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Search to find War hero.'s family; Soldier was one of Tyneside Commercials.

Byline: TONY HENDERSON

THE SEARCH is on to find the family of a First World War hero.

As the war began, businesses on Tyneside raised a total of 5,500 fighting men.

The Tyneside Commercials or "Quaysiders" were recruited in a drive by the Newcastle and Gateshead Chamber of Commerce.

One of the Commercials who never came back from the war was Robert Wales Fenn.

Now the search is on for his family so that his death plaque can be given to his relatives.

More than a million families of war casualties received a metal plaque and illuminated scroll from the King.

Earlier this month the Evening Chronicle reported how another soldier's plaque, which had been found in a scrapyard, had been given to the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project, who traced the man's relatives.

This prompted Newcastle resident Joe Trotter to contact the project about Pte Fenn's plaque.

Mr Trotter, who lives in West Denton, had found the plaque in his late father's items.

He believes it may have been kept by his grandfather, who served in the First World War, and may have been a friend of Pte Fenn.

Now the hope is that it can be returned to Pet Fenn's family almost a century later. The Response war memorial in front of the Civic Centre in Newcastle commemorates the Tyneside Commercials. "This memorial commemorates Robert Wales Fenn amongst thousands of others who volunteered and in many cases did not return to their families and friends," said project co-ordinator Alan Fidler. "A meeting of the Council of the Chamber of Commerce on September 2, 1914 had decided to approach the War Office with an offer to provide infantry." The project has found out that Pte Fenn served in the 18th (Service) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. This was a Pioneer battalion, which supported the front line, attacking infantry formations by digging and maintain trench systems, bring up supplies from the rear, or carry out wiring duties in front of the trenches.

But often they were put into the line to plug gaps or support an advance.

After the disaster of the first day of the Somme on July 1, 1916, the 18th were helping to hold the line as the remnants of the fighting troops which suffered so badly were rested. Pte Fenn was a member of the 18th Battalion engaged in holding part of the line near Bienvilliers when, over three days of fighting the battalion suffered a gas attack and he was killed on July 14, 1916 - a day before his battalion was relieved and marched away to rest.

The project can be reached on contact@tynemouthworldwarone

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POIGNANT The War Memorial at Haymarket. Above, a death plaque
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 22, 2012
Words:452
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