible.

Jude said that the Heritage Lottery-funded Doncaster 1914-18 project will last four and a half years.

Eric Vaux ' Family member saw his panel at the Local History Fair at Doncaster Museum. Brought in his wedding photo for us to scan that was in her possession as well as some information about his son and some more family anecdotes.

Eric Vaux ' Family member saw his panel at the Local History Fair at Doncaster Museum. Brought in his wedding photo for us to scan that was in her possession as well as some information about his son and some more family anecdotes.

“We’re commemorating the centenary of World War One with the community at the heart of it. We’re looking at the important role that Doncaster played in World War One.

“We want people’s stories to enable us to do that.”

She added: “Because we’re building this online community, there’s not really a limit to how many stories we can collect.

“We’re hoping eventually to have a legacy that will add to Doncaster’s history.”

A Great War on Tour roadshow has already started to collect some stories, including that of Eric Vaux, who lived at the Mason’s Arms pub in Doncaster.

He served as a Gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery.

A member of his family, Joan Wilson, saw a panel telling his story at a Local History Fair at Doncaster Museum. She brought in his wedding photograph as well as some information about his son and some family anecdotes to be recorded.

Charles Gillvray, who had the first military funeral in 1914, was also featured. His family have already donated family documents to Cusworth Hall.

Henry Birkett Shimelds, known as Harry, was among lists of Doncaster Rovers reserve team players sent to researchers by Barry Watson, a Rovers enthusiast and historian.

A researcher found that Henry was born in Doncaster and lived in Hexthorpe. His brother, James William, also appears on the players’ list.

Harry served as a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery and died of pneumonia in Flanders one day before peace was declared. He was 24.

A relative brought in some photographs, as well as Henry’s wallet from the Front and a family bible.

The story of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry will be at the centre of the story of Doncaster at war, said Jude.

A full website will be launched in September which will allow people to be able to upload stories, family documents and photographs, which will be linked to the Imperial War Museum’s website among others.

The project is planning a series of events, exhibitions and and activities, she added.

Next weekend, Cusworth Hall and grounds will play host to an event where visitors can experience a soldier’s training camp and see VAD nurses tending to a patient.

Visitors can get hands-on with First World War objects and try on uniforms and sample cooking including Grandma Abson’s traditional baking.

Some of the recipes are based on those handed down by a housekeeper from Edwardian times.

They can find out about wartime Doncaster, rationing and thrifty fashion and enjoy crafts and activities.

Take along your First World War memorabilia to add an image to the digital archive.

The project website is at http://www.doncaster1914-18.org.uk/