2020 applicants
News

Commemorating the Centenary of the First World War

  • Date

    Tue 7 Nov 17

Members of the public are being asked for their views on the way Britain has commemorated the centenary of the First World War by completing a new survey being launched on Armistice Day (11 November).

Members of the public are being asked for their views on the way Britain has commemorated the centenary of the First World War by completing a new survey being launched on Armistice Day (11 November).

The war and its aftermath have been widely remembered through thousands of events, in what has been one of the largest public history projects the country has ever seen. Events have ranged from the nationally-acclaimed installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London to small community projects which sought to capture the impact of this most global war on local areas.

Now through the Reflections project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), historians are hoping to capture the breadth of events which have taken place across the country and the legacies they have left not only for the individuals, groups and institutions who took part, but also for the benefit of future generations.

A team of academics from the universities of Essex, Exeter, Kent and Glasgow, will be travelling the country, collecting the views and experiences of organisers, participants and audiences for centenary projects. And they are encouraging as many people as possible to contribute to the online survey.

Professor Lucy Noakes, from the Department of History at the University of Essex, said: “We hope to capture for future generations something of the diversity of events that have taken place, and provide a snapshot of contemporary Britain’s relationship with a key moment in its past. What, for example, do today’s audiences make of the propagandist plays, written during the war and being revived at Portsmouth’s King’s Theatre, as part of its Theatre of War heritage project."

Dr Catriona Pennell, from the Department of History at the University of Exeter, added: “The centenary of the First World War is a once-in-a-generation moment that has witnessed an incredible array of engagement in the history and memory of the First World War. Our ‘Reflections’ project is about trying to capture some of that activity, to think about what this means to British popular understanding of the war, and to reflect on what we can learn from this commemorative experience as we move forward into other historical anniversaries, such as the forthcoming anniversaries of the Second World War.”

Thousands of projects and events have taken place up and down the UK to mark the centenary, including:

  • Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Blood – 888,246 ceramic poppies to commemorate every British or colonial serviceman and woman killed in the war.
  • New galleries at the Imperial War Museum, which have attracted many thousands of visitors
  • We’re here because we’re here – in which more than1,400 volunteers appeared in locations across Britain in First World War uniform – a living reminder of the almost 20,000 men killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
  • The BBC’s World War One at Home projectMultiple academic conferences
  • Snowdonia National Park’s conservation of Yr Ysgwm, home of Hedd Wyn, the Welsh-language poet killed in 1917.

Anyone can take part in the survey, which will be available from Saturday 11 November.