One hundred years ago last Thursday Herbert James Duckworth died of his wounds, aged 24, and was buried in a military grave, alongside 15 other soldiers from WW1, in Eston Cemetery.
He was one of many people from the Teesside area that volunteered for the Alexandra, Princess of Wales Own (Yorkshire Regiment) and were killed or injured at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.
As part of the Premier League’s Passchendaele at Home initiative, our U12 footballers have been using Private 24997 HJ Duckworth as a starting point to investigate the Battle of Passchendaele and to remember those soldiers who suffered horrendous injuries and died from them, having been transported home.
Using their research the youngsters have written poetry and diary entries to describe the battle and last few days of soldiers like Private Duckworth. They have laid a wreath on his grave at Eston Cemetery.
This culminated in a small presentation at Rockliffe on Thursday. First team manager Garry Monk attended the presentation, together with staff from the Academy and the rest of the club, alongside two members of the Yorkshire Regiment .
Perhaps most poignantly, however, was the attendance of Eric Taylor, the great nephew of Private Duckworth and who first read about the project in our match programme, #UTB, for the game against Sunderland.
All of the work the boys have done will be submitted to the Premier League and, if recognised as one of the best two nationally, our players will have the opportunity to participate in an international remembrance tournament later in the season.
In commemoration of the sacrifice made by Private Duckworth and thousands more at the Battle Of Passchendaele, our U12s wrote this poem.
My eyes were gazing on the gates of Hell
My senses all on red alert
Into the morning mist we stepped
Into a different dimension
The calm before the storm
Fear enveloped me
The horrific Battlefield of Passchendaele
Death approaching like a wave
Peering through shell smoke
Like a grey wedding veil
Then charging, charging into the inferno ….