District preparing for centenary of start of World War One

Poppy wreath for Remembrance day
Poppy wreath for Remembrance day

The year 2014 sees the nation mark the Centenary of the Great War and the sacrifice made by a generation of men and women who served in the armed and ancillary forces.

The First World War was an event that changed the nation drawing together disparate communities who all felt or shared a sense of loss; of communities who rallied round a common cause with fortitude and resolve.

The greatest public reminder of this tragic war are the war memorials that lie across the land. This was the first time the nation publicly commemorated the war dead, in effect creating civic gravestone for those left behind in a foreign field that will always remain England.

It is therefore apt that Horsham District Council is announcing the launch of 2014 - 1914 Horsham District Commemorates. The focus of the commemoration will be the district’s war memorials as they reflect the sense of unity and of loss, whilst they also mark the heroisms of the fallen who had to face appalling conditions, the like of which are hard to comprehend today.

Sunday November 11 2012 marks the start of 14 months of preparation first in capturing information about all the war memorials and then the fantastic stories about those commemorated, getting to know the stories behind the names.

For example, Horsham town has at least three memorials, the Carfax, Post Office and Collyer’s College; whilst West Grinstead’s memorial lies in a corner of a field.

This can only be done with the help of all the parish councils and community groups, schools, etc, providing a real echo of the community spirit of the First World War that created a sense of support and comfort from the very act of coming together.

This work will form a brilliant educational resource for today’s and future generations that will also enable us to march in to 2015 as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The Urban and Rural District Councils came of age during World War I, and it is a great honour for Horsham District Council as inheritor of that service to lead the community in commemorating the First World War with humility in the face of the sacrifice made by that generation whilst also providing a civic dignity to the occasion.

To become involved with this project, please email or write to Jeremy Knight at Horsham Museum in the first instance.

A meeting is planned at the end of November for all interested parties to join in the campaign to commemorate the First World War and the sacrifice made through the District’s many war memorials.