2014 is the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the so-called ‘war to end all wars’ which claimed the lives of over sixteen million people worldwide. One hundred years on, we are all connected to the First World War, either through our own family history, the heritage of our local communities, or because of its long-term impact on society and the world we live in today.

German Hussars Crossing into Serbia, 1915

German Hussars Crossing into Serbia, 1915

Today, Armistice Day, CLAS announces the launch of 1914-2014: a portrait gallery, a collaborative blog created by Dr Kay Chadwick, Reader in French Historical Studies. The blog focuses on the human history of the First World War, profiling the individual stories of the ancestors of staff and students at the University of Liverpool. Over the centenary year and beyond, the project will take advantage of the international nature of the University community to look afresh at the First World War from different perspectives, in order to bring alive what may feel like a remote event, to commemorate our ancestors, and to prompt reflection on processes of memory.

Belgian Refugees in Antwerp, 1914

Belgian Refugees in Antwerp, 1914

The launch stories in our gallery profile four different wartime experiences, as lived by Tom Garmory, a British soldier who fought across northern France and in Italy; Guillaume Mennens, a Belgian prison officer and his family who became refugees in France; Bartus Baggott, an American doctor in the Army Medical Corps who served in stationary and mobile medical units in northern France; and Jesse Marven, a Briton who served in the Royal Navy and the Royal Naval Air Service. Three of our subjects were in France at different moments in the First World War, and their stories tell us that they overlapped here in time and, for two of them, in place. All survived the war years, unlike so many others whose stories will follow. All are the relatives of current CLAS staff.

 Join in, and help to build the gallery!

Women Workers at the national shell-filling factory, Chirwell (no date)

Women Workers at the national shell-filling factory, Chirwell (no date)

How many generations back does your known family history go? Does anyone in your family still remember someone who lived through the First World War, or know a story about someone who did? Who were they? What was their wartime experience? Were they a combatant? Were they a conscientious objector? Did they spend the war waiting, on a home front near to or far from the theatre of war? Does their story tell us something especially about women’s experiences of war?

All students and staff across the University are welcome to participate. Visit the blog to find out more about how you can join in, how you can find out about your ancestors, and to get some ideas about what you could include in your story.

Stories will be posted from January 2014, the start of the centenary year. Please send your stories, or any comments and queries, to faces@liverpool.ac.uk.

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