Exhibition focuses on Dartmoor in WW1


Dartmoor Life in the First World War is an exhibition that marks the Centenary of the First World War and offers a snapshot of what life was like on the moor in the years 1914-1918.

Consequences of the First World War

The exhibition considers how life for many on the moor continued as normal, how farming changed and women came to work in agriculture and forestry. It also considers the recruitment of soldiers and the lives of the wounded men who were brought to Dartmoor to recuperate as well as the impact on the area of the Conscientious Objectors who were housed in Dartmoor Prison.

The show is presented by the Dartmoor Trust in partnership with Dartmoor National Park and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with a £10,000 grant.

The exhibition is on show at the National Park Visitor Centre, Princetown and runs for six months.

Far-reaching impact of the war

Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: ‘The impact of the First World War was far-reaching; touching and shaping every corner of the UK and leaving a lasting legacy. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we’re pleased to have played a funding role in ensuring Dartmoor’s unique memory of the impact of the conflict is shared for generations to come.’

For more about the exhibition, click here.

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Events announced for Gallipoli commemorations


The 100-year anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign will be one of the key centenaries marked by the UK as part of its First World War commemorations.

More than 550,000 Allied troops took part in the campaign and events to mark the conflict will be held across the world.

On Friday 24 April a Commonwealth and Ireland Commemoration Service will be held at the CWGC Helles Memorial on the Gallipoli peninsula.

On Saturday 25, Anzac Day, Australia and New Zealand will also conduct three services at Gallipoli: a joint Dawn Service at the Anzac Commemorative Site, an Australian Memorial Service at Lone Pine, and a New Zealand Memorial Service at Chunuk Bair.

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A female RFC driver of the First World War

RFC driver

A female driver of the Royal Flying Corps aboard a motorcycle and sidecar, possibly in early 1918.

The Women’s Rotal Air Force (WRAF) was formed in April 1918 and by the end of the First World War there were more than 25,000 women in its ranks. They performed a wide variety of roles, from fitters, to clerks, to cooks. Many went on to serve with the occupation forces in the Rhineland.

By 1920, more than 50 trades were on offer for WRAF recruits. Among the best paid were shorthand typists and there were plenty of more eclectic roles on offer – such as carrier pigeon keeper.

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Overseas VC winners saluted at National Memorial Arboretum


The British government’s communities secretary, Eric Pickles, will make a speech at an unveiling ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum on 5 March to commemorate the overseas-born First World War recipients of the Victoria Cross.

Pickles will be drawing attention to the 145 servicemen from 19 different countries who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

As part of the Centenary commemorations paving stones will be laid in the birthplace of each Victoria Cross recipient.

First World War Victoria Cross winners came from countries as diverse as Belgium, China, Japan and Ukraine.

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Messages to wounded WW1 Kiwi soldiers found in attic

New Zealand soldier and PM

William Ferguson Massey, Prime Minister of New Zealand, meets a convalescent soldier at the Mount Felix hospital

A banner embroidered with messages from home to recovering New Zealand soldiers has been found in an attic at Walton-on-Thames.

The town was the site of the Mount Felix military hospital where Kiwi soldiers recovered from wounds received at Gallipoli.

Wounded at Gallipoli

New Zealand High Commissioner Lockwood Smith said: ‘ Some 27,000 New Zealand troops were treated here, and of course some died here, and in the cemetery in this churchyard I think there are 21 young New Zealand soldiers.’

The Kiwi influence endures at Walton-on-Thames – the town has a New Zealand Street, and a pub called The Wellington – said to be named after the New Zealand capital rather than the victor of Waterloo.

On display

It’s known that the banner was stitched in the South Island town of Stirling near Balclutha.

Added Smith: ‘The banner is something that we’ll try and find out more about and there may be families who may have some recollection of what was behind it all.’

It will be put on display at New Zealand House in London prior to the Gallipoli centenary.

For more about the New Zealanders at Mount Felix hospital, click here.

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Missing soldier’s name added to Hampshire memorial


Corporal Reginald Robbins RE

The name of a Royal Engineer, who died in the years following the First World War, has finally been inscribed on the war memorial at Andover in Hampshire, 95 years after it was erected.

Corporal Reginald Robbins’ name was recorded on a roll of honour that was read out at the original unveiling ceremony for Andover’s war memorial in 1920.

Somehow, however, his name was never actually added to the monument – possibly because he was deemed to have died of natural causes unrelated to the war.

Corporal Robbins was born in Sussex, but moved to Andover as a teenager.

He joined the Royal Engineers in 1917 and was posted to France and Egypt, surviving hostilities but dying of Spanish flu in 1920 at the age of 25.

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South Wales Borderers head ‘up the line’, 1916


Troops of the 2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers wait in the rain on their way to the front-line trenches near Montauban in October 1916.

It’s a picture that’s worth 1,000 words. The men are laden down with kit: greatcoats, blankets, ammunition. They lean forward to counteract the weight of equipment. The hems of their coats are splattered with mud.

Most of them do not smile at the camera. Even those that do seem to have a certain wariness in their expressions.

Off to the right, at the top of a road, one man carries a brush, as if he’s sweeping mud off the wet road. Behind him is a tractor or traction engine and, beyond that, a muddle of motorised and horse-drawn transport.

Off to the left, amid what could be shell-holes, are two casual observers, one in a cap and greatcoat, one in a tunic and helmet. Judging by their lack of equipment and laid-back demeanour, they’re not part of the column and aren’t about to head up to the front line.

Perhaps they, like the sweeper and the tractor driver, are tasked with working on the road or are related to the trucks and wagons in the distance.

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