90 years ago, the
British Army was still fighting the Battle of the Somme.
Having grown from about 250,000 at the start of the First World War in
1914,to 3 ˝ million men at the end of the war in 1918, having suffered dead
of over 700,000 and wounded of 1.6 million, the British Army of WW 1 was,
for the first time, not a professional army backed by a Territorial Force,
but an army of the common man.
Incredibly, some members of the British military who saw active service in
WW1 are still with us. The oldest is 109, the youngest is 104.
One day, hopefully not
for some years yet, there will be none.
A campaign exists to mark the passing of this generation with a memorial service
of some description.
I first came across the
campaign on the
Army Rumour Service
Members and posters from this site have written to their MPs and others to
raise awareness of the campaign. Some of the replies are posted in the link
above. Some are reproduced here.
I’ve also seen newspaper reports that a cross-party group of MPs, led by Ian
Duncan-Smith, are campaigning to the same end.
report is from the Daily Telegraph, 17 Feb 06
The current consensus seems to be that a state funeral would be appropriate,
subject to the wishes of the family involved, or a service of memorial and
thanksgiving, or possibly both.
It is clear that any such service is not for the actual former serviceman
involved, but instead is to commemorate the vast cohort of the British
military of 1914-18.
Most British families had a relative who fought in the Great War and thus
this campaign affects most of us. The purpose of this site is to keep the
campaign running so those who fought on our behalf are not forgotten.
Other images from WW 1
Who was “Tommy Atkins”?
The Royal British legion
Last Tommy programme on the BBC
excellent BBC History Site
The Accrington Pals
War Memorials Trust
Want to know more about
a relative who fought in WW 1? Try The
Public Records Office
or this page from the
Army Rumour Service wiki
Researching Your Military Ancestors