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Somme centenary: the battle for Guillemont continues

9 August 2016 by Karen O'Rourke

rows of gravestones in a cemetary in the French countryside

Guillemont Road Cemetery, where many King’s Regiment soldiers are buried

As night fell on 8 August 1916, a few of the men from the 1st Battalion had escaped the attack and found their way back to the British Front Line. Of the hundreds of men in the battalion, who had gone over the top that morning, only 180 were available to answer their names at roll call. The battle for the village of Guillemont described in yesterday’s blog continued however, as the remaining men of the 8th (Irish) Battalion were still trapped in the village. Read more…

Somme centenary: the third attack on Guillemont 

8 August 2016 by Karen O'Rourke

map of Guillemont, France

This map shows the position of the Territorials and 1st Battalion (marked in blue), in the third attack on the village. The arrows show their proposed movement to their objective lines.

In the early hours of 31 July 1916, after two failed attacks on the Village of Guillemont, the depleted Liverpool Pals Battalions left the Front Line – but the Liverpool story continued. The 55th Division, which replaced them, included the six Territorial Battalions of the King’s Liverpool Regiment. Known as the ‘Liverpool Terriers’, they had all been in action since 1915 and were already experienced in battle.

The third attack on the village was planned for 4.20am on 8 August. Read more…

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

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…

Online collections – Lusitania and Liverpool’s First World War at sea

6 May 2016 by Ellie

Dry-point etching on paper of RMS Lusitania

1987.306 Lusitania in the Mersey, by W L Wyllie

This time last year, RMS Lusitania was a focus of local, national and international attention as we marked 100 years since the sinking of this famous Cunard ship on 7 May 1915. Read more…

Lusitania families reunited

3 May 2016 by Sam

two women

Joyce Percival and Mary Jones at the Lusitania commemoration in 2015

Every year on 7 May Merseyside Maritime Museum marks the anniversary of the tragic loss of the Lusitania with a commemoration and minute’s silence at the quayside, by one of the ship’s propellers which is now part of our collection.

For the centenary of the sinking in 2015 there was also a special service at Liverpool Parish Church Our Lady and St Nicholas. The service included an unexpected twist for Mary Jones, who attended in memory of her great grandfather Michael Cooney, a fireman in the engineering department on board the Lusitania who lost his life in the tragedy, along with his son, also called Michael. Read more…

House of Memories Armed Forces Days

13 April 2016 by Mitty

A suitcase containing objects associated with the Army such as a kit bag, documents and Army Dress cap

Army themed memory suitcase

For the last few months I’ve been working on a very exciting new project in connection with the Museum of Liverpool’s award winning House of Memories. The programme has helped thousands of healthcare professionals and family members increase their understanding of how to support people with dementia to live well with dementia.

My role is to work with the Armed Forces community to develop a new strand of House of Memories, funded by the Armed Forces Covenant. This has involved a great deal of consultation with people to ensure we are making the experience as relevant as possible.  Read more…

Portrait of a sailor

11 February 2016 by Ellie

Portrait of Stoker 1st Class Joseph Norman Thomas

MMM.2014.39

In 2014 we acquired this rather striking portrait of Royal Navy Stoker 1st Class Joseph Norman Thomas, who was born in Liverpool in 1892. At Merseyside Maritime Museum, we focus on the history of the Merchant Navy, with some exceptions, but we were drawn to this painting as we have very few portraits of seafarers in the collection. Joseph also had very strong local connections, being born and brought up in Liverpool. Read more…

Poppies – a botanist’s view

1 February 2016 by Geraldine

pressed yellow poppies mounted on paper

Welsh poppy, Meconopsis cambrica. This specimen was collected in May 1949 from Hawkshead, Cumbria. Accession number 1987.376.98

As a botanist I was fascinated to see the Poppies: Women and War exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool, which includes botanical photographs of poppies in the field and draws on themes of strength and resilience inspired by the flower.

Poppies always invoke for me a feeling of happiness, large colourful flowers in bright garish colours. ‘Poppy’ refers to a group of species that cover a number of genera in the family Papaveraceae. The one that springs to mind for most people is Papaver rhoeas which is used as the symbol of remembrance and hope.  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.