Faces to heroic names honoured on website

27 Jul 2018

A website expanding a hallowed World War One monument into an invaluable online history resource was launched at Newcastle Region Library tonight, 100 years to the day after the original stone tribute was unveiled.

The Wickham Face to a Name website offers a detailed historiography of the Wickham Superior Public School World War I Honour Roll, the ornate marble and granite shrine installed at Wickham Superior Public School on 27 July 1918 in memory of the students and teachers who served in the "Great War".

One former pupil, Lieutenant Colonel William Cheeseman (pictured below), was mentioned no less than four times in Sir Douglas Haig's dispatches for Conspicuous Gallantry, earning the Military Cross at Bapaume, the Legion of Honour at Beaumetz and the Distinguished Service Order at Bullecourt.

Despite being wounded and gassed at Villers Brettonneux in April 1918, Cheeseman returned to action three months later.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the website had been developed in partnership with the Wickham community, Newcastle Region Library and Newcastle Museum.

"This is a marvellous project of which everyone at Council is tremendously proud," the Lord Mayor said.

"Much more than the names that appear on the honour roll at the Transport Interchange, the website offers a rare picture of a community at a time of global calamity.

"It's heartening to know that everyone can now get online and access the details of the people listed on the Honour Roll, including the ages of the young men who went to war, the streets they lived in, their jobs and their military records. Just the enlistment numbers alone are staggering!"

The memorial to the school's 326 staff and students was moved to the Wickham Transport Interchange in October last year.

Weighing 1.2 tonnes, the 3.5 m x 2.5m honour board was donated to Newcastle Museum when the school, which had around 1,000 students aged up to 14 enrolled in the early 20th Century, closed due to damage caused by the 1989 earthquake.

The honour roll at the Transport Interchange

Historian and educator Bronwyn Law researched the lives behind the names and says the project was a continuation of a teaching program implemented in local public schools over the past four years.

"I sourced the personal, home and military details of those listed from the National Archives and Australian War Memorial and ADFA sites," Mrs Law said.

"Each person is documented individually and most who enlisted who attended the school still lived in Wickham at the outbreak of the war in 1914. The memorial listed only an initial so I've had to use a variety of sources to ensure the right person has been identified. Spelling, dates and names vary within hand-written records, so educated guesses through other sources, such as newspapers, census and voting records, have been made."

The website can be viewed at facetoaname.com.au