ARMISTICE CENTENARY: Effects of First World War still felt today

By Helen Lee and Paul Harding of Discover History

In November 1918, four years of horrific industrial warfare came to an end.

The armistice which came into force on the 11th November at 11 am was not the end of the story. The Great War officially ended the following year with the Treaty of Versailles.

The effects of this global war would last well into the 21st Century with contaminated farm land, corroding shells and the general detritus of war covering the landscape.

It was only recently that the last survivors of this war passed away. These veterans had long lasting scars that time had struggled to heal.

The Worcestershire Regiment had raised 12 Battalions in the War, and made their mark from the beginning.

In October 1914, the British Lines had been broken by the German Forces around Gheluvelt in Belgium. The brave men from the 2nd Worcester’s charged, to close the gap. A charge that would be known as the ‘charge that saved the empire’.

The Worcestershire Yeomanry began their war in the ill fated Gallipoli Campaign and then fought bravely on their horses across the deserts of Egypt and into Palestine. Their charge at Huj mirrored the famous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War.

Citizens flocked to all the services Britain had mustered during the war. Similarly, men, women and even children did their bit from home too. Children gathered fruit and foraged from the hedgerows. Women tended the wounded in the many hospitals, produced six million bullets a week in the Blackpole cartridge factory and flocked to join the Women’s Land Army. Men unfit for service joined the Volunteer Training Corps and did what they could to bring victory from their workplaces.

The war left many questions, including whether those who were killed would be repatriated, how do we honour the heroes who fought and one of the biggest questions – would normality ever return? A form of normality did return in time, but life had definitely changed forever.

Worcester came to remember both men and women in it’s own unique way. Parish and city churches dedicated war memorials to those who never came home, along with schools remembering their former pupils who fought too. Worcester Cathedral created several windows of remembrance within the Cloisters and a fitting stone cenotaph was constructed outside.

For the brave actions of the Worcestershire Regiment, a park was created taking on the name Gheluvelt from that fateful day in the Autumn of 1914.

Inside Worcester Guildhall, a beautiful panelled memorial was constructed against the western wall of the Lower Hall. The names of hundreds of citizens who answered the call to arms during the Great War are remembered.

The names include the famous hero from Dolday, Private Frederick Dancox, who won the Victoria Cross in 1917. The panels name one woman too, Sister Denham, who went to war as a Nurse. Golden crosses mark those who never returned home.

For 100 years we have remembered the Great War, and sadly the subsequent wars that have existed since the Armistice of 1918. I would encourage everyone who is able to visit their local memorial, buy a poppy, attend a service of remembrance or tune into the television or radio coverage to take part.