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Posts by Karen O'Rourke

Centenary of the Somme battles: Attacking Guillemont

26 July 2016 by Karen O'Rourke

Medals and badge of Sergeant Herbert Lawrenson, displayed in the Museum of Liverpool. Herbert, from Smithdown Road, served with the 20th Battalion and was killed on 30 July. His body was never recovered.

Medals and badge of Sergeant Herbert Lawrenson, displayed in the Museum of Liverpool. Herbert (pictured below), from Smithdown Road, served with the 20th Battalion and was killed on 30 July. His body was never recovered.

In my last blog, we left the victorious Pals Battalions in early July 1916, consolidating the ground they had captured around Montauban Village. By the end of July, after three weeks of heavy fighting, the British Front line had moved just 1.6 miles and the Liverpool battalions were now in action just south of Trones Wood. The next objective was to capture Guillemont Village. Although it was just a small farming village, it was well situated with flat land on all sides and had been in German hands for around two years. By 1916, it was heavily fortified and well defended. This made it a key target for British commanders.  Read more…

Commemorating the first day of the Somme

1 July 2016 by Karen O'Rourke

monument with wreaths of poppies

A memorial to the Liverpool and Manchester Pals in Montauban village commemorates their actions on 1 July

In my previous blog I described how the first day of the Somme on 1 July 1916 was a disaster for the Allies, and I could write an entire article about contributing factors, such as the inadequate reconnaissance, the wrong types of ordnance, the tactical mistakes etc. Instead I want to talk about the contribution of the King’s Liverpool Regiment on the day.

The Liverpool Pals (17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Battalions of the King’s Regiment) had formed in the early months of the First World War. They arrived at the Western Front in November 1915, and although they had been involved in some small skirmishes, this was to be their baptism of fire. Read more…

The centenary of the Somme battles

30 June 2016 by Karen O'Rourke

old photo of a young man in uniform

Portrait photograph postcard of Private Harry Grace, King’s Regiment. Written on the reverse, ‘Signaller Harry Grace, Killed in France 1st July 1916, 18th Service K.L.R. “Pals” (2nd Batt).’ Private Harry Grace was a scoutmaster and prominent member of Richmond Baptist Youth Group. He was 19 when he was killed by a shell at the Somme.

One hundred years ago this week, on 1 July 1916, British Forces suffered their worst casualties ever in one single day. Communities all over Britain will come together on Friday 1 July to commemorate the anniversary of what is often called, ‘the bloodiest day in British military history’. At the Museum of Liverpool our latest exhibition First World War: Charity and Liverpool’s Home Front, looks at some of the organisations that were instrumental in helping both the casualties who came home from the war, and also the families of the men who did not.

That first day of the Somme saw 19,240 British men killed in action, a further 40,000 were wounded or taken prisoner. The British front line stretched from Gommecourt to Maricourt – around 18 miles of trenches. South of Maricourt, the French Army held the line. The battle was a tactical one, meant to divert German troops from a much larger battle, being fought against the French further east at Verdun.  Read more…

Family History Day – fun for all the family

18 November 2015 by Karen O'Rourke

Handle World War One object at Family History Day

Handle World War One object at Family History Day

Over the last couple of weeks I have talked about the amazing research resources that will be available at our Family History Day, this Saturday 21 November, but there is so much more on offer at Museum of Liverpool. Read more…

Family History Day: a very special resource

12 November 2015 by Karen O'Rourke

An example of a record from the King's Regiment database

An example of a record from the King’s Regiment database

In my last Family History Day blog, I talked about the experts who will be on hand to help our visitors with their research on all sorts of First World War subjects at our First World War family history day. However there is another “star of the show” – the King’s Regiment database. Read more…

Remembering Liverpool’s First World War

11 November 2015 by Karen O'Rourke

old photo of a soldier in uniform

Captain Frank Watson

This week we have been commemorating those who lost their lives in conflict. With the centenary of the First World War, this year we have naturally been thinking of that war and the impact that it had on Liverpool. As I mentioned in my last blog post, this year Liverpool City Council and Culture Liverpool have created the Liverpool Remembers trail, to accompany the Poppies: Weeping Window installation at St George’s Hall. The trail highlights a number of Liverpool stories from across the city.

It was great to see that many people who came to see the installation at St George’s Hall when it opened this weekend then followed the Liverpool Remembers trail panels across town to the Pier Head. What they probably won’t realise is just how much work goes into making a city-wide trail happen. Read more…

Follow the Liverpool Remembers poppy trail

9 November 2015 by Karen O'Rourke

Liverpool Remembers poppy trail logo

I was pleased to be asked to work with Liverpool City Council and Culture Liverpool on a trail, to accompany their Poppies: Weeping Window installation at St George’s Hall. Like many people, I was really excited when I heard that the artwork would be in the city during the Remembrance commemorations. I also thought it was very apt that it should be situated at St George’s Hall, where thousands of men had enlisted for the First World War, and where we now gather every year, to commemorate those who have lost their lives in conflict.

I hope that visitors to the Weeping Window will also explore the Liverpool Remembers trail panels that lead down to the Pier Head. Read more…

Family History Day, a day to remember

2 November 2015 by Karen O'Rourke

Our expert Graham travels all the way from the South West to help with Machine Gun Corps queries

Our expert Graham travels all the way from the South West to help with Machine Gun Corps queries

Last week saw the launch of the Royal British Legion 2015 Poppy Appeal, focusing on ‘Memories of the Fallen’, and it seems fitting that we at the Museum of Liverpool begin to think about our own annual event, our First World War family history day, which takes place at the museum on Saturday 21 November 2015.

Each year we gather together a team of friends, from around the region (and often further afield). Read more…

Strong and resilient women in Poppies exhibition

31 July 2015 by Karen O'Rourke

curator placing a book in a display cabinet

Installing objects in the exhibition, beneath a photo of Colonel Debbie Telford

It’s been a week since our Poppies: Women and War exhibition opened at the Museum of Liverpool. Every new exhibition we stage involves lots of preparation and in the weeks before we open it’s pretty chaotic for the team; agreeing final designs, getting all of the right objects and people in the right place at the right time and making all of the last minute arrangements. Fortunately we have an amazing team, who are all fabulous at what they do.

I have one of the best jobs, which is that I get to watch the reaction of the visitors as they see the exhibition for the first time and this week I have spoken to lots of people who have all had positive things to say. Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.