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Houghton Hillside Cemetery War Graves: Remembered with Honour

A poppy wreath at Hillside Cemetery, 2006

Beyond the arched entrance of Houghton Hillside Cemetery and across the quietness of the grassy plateau lie two damp and weathered poppy wreaths, propped up against a solitary hawthorn tree.
Copyright © Books of the North 2008 - 2011.

The wreaths have lain relatively undisturbed for the past two years and will be joined by a third wreath on Armistice Day, Sunday November 9th 2008, on the annual occasion of remembering Houghton-le-Springís war heroes.

[First published in Sign Post, November 2008]

There are four World War I casualties buried at the old cemetery, and up until 1962 three of the graves were marked with traditional Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials. However, the site was deemed to be in such a dilapidated condition that the stones were removed. Four new memorials, known as alternative commemorations, were erected side by side at Durham Road Municipal Cemetery.

Copyright © Books of the North 2008 - 2011.

Alternative commemorations at Durham Road Cemetery, Houghton-le-Spring, 2005

The four casualties, all young Houghton men, are:

:: Private James Place, of 77 Sunderland Street, died on October 12th 1916, aged 19 years. James was a member of the 6th Battalion in the Duke of Cornwallís Light Infantry. He was wounded in France and died at St Thomasí Hospital, London, and was buried at Hillside Cemetery five days later.

:: Private Frederick William Wheatley, of 9 Ewe Hill Terrace, Morton Grange, died on July 29th 1918, aged 28 years. Fred was a member of the 9th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. A local newspaper reported his funeral as follows:

A detachment of N.C.O's from Cocken Hall acted as pallbearers, and a firing party was under the charge of the commandant. The coffin was wrapped in the Union Jack. The deceased was three years with the colours, having been wounded no less than four times. A few weeks ago he contracted influenza, and never rallied. Prior to enlisting he worked at New Lambton Colliery, and was highly respected by the officials and workmen alike. A large concourse of mourners attended the funeral. Three volleys were fired over the grave, and the Last Post was sounded. A large number of wreaths were sent by relatives and friends. Copyright © Books of the North 2008 - 2011.

Following the discovery of Hillsideís forgotten war casualties by Paul Lanagan in 2005, it has since been revealed that Fred Wheatleyís sister, Ruth Wheatley, married John Lanagan, Paulís great-granduncle.

:: Gunner Frederick Henry Place, of 5 Henry Street, Houghton-le-Spring, died on February 4th 1919, aged 28 years. Fred was a gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery.

:: Private Arthur Ernest Richardson, of 98 Sunderland Street, Houghton-le-Spring, died on March 5th 1919, aged 24 years, and was stationed with the 3rd Battalion of Durham Light Infantry.

Copyright © Books of the North 2008 - 2011.

Remembering the war dead, 2006

Let us remember these four lads, along with Houghtonís other war heroes, with honour. Copyright © Books of the North 2008 - 2011.

 

Article and research by Paul Lanagan, local historian

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Paul Lanagan wishes to place on record his thanks to the following:

Fred Wheatley's memorial, Durham Rd Cemetery, 2005

:: Thanks go to David Symons, Val Sargeson and Liz Catherwood of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

:: A nod is given to Tyne & Wear Archives for finding the misplaced Hillside Cemetery file which contained a hint about the war graves.

:: Another nod is given to Jean White of Fencehouses, a relative of mine, for revealing the Wheatley > Lanagan connection.

:: And letís not forget photojournalist David Allan for his help in publicising the war graves.

:: Appreciation is noted for Anne Farrow, for the photo of the modern day memorial service at Hillside Cemetery.

 

No responsibility can be held for external links:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org

The Poppy Appeal - www.poppy.org.uk

Sunderland Echo article - www.sunderlandecho.com

 

 

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PAGE UPDATED: 27/08/2012

COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES Until 1962 the there were 4 war graves located at Hillside. However due to the site becoming overgrown and neglected the War Graves Commission decided to move the headstones and they were re-located at the municipal cemetery on Durham Road, Houghton Le Spring.Frederick Henry Place Gunner Frederick Henry Place died 4th February 1919 age 28 years. His service number was 98005 and he served as a Gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery. Frederick William Wheatley Private Frederick William Wheatley died on 29th July 1918 aged 28 years. His service number was 34611 and he served with the 9th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. He was the son of John and Mary Jane Wheatley of 9 Ewe Hill Farm, Fence Houses.Arthur Ernest Richardson Private Arthur Ernest Richardson died 5th March 1919 aged 24 years. His service number was 22/530 and he served with the 3rd Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. He was the son of Charles and Mary Richardson.James Place Private James Place died on 12th October 1916 age 19 years. His service number was 20880 and he served in the 6th Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry. He was the son of Joseph and Alice Place of 77 Sunderland Street, Houghton Le Spring.
A cemetery targeted by tomb-wrecking vandals is the final resting place of four First World War soldiers who are honoured each Remembrance Day.