World War One at Home – On Tour

BBC WW1 logo

An interactive World War One themed Day

Saturday 31st May. 10.00-5.00

The Forum, Norwich


We’re very pleased to announce that on May 31st the BBC are bringing their World War One at Home roadshow to Norwich.

Throughout the day the BBC, The Imperial War Museum and local partners will be making the First World War come to life before your eyes.

Entertainment will include theatre, music, information on how to use the Imperial War Museums resources and much much more – all for free.

Full details of the event will be listed on the Forum Norwich webpage as they are still being arranged but we hope to see some of you at the event!





Soldiers’ WW1 photographs

My hard drive is rapidly beginning to fill up with all the World War 1-related programmes, debates and documentaries that are filling our screens!

Did anyone see BBC4’s Hidden Histories last night about the photographs taken at the front (some secretly after a ban on cameras in 1916) by British and German soldiers? Not only officers, but also the ‘rank and file’ took ‘VPK’s’ – ‘Vest Pocket Kodak’s’ with them to the Front.

The programme showed photos taken by both sides, many never seen before in public. You could plainly see how the imagery changed as the reality and horrors of the conflict became more apparent. Two photographs particularly stood out in my mind. The first, a photograph taken by a British soldier of two shells put together to form a cross that marked the grave of the friend he had just buried – the last photograph he took during the war. The other was taken by a German soldier of a tree shattered by a shell. Both of these were incredibly poignant and symbolic.

You really got to see the war through a new perspective – through the eyes of those who fought rather than those commissioned to take ‘official’ photographs.


Vest Pocket Kodak open

Vest Pocket Kodak open

vest pocket kodak closed

Vest Pocket Kodak closed

Exciting WW1 Projects

The Unknown Soldier at Paddington Station, taken by Rob Burnage. This photo appears with his kind permission

The Unknown Soldier at Paddington Station, taken by Rob Burnage. This photo appears with his kind permission

The BBC launched its World War One at Home project on 24th February. This project focuses on how the events occurring and the work done on the home front influenced the conflict. On the 24th, Stuart White of BBC Look East broadcast live from a WW1 film-set trench at Trench Farm in Suffolk and Kim Riley ran a piece on what life was like on the home front which was filmed at Gressenhall. The rest of the week saw fascinating stories recounted from the rest of the region.

 All the stories broadcast on 24th February and subsequently will be made available online throughout this year and onward.

Schools across the region will be taking part in ITV News Anglia’s First World War Centenary School Report project. Schools have been invited to investigate a local story from the Great War and submit an idea for a news story in 250 words. The top ten ideas have been selected and the will have the opportunity to create reports to be included in the evening news programme.

From Norfolk, Flegg High School’s Year 8 pupils  tell the story of Walter’ s War and Hellesdon High School tell the story of Henry Allingham, a relative of one of the students.

The stories will be broadcast from mid-June to mid-July.

 Another exciting project which launches a little later this year is authors’ Neil Bartlett and Kate Pullinger’s ‘A Letter to an Unknown Soldier’.

 Inspired by Charles Sergeant Jagger’s life-size bronze statue half way down Platform One at Paddington Station, the project invites people to write letters to the unknown Soldier. Letters can either be submitted online directly to a website or they can be sent to an address at Paddington Station.

 The website will be launched in March 2014 and will initially focus on publicising and explaining about the project. On 28th June, the anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, A Letter to an Unknown Soldier’ will open up for everyone in the country to take part in. The project will be open for contributions until 11pm on 4th August 2014.

 Once the memorial is complete, the archive will remain online for the full five years of the WW1 commemorations, and will be accessible for people to read until Armistice Day 2018.

 The project has been commissioned by 1418 NOW, which is commissioning leading artists to create new work as part of the UK’s WW1 centenary commemorations. For more information see


World War 1 commemorations in the media

January has marked the start of television’s WW1 commemorations with Jeremy Paxman’s excellent ‘Britain’s Great War’ and ‘The Cousins’ War’ on BBC2, which gave a fascinating insight into the relationship between the British, Russian and German royal families.

January’s BBC History Magazine is packed full of interesting articles on the First World War.

The Council for British Archaeology is launching an exciting project in partnership with English Heritage and other partner organisations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to work on ‘The Legacy of the First World war and its home front 1914 -1918. The project aims to encourage volunteers to identify sites such as military training camps, practice trenches and building temporarily requisitioned to aid the war effort on the home front. The information gathered as part of this project will be made available online in the form of digital maps. One thing I didn’t appreciate is that Dan Snow is the President of the Council for British Archaeology (personal hero!)

For family history enthusiasts, a new archive which will help people trace the stories of those involved in World War 1 will be available at ‘Who do you think you are? Live’ at Olympia in London from 20th – 22nd February. Another personal hero – John Simpson – is giving a lecture there!

 Mark Bostridge’s article about events in Britain leading up to the outbreak of war in 1914 paints a picture of a country so totally distracted by events going on at home that the start of the war pretty much took the public by surprise. So what was going on to cause such distractions?

Levels of industrial unrest were high – almost a thousand strikes would take place up to the end of July 1914. The women’s suffrage movement was taking violent action to bring attention to its cause. Home Rule for Ireland was another particularly thorny issue. As Bostridge rightly says, Britain faced ‘a sex war, class war & civil war’.

Events in Europe were soon to overtake and dwarf Britain’s home grown crises. With war being declared on 4th August 1918, the Home Rule Bill was suspended until the war was over, the suffragettes were instructed to bring a stop to all militant activities through the course of the war and an industrial truce was called (although this did not stop industrial action being taken altogether until the very final stages of the war!)

The climax to Jeremy Paxman’s programme highlighted the impact that World War 1 had on the country as a whole. The deaths of wealthy landowners killed in the conflict and the impact of death duties lead to the breaking up and selling of large estates; conditions were better for the poorest in society, there was pretty much full employment at the end of the war; women had taken a more prominent role in the workplace and certain women now had the right to vote. Britain certainly would never be the same again!

Copies of Jeremy Paxman’s Great Britain’s Great War can be borrowed from Norfolk Library & Information Service

BBC History Magazine is available for reference in the Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library.