End of WW1 commemoration project

Sally Morton  TU3AProjectWWI@virginmedia.com

Last month’s TU3A meeting on Wednesday 7th November was devoted to our WWI Event, commemorating the end of the First World War, a hundred years ago, with a concert and exhibition to mark that special time of Remembrance.

During the extended afternoon, we reflected on the impact of that “Rotten War” on our grandparents, our great uncles and aunts and our parents.

For our 45 minute concert, we listened to the Choir and joined in with familiar tunes of the era led by our Singalong  and Ukulele Groups, with each musical set interspersed by readings from our Poetry Writers and Poetry for Pleasure Groups. Their newly composed pieces were equally worthy of a hearing alongside the classic poems of the time. With postcards from France and photos of soldiers provided by members projected on the screen, it all proved a very moving opportunity to connect with past lives and a fitting atmosphere of Remembrance in tribute to our families. The themes took us on an emotional journey from the horror of the trenches, the grief of the bereaved, the camaraderie of the community singing, to earnest pleas for the end of all wars. Sadly, still not in sight. But it was a stirring reminder of the need to work for that.

A huge thank you to all our performers and to our projectionist. I know the groups chose their material carefully to be authentic to the period and practised for months. It was a privilege to co-ordinate the skills of so many to such good effect. Appreciation is due to the Events Team, Greeters and Tea Ladies for support in putting on this complex and well attended event. It was also wonderful that several helpers and members entered into the spirit of the event and came dressed to evoke the era.

Once the throng could get to them upstairs, any doubts about showing enough Bull Dog spirit to take a bite of trench cake and Anzac “soldier” biscuits were swept away by discovering it quite palatable. Every crumb went. So we can imagine the troops truly appreciating the housewives of Great Britain and those Down Under who lovingly baked and shipped a steady supply out to them. Much gratitude to all our bakers who dutifully followed their instructions to raise the baking soda with vinegar!

Also upstairs, we were all immensely impressed by the efforts of many more members, who had contributed to the exhibition. The Project has been an opportunity taken up by lots of our special interest groups to focus on the WWI theme, both within a session and by making a display. Several had been on outings to places with a Great War history and provided an illustrated account. Our Arts and Crafts Groups excelled themselves with the quality of their work in Embroidery and Quilting, Drawing and Painting. The creation of the displays showed much thought and imagination with art mounted on many facets of a tower of black boxes to form a memorial and on the silhouette of a soldier. A lovely collection of delicate embroideries from those postcards so intricately stitched by the French housewives for sale to the soldiers, was carefully sewn onto cloth hangings. Many individuals produced posters honouring the service of their family members with photos and documents alongside accounts of their experiences. We could also learn about the Blitz, Cyclist Battalion, Harwich Fleet, Chemists, Sound Detectors and the White Poppy. So there was lots to appreciate for all interests.

Alongside all those who contributed on the day, I hope the project has led you to find photos and mementos of your family and to share them with future generations. This was intentionally a very personal, family-based look at World War One and a prompt to explore and preserve history.

Below are various links which (in due course) will include guidance on what websites and resources are available for you to continue to discover and record details of your family’s lives and service in WWI.  There will also be links to the vast collection of memorabilia which members so kindly sent to Sally to make this archive.    

Click here to take you to a page of photo galleries.

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