Beginning on 28 June 2014, a hundred years after the assassination of the archduke in Sarajevo, we (and those with an interest in St Mary Bourne, both within and beyond the village) intend to write a weekly account through this blog of the effects of the war on our rural community in north-west Hampshire in the Bourne Valley. We intend to continue until 2019 so that we build up a ‘real-time’ chronicle of events, with a delayed publishing time of a century.
Sometimes, as this first post, and as at the various battles, we intend to post a hundred years to the day after the events.
In other weeks, we shall post more general pieces about the men who took part. We are as interested in those who survived as those who are normally commemorated, the ones who sacrificed their lives.
We also want to look at the home front. What about the families? Where did they live? What did they do? What effect did having their son, husband or father at the front have on their day to day lives?
We hope that the blog will act as a stimulus to descendants of the men concerned to add their own gloss (and corrections!) to what we have written. Also, where we suggest conclusions and offer analysis, we hope to engage with those who disagree with us, as well as those who agree.
We certainly do not seek to glorify war, nor is this blog to be pacifist propaganda, though we may occasionally post items which appear to take one side or another. The intention is to give thanks for the sacrifices made for us by our forbears. Without them, our lives would have been very different.
It is also the hope that we will attract many contributors from outside our village – hence the decision to go online, rather than write a book. Descendants of those from St Mary Bourne who fought in both world wars now live in Canada and Australia, and we hope to make contact with them, as well as with others whom we do not yet know.
The blog forms part of the commemoration by St Mary Bourne as a whole and reports to the co-ordinating World War One Group (other interests represented include the British Legion, Parish Council and the Church).
‘We Shall Remember Them’
May I congratulate you? I look forward to this site’s development.
A couple of points; in your third para you’ve put “men” in bold type, and while I don’t know of any local female casualties in the war, you may have some who went to the war theatre and perhaps more likely to have served in munition factories, hospitals, etc that is done work that they would not have encountered if not for the war. Their stories too (and its subsequent impact on their views of the local role of women in society) will be interesting. Also there a vast number of horses that were commandeered to the front(s) and their loss had a noticeable impact on farming and home transport (the rise in tractors, lorries, etc).
We certainly hope to cover the use of horses (also dogs and carrier pigeons) at the front. As you say, they played a vital role and since ‘War-horse’ are etched into the nation’s consciousness.
You also make a very good point about the need to include women. (As you can imagine, you are preaching to the converted here). The difficulty is in finding documentary evidence of the involvement of individual women from the village. But rest assured that it is at the forefront of our efforts!