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Welcome to the Lest We Forget submission site

Here you can share your items, stories or memories related to the First World War or the people and places that were involved or affected. You can also see the stories and objects that have been shared by others. The site is used by organisers who have run a Digital Collection Day as part of the Lest We Forget project, but anyone from anywhere around the world is welcome to upload material that they have and want to share.

What are we looking for?

We welcome anything that originates from the First World War that you are willing to share with the rest of the world online as part of a major collection - things your family have kept or you have collected (letters, photos, diaries, memoirs, medals, souvenirs, uniforms, art, etc), information about anyone who lived through the war or was affected by it (serving personnel, adults and children on the home front, or key events during the war or directly related to it).

Above all we are interested in the story behind the items - who/where/what/when - or even just stories themselves passed down through your family that you'd like to record. We can take files in any format (e.g. photos of items, word documents, pdfs, and even audio or video files if you have recorded interviews).

For more information on the project as a whole visit our project web site or email us at ww1collections@it.ox.ac.uk. We are especially looking for volunteers who wish to run their own local Digital Collection Day. We can provide material and information to support you.

What will happen to the information I send you?

All the material will be stored securely on Oxford University servers and preserved. The stories and photographs you send us will be displayed on our web site for anyone world-wide to view and reuse for educational purposes only (what is known as a Creative Commons licence CC-BY-NC) but not for commercial reuse. We will also display your name unless you choose to be anonymous but we will never display your contact details. All your personal data will be held securely. We also will share the objects with some other major WW1 projects to add to their collections also thus maximising their use and ensuring further preservation copies. 

For details please read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

 

From the collection

  • Frederick Pluck (Royal Field Artillary)

    Frederick Pluck (Royal Field Artillery), served in the 7th Division. He was in Italy at the end of 1917.
  • Tommy's Tunes

    A first edition 1917 copy of Tommy's Tunes: collected and arranged by F.T. Nettleingham (Second Lieutenant R.F.C.), including songs, marching melodies, rude rhymes, and popular parodies.
  • Private Herbert Haywood

    Herbert Haywood (grandfather of Dr. Mike Wise) was a footman in the 17th Lord Derby in Liverpool and survived the war only to be invalided out with Spanish Flu in 1918, a epidemic that killed 50 million people. He became a trolley bus driver for the Derby Corporation until he retired. He died in 1964 at age 72. He was awarded the French Medal of Honour in silver, but he never spoke of it.
  • [Untitled]

    In Memory of my great-uncle, Sergeant Thomas Geddes
  • Joseph Colgrave, DCM

    Born in 1880, Joe joined the Army at the age of 18yrs in Beverley, Yorkshire and enlisted into the East Yorkshire Regt on 6 Aug 1898. Pte Colgrave was posted to the 2nd Bn which was stationed at Templemore in Ireland. On 17 Nov 1900 he transferred to the Cavalry and joined the 12th Lancers stationed in Hounslow and Aldershot. On 13 Mar 1901 he sailed with the Regt to South Africa. The 12th Lancers saw action during the Boer War in the Cape and the Transvaal. On 21 Sep 1902 the Regt was posted to India. Trooper Colgrave was promoted to LCpl on 27 Dec 1902. He remained in India until 25 Jan 1906. On his return to UK he was posted to the 5th Lancers before he transferred to the Army Reserve relinquishing his stripe, effective from 6 Aug 1906. On 4 Aug 1914 he was recalled to the colours. He rejoined 5th Lancers and proceeded with the Regt to France from Dublin with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in Aug 1914 as part of 3rd Cavalry Brigade (5th Royal Irish Lancers, 4th Hussars and 16th Lancers), Brig Gough commanding. The 5th Lancers were in action at Mons, where they were the last Regiment to withdraw. During the Retreat 5th Lancers took part in the Battles of Le Cateau and the Marne, where the Germans were halted before Paris. They then took part in the advance to the Aisne. Tpr Colgrave was awarded a Mention in Despatches and Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry and leadership in the face of the enemy during the First Battle of Ypres at Hollebeke on Messines Ridge on 30th October 1914, Gazetted on 16th Jan 1915: "On 30th October 1914 near Hollebeke, showed great presence of mind and coolness during an emergency in rallying several bodies of Indian troops who had lost their officers". He was promoted again to LCpl on 12 Nov 1914. The 5th Lancers fought dismounted at the Battle of Loos and in the trenches throughout the war mainly in the Ypres Salient but were also held in readiness for the breakthrough which did not come until 1918. On 3 Mar 1916 he was promoted to Cpl. On 25 Mar 1917 he was posted back to UK into the 1st Reserve Regt Lancers where he remained as an instructor and on 19 Nov 1917 was promoted to LSgt. He was a qualified bombing instructor. LSgt Colgrave DCM was transferred to the Reserve on 22 May 1919. He joined the Home Guard on the outbreak of the Second World War. LSgt Colgrave DCM had 20 yrs Regular and Reserve service. He collapsed and died whilst taking part in the Royal Review of 63,000 ex-servicemen and women in Hyde Park, London. He was looking for his wife who had a seat in the stands when he collapsed near the Serpentine. He was taken to a First Aid post but died in the ambulance on the way to hospital on 5th July 1953. He was awarded the DCM, MiD, Queens South Africa Medal clasps Cape Colony and Transvaal, King's South Africa Medal clasps 1901 and 1902, 1914 Star clasp 5Aug-29Nov, British War Medal, Victory Medal, and Defence Medal 1945.
  • Colin and Mary Colgrave

    Mr Grandfather Colin Colgrave volunteered to fight for His Country in World War 1. He left a wife, Mary and two young children, Olga Mary and Colin Junior, at home and set off to Beverley in Yorkshire to sign up to the East Yorkshire Regiment. He had promised his daughter that he would send postcards to her for the Post Card book he had bought. He sent cards from his training camps and other places he visited, and from Egypt when he was later posted there. He also wrote letters to his wife and to his son, and Mary wrote back to him regularly although he often didn't receive them so regularly, more often several at once. Some of her letters were returned together with his other belongings after his death. He had promised Mary he would send some of the silk postcards made by local women and also a rosary from Lourdes if he could. These were all kept safely by Mary together with his army records and his medals. It seems that the children were allowed to play with his medals as the appropriate ribbons have become detached, which I imagine Mary felt might keep their father in their memories. After all they were only 5, and 2 respectively when he died. My mother Olga Mary always brought us up to respect Armistice Day and when we were lucky enough to acquire our first TV, we were encouraged to watch the service and parade at The Cenotaph, and stand in silence for 2 minutes. It wasn't until after her death that these treasures came to light, after all, no-one ever wanted to talk about The War. Colin was fatally wounded in a battle at Mouquet Farm by a rifle shot which caused a compound fracture to his right femur. He was taken to the No.3 Canadian Hospital at Boulogne but developed gas gangrene and died at 0310hrs on 26th September 1916. 16818 Acting Corporal Colin Colgrave, of 6th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, is buried at East Boulogne Cemetery, France. He was 24 years old and gave his life for our tomorrows. May he rest in peace.
  • Cartoons from the Trenches

    Arthur Douglas left a photo album of his time in the army during World War 1. Included in the album are four cartoons that he drew of the trenches and a photo of himself.
  • A widow’s story

    My grandfather Thomas had been a Royal Marine for 12 years, leaving in 1905 to marry Emily Potter. After leaving the Marines, he worked at Nine Elms and Clapham Junction and had just been promoted to a signal man in 1914. He rejoined his unit st the onset of war.He took part in the defence of Antwerp during which, he went out on patrol and was shot in the head. He survived and was brought back to England but died on his 40th birthday on October 20th 1914. Emily took a job in a laundry and set about raising her sons as a single mother, a daunting prospect for any woman in 1914 with no welfare state or National Health Service for support. She would work in the laundry by day and briefly return home to feed her boys before going back out to scrub floors by night. Emily’s frantic schedule meant that she would often put the boys to bed in their school uniforms as she would not be there to prepare them for school. The lads had to work as well when possible – though one son – James –got a scholarship to Emmanuel College in London. How did she manage it?! The four boys were devoted and looked after her when they were young men. They all played a lot of sport, read and got on as best they could. They were all a credit to her, having families, doing well in relatively low paid, but secure jobs – sadly James died at El Alamein,  a fact  that was kept from Emily just before she died. There were no medals or citations for Emily but she was a truly wonderful, remarkable, uneducated but lovely lady. Thank you to the grandmother I never met, but whose hard work helped me become who I am today and of whom I am indescribably proud.
  • Diaries of Dr Sybil Lonie Lewis, Serbia and Macedonia 1915-1917.

    Dr Sybil Lonie Lewis was an early female doctor who studied medicine in Edinburgh and Dublin, qualifying in 1905. She practised in Hull where she was a school medical officer. In the spring of 1915 Dr Lewis volunteered for work in Serbia and went out there in June under the Scottish Women's Hospitals. She was in Serbia when the country was over-run by the enemy and the hospital staffs taken prisoner later in 1915. Although a Red Cross party they were detained in Hungary for four months under the roughest conditions. In February 1916 they were released and sent home. Dr Lewis went out again in August 1916 and worked with the Serbian army and the civilian population in Macedonia until December 1917 when she returned home. She was in poor health and became ill in March 1918 . Her illness lasted only three days and in the opinion of the doctor attending her death was directly attributable to conditions contracted during her service abroad. She received the Serbian decoration of the Order of St Sava in recognition of her devoted work among the Serbs. Her ashes are buried in Old St Paul's Episcopal Church in Central Edinburgh, marked by a brass plaque. Categorised as "war dead" hers is the only female name on the war memorial in Old St Paul's. Dr Lewis kept a detailed diary during her time in the Balkans. Due to her early and sudden death the diaries were not published but are copied here along with related papers and medal photos. Dr Lewis was my great-aunt.
  • Joel Halliwell VC

    Joel Halliwell is my Great Great Uncle - his sister Eliza was my great great grandmother - his brother - Thomas Halliwell died in the Somme in 1916 Joel Halliwell's medals have remained in my families possession for the last 100 years not not on public display. His VC dress medal was stolen from his pub at the New Inn Middleton in the 1920's.. On the 100th Anniversary of his heroism in rescuing 9 of his colleagues in No-Man's Land on a captured German horse we have loaned the medal to the Lancashire Fusilers Museum in Bury - Lancashire. I - Abbey Smith - wanted to share my Great Uncle's story with you. Civilian History Childhood He was a keen footballer as a schoolboy. Education and Academic and Professional Honours Parkfield Church of England School, Middleton, Oldham, Lancashire Civilian Employment and Appointments He worked at the Middleton Cotton Mill as a general labourer in 1901, eventually becoming Foreman of the Rain and Forest Mill, Oldham. He ran The New Inn public house, Long Street, Middleton, between 1930-40 but reportedly tired of people asking him to recount his exploits. Appointed Foreman for the Middleton Highways Department. He finally worked for a firm of dyers up until 1957. Other Honours - Service History Enlisted as a Private on 13 November 1914 at Bury, Lancashire. He was described as 5' 5" tall and weighing 134 lbs. Joined the 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers on 17 November 1914. Fined four days pay for being absent for 13 hours on 16 January 1915. Underwent three days detention for overstaying a pass by almost one day on 20 August 1915. Proceeded on operational service with the Battalion to France on 25 September 1915. Qualified for Proficiency Pay at Class 2 @ 3d per day on 13 November 1916. Unpaid Lance Corporal on 13 January 1917. Promoted Lance Corporal on 16 June 1917. Granted leave in England from 25 July – 7 August 1917. In early May 1918, the British needed to rest exhausted divisions following the German spring offensives and the Allies needed to create a General Reserve to meet the next onslaught. To achieve both French divisions, from the quiet Chemin des Dames sector, were relieved by five exhausted British divisions (IX Corps). 21st, 8th and 50th Divisions took over the lightly held area, each holding frontages of 8-10,000 yards. 25th Division was in reserve. A massive German barrage opened early on 27 May along a 24 miles front. The attack began at 0340 hrs, sweeping the forward defences away and pressing on to the Aisne. The defence of the second position was to have been conducted by 25th Division, but its brigades were sent to reinforce the forward divisions instead. As a result the second position was breached and a gap opened between the French and British. Both pulled back to form defensive flanks and the gap widened to 12 miles by nightfall. 74th Brigade (25th Division) was closest to the widening gap. 11th Lancashire Fusiliers at Muscourt was ordered to take up the front south of the Aisne. The Germans were held until they advanced through the French to the west. At 1330 hrs they crossed the bridge at Maizy and rushed towards Muscourt. 11th Lancashire Fusiliers stopped them along the road leading south from Concevreux, until they entered Muscourt and threatened the flank. The Battalion withdrew along the ridge near Meurival, but was shelled out of this location and forced back to another position 500 yards south of the ridge. During this tense period Lance Corporal Halliwell rescued wounded men as the Battalion fell back. He galloped forward on a horse captured from the enemy and, despite heavy machine-gun and shell fire, brought back singly and unaided an officer and nine soldiers who were severely wounded. He ensured they were evacuated then made three attempts to bring in an eleventh man, but was forced to give up when the Germans advanced again. 11th Lancashire Fusiliers repulsed three attacks before pulling back again. That night it moved to the high ground northwest of Romain with the rest of the Brigade. By then it numbered just nine officers and 100 men. Next day it was all but destroyed covering the withdrawal of the Brigade over the Vesle. For his gallantry he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Posted to the Base on 12 July 1918. Attached to Headquarters 151st Brigade on 4 August 1918. Posted to 16th Battalion on 23 December 1918. Posted to 10th Battalion on 18 January 1919 and arrived two days later. Demobilized on 30 January 1919, although his service record also states that he left France on 2 March 1919. He tried to re-join the Army for the Second World War, but was rejected through poor eyesight and the wound to his left leg received during the Great War. Orders, Decorations and Medals Victoria Cross 1914-15 Star British War Medal 1914-20 Victory Medal 1914-19 King George VI Coronation Medal 1937 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 Miscellaneous ODMs - Footnotes - Victoria Cross Recommendation - Citation The award of the Victoria Cross, for action at Aisne II (Chemin des Dames), near Muscourt, France, on 27 May 1918, was published on p.8724 of London Gazette No. 30811, dated 25 July 1918. The citation reads: "No. 9860 L./Cpl. Joel Halliwell, Lanc. Fus. (Middleton). For most conspicuous bravery and determination displayed during the withdrawal of the remnants of the Battalion when closely engaged with the enemy. L./Cpl. Halliwell, having captured a stray enemy horse, rode out under heavy rifle fire and rescued a wounded man from "No Man's Land." He repeatedly this performance several times, and succeeded in rescuing one officer and nine other ranks. He made another effort to reach a wounded man, but was driven back by the very close advance of the enemy. His conduct was magnificent throughout, and was a splendid and inspiring example to all who saw him." Investiture Invested with the VC by HM King George V at Buckingham Palace on 11 September 1918. Investitures for the VC were also made on that day for Roland R.L. Bourke, Victor A.C. Crutchley, Phillip Davey and Geoffrey H. Drummond. Location The Fusiliers' Museum Lancashire, Moss Street, Bury, Lancashire on loan. Movement History His VC was bequeathed to his eldest granddaughter and was known to be privately owned in April 2014. His miniature VC was stolen from the bar at his public house prior to 1939. Halliwell gave up running the public house shortly afterwards. Reverse Engraving 9860 L/CPL J. HALLIWELL 11TH BN. LANC.FUS. 27 MAY 1918 Abbey Smith - King's High Warwick
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