The upcoming centenary in August this year of the start of World War 1 gives Heritage practitioners the ideal opportunity for community involvement. The Home Front Legacy run by Council for British Archaeology and English Heritage is a great start engaging the general public in protecting the past for our future.
There is still so much information out there to be discovered and sometimes in the most obvious of places. Our local County Archives has been an amazing source of information, especially the best piece of local recorded history that we have found so far, the Parish Magazine. Almost complete from August 1914 to June 1918, when the magazine had to stop due to rising costs, it is a wealth of information about Wing on the Home Front. The transcribed magazines are due to be available later on this year, with an accompanying book. I have already been leaking small bits of information from it, much to the annoyance of a lot of people who want to know more, so apologies for continuing to do so! What I have discovered is that the War Memorial does not do the village justice, it is all we have to remember WW1, but it misses the bigger picture. Very few of our men died, 48 names are registered on the memorial, but so far between myself and Alex Coles of the Wing One Place Study, we have already found in the region of 340 men that went to war. But what about those left behind? Life certainly didn’t stand still for long. With battalions dropping in at a moment’s notice to be billeted, the practice of the National Defence Corps (Wing’s very own Home Guard), women working on the land, air raid insurance for the church, black outs as well as the day to day ‘normal’ proceedings, it certainly was not dull.
The Home Front was just as important to the war effort as the men fighting, which is why the CBA project is so vital. It brings Heritage to life and places that maybe previously not seen as important can have a new lease of life. Our village has sadly already lost two of its buildings that were integral to the war effort, hopefully the last remaining one will continue to be a reminder during the next four years, that everywhere has a story to tell, of happy memories despite the sadness, that life did carry on for many, that our village was important and everyone had a part to play.
The website is now live and can be viewed at www.wingatwar.org