Heritage talk Hunting for mines – the North Shields fishing fleet in World War One

Alan Fidler, who led the award-winning Northumbria World War One Commemoration Project, will talk about how the country responded to the new threat to shipping posed by submarine mines.

He will include stories of local men and vessels operating from the Mediterranean and as far north as the White Sea, protecting the convoys to Russia. One of the trawlers lost was the John High, skippered by John High from North Shields. His loss was commemorated on a war memorial in an English Church in north Russia.

Alan, who has extensively studied many aspects of World War One, will explain how it was necessary to massively expand minesweeping capacity after the outbreak of the war including recruiting fishermen and requisitioning vessels from coastal communities around Britain.

He will also talk about how the fishing vessels worked as minesweepers, going out in groups but working in pairs with a rope between them.

Alan set up the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project in 2010 and it was subsequently re-named the Northumbria World War One Commemoration Project. His interest in the war and its sad consequences for local families in the area covered by the old Tynemouth borough, was sparked by the hundreds of family headstones in Preston Cemetery that note the loss of family members at sea and abroad, as well as the many Commonwealth War Graves, for men who died in the war and the immediate aftermath.

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