We went on a jolly during February half-term to the Durham Records Office. Working with archivist Jo Vietzke, Peter Livsey and some ID on Tyne members, the group of girls had a full and fun day exploring the archives in relation to the First World War.
The girls had a tour of the archives and had the chance to hold some rare and fragile books and manuscripts. The girls had plenty questions for Jo and they enjoyed putting Jo on the spot.
Through a series of exploratory and creative exercises the girls came to understand how difficult it was for Indian soldiers within the First World War because of language and cultural barriers as well as prejudice. Segregation was the norm for ethnic minorities within the war in terms of regiments, hospitals and prisons.
The groups was lucky to enjoy Jo’s wealth of knowledge as she shared personal letters from Indian Soldiers sent home during the war from the British Library’s the Sepoy letters as well as lost photography’s of soldiers captured as prisoners of war by a Durham photographer named James Fish. Fish served with 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry. He was captured and spent much of the war at Rennbahn prisoner of war camp near Munster. While there he photographed the men in the camp, including Sikhs in turbans, Gurkhas and West African troops.