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Longworth & District History Society
Villages at War

About Villages at War

In November 2018 we marked the centenary of the end of the First World war. To mark this occasion Longworth & District History Society were encouraged to research for further details of our World War One soldiers to add to those details stored in our archives. Information on a variety of resource material on this subject including archives and libraries, military records, maps, museums, and the internet helped in tracing soldiers of the Great War and their families' history. Wishing to share these stories, we set about exhibiting the details on this website 'Villages at War'.

In 2012, the Longworth & District History Society was involved with the Imperial War Museum's War Memorial Project, researching the backgrounds of the inhabitants of the three villages that the society covers historically. This research resulted in the society's exhibition 'Our Villages in Wartime' and ultimately a new war memorial.

A villager and colleague had joined us in our research for the War Memorial project, he applied and was awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Commission to be able to carry out research into the War Diaries and Service Records housed in The National Archives, Kew concerning our villagers who had bravely volunteered but not returned home again.

Meanwhile, committee members started researching locally. At home, members investigated the backgrounds of the service personnel.

Using The National Census Returns, and Parish registers we were able to determine who their families were, their occupations and slowly to build up a picture of the lives and families that these soldiers had left behind. During the wars the loss of life was great, and even if one survived there were many injuries and dreadful memories that they and their families had to bear. Some families were lucky not to have lost anyone but other families were terribly distressed, losing all of their sons for instance. We started to understand the pain of these mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives and lovers at the loss of dear ones.

Others in our group started to investigate rationing in this country during the two world wars. They collected ration books and other war related ephemera which was really helpful for our proposed exhibition.

One Thursday evening around this time, the society held an event when a group of presenters spoke about the wartime conditions of our villages, collected mostly from the vivid memories and recollections of many local people who had lived through it. Accompanying this was a rich collection of posters, photos, letters and evocative wartime memorabilia. The presentation remained in place all day Friday so visitors could come and examine it all in detail, especially the rich detail on the time-line banners.

Now 100 years since the Great War of 1914-1918 ended a National Initiative to save the memories of 1914-1918 named 'Lest we Forget' is ongoing. It is an Oxford University led countrywide programme which aims to digitise all photographs, photograph albums, letters, stories and memories so that the stories of our grandparents and great grandparents are not lost. One last effort to save the stories of the First World War. Once digitised they will be presented on a website available for everyone to view. Please view the links below, and discover how you can help the history of this country and our families.