World War One Remembered: an exhibition to mark the centenary of the First World WarImage: Peter Brooks, grandson of Oliver Brooks VC (image: Freia Turland Photography) **WW1 Remembered toured the district from 2014 to 2018, visiting Bath, Radstock, Paulton, Midsomer Norton, Keynsham and many other churches, schools and community halls. Thank you to everyone who helped stage the exhibition and who came to see it during the World War One Centenary.**
August 2014 marked a hundred years since the start of World War One. To mark the centenary, WW1 Remembered, an exhibition by Bath and North East Somerset Council, told stories of how the First World War affected our local communities by using memories, letters, photographs, newspapers and objects generously shared by local people and historic collections.
The exhibition was first held at Bath Central Library from 1-11 August 2014, and brought to light the interesting history of residents who served in the Armed Forces and on the home front.
One of the highlights of the exhibition was a digital portrait of Harry Patch, celebrated resident of Bath and the longest surviving British veteran to have fought in the WW1 trenches, who passed away in 2009 aged 111 years. The portrait was commissioned by the Not Forgotten Association, from artist and filmmaker David Tucker, and accompanied by a haunting soundtrack about Harry Patch by Radiohead. The digital portrait can be viewed online here.
Following a successful appeal for stories and objects by exhibition organiser, Claire Sharpe, a Victory Medal was loaned for display by Mr and Mrs Boswell. The couple had found the medal in a field near Paulton in the late 1950s and were keen to use the exhibition as an opportunity to try and track down the family of ‘Private W. Wareham 5117’ who had been awarded the medal. Thanks to the research efforts of Graham Winter, a keen genealogist who works for Bath & North East Somerset Council, who read the story about the 'lost medal', Private Wareham's descendants were traced. The medal will now have a permanent home at Somerset Military Museum in Taunton, which holds the regimental archives and collections of the Somerset Light Infantry.
The story of Oliver Brooks, who was born in Paulton, was told in the exhibition. Oliver Brooks was the only recipient of the Victoria Cross during the 1914-1918 War born in this area. Brooks worked as a carting boy for the nearby coal mines but stopped this work at the earliest opportunity to enlist - whilst still under the age to do so. He went on to become the only soldier ever to have received the Victoria Cross outside Buckingham Palace. In fact, he received it from King George V who was bed-bound at the time on a hospital train in France. Brooks continued to serve in the Army and returned home to find his courageous actions depicted on playing cards and even on Fry’s Cocoa advertisements. Peter Brooks, Oliver's grandson, attended the opening of WW1 Remembered and generously loaned items relating to his grandfather's Victoria Cross for the exhibition. Next year Oliver Brooks will be honoured with the laying of a commemorative paving stone in Paulton, 100 years after the award of his Victoria Cross in 1915. The Victoria Cross remains the highest award for gallantry awarded to members of the Armed Forces.
Many organisations and individuals contributed to the success of 'WW1 Remembered' - by loaning items for display, sharing stories, assisting with research and invigilating the free exhibition at Bath Central Library. Thank you to all of those who helped out.
‘WW1 Remembered’ is just one of many events taking place in Bath and North East Somerset to commemorate the centenary of World War One. To find out more about other events taking place nearby visit the World War One Centenary listings page.
WW1 Remembered is available for loan. If you are hosting a World War One themed community event in the district between now and 2018 and would like to display the WW1 Remembered exhibition panels please email the Arts Development team or call 01225 396138.