The Museum of Lancashire is asking the public to bring letters, photos, diaries and First World War memorabilia to its WW1 Family History Roadshow this Saturday.
The roadshow is one of the first in a series that is being rolled-out across 10 countries in Europe to create a unique pan-European virtual archive at www.europeana1914-1918.eu. Historians and experts will be on hand to talk about the significance of the finds – while professional digitisers and cataloguers will upload them to the website. And while your family mementos are being archived, you can join our costumed re-enactors in a military drill, kit inspection; Semaphore signalling, bandage winding, or experience life on the front line in the museum’s replica trench. The event, off Stanley Street, takes place from 10am-5.30pm.
How many people have been awarded a medal for bravery without realising why they had been given it?
That is one of the stories outreach officer for Lancashire Museums Stephen Miller has concerning three of his great grandfathers, Charles Woodworth, who is believed to have been present at the Battle of the Somme.
Stephen, 27, of Hoghton, explains: “In his letters back home my great grandad said he was not sure why he received his military medal in September 1917, although he assumed it was for bravery.
“My great grandfather was a twister in a cotton mill in Oswaldtwistle and working life was very depressing.
“Teenagers like him were told the war would be over by Christmas and it would be a great adventure so they readily signed up.
“In his letters back home my great-grandad said he was not sure why he received his military medal in Spetember 1917.
“I know he fought in France for 18 months and was injured twice. He had two stripes on his uniform which indicated that he was injured and had then returned to fight.”
As well as Charles, Stephen has two other great grandfathers who signed up in at the same time.
Charles Singleton who is believed to have joined up the Chorley Pals and Howard Vincent Miller who was discharged on medical grounds.
It’s a shoe box in Stephen’s parents’ loft that contains some of the memorabilia of that time.
He added: “There must be hundreds of pieces of information squirreled away in attics across the country, which is probably not the best place to store such precious documents.
“With the 100th anniversary coming up, I think we should find these artefacts and get them digitised. If we don’t, we will lose some of the last links we have with that period of our history.”