Hull’s contribution during the First World War is often underestimated. As a North Eastern, coastal City with a population of approximately 300,000, Hull citizens served extensively across all branches of the British Army, Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Royal Air Force, and the Home Defence. They also died serving Commonwealth nations such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand where they had emigrated. Hull City Council established a Great War Civic Trust to assist with the large numbers of widows, wounded and orphans left after the War. This ran until 1963 and raised £165,000.
Hull formed its own four ‘Pal’ Battalions, the 10th, 11th, 12th & 13th service Battalions of the East Yorkshire Regiment, which made up the 92nd Infantry Brigade, 31st Division. Due to its coastal locality and economic and social make up, Hull formed its own ‘bantam’ regiment made up of men of small height, its own heavy artillery and Garrison Brigade defending the Humber estuary. Due to its maritime history, Hull men also served throughout the world in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Naval Reserve, Merchant Service and Hull Fishing Feet.
There were a number of street shrines, known as ‘Rolls of Honour’, private workplace and church memorials which resulted in the Hull cenotaph unveiled in 1924. However, unlike many cities no public memorial lists all the names of the fallen. The Book of Remembrance at Trinity Church Lowgate claims to list all the names of the City’s dead, but it is clear from other church memorials and ‘street shrines’ that it does not includes all names.
There are also many untraced names, anomalies and errors to memorials and this may be due to the way they were initiated. Usually well meaning members of the community would call door to door to collect subscriptions and record the names the fallen, however some families had moved away from the locality, were not in at the time, or could not afford to contribute, which meant not all names were recorded accurately. Some recorded the names of fallen relatives from outside Hull, those wounded or men that served, or those that had not died in the war, but as a result of wounds, disease, flu or deaths from sea due to mines after the war. Hull. St Charles Church includes many names of Irishmen who census records show were not born or resided in Hull.
The handwriting of those inscribing the names varied and this often meant names were misspelt and initials unclear which created a number of anomalies on the list of memorials. There were also very popular Hull surnames such as Smith, Taylor, Chapman, Wilson, Johnson etc which meant it was not possible to trace or accurately find all the individuals. The initial street shrines in Hull largely ended after 1916. They were only meant as temporary and could not keep up with conscription, the increasing casualty lists and the movement between regiments and the armed forces. Many of these street shrines were lost during the Second World War damage in Hull, and were accelerated by slum clearance and post war reconstruction.