Our War, Their Story

sepia image of soldier writing at a desk
Creating lasting legacies from world war 1

Over the last few months we have been working on a commemorative learning project gathering accounts of those who lived and served during WW1, by supporting members of the community to create lasting memories of this period through retelling unique, unheard stories of those important to them with the aim to create a final account of lived experience to pass on to future generations. 

We have supported a small group of families and individuals to research and learn more about a person or person(s) special to them or who they have a connection with, to preserve their wartime story for generations to come.

With a team of volunteers who gained skills and knowledge to support this research by taking part in a programme of workshops led by professional experts, we have together begun to research and trace personal journeys to help participants create either a digital journal or handmade book of their chosen person’s unique story.

An important part of this project was to learn and test ways to research and better understand how to trace and uncover personal histories and heritages, specifically of those affected by the Great War.

We will soon be sharing useful sites, research tools, films and materials that we have found particularly useful to help guide anyone wanting to start their own journey of discovery about their own families wartime past. 

We are also be offering a series of FREE talks and events as part of the project.  

image of soldiers walking through misty field

Sunday 28 April 2 - 4.30pm

with Richard Dean

World War One was the most documented event in human history. This talk will look at how the war was recorded by those who participated; with a special focus on artists for whom the war, as an event and as a memory, became their greatest subject: Francois Flameng, Henry Tonks, Harvey Dunn, Horace Pippin and Kathe Kollwitz. Warning: this talk contains sensitive material.

More information and booking
image of soldiers walking through misty field

Saturday 13 April 2.30 - 3.30pm

Join us as a family to create a lasting legacy to memories for future generations by learning how to make a lovely memory book to hold pictures, letters and keepsakes.   The Family Art Club is aimed at children of any age who love to be creative. The sessions are designed to be enjoyed with parents, guardians or grandparents in a supportive and inspiring space. 

More information and booking
image of soldiers walking through misty field

Wednesday 1 May 11am

with Sarah Nathaniel, the regional co-ordinator for the South East

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission ensures those who died in service, or as a result of conflict are commemorated so that the human cost of war is remembered for ever. Hear more about the work of the CWGC and how stories of the fallen are told to throw a spot light on the men and women they help ensure are not forgotten.

More information and booking

Project highlights

A visit from a Professor of Modern British History 

In November, Professor Mark Connolly from the University of Kent, joined our volunteer research team. Mark who has broad interests in modern military history and warfare, culture and society presented an in depth and fascinating look at how to start researching military history, covering the political preparations for WW1, conscription, battalions, regiments, deployment, rank and file and intelligence as well as a detailed look at the British Army Hierarchy.

Understanding Berts Story

Our War was inspired by ‘One Man's War’, a digital account of Bert Daniels and his wartime experience created by Bert's Great-Nephew Alex Hare and his father. As an experienced bookmaker and workshop leader Alex gave an inspiriting and heartfelt presentation about how he and his father undertook the research surrounding his great Uncle Bert and how they transformed this into a full and detailed account of Berts life in the form of a digital book and talked though how to undertake a research project to achieve an outcome similar to his.

A trip to Whitstable Museum

The team from Whitstable Community Museum put together artifacts, information sheets and information panels detailing how Whitstable and the surrounding areas were affected during the great war, giving great details about Battalions stationed in the town, local enlistment and attestations, war defences, military hospitals and social changes within the town. 

We looked at newspaper records, examples of munitions, maps, and local documents to give context to how the town adapted to the wartime conditions. We also discussed the civic war memorial and those whose names were included and those whose were missing and why. 

A call from the National Archives

We were very lucky to spend some time talking over conference call to Dr William Butler, the head of modern collections at the National Archives in Kew.

It was incredibly useful to hear first hand how the archives are funded, what can be found in the archives, how to access information both in person and using their online research tools (both free and paid for) and tips to navigate the online catalogues. 

Will also answered some specific and personal questions to help with some particularly tricky queries about individual research journeys. 

Learning a new skill 

As part of the project there will be opportunity to transfer all the research material into digital documents, but we also wanted to provide a way to create physical book or journal to hold special memories, letters and photographs. Both researchers and participants had a lovely morning learning how to make hardback books from scratch, led by Alex Hare and by the end of the session everyone not only had a beautiful fabric covered book ready to add to but also the skills to make more at home if they wished.