World War I history project gets lottery funding

Herts at War project co-ordinator Dan Hill, guide Clive Harris, Letchworth GC councillor David Levet

Herts at War project co-ordinator Dan Hill, guide Clive Harris, Letchworth GC councillor David Levett and North East Hertfordshire MP Oliver Heald at the grave of Private John Goodwin in Bedford House Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery - Credit: Archant

A World War I history project has been given a boost after receiving a lottery grant of almost £100,000.

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £98,000 has been awarded so the story of Hertfordshire’s role in the Great War can be told – a century on from its outbreak.

Letchworth GC-based Herts at War has been formed to mastermind a five-year project to commemorate the anniversary with support from the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, as well as surrounding community groups, historical societies and schools.

The research of 500 volunteers will include investigating the names of more than 17,747 people listed on 742 war memorials across the county and exploring the lives of those left behind during World War I which took place between 1914-18.

Jon Grant was one of the founding members of the initiative and is the Herts at War project chairman.

Mr Grant, who is also the head of history at The Highfield School in Letchworth GC, said: “It is amazing to see the value placed on such a project that will enable people to really see World War I as a conflict involving individuals who lived in places we are familiar with, the only thing truly dividing us being the distance of time. With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund we will be able to mark the centenary in a very personalised way; by local people, for local people.”

The results of the research will be showcased in a travelling exhibition and a website through which the public can gain a real-time picture of the war.

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Information held in county museums and archives will be supported by the memories of local people whose relatives were involved either as serving soldiers or on the home front.

The project will also be looking at women’s suffrage and conscientious objectors – many of whom came from Letchworth GC – as well as Belgian refugees, with more settling in Hertfordshire than in any other part of the country.

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