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tv   Inside Out  BBC News  November 11, 2018 8:30pm-9:00pm GMT

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tonight, we have a remarkable insight into the impact the great war had, notjust on foreign fields, but right here on the home front on tyneside. what we're trying to do is to give some life to these people. they‘ re not just faceless names on headstones. we're not telling the history of the war, we're telling the story of the men. we hear how anxious families were kept in the dark about how their young men came to pay the price of war. they got the famous telegram at home, saying that private hunter had died of wounds. what they didn't say was that those wounds were inflicted by the british, not by the germans. and the battle of the somme as you've never seen it before. we follow a community project in north shields and it maps the devastating impact it had on the town. it's impossible to ignore that there's been fatalities. there's an impact of one man dying abroad, but this is showing the story of the wife and the six kids.
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you know the mams, the dads, the brothers, the sisters. all having to carry this burden. i'm chris jackson and, exactly 100 years since the armistice, inside out is revisiting the programme i made in conjunction with the imperial war museum to document world war i at home. on the western front, soldiers faced the full horror of the great war. but the consequences will be felt on home soil, too. this is tyneside's story, where a massive war effort would also make it a prime target and leave an indelible mark on the local landscape and its people. many made the ultimate sacrifice and, for some, it would not be on foreign soil, but on their own doorstep. although hundreds of miles from the trenches, the tyne found itself on the front line.
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in the early hours of december 31st, 1916, an eventjust off the mouth of the river would destroy any thoughts of celebrating the new year. what happened within sight of the piers would rock a tight—knit community. yet the rest of the british public would not be told of the event until the war was over. guiding ships safely into the river has always been hazardous, but 100 years ago, the pilots really were exposed to the elements. and the enemy. the protector was a pilot cutter that was used 100 years ago. by the time pilots stayed onboard this larger vessel at sea and they went out from smaller vessels, whereas nowadays we just go onboard the likes of this launch. so, where are we off to? we're off to a position three cables, on the old leading lights, outside the pier entrance.
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that is where the protector is, or was, hit by the mine. all 19 crew perished when the ship was blown clean out of the water. some families lost several generations. my great grandfather, and his grandson, ralph, were lost on the protector, when she was blown up. in my case, it was grandfather that was lost on the protector. unfortunately, he shouldn't have been aboard the cutter that day. he was standing in for someone else. the pilot cutter had its lights on all the time, and had to be and had to be on station, 2a hours a day. and were the pilots happy about that? they raised it with the pilotted union, who complained to the admiralty and the government and said there were no risks to the piloted service being out with its lights on. some people say it was torpedoed. some people say it was mined. but, you know, no submarine commander would with waste a torpedo on a vessel of that size. except for a few lights switches, nothing was ever
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found of the wreckage. there was also no trace of the incident in the newspapers. censorship meant their deaths went unreported. as were the pilots' warnings to the admiralty that they feared for their safety. one member of the phillips family had not been on board the protector that day. three months later, he'd make a shocking discovery. by some common chance of fate, my grandfather found the body of his father, robert phillips, floating in the water off king edward's bay. he survived. but he lost his father and his son. that must have been devastating. yes, indeed. my grandmother was so upset that the photograph of the protector was taken down and it was put behind an organ that they had, a pedal organ, that they had in the lounge, and it was hidden from view. she used to sit at the living room window, from morning till night,
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waiting for ralph to come home. she was convinced, because there was no body, that he would come home, that the germans had taken him prisoner. sadly, it was never to be. the tragedy would be hard enough to bear in one household. but the river pilots community live cheek by jowl. robert phillips lived in this street, at number 53. a few doors down, a fellow pilot, charles byrne, at number a1. next door to him, an assistant at number 43, and another crew member lived at 24. in the next street, there were another six homes where the men would not return on new year's eve. the single body that was recovered was given an official commonwealth war grave. a 70—year—old robert was in service when he was killed by enemy action. it's in tynemouth‘s main cemetery and is one of many on home soil.
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something that got a local resident wondering and led to a remarkable community project. for many years, used to walk my daughter's dog around this cemetery. i became increasingly aware of a number of commonwealth war graves headstones. i went to the local library and found a shock, really, a list of 1,700 men whose deaths were attributed to the great war. what we're trying to do is to give some life to these people. they're not just faceless names on headstones. these were people who had families, who were involved in the local community in a number of interesting ways, which we're uncovered. we're not telling the history of the war, we're telling the stories of the men. the tynemouth project is one of the biggest community groups of its kind. and the public have been dropping by, to add their own family knowledge. in many instances, it is the case of the faded photograph, which has been lying in the back of a drawer for 50 or 60 years. 70 volunteers are gathering the life stories of all those
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from tynemouth who fell, whether abroad or at home. and by pinpointing where they lived, they're building up a unique map of how the war played out in the borough. itjust shows you the depths and how much devastation was brought to bear on individual streets. and how much pain and suffering was there in the community, and shared amongst everybody. i'll be discovering more about the project, and that map, later. this was a war like no other. it was fought on an industrial scale. the army and navy had an insatiable appetite for weapons. tyneside, and its workers, perfectly geared up to meet the challenge. we're at smith's dock, right at the heart of what was one of the largest areas of industrial production in the world, during the first world war. about 20,000 men are working on the tyne in the shipyards. within a couple of years, that's doubled to more than 40,000. so, this really was part
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of the war machine? it was, you can think of it almost as a river of war. its importance was recognised with a string of royal visits. what the king would not have seen was the daily reality of keeping the yards going. many of the men left to join up. others had to fill their place to keep production on the tyne going. the average age of the workforce would change. and children would be found outside the yard gates, ready to hand the adults their lunch. further up river, factories were making vast numbers of guns and munitions. it was a traditional tyneside industry that the military knew it would depend on to secure victory. they've be making armaments here on the banks of the tyne in newcastle ever since the mid—19th century. but when the war broke out, companies like armstrong whitworth, as it was then known, went into overdrive, making anything from machine guns, like this, to aircraft. what they needed was manpower.
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but there weren't enough men to fight on the front and make the weapons. the answer? women who took to the production lines. in what would have been astounding images, for the time, men lost their exclusive grip on heavy, industrial work. at armstrong whitworth, women had a hand in all areas from munitions to heavy guns. women were getting dirty. they were getting hot and bothered and engaged in areas where they wouldn't have seen before, i don't think. and doing these jobs as well as men and realising that there are no essential differences between the sexes. quite a profound change of attitude, i think. and that's why the struggle for women's emancipation, for the right to vote, goes on... it's very bloody and unpleasant, conflict before the war. but by the war's end, 1918, they have the vote. with women part of the workforce, production soared. so proud were they, armstrongs‘ documented their success in vast photographic catalogues. yet some of the work they undertook was kept under wraps. could planes be
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launched from a ship? this was the trial on the banks of the tyne. the plane was just a dummy. what the newcastle engineers needed to know was — could they generate enough speed? a rather brave test pilot tried it for real. at the tynemouth commemoration project hq in north shields, they've uncovered an unusual story. a soldier who died in controversial circumstances here at home. but he was given an official war grave because he was in uniform at the time. chris, there's quite an interesting one, here. it was about a colour coat soldier, having a very sad end. he came home on leave, had a few extra days and was arrested. and he ended up in court at whitley bay. he was given 18 months' hard labour. they really threw the book at him. they did. he ended up writing a letter home to his wife, saying
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that he was going to end it. she decided to meet him at the station before he was transported to york, from whitley bay, and try and talk him out of it. but he was found by an officer, hanging by his belt. you do hear some stories, which, when i'm inputting onto the database, do bring tears to your eyes. it is very emotional, sometimes. there could be moments of light relief, even on the front line, if the war was going your way. northumberland fusiliers relished the chance to try on the enemy's helmets for size. but not everyone who joined up was posted abroad. soldiers needed to be ready to defend home soil, too. the tyne was a class a port. in fact, it was classed as the same as portsmouth and southampton, as being important enough to defend to a higher level. there were two six—inch guns and a 9.2 inch gun here at tynemouth.
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there were the same guns at frenchman's bay in south shields. a fruther two six—inch guns on spanish bank below us. there were also submarine mines in the river mouth, which could be exploded, to destroy a ship coming in. when the guns were fired on full charge, the concussion from them had a problem. they broke all the windows on the seafront at tynemouth. so they had to be careful that they fired them on half charge, unless, of course, we were attacked. beneath the guns, the weapon store and for the soldiers here, this was very dangerous work. the cartridges are highly explosive, volatile, so they had to wear special clothes that didn't create friction — canvas slippers. and the doors are lined with copper because, when they closed, if there was just one spark, the whole place would go up. the military were in charge. and the civilians watched as the signs of the war scarred their landscape. tynemouth was no longer the picture postcard seaside resort. things were restricted. they dug a great many trenches, along the coast, along the sea front,
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in tynemouth, right through to whitley bay. these trenches had barbed wire around them, so, again, the restrictions would have been in place on going down to the beach. all these things would have given you the great impression that there was a war on, and it was affecting you at home. it's best seen from above — this intelligence photo shows how intricate the trenches were. the germans were wary of approaching the tyne by sea, but they had another means of attack — zeppelins. 0ne raid killed 17 men at the palmer shipyard and was celebrated in enemy propaganda. but the real fear was an invasion force. blythe, just up the northumbrian coast, was a real weak spot. i've got here a classified document that was prepared less than a year before the outbreak of war. and it warns that the germans could invade here and march on the armaments factory on the tyne, all within a day. tyneside's achilles' heel would have to be covered. a lot of people that come down
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here think it's a water tank. right, but it's not? no, anything but. goodness! this is a little gem, isn't it? yes. this is the battery observation post. i can see this used to rotate. yes, the whole top of this would have rotated and the sides, here, would have been small, like gear wheels, and a winding mechanism to rotate the whole top. and from that door and that door and a barr and stroud split—image rangefinder. a prism at each end, you'd turn a dial in the middle and you could calculate the range out to the ship. so, a fancy pair of binoculars? a big pair of binoculars with a rangefinder in. the only surviving example of this type of rangefinder tower in the whole of the world. the blythe battery wasn't complete until 1916, well after the first zeppelin attack. yet it seems military engineers didn't have the vision to see them as a threat. so, chris, this is the searchlight we have.
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wow! it's typical of the type that would have been in here. and it would have pointed out to sea. right. the windows we have have all been blocked in from its use as a beach chalet. i think i've spotted a design flaw! because it was showing this way, wasn't it? yes. it could only shine out to sea. it had no capability of shining up in the air. answering the call to fight the hun was, for many, a patriotic duty. as the new recruits marched off
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tojoin the front line, there was a lot of bravado from the men, when the cameras were rolling. but wives or mothers would fear the worst, as they walked alongside. almost hidden from view, she grabs his hand, for what may be the last time. yet some men would go to extraordinary lengths to join up. well, joseph foster was my grandfather. he shouldn't have been in the first world war. he was too old. he was 42 years of age and the cut—off age, apparently, was 39. martha, his eldest child, he said to her, "martha, there's my birth certificate, make me look ten years younger", which she did. she altered it for him. he went to france in 1915 and he was killed in 1916. and my aunt never forgave herself for having done it. you know, she said, "i signed my father's death warrant by altering that birth certificate". no, she never forgive herself. and this was taken... a couple of years, then, before she..? just before she actually forged the birth certificate. and that's your mum? that's my mother. and my grandmother was left with six children between the ages of three and 13. so, martha not only would she have the guilt, she'd see the consequences. yes, she was old enough to understand, i think, at that age.
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this is something which is very precious to me. a small piece of french silk, which has been hand—painted. "ne m'oublie pas". "don't forget me". how did they ever imagine they will be forgotten while they were away? in fact, many people would rememberjoseph. as a younger man, he was a very keen amateur footballer. he played for newcastle united a. and look at this, they were cup winners. he was a bit of a celebrity? yes. yes, must have been. i suppose, when you know you have a famous magpie footballer in the family, but you actually know the fact that he broke all the rules to serve, i don't suppose you know which you're supposed to be more proud of. well, that's difficult, yes. people were quick to accuse anyone who didn't volunteer of cowardice. 20—year—old river pilot ralph phillips was instructed to remain on tyneside. there is a tragic irony that,
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if he hadn't been forced to stay on board the protector, he may yet have survived the war as a serving soldier. he wanted to serve. i thinkjust going backwards and forwards to the pilot cutter didn't seem much... to do with the war effort. and maybe he felt no glory attached. he wrote to the pilotage committee and asked to join the army and they sent this letter, which says that they applauded his patriotic fervor, but he was doing a vitaljob. he was, in his way, serving his king and country, by being a pilot. so he was issued with one of these, which is a certificate of exemption. all right — so this is your kind of get—out—of—war card. yes. when young ladies would come up to you a white feather, you could show them that, to say that you weren't a shirter. tyneside played a part
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in whipping up patriotism. right at the heart of it, what is nowjust another fashionable address in newcastle's grey street. andrew read and company. the print works produced many posters for the war 0ffice, many aimed at bolstering recruitment. 0thers urging people to raise funds to provide more tanks and weapons for the troops on the front line. parading soldiers and civic dignitaries all rallied the city's population to the cause. "we haven't heard from you, for over three weeks.
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why haven't you written?" she was very worried about this. "i'm collecting woodbines for you to send out a parcel". "a neighbor has given you a khaki scarf". so, everything seemed normal. we don't think they knew. they got the famous telegram at home, saying that private hunter had died of wounds. what they didn't say was that those wounds were inflicted by the british, not by the germans. as the war dragged on, casualties mounted. the military needed beds for the wounded and, on tyneside, any large building was requisitioned. students would have to find somewhere new to attend lectures. professors, blackboards and desks would be replaced by patients, matrons and beds. the college we now know as newcastle university was turned into the first northern general hospital. lessons were still being learnt here. new surgical techniques to treat war wounds would ultimately benefit the whole population. growing losses on the continent
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would cast a terrible shadow over the streets back home in tynemouth. the community project has pulled together addresses and dates to reveal the impact of one of the war's bloodiest campaigns. when things really got bad, was the first day of the battle of the somme and the period thereafter. here you saw the impact on our small town here. and it's impossible to ignore that there's been fatalities. goodness! i don't know how you begin to deal with this. maybe there's some collective mourning helps, assists, in some way. clearly, there's a lot of pain here. to me, this is the first time i've really seen the impact of the war, actually. so strongly displayed, it's amazing. there's an impact of one man dying abroad, but this is showing the story of the wife and the six kids, the wife and the three children. the mums, the dads, the brothers, the sisters, all having to carry this burden. 0n the first day of the somme, majorjames knox wrote a letter to his parents on tyneside.
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his brother had already been killed in action. he wrote, "momentous events are looming up and i have a premonition — i may not return to you". his dead brother, basil, had appeared to him in a dream, which he took to be a warning. and he was right. he was killed in action. that very same day. in his letter, james instructs his parents to destroy his medals. in fact, he tells them to get rid of anything that would remind them of "their boys", which is what makes one of the windows here all the more remarkable. this is the church of st james and st basil in fenham in the middle of newcastle. it's named after two sons who died in the first world war. but it's notjust the window. the whole building is based around these two huge aisles, and each of them are of equal size and we have two alters. everything we have, we have two of. because of the two sons.
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sirjames knott was a north—east businessman. industrialist shipowner. and he built the business up with his sons and, on the death of his sons, he was totally distraught and he went against the wishes expressed in the son's letter. and went on to sell the business and give all the money away. his sons are immortalized in the knot‘s flats in north shields, a pioneering monument of social housing. and 100 years on, youngsters enjoy music at a youth centre because of grants the trust is still handing out to this day. when the armistice was declared, any celebrations would soon be tempered, as the number of war dead kept on rising. they were dying of their wounds, they were dying of complications associated with gas. we can't find one safe place to live. on this map. i think people look at any one of those streets and think, what would happen if that was my street? you know, that would be three
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in my pals, the next door neighbour, who went to school together, played football, we've got a group together. we all knew each other. they could see the faces. the principal object or exercise was to give life to these men. a biography of people who passed away now 100 years ago. we're telling a story which if it isn't told now could be lost in 20 or 30 years' time. many of the relatives coming to us are very elderly themselves. if it is not recorded now, it will probably never be recorded. those who lived and worked along the river tyne played a huge part in the great war. the conflict left its mark overseas. but emotional and physical scars were also etched into the landscape back home. the first world war could claim a life in foreign fields, out at sea or on your own doorstep. and each death equally deeply felt here on the home front. echoes of that past can be found in all our family trees. you only have to look back a generation or two.
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and when their names become stories, a century—old great war doesn't seem that long ago. then there's lots of information and more programmes at many central and eastern areas go into the night tribe in the west showers. they will push the winds into parts of southern scotland to
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inafew into parts of southern scotland to in a few returning the southern counties of england. the most, temperatures will drop down to single figures, maybe a touch of frost. but overall, fairly mild. and a week which begins as we finish the weekend, on the breezy side with a mixture of sunshine and showers. low pressure close by, making those shower clouds pop—up. this weather front across northern france which throws the cloud, so cloudy start here, one or two light showers, heavier showers in the western fringes of england and wales in south—west scotland. it will push their way northwards and eastwards through the day with sunshine in between. some parts of northern ireland, northern scotland, north—east england and the midlands could get to the day predominantly dry. temperatures 11—14dc. the showers keep going as we go into monday evening's rush hour. more push the weight eastwards to take us into the early hours of tuesday. low
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pressure becomes less of a feature and pushed the north of us and in doing so these pressure lines, an indication of a ridge of high pressure. 0ne indication of a ridge of high pressure. one or two showers mainly in the west, good long sunny spells, south—westerly winds, mark the true the day with temperatures drop— 15 once again. clouding over towards the end of the day and night. a wet middle part of the week, especially in the west. some as well the north west england, south—westerly breeze, hazy sunshine and dry the further south you are, but that south—westerly wind will bring in mild conditions for wednesday and thursday and on wednesday in sheltered spots highs of 16 or 17, well above where they should be for this time of year. we continue with southerly air flow into wednesday, low pressure to the north of us, so we continue to feed on them at a flow of airfor the we continue to feed on them at a flow of air for the second half of the week but, as winds for lighter
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during the second half of the week, a greater risk of mist and fog developing, particularly across england and wales. goodbye for now. this is bbc world news today. i'm karin giannone. our top stories: a hundred years since the armistice that ended the first world war. in paris, world leaders put aside their differences, to unite in remembrance. long live peace amongst peoples and amongst states, long live the freedom of the nations, long live friendship amongst peoples, long live france. here in the uk, the prince of wales led tributes to the nation's war dead, on behalf of the queen. thousands march in the polish capital, warsaw, celebrating 100 years of independence, with concerns over the inclusion of far—right groups. the worst fires in california's
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history leave at least 25 people
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