Britain will shortly commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice. Today, we continue our look at how the war affected Hartlepool.

A tragic Hartlepool woman's story is the focus of a First World War workshop in town this month.

Friday, 2nd November 2018, 10:00 am
Kate Stewards heartbreaking letter which is part of the Dear Mrs Pennyman public history project. Photo: Teesside Archives/PA Wire.

A letter penned by Kate Steward makes up part of the Dear Mrs Pennyman public history project.

It will be discussed at the Central Library in York Road on Thursday, November 15.

The project is based on letters sent to Mary Pennyman, who was secretary of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers Widows and Orphans Fund.

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The workshop will show members of the public how to research this fascinating period in history.

Just over 100 letters dating from the First World War were found by chance at Ormesby Hall in Middlesbrough in 2012. They had been sent to Mary Pennyman, whose husband’s family then owned the property. She wrote back offering words of comfort and advice.

The accounts provide a personal insight into the loss women experienced and the struggles they faced.

Two of the letters were sent by Kate Steward from the Stranton area of West Hartlepooll. Kate lost two sons in the war. She wrote: “Many thanks for your kind letter and sympathy. I am sorry to say that I have just received official news to say that my other son recently missing has been reported killed. The report says that he and another ten men were buried and it is impossible to recover the bodies.”

Kate was referring to her son Herbert Snowdon who died on July 9, 1916. Herbert is commemorated on the Loos memorial in France.

His brother William Hall Snowdon had died on April 23, 1915, and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium.

Letters from other grieving women contained messages such as “Charlie was my third and last son to give his life for his country” and “I haven’t any children madam no I’ve nothing left, only his photograph”.

Another equally as heartbreaking, said: “My husband and I lived so happily together that it will be a long time before I realise we are parted forever.”

The Hartlepool workshop – which explains to people how to research the First World War period – will be held on Thursday, November 15, from 10am to 12.30pm at The Community Hub Central on York Road.

Places are limited and to book one, call 01429 242909.

As the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice approaches, watch out for more Mail features on the First World War and how it affected Hartlepool in the days to come.