Students Research Tragic Somme Trio

They were brothers in arms. Three soldiers from the same town, who are thought to have enlisted on the same day, and died on the same fateful date.

Barely hours into the Battle of the Somme, they were among the casualties.

Now virtually 100 years on, a group of pupils will be researching the untold stories of the trio's lives, and visiting the streets where the soldiers grew up.

The First World War project at The Co-operative Academy of Stoke-on-Trent will culminate in the students publishing a book about their findings.

The Year 9 pupils hope to complete it in time for the centenary of the start of the battle on July 1 this year.

Alongside the three Lincolnshire Regiment soldiers from Tunstall, they will be delving into the backgrounds of other men from the town who fought for king and country.

Simon Harrison, head of history at the academy, said: "It will give them an understanding that history is real. It's not just for dusty old textbooks.

"This is a perfect opportunity to build on some historical source work. We will be looking at different records and censuses.

"We hope the book that's produced will also be used by students in future. It will help them to recognise the depth of importance of what happened at the Battle of the Somme."

The young history detectives are working on the project with Ian Ashbolt, a member of a local military history group.

And today they appealed for the public's help to find the descendants of the soldiers, so they can piece together details about the family histories.

The soldiers at the heart of the study are:

* Lance Corporal Herbert Robert Lloyd, who died at the age of 32. The son of Robert and Ann Lloyd, he came from 7 Sun Street, Tunstall, now known as St Aidan's Street;

* Private Abraham Rhodes, who was 22 years old when he was killed. He was the husband of Beatrice Moran (formerly Rhodes) and came from 11 Granville Street (now Penistone Street), Tunstall;

* Private George Theobald, who died aged just 19. The son of Mary Ellen Theobald, he was from 36 Adams Square, Clayhill, Tunstall.

These names, which appear on the town's war memorial, were selected for the project as their service numbers are so close together.

Ian, aged 72, from Betley, said: "I don't know for a fact, but I'm almost certain they signed up on the same day. Had they known each other before? Did they come from the same factory?

"When the great call to war came, you would find groups of friends signing up together."

Nicknamed the Pals' Army, these young men would enlist with the regiment that happened to be recruiting that day.

"The men died on July 1, 1916," added Ian. "The width of the battle covered 17 miles. Where were they when they died? Was one of them at one end and another at the other end, or were they together?"

Back home, many families would have been anxiously awaiting news. These three soldiers had all walked out of the door one morning, never to return.

Had married Private Rhodes left behind children? Did his wife remarry? Through examining census returns, the young researchers hope to find out.

Co-operative Academy pupil Hafsah Akbar is one of the history students involved in the project.

The 13-year-old, from Biddulph, said: "I'd like to find out how they were manipulated into thinking that war was good when they signed up.

"Nowadays, we know much more about war. We know it's a serious matter."

Classmate Haseeb Badar is also looking forward to investigating the past.

The 13-year-old, from Tunstall, said: "I think it's amazing and brave that these people went off to war to fight for our future.

"It's also quite scary to think how they died at such a young age.

"This project is going to be really good. It means we can also take a step into the history of the area where we live."

Anyone who can help with the school's research into the soldiers can contact Mr Harrison on 01782 882300

blog comments powered by Disqus