Essex and the 1st World War

Between 2014 and 2018 we will be commemorating the First World War. Like every other part of the country, the county of Essex played its part in the war. From the largest to the smallest community, everyone was in some way affected by the war.

The page provides information on events, websites, museums, archives and books telling the story of the counties involvement. Most of the information will be specific to Essex, but there will also be information on national resources.
If you have an event book or website that you would like us to include on the page, you can contact us here.


Notes on talks

Kate Luard, Unknown Warriors A talk by John Stevens at the Essex Record Office

The Essex regiment and the First World War

Music

Home Lad Home – a poem by Cicely Fox Smith sung by Paul Sartin of Balthazaar’s Feast. here are the words of the poem, which I find very moving, written as it was during the war. it isn’t about Essex, but it does give a give a beautiful insight into rural life in the early twentieth century. The words, and the voice of Paul Sartin singing them, are incredibly moving.

HOME LADS HOME
Behind a trench in Flanders the sun was dropping low,
With tramp, and creak and jingle I heard the gun-teams go;
And something seemed to ‘mind me, a-dreaming as I lay,
Of my own old Hampshire village at the quiet end of day.

Brown thatch and gardens blooming with lily and with rose,
And the cool shining river so pleasant where he flows,
White fields of oats and barley, and elderflower like foam,
And the sky gold with sunset, and the horses going home!

(Home, lad, home, all among the corn and clover!
Home, lad, home when the time for work is over!
Oh there’s rest for horse and man when the longest day is done
And they go home together at setting of the sun!)

Old Captain, Prince and Blossom, I see them all so plain,
With tasseled ear-caps nodding along the leafy lane,
There’s a bird somewhere calling, and the swallow flying low,
And the lads sitting sideways, and singing as they go.

Well gone is many a lad now, and many a horse gone too,
Off all those lads and horses in those old fields I knew;
There’s Dick that died at Cuinchy and Prince beside the guns
On the red road of glory, a mile or two from Mons!

Dead lads and shadowy horses — I see them just the same,
I see them and I know them, and name them each by name,
Going down to shining waters when all the West’s a-glow,
And the lads sitting sideways and singing as they go.

(Home, lad, home . . . with the sunlight on their faces!
Home, lad, home . . . to those quiet happy places!
There’s rest for horse and man when the hardest fight is done,
And they go home together at setting of the sun!)


 

Resources

Colchester War Memorials Images and notes on the many war memorials in Colchester

Now The last Poppy Has Fallen
Now the Last Poppy has Fallen is a project which focused on the lives of individuals, families and communities during the First World War in Essex. It has a facebook page, as well as an excellent blog which has lots of articles about the experience of Essex people during the 1st World War. The project has now concluded, but the Facebook page does get some updates

The Essex Great War Archive Project
Launched in the autumn of 2014, this project, in association with the Essex Record Office marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War, and will run for the four years 2014 to 2018. The aim is to raise funds to provide archival resources for educational study, family history research, and community histories. Do you have a family connection to the Great War in Essex, or hold photographs, letters, diaries, community records or official documents from wartime organisations? Your records can be digitally copied and included in the archive for public access. Or you may prefer to deposit your materials in the ERO for permanent preservation and safekeeping. Donations will fund work to conserve, catalogue, and digitise archives, both new acquisitions and some that are already held at the ERO.
details

First World War centenary – useful ERO resources
A blog by the ERO highlighting the many Essex resources that can be used for 1st World War research. The blog highlights many items in the ERO as well as the Essex Sound Archive

First World War centenary – useful ERO resources
A blog entry by the ERO listing many useful and interesting national resources that can be used for 1st World War research.

Western Front Association
The Essex branch of the Western Front Association holds meetings in Kelvedon and Hornchurch. Both branches will have a full programme of meetings throughout 2014. Click here for the national website, and here for the Essex branch website. You can aslo follow the association on their facebook page

10th Essex WW1 Living History Group
10th Essex W1 Living History Group – a group of re-enactors who are dedicated to depicting the life of the British soldier during the First World War

Roll of Honour
The Role of Honour website aims to list as many war memorials in the United Kingdom as possible. it has fairly comprehensive page of memorials in Essex

English Heritage
“As part of the 2014-2018 Centenary, English Heritage has initiated a major project to record the colossal ‘footprint’ left by the First World War on the fabric, landscape and coastal waters of England”. You can find out about the project here

The Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum covers conflicts, especially those involving Britain and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present day. There are five museums: IWM London; IWM North, Trafford, IWM Duxford, the Churchill War Rooms London, and HMS Belfast, moored in the Pool of London on the River Thames. Their website tells you about the permanent displays, archives, exhibitions and events

The British Library
Supported by over 500 historical sources from across Europe, the British Libraries World War one website examines key themes in the history of World War One. It as been created as part of the British Libraries commemoration of the war.

BBC Essex – World War One At Home
Part of the programme of events from the BBC and IWM to commemorate the First World War in the various regions of the country. Includes short films and articles about events that happened in Essex during the war. Click here

The 10th Essex Great War Living History Group
“A military display and living history group depicting the British Soldier in the Great War 1914 – 1918. The group aims to provide a well informed and balanced ‘Visual Remembrance’ of those brave men of the Battalion and others who served in the British armed forces throughout the conflict.” Find out about the group here


Books

If you shed a tear In the early 2,000’s a dozen Essex coastal churches produced memorial books telling the stories of those lost through armed conflict. To commemorate the centenary of the Great War a FREE e-book has been produced. It contains over 200 profiles of men associated with these villages killed in that war. It is a scrap book compiled by the local community and is dedicated to the Generation that endured the Great War. It uses press cuttings, letter home and photographs still owned by the families.

Dr. Robert Beaken: The Church of England and the Home Front 1914 – 1918: Civilians, Soldiers and Religion in Wartime Colchester Available from Red Lion Books the independent book shop on Colchester High Street.

Jim Dickinson: In Search of Tugs Dad Jim Dickinson The police officers of Southend on Sea who gave their lives in the Great War. £1 plus P&P Essex Police Museum email: museum@essex.pnn.police.uk

Michael Foley: Essex in the First World War Heavily illustrated, telling the story of Essex and its people during the 1st World War, both at home and on the battle fields
Click here to order your copy

Paul Rusiecki The Impact of Catastrophe The people of Essex and the 1st World War (1914 – 1920). Maybe the definitive book on Essex during the 1st World War. It shows how the shadow of the Great War fell on every corner of the counties life. Copies are available to purchase from the Essex Record Office Searchroom in person or by calling 03301 32500


Museums

Stow Maries Aerodrome
The only surviving 1st World War aerodrome left in the country. It was active from 1916 -1919. It has received a large Lottery Grant to develop its work. There’s lots of information on their website , and you can follow them on facebook as well

Combined Military Services Museum
An extensive collection of military equipment charting the history of the British armed forces. The collection covers conflicts over many centuries including the 1st World War. They have a very comprehensive website

Essex Regiment Museum
The regimental museum of the Essex regiment An excellent place for family research. It’s opening hours can be found here


Events

I add all of the First World War events in Essex that I can find. If you know of any events that are happening in your town or village do let me know by emailing us here

After the War exhibition
Various locations around Harlow
September 2018 onwards
Harlow’s WW1 Project Team has prepared a touring exhibition of what life was life ‘After the War’ for those who survived and returned to Harlow and the surrounding villages and the impact that the war had on society and those who lost loved ones in the conflict. The After the War exhibition will travel around the town, visiting a number of locations which you can find on the Harlow website.
more info. here

The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of The Tanks (1917)
Essex Records Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford
Saturday 22 September, 1.30pm-3.45pm (refreshments will be served from 1.30pm, the film screening will begin at 2.00pm) Tickets £5, including tea, coffee and biscuits. Advance booking essential
The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of The Tanks (1917) is a little known masterpiece of British non-fiction cinema which documents the autumn and winter stages of the Somme campaign on the Western Front. Including the first ever scenes of tanks in battle, Battle of the Ancre also conveys, with power and artistry, the difficulties experienced by the British Army as it fought over ground beset in a sea of mud.
more info. here

Raqs Media Collective: Not Yet At Ease
Firstiste Gallery, Lewis Gardens Colchester,
28 September – 31 December 2018 10am – 5pm 1 January 2018 – 20 January 2019 10am – 5pm Free
Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW 2018
Not Yet At Ease explores the history of psychological disorders resulting from conflict and the stigmas attached to them. Using poetry and performance, this immersive artwork is inspired by letters written by soldiers during wartime. The internationally renowned, Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective have based this new work on their theory that the symptoms of ‘shell shock’ were first observed by military censors, who noticed a tendency among some Indian soldiers to break out spontaneously into ‘poetry’ in the letters they wrote from battlefields, barracks and hospitals. Not Yet At Ease gives voice to these words.
more info. here

Theory Opera | Talks, screening and events
Firstiste Gallery, Lewis Gardens Colchester,
September 2018 – January 2019 Free
As part of Not Yet At Ease, Theory Opera is fascinating series of public events that brings together different stories, ideas and experiences in response to the exhibition. Each event will build on Raqs Media Collective’s extensive research to share energetic discussions that explore the relationship between mental health and conflict both in the past and today.
more info. here

100 Voices, 100 Years
Ivor Crewe Hall, University of Essex, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Saturday 29th September 2018, 2pm
A rousing Armistice 100 concert. One of the world’s foremost choral leaders, Dominic Ellis-Peckham, will conduct the Band of the Parachute Regiment (based in Colchester’s Merville Barracks), the Colchester Military Wives Choir, young brass players, the Roman River Come & Sing! Choir, the 100 years’ choir and primary school pupils in the culmination of our most ambitious schools’ and community project, including a substantial new commission by local composer Anthony Bailey.
more info. here

They Shall Not Grow Old + Live satellite Q&A with Peter Jackson
Firstiste Gallery, Lewis Gardens Colchester,
Tuesday 16th October 2018 6pm £16 standard £14.50 member, £14.50 concession
14-18 NOW WWI Centenary Art Commissions
On the centenary of the end of the First World War, Academy Award-winner Peter Jackson presents the World Premiere of an extraordinary new work showing the Great War as you have never seen it. This unique film brings into high definition the human face of the First World War as part of a special London Film Festival presentation alongside a
live satellite Q&A with director Peter Jackson hosted by Mark Kermode.
more info. here

World War 1 Memorial Concert
Layer de la Haye village Hall, CO2 0EH,
Wednesday 24th October 2018 2pm to 4pm.
A free concert by Abbeygate Concert Band to celebrate 100 years since the end of WW1, All welcome, including children, no tickets required. Refreshments and Raffle. Retiring collection for the Royal British Legion.
more info. here

Your Country Needs You
The Bandstand, Harlow Town Park
Wednesday 24th October 2018 at 2:00pm.
Michael Whitmore’s play ‘Your Country Needs You’ explores the politics behind the outbreak of the war through to the Battle of the Somme, using sketches and vignettes to follow the fate of a ‘Pals’ Battalion leaving England’s shores for the fields of Northern France. For more information contact Mike Levett, Education & Volunteer Officer on 01279 435466 or mike.levett@harlow.gov.uk
more info. here

Not About Heroes
Mercury Theatre, Balkerne Gate, Colchester CO1 1PT
Friday 26th October 2018 7:30 pm
Stephen MacDonald’s Fringe First-winning play about the unique friendship between celebrated World War One poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. They met at Craiglockhart Hospital in 1917, and bonded over a mutual hatred of war and love of poetry.
more info. here

War Art and Reconciliation
The Minories Art Gallery, East Hill, Colchester
Saturday 27th October 2018
There will be an all day exhibition of WW1 equipment for the front line and the home front, by local re-enactor Mike Mount
12noon – 2:00pm Learn to knit your own poppy with Jenny form the Colchester Knit and natter Group
2:00pm. Commemorating the Unthinkable: How Colchester Honoured it’s War Dead, a talk by Paul Rusieki
more info. here

WW1 Remembrance Guided Walk
Meet at Greyhound car park, School Lane, Harlow
Saturday 3rd November 2018 at 10:00am.
Come and remember those from Netteswell Cross who died during the First World War. Tour the area they lived in and gain an insight into the village and the time they lived. For more information or to book a place, contact Mike Levett, Education & Volunteer Officer on 01279 435466 or mike.levett@harlow.gov.uk
more info. here

First World War Tea and Talk
Colchester Castle Museum, Castle Park, CO1 1UG
Thursday 8th November 2018 5:00pm – 7:00pm Suitable for all ages Booking essential, call 01206 282941
Join us after hours for a special wartime discovery ‘tea and talk’ at the Castle. Tours: 5pm – 7pm
more info. here

Pack Up Your Troubles
Mercury Theatre, Balkerne Gate, Colchester CO1 1PT
Thursday 8th November 2018 2:30 pm
Pack Up Your Troubles, a truly heart-warming celebration in the centenary year of the end of World War One.
Great songs, including Pack Up Your Troubles, It’s A Long Way To Tipperary, Keep The Home Fires Burning,
If You Were The Only Girl In The World and Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty, will be performed by a talented
cast taking you on a special journey through music and comedy to create a living memory to our brave war heroes who helped bring together all generations in celebration of peace.
more info. here

Lest We Forget
Headgate Theatre, 14 Chapel Street North, Colchester, CO2 7AT
Thursday 8th November at 7.45pm and Saturday November 10th at 3pm Tickets: £10
A Headgate Theatre Production. 2018 marks the final year of centenary commemorations, remembering the bravery of those who fought, lived and died in the First World War. To mark the end of that war, ‘Lest We Forget’ uses words and song to pay tribute to those who’ gave their tomorrow for our today’.
more info. here

Talk and Book signing by photgrapher Keith Coltman
The Minories Art Gallery, East Hill, Colchester
Saturday 10th November 2018
Keith Coltman talks about his book “Great War Portraits” including portraits of the last WW1 veterans, Harry Patch, Henry Allingham and William Stone.
2:00pm Poetry reading; Towards the Light: Poems of Reconciliation, with slides form the Wilfred Owen Memorial in Ors France
more info. here

‘Is this really the last night’? Remembering the end of the First World War
Essex Record Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford, CM2 6YT
Saturday 10th November, 12.00noon-3.30pm Tickets £5, including tea, coffee and biscuits
After over four years of horrendous slaughter, the war was about to end, but the world was changed forever. Join us for a programme of talks and displays to reflect on the view from Essex of the end of the First World War, 100 years on.
more info. here

Pack Up Your Troubles
Peldon and the Wigboroughs Community Hall, CO5 7PT
Saturday 10th November 2018 7.30pm Tickets £10 in advance: Bill Tamblyn on 01206 735770. Email bill.tamblyn@aspects.net
A concert to commemorate the centenary of the end of WW1. A celebration of great songs that reflect the triumph of the human spirit. Music and Verse from Britain, France, Holland, Ireland, Germany, Russia and some from conflicts outside Europe. We will sing of the work of the women, of soldiers in the trenches and songs from the music hall.
more info. here

“Lest We Forget”
Westcliff Theatre, Tower Road,Clacton, CO15 1LE
Sunday 11th November, 2.30pm
Tendring Brass Band presents ‘Lest We Forget’ commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Cessation of Hostilities at the end of World War 1. Guest performers are Tendring Male Voice Choir, Chase Lane Primary School Choir plus members of the Clacton Amateur Dramatic Society. A charitable donation from ticket sales will go to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
more info. here

The Great War Remembered
St. James’ Church Hall, Tower Road, Clacton
Saturday 17th November 2018 10:00am – 4:00pm FREE
Organised by the Clacton and District Local History Society. marking the centenary of the Armistice in the Tendring area, with an exhibition of memorabilia and family memento’s. Refreshments, raffle, and a chance to talk to members of local history groups and enthusiasts
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Armistice Centenary Dinner 2018
The Colchester Officers’ Club. St. Johns Green, Colchester.
Saturday 24th November 2018, 7:00pm £55
Guests will gather for a welcome drink, followed by dinner. During the evening, music will be provided by a quintet of The Band of The Parachute Regiment The well-known Colchester historian, Mr Andrew Philips, has very kindly agreed to give a brief after-dinner talk on the important role played by Colchester during the war.
more info. here