Wirral Remembers - 1914 to 1918

Materials held in Birkenhead Reference Library

Materials and resources relate to World War 1 are available in the Reference Library in Birkenhead Central Library, Borough Road, Birkenhead. It is not complete or all inclusive. Some of the material is unique.

Because it is a reference library none of the material can be borrowed. It can be used by anyone who is interested. For security reasons not all of it is constantly on public display.

You may walk past the Wilfred Owen window every day without realising what it actually commemorates. There is a short description or explanation of some material.

We can’t claim that Wilfred Owen used this library, as it wasn’t built until 1934. Birkenhead Public Library has always had a local history collection. In 1920 the library (then in a different building) did buy the first edition of Wilfred Owen’s poems and it is still in the reference library!

Some books may be of general interest and some material is useful for local and family historians. Please ask in the library for help with any research or homework. We’re available to give talks or put on displays.

Artefacts held in Birkenhead Central Library

  • The Wilfred Owen window – this is a stained glass window installed on the main staircase in Birkenhead Central Library in 1995. It commemorates the first world war poet who lived in Birkenhead between 1897 and 1907. It was designed by David Hillhouse and installed by William Davis.
  • World War 1 (and WW2) brass memorial plaque from Birkenhead Institute Whetstone Lane. This is also on the staircase and includes the name of Wilfred Owen.
  • Display on upstairs landing wall. This includes details about Owen’s life, explanation about the window and reproduction of one of Owen’s most famous poems, ‘Futility’.
  • Trench scene maquette. Model of trench by sculptor Jim Whelan,  on upstairs landing.
  • Original trench map from WWI showing area of France where Wilfred Owen was based when he gained his MC.
  • Woodcut originally from Birkenhead Institute’s library with dedication to Wilfred Owen
  • Portrait of Wilfred Owen, the above are all on the walls of the upstairs landing outside the reference library.
  • Oak War Memorial Cabinet by George W Poston, designed and made to the order of W Harding. This unique cabinet is in the reference library next to the counter. It’s made from selected oak  and was designed to contain 10 photograph albums bound in Moroccan leather. Each album contains photographs of wounded soldiers of the Great War who were entertained during their convalescence by Mr and Mrs Harding of ‘Rathmore’, Noctorum, Birkenhead. This continued through every year of the campaign. The cabinet itself has 4 architectural motifs carved into it to represent War, Peace, Shipping and Industry.

Books and other Material in Birkenhead Reference Library Local History Collection

Please ask for these at the counter and we can bring them out. If you can let us know any reference number this will help us find them.

  • Electoral Registers for Birkenhead for years 1915, 1918, 1919. We also have the lists of absent voters, who were men away at war. These lists include name, home address, rank and regiment. These are hard copies although the Absent Voters list is currently also being put onto a database. Ref. Office
  • Microfilm copies of the Birkenhead News and Birkenhead Advertiser for the war years. Ref. Office
  • 7 box files of material relating to Wilfred Owen, see separate list for contents of these boxes.  LOC/AUT/OWE
  • Biographies,  poetry and letters of Wilfred Owen. LOC/AUT/OWE
  • The ‘Oak’, the weekly magazine of the Cheshire Regiment. We have copies from the 2nd issue in January 1915 to March 27th 1915. WAR/CHE/OAK - then replaced by the ‘Oak Tree.
  • The ‘Oak Tree’, the monthly magazine of the Cheshire Regiment      from 1st issue of 1915 to 1941. Contains regimental news, appointments, lists of wounded, photographs etc. Shelved at WAR/CHE/OAK
  • History of the Cheshire Regiment in the Great War. WAR/CHE/OAK
  • Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919 Cheshire Regiment, originally published by the War office. WAR/CHE/SOL
  • Officers died in the Great War 1914 -1919. WAR/WW1/OFF
  • Soldiers died in the Great War 1914 -1919.The King’s (Liverpool) regiment. WAR/WW1/SOL
  • ‘Twenty Second Footsteps’ Life in the Cheshire Regiment 1849 – 1914. WAR/CHE/CRO
  • The Cheshire Royal Engineers (113 Assault Engineer Regiment) 1860 to 1950 – A  Regimental History. This was a volunteer regiment originally raised in Birkenhead by Lewis Hornblower the architect of the main entrance of Birkenhead Park. WAR/CHE/DAV
  • Imperial War Graves Commission, WWI war graves in Flaybrick Cemetery.  WAR/WW1/IMP
  • Vellum bound book of Birkenhead’s War Memorial 1914-1919: description of War Memorial (Cenotaph), photographs  and list of names on memorial. Published in 1927. Shelved at WAR/MEM/MOR
  • 3 Volumes compiled by Chris Morris in 2009 with details of local men who gave their lives in WWI: includes name, age, regiment, regiment, which war memorial they are included on and whether there is any information on them in Birkenhead News. WAR/MEM/MOR
  • ‘Memorials of Old Birkonians 1914-1918’ old boys of Birkenhead School who fell in the Great War WAR/MEM/BIR
  • Liverpool Heroes’ (Book 2) Stories of 18 Liverpool holders of the Victoria Cross (including Wirral men) WAR/WW1/CLA
  • List of Liverpool Pals who proceeded overseas in November 1915 and biographies of officer casualties 1914-1915 WAR/WW1/MAD
  • ‘Liverpool Pals’ . History of the 17th, 18th. 19th.and 20th battalions of the Kings Liverpool Regiment by Graham Maddocks 1991 WAR/WW1/MAD
  • History of the 2/6th Rifle Battalion King’s Regiment 1914-1919 Reference Stack WAR/WW1/WUR
  • The Bantams,the untold story of World War 1, by Sidney Allinson  WAR/WW1/ALL
  • My Bit – a Lancashire Fusilier at War 1914-1918, by George Ashurst. WAR/WW1/ASH
  • History of the volunteer movement in Cheshire 1914 -20, by E.J. Disbrowe, WAR/CHE/DIS
  • The Story of the Lancashire and Cheshire Regiments, published by  the Liverpool Weekly Post 1914. WAR/LIV
  • The Chester Volunteers by Frank Simpson, with special reference to ‘A’  company, 3rd Volunteer Battalion, Cheshire Regiment  1914 -20 WAR/CHE/SIM
  • Boesinghe by Stephen McGreal WAR/WW1/McG
  • Cheshire Bantams by Stephen McGreal WAR/WW1/McG
  • Citizen Soldiers. The Liverpool Territorials in the 1st World War WAR/WW1/McC
  • The War on Hospital Ships 1914-1918 Stephen McGreal WAR/WW1/McG
  • Zeebrugge and Ostend Raids, Stephen McGreal WAR/WW1/McG
  • ‘Bravest of Hearts’ – The Liverpool Scottish in the Great War by Hal Giblin WAR/WW1/GIB
  • Military History in the North West, bibliography 1994. WAR/WYK
  • Story of the 55th Division, West Lancashire 1916 -1919. WAR/LAN/COO
  • Box of ephemera , items relating to WWI including original documents such as a 1918 ration book and concert programme for Motor Ambulance Fund. Reference Office.
  • Box of ephemera, items relating to Cheshire Regiment with several original documents. Reference Office.

General books in Reference Library

  • Officers who died in the service of British Commonwealth and Colonial Navies, Regiments and Corps 1914-1919. WAR/WW1/OFF
  • Non-Commissioned Officers, Men and Women of the UK, Commonwealth and Empire who died in the service of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Air Force etc 1914-1919 WAR/WW1/NON
  • Officers who died in the service of the Royal Navy etc 1914.
  • The Officers, Men and Women of the Merchant Navy and Mercantile Fleet Auxiliary 1914-1919. This book and the above 3 are shelved on the open library shelves at 940.467 JAR
  • Historical records of British Infantry Regiments 1914-1918, 1975. Compiled by Brigadier E.A.James. WAR/WW1/JAM
  • The Times Documentary history of the first World War. WAR/WW1/TIM
  • British Red Cross Enquiry List first published 1917. Reprint. WAR/WW1/RED
  • ‘The Wipers Times’, published in 1941. Includes complete reproductions of WWI trench magazines. WAR/WW1/WIP
  • ‘The Western Front’ drawings by Muirhead Bone and introduction by Sir Douglas Haig, 1916. WAR/WW1/WES
  • ‘British Artists at the Front’; C.R.W. Nevinson.1918. WAR/WW1/BRI
  • ‘Gas!’ the story of the Special Brigade in WWI, by Major General C.H. Foulkes 1934. WAR/WW1/FOU

CDs, microfiche and other material

  • Roll of Honour forms on microfiche for Birkenhead men killed in WWI. Kept in Reference Library Office. The information held on these includes name, address, age, regiment, and rank, date of death, name and address of next of kin. Kept in Ref Office
  • World War I Irish Soldiers, their final testament, an index to the wills of Irish soldiers who died 1914-1918 CD kept in Ref.Office
  • Ireland’s Memorial Records for WWl. 49,000 Irishmen who lost their lives from 1914 to 1918. CD kept in Ref. Office
  • GRO Overseas Indexes, Army and Navy War deaths 1914 -1918 on microfiche, kept in Ref. Office
  • There are several photographs mainly in the Fowler collection from the WWI period, for example, photograph of wounded at  Abbotsford Red Cross  Hospital, Rock Ferry and of some Cheshire Regiment battalions.
  • Dr. Theodore Green collection of original lantern slides now digitised onto CD. This has many pictures of the 4th Cheshire Regiment volunteers with named personnel 1910 -1914
  • Ancestry.com is also available on all the public computers. It has many useful databases related to WWI, for example, British Army Service Records  1914-1918, Pension Records, and Medal Rolls Index Cards


  • Daily Sketch, original bound volume November 13th 1918
  • Daily Mail, original bound volume of the ‘Golden Peace’ issue June 1919
  • The Sphere, original bound volume Dec 22nd 1917, the Great European War week by week
  • Microfilm copies of the Birkenhead News and Birkenhead Advertiser for the war years
  • Original hard copies of the Illustrated London News for 1914-1919