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What makes a good War Memorial Book?


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#26 Dragon

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 12:18 AM

One reason I mentioned asking any survivors of the aftermath period (eg children of the soldiers) is that I was talking to a 90 year old recently who had a lot of memories of her father who died in 1929 from gas related complications. She said that no-one is interested any more. She's put away the little souvenirs he brought back for his wife and taken down his picture, but she's going to get them out and show me.

The trigger for this was that I was able to find her a photo of the war memorial opening ceremony and that photo happens to be the only known picture of her grandmother. Thus there are still people who can identify some of the congregations at the opening of the war memorials and pass on family memories. I think that's very special and should be treasured with a permanent record.

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#27 Waddell

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 01:15 AM

One reason I mentioned asking any survivors of the aftermath period (eg children of the soldiers) is that I was talking to a 90 year old recently who had a lot of memories of her father who died in 1929 from gas related complications. She said that no-one is interested any more. She's put away the little souvenirs he brought back for his wife and taken down his picture, but she's going to get them out and show me.

The trigger for this was that I was able to find her a photo of the war memorial opening ceremony and that photo happens to be the only known picture of her grandmother. Thus there are still people who can identify some of the congregations at the opening of the war memorials and pass on family memories. I think that's very special and should be treasured with a permanent record.


You are right Gwyn and quite often they are the only ones who can add details which make a story. The difficulty can be finding them.

Scott

#28 khaki

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 01:54 AM

Hi Scott,
I would like to see included the following details,
(1) before and after photographs of the site,
(2) planning and fundraising (what groups were involved?)
(3) construction material, (was it local stone etc?)
(4) the dedication ceremony (who was there?)
(5) subsequent ceremonies,
(6) ongoing commitment to its preservation.(importance to the community)

khaki

#29 Grantowi

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 08:02 AM

Most often the disappointments come (and I'm certain this will not be the case here) with memorial books which are compiled by people with great respect for the men, but scant knowledge of the war and the military. .


This is one point that I'm struggling with, as I have very little knowledge of the war.
Would people intrested in the GWR Workmen be more intrested in the mens work and lives before they went away or the battle action that took their lives ?
I do like John idea of writing about the various actions on a seperate page and linking men to that page as I could use the same idea for the workshops where the men worked

Grant

#30 Tunsilk

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:13 AM

It's interesting to see how many people are working on the same kinds of research in so many locations. They find all the same problems that I have found. The point regarding the returning soldiers is a very good one. Just because they survived didn't mean that they, their families and their town weren't altered by the war.They are certainly not recorded in any logical way. I have also found that the memorials are just a start, many fallen men are not recorded on them. The point that many families keep info in a drawer as people won't be interested is well made. Perhaps as 2014 nears it is time to have a national campaign to collect as much info on all the participants of the war before it is lost and forgotten. Then we can have a national memorial book. Now that would be some project.

#31 Dragon

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:42 AM

I talked to the gas survivor's daughter when I went to her 90th birthday party. If I wanted to make contact with others, I would try asking very elderly relatives, contacting the local church groups who run fellowship groups or lunch clubs for older people, contacting other organisations who run lunch or social clubs, asking the local paper to print a request or run a little feature, phoning ministers or other church officials who make house visits, asking doctor's surgeries to display a poster, contacting carers' organisations, contacting old people's homes.

In all cases I would simply say that I was hoping to include memories in a project about the war memorial and community life after the war and that I would appreciate any help at all in making contact with people who may be old enough to have memories or souvenirs. I would try and find a way of saying that I was safe, I didn't want confidential contact details but would be grateful for any help in facilitating such a meeting or a phone call.

There may be already something in the area. For example, a staff member at one retirement home to me actually runs memory projects, for example to record as much as possible about the area in the Second World War. I met her at a 100th birthday party. Sometimes you'll find that quite by chance someone's interests coincide with yours.

Sometimes local libraries or local history groups know of someone who enjoys talking about the past or may even give talks or have written about the past. I found a D-Day veteran who talked to me about his memories of the town's drill hall that way.

I'm very aware of the need for older people to be security conscious and not let strangers into their homes, so this has to be sensitively handled. If my mum were to talk to someone she didn't know about the Second World War, I would want to be present. In response to the growing interest in recording memory, some archives departments offer short courses on how to collect oral history. (I think West Yorkshire may be one, and I think there may be something in Manchester, but I could be wrong on both of those.) Other than that, you can always get yourself invited to lots of elderly relatives' birthday teas, and network!

Gwyn

#32 THE SHINY SEVENTH

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:47 AM

Another problem with researching local memorials is when a particularly interesting individual turns up. In my case, it is 2nd Lt R L Curtis(see my thread-war in the air)an RFC man shot down by none other than Hermann Goring in 1917. Ive no doubt you could write a book on him alone if you so wished, but I shall not let him cloud the issue of my project, which is to provide a small insight into all the men, women and children remembered on our memorial. Khaki's points have very much been in my mind from the start, which was to provide a history of the memorial(construction/cost etc)and follow on with details on the individuals listed with a summary, hopefully, of their address, age, profession, regiments of soldiers, brief outline of service, circumstance of death etc. My intention all along was to provide the memorial details of local people, for local people, nothing more. Im no budding novelist, or have intentions of being one. Even if I end up printing the finished item on my computer and stapling it together to be left on the shelf between the local history books in our library, I will be happy in the knowledge that Ive done my bit to help remember them. Sean

#33 John Hartley

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:10 AM

Would people intrested in the GWR Workmen be more intrested in the mens work and lives before they went away or the battle action that took their lives ?

Grant

I don't think you should value one aspect over another. Both are important to the story you want to tell. Who they were, what they did at work, what they did in their spare time - these are all fascinating things. On the other side, the battle action is the aspect that gets a man on the memorial so is also key to telling the tale. An individual reader may be particularly interested in one sid eof things, while another gains more from the other aspect.

As I've said, my own Stockport project was large scale and, at the beginning, was intended to be a partnership arrangement with the Council (a "virtual memorial" for the borough if you will). In itself, that formed the basis of how the information was presented - to a large extent intended for the expected audience of family historians who would need sufficient detail to establish that "their" Fred Smith was "my Fred Smith.

If I was now writing, say, a village war memorial book it would be along the lines of the community's story during the war. So, in your respect, giving detail early on about the nature of the work and the part the GWR played in the community would be vital (IMO, of course)

John

#34 Waddell

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 11:49 AM

Grant,

I agree with John's thoughts.

Looking at the need to describe the mens work prior to enlisting from a slightly different angle- I imagine that their trades and skills would have had some influence upon where they ended up in the services. My local memorial has quite a few railway men who eventually ended up in light railway, engineers and AFC due to their skills.

I'm certain current generations are unaware of how large and important railways were to communities at the time.

I think in your case you have an additional group of people to which your book will appeal in railway enthusiasts.

Scott

#35 Grantowi

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 02:02 AM

John & Scott,

Thanks for the input.
The other diffrence that I'm having over others is that I dont have a single memorial, my men are spread over diffrent plaques that each workshop had made to remember their mates (there were a lot more, but they got trashed when the works closed) from one name up to 20 names.

Another thought that I had, was do I lump my GWR men (300) in with the Swindon Men (1000+), as many of the men appear on both lists, but about a quater of the GWR men lived outside of the town. There is a book already about the Swindon men, but nothing specific on the works.

As I see it, if I just do the GWR men, I will have a limited audience, but if I add in the Swindon men, where do I draw the boundrey for inclusion?

Thanks

Grant