Great War Photos: Countdown To The WW1 Centenary
Ninety-nine years ago today the British government declared war on Germany and for Britain the Great War began. A year from today the Centenary of the Great War starts with a joint reconciliation service of remembrance at Mons with British and German heads of state present.
Many of those with a long-held interest in the Great War view the upcoming Centenary with some trepidation. There is a fear the war will be trivialised into convenient media soundbites, a concern there will be too much focus on the dead of the war and not enough on those who survived, and among many academics disgust that achievements on the battlefield which lead to victory will be forgotten.
All of these are legitimate concerns but it is clear the Centenary is also a time to educate and share knowledge. That is why I set up Great War Photos some eighteen months ago; a platform like a blog is an easy and accessible way for me to share the thousands of largely unseen images I’ve collected to be seen by a wider audience; and all it costs is some time and a few dollars for a web address. That such a project is of interest to others is clear; the site has so far been seen by more than 200,000 unique visitors from all over the world. People have requested to use images for private research, community projects and publications; all of which has been granted as it is precisely what I had hoped for when I set the site up.
I mention all this not to blow my own trumpet but to demonstrate how easy it is to take an active part in the Centenary. Blogs are free; adding images, artwork and sound or video files is easy. Many of those with years of collecting or researching WW1 have some sort of story to tell and surely the Centenary is the time to do that? Others have family stories to add, or names on a local memorial which once researched can be shared with others. All you need is the will and the ability to type.
The Centenary should be a time for collaboration and co-operation, as well as a time to publish books, enhance profiles and churn our programmes. Let us hope more and more take on that challenge.
So what has Great War Photos got planned for 2014? In the lead-up to the Centenary I plan to publish a number of images showing places on what would become the Western Front, showing how they looked on the eve of war; sleepy villages and flourishing communities. From August 2014 onwards I aim to focus on images connected with 1914: the fighting overseas as well as events on the home front.
I am trying to think positively about the Great War Centenary and I hope others will do so as well; it is an important period that should not be wasted by anyone with an interest in the subject.
You have posted some brilliant WW1 archive so far. So I will follow your posts with interest.
04/08/2013 at 13:58
Paul. Interesting comments, with which I agree. You knowledge sharing is a tribute to your love of the Boys, and so many of us are grateful to you for this. Please keep up the good work and ignore a lot of the tosh which will inevitably be part of the next four years.
04/08/2013 at 21:52
Looking forward to the centenary with some trepidation.
1st because it was a war of the innocence. The the countries of the world should have got together like grown men and talked it out. The Kaiser was nothing more than a spoilt brat of his time who sought shelter else where when the going got tough. He lived out his life in another country while millions more did not have that chance.
My husband had 2 grand dads fighting almost side by side though they did not know it, One came home the other didn’t, plus his great uncle Hugh aged only 19 did not come home and has his name carved on the Menin gate. How did these families cope with such sadness?….. Can anyone remember how it affected their families?
04/08/2013 at 23:44
My paternal grandfather was wounded three times. Bullet would, left leg, Gallipoli. Bullet wound, right leg, France. Finally, shrapnel to both legs, France. He survived more or less physically intact, but his mind was shattered. His psychological wounds were handed to his children, who handed them to us.
21/12/2013 at 12:09
My father came home from the Great War(sic) with 52 wounds, a chest full of medals and was a nasty, broken drunk. He sired 7 kids who survived him, he died in 1966, we lost several brothers and sisters between the wars. His life post 1922, when he was recalled to colours and sent to Ireland was work and the pub. He never spoke of the war and it wasn’t until I delved into his military history in 1982 that we, the family, found out what he got up to in 1914 – 1918, he was at Mons in August 1914 and returned to London for his demob in 1919. I received his medals in 1984 from the medals office at Droitwich, UK, He must have had one hell of a life and none of us understood or bothered to care at the time, a very sad situation.
25/07/2014 at 02:57