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County Durham remembers VE Day 1945
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The Last Call
658,000 British soldiers lost their lives in the war. Sometimes this was very sudden, as for Private Perry.
The men were waiting to counter attack, but the order for the attack was cancelled at midday.
Perry and Hunter's bodies were later moved to the Birr Cross Roads Cemetery, near Ypres which opened in 1917, and were placed in the same grave.
When men were killed or wounded it was their commanding officer's duty to inform their relatives, although sergeants often sent a letter of condolence as well. This personal letter was then followed by the official army letter a few weeks later.
'shot through the head ... by a sniper'on 26 February 1916 in France. In this letter, Sergeants Brammer and Halpin reassure O'Donnell's widow that:
'when we saw there was no hope of recovery, his platoon Sergeant & chums knelt & said the Rosary and De Profundas & a few acts of contrition, as we were Roman Catholics like himself' and 'enclosed you will find his rosary beads, Sacred Heart badge & two rings'.
'occurred at a place in France'is dramatic.
The band in the photograph is the 1st Cadet Battalion The Durham Light Infantry. It was taken on 24 June 1929.
See a full transcript of the invitation to requiem mass.
Some families chose to have cards printed announcing the deaths of their loved ones. Private Thomas Longthorn of Westerton died on 14 July 1918 and was buried at Nine Elms British Cemetery at Poperinge, Belgium. Many cards included patriotic poems and phrases, and some had a photograph of the soldier in his uniform.
See a full transcript of the memorial card.
Death Pennies were bronze memorial plaques given to the next of kin of servicemen and women killed in the war. Each had the soldier or servicewoman's name engraved on it. Examples can be found in the Durham Light Infantry objects collection.