St. Helen’s Auckland, West Auckland, Etherley/Toft Hill, Evenwood, Cockfield, Butterknowle, Copley and Woodland are villages located to the west of Bishop Auckland, County Durham in the north east of England. The river Gaunless flows through the locality and into the river Wear to the north of Bishop Auckland. The area is sometimes referred to as “the Gaunless Valley.” When coal was king, it was part of the Great Northern Coalfield, the Auckland Coalfield and prior to the Great War, 1914-1918, the vast majority of men worked in the pits and coking plants. These villages were pit villages, the men were pitmen and their wives dutifully served their husbands and children. All was to change.
There are 266 names on these village war memorials, some of whom are commemorated on more than one memorial, Behind every inscription there is a man who was a son or brother, husband or father and the purpose of this website is to tell their story. It is hoped that many will be able to connect with these men which will go some way to ensure that they will never be forgotten.
The general idea is to provide details of the servicemen commemorated on each of the war memorials located in St. Helen’s, West Auckland, Etherley, Evenwood, Cockfield, Butterknowle, Copley and Woodland. Details about the war memorials will be given and a list of those commemorated so click on the village memorial then find the person with whom you have an interest, click on the name and (hopefully) a specific page will pop up. I intend to post as much information as I have but initially I’ll provide the basic details. It would be great if others could contact me and contribute, particularly with the 4 men who we have not yet identified. They are:
- Butterknowle: Leonard Appleby – we have the person identified but not his service details
- West Auckland: John Bolton, Edward Lockey and Robert Henry Thomas.
and 1 man is not yet 100% confirmed:
- St. Helens: J. McQuire [McGuire]
There will be a photo gallery showing memorials, portraits of servicemen, headstones, commemorations, rolls of honour, village scenes etc. Details of other memorials in each village will also be provided. In the specific case of the Parish of Evenwood and Barony, my book, “Evenwood Remembers” (2010) contains details of 13 soldiers born in the Parish and commemorated on village war memorials outside of the Gaunless Valley. In time, this information will be added.
For any regular visitors to this website, if you click on;
then I will provide an update of recent material, as from 27 April 2016. Any questions/comments or corrections will be responded to. There may be some inaccuracies for which I apologize, only further research can eliminate errors and I will gladly amend where required. I invite contributions to this work. I can be contacted at:
I acknowledge the research help of Paul Simpson and Bob Dixon, the website assistance of Nat. Clark and patience of my wife Kathryn.
IT HAS BEEN SUGGESTED THAT IT WOULD BE USEFUL TO HAVE A SEARCH FEATURE TO LOCATE SPECIFIC SERVICEMEN – YES IT WOULD BUT I’M NOT CLEVER ENOUGH TO DO IT. NOW IF SOMEBODY OUT THERE IS, THEN MAYBE THEY COULD ADVISE ME. IF IT MEANS LOADS OF WORK THEN MAYBE NOT!
References and sources of information have been provided where ever possible. Should anyone wish to use any information provided by the website then there is no objection but an acknowledgement of the source would be appreciated.
Lest We Forget