The University of Greenwich’s First World War casualties are being investigated in a new online project, with members of the public being urged to contribute.
Fifty-five staff and students died in the famous conflict, almost all of whom were local to the Borough of Greenwich. University Archivist Will Robley is now unveiling archive secrets about them, and how the university dealt with the impact of war. His ongoing research is available online at http://blogs.gre.ac.uk/universityarchive/, with previously unseen records available.
The archive includes copies of the Woolwich Polytechnic Magazine, created to remember those who were killed and stay in touch with those fighting. The latter’s letters to the magazine from the trenches include some surprises, as one soldier boasts about the mahogany furniture in his dug-out, while another reports an officer complaining that his trench contains no piano.
Other sources reveal the wider impact of the war on the ‘home front’. Classes for Belgian refugees were arranged, while women working as domestic staff were given pay rises as they undertook traditionally male responsibilities, though only ‘for the duration of the war’. However, Will says it is the casualties for which he needs the public’s assistance.
“Professor Peter Doyle’s research identified the names of the fallen on a number of wall memorials, but more significantly in the records of the University Archive. To build on his work we hope to develop more detailed pictures of these men and their lives in the Borough as fathers, husbands, sons, and members of the academic and student body. We would like to hear from anyone who has knowledge of any of these men through either family or local connections. Remembering these men as more than just names on a stone seems a fitting tribute on centenary of their deaths.”
Will’s project commemorates each man on the anniversary of his death, the first beginning on 23rd September.
The project runs alongside the online memorial created by Professor Peter Doyle for the fallen at http://w3.gre.ac.uk/directory/memorial/Part1.html
All the fallen are also commemorated on the plaque outside the Dreadnought Building on the university’s Greenwich Campus.
Contributing Source: University of Greenwich
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