Have you and your community experienced the centenary of the First World War? This may be as a project leader, a volunteer, or simply as a member of the public observing/visiting a centenary related performance, exhibition, or installation. These might be major national projects like the Tower of London poppies, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, or local level initiatives like the HLF-funded Broadland during the First World War. We would really like to hear your thoughts on your experiences. Please use the comments box below to record your own ‘reflections’ on the centenary of the First World War. Thank you!
7 Replies to “Reflections”
In the village of Lustleigh, on the eastern edge of Dartmoor, we are commemorating the centenary of the First World War in several ways. Our main activity is a partnership between the Lustleigh Society and the Bell Ringers to ring a half-muffled peal on the 100th Anniversary of the death of each man who fought in the War. This is supported by research on the life of that person which is published in the Parish Magazine and is displayed in the week of the Anniversary. The last tolling will take place in January 2019. The research will be published before the end of 2019.
In addition we have published a book on life in Lustleigh during the War and given a talk on the subject.
Thank you Peter. That’s fascinating. Do you know how many from the village were killed during the war, and whether or not any of their descendants still live in Lustleigh? It would be great to know if any other villages or towns have commemorated the war in similar ways. We hope that you will be able to complete our survey (link in red box above) when it is launched on November 11, 2017.
I was very interested to hear about the WWI projects in Lustleigh.
In Diss, Norfolk I noticed some 20 years ago that the Town War Memorial had names missing.
Following more research by me and support from the local museum, monumental mason and council additional plaques with the missing names were added in November 2014.
I am also writing about the town and local area in the war as you have done.
How much is your book as I would like to buy a copy please?
On November 11th 2014 two additional plaques were added to the the Town War Memorial in Diss, Norfolk.
This followed my realising that names were missing from the original unveiled in 1921.
I was well supported by the local museum, who in addition to letting me see relevant material, agreed to fund the plaques, the local stonemasons firm, Town Council with funding support for the Diocesan licences and the local vicar and PCC and the local press.
I am now working on books reflecting on the lives of the men commemorated on the memorials and also the impact of the War on the town and area.
That’s really interesting Helen. If you are still working on this with others in your area you might want to consider applying for HLF funding for your project. You can see more details here: https://www.hlf.org.uk/looking-funding/our-grant-programmes/first-world-war-then-and-now, and details of some of the community based projects that have already been funded. There are also five university-based First World War Public Engagement Centres that can support projects like these. Details here: http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/research/fundedthemesandprogrammes/worldwaroneanditslegacy/worldwaroneengagementcentres/. It would be interesting to know why the names were missing when the memorial was originally unveiled.
Following a remembrance ceremony in 2014 and a subsequent discussion with others present about “Lest we forget” which revealed that nobody knew the families of these men or their stories, my daughter Bethan and I were moved to research the 10 men from our village (Thorp Arch in West Yorkshire) who were killed in the First World War. I worked on their military service and Bethan on their family history. This led to the publication of a book locally in 2016 as a gift back to residents and the village primary school with the hope of securing a legacy that the stories of these men and their families would not be forgotten.
Bethan is now entering her 3rd year as a History student at Lancaster and is pursuing a dissertation on the changing nature of commemoration, specifically the use of the work of the soldier poets within commemoration. Any links, contacts or suggestions would be much appreciated.
That sounds fascinating. She will probably already be using Dan Todman’s work, but if not, that provides the definitive history of the changing nature of the ‘memory’ of war in Britain since 1918. He shows how the war poets that we associate with the war today didn’t become well known until the 1960s. Also Adrian Gregory’s ‘The Silence of Memory’, on the history of Armistice Day, will be vital. On the Centenary, she could look at the 1914-1918 Online Enclyclopedia. I wrote an overview of centenary commemoration in the UK, and there are articles on commemoration in other countries for comparison. The (free, online) reports on the Centenary by British Future are also going to be useful. Finally, she could follow Olivia Smith on Twitter (@oliviaasmith) as she is conducting a similar project for her masters degree and has posted some of her research there.
Please consider donating your book on the men fro your village to the collection being put together at the University of Essex archives. We think that it’s important to keep as many of these together as possible, for researchers (like your daughter!) in the future. You can send material to:
Assistant Director (Academic and Research Services)
Albert Sloman Library
University of Essex