As a two-year remembrance project comes to a close, Lincolnshire County Council is celebrating its achievements – including the creation of a unique record of Lincolnshire people who lost their lives in times of war.
In August 2013, the county council was awarded grants totalling £114,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Armed Forces Community Covenant for a project called Lincolnshire Remembrance: Memories and Memorials.
The project aimed to develop an understanding of how conflict has affected individuals, families and wider communities in Lincolnshire, through a focus on war memorials.
It was designed to coincide with the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, and was a chance for volunteers to learn about their local war memorials, telling the stories behind the names recorded on them and sharing that information with the wider public through a specially-designed database on the Lincs to the Past website.
Thanks to the volunteers’ hard work, there are currently just over 2,800 war memorials and 23,000 casualties recorded on the site.
Sarah Grundy, from the project, said: “Almost every community in Lincolnshire has a war memorial of some kind, for conflicts ranging from the 19th century to the modern day.
“But until now, there hasn’t been an easy way of discovering what’s out there.
“This new database brings together Lincolnshire’s complete story of sacrifice.
“The response from the volunteers has been overwhelming. We’d hoped to have around 100 come forward, but ended up working with 300!
“Our volunteers have included young people at school who, during their lunch hours, added details to the database of the Old Boys from their school who died in the First World War. We have also had a tremendous response from retired people, some of whom have spent thousands of hours extricating details from websites and old newspapers as well as visiting and photographing memorials across the county. All the contributions from volunteers have made this a comprehensive and useful resource which is freely available to all.
“It will be incredibly valuable not only as a resource for historians and those researching their family history, but also to society as a whole.
“For the first time, everyone can see the human tragedies behind war and the impact conflict has had on our local communities.
“Through researching the names on the memorials, our volunteers have helped communities to remember and understand more about the sacrifices that were made during the First World War, including young men so eager to serve that they enlisted at the age of 15; of young women who served their country as nurses often just behind the front lines; of family men who left behind wives and children; and of many brothers and friends sometimes killed together. They are stories that are common to memorials across Britain but by researching individual stories they also bear witness to the personal tragedy of war for families.
“I would like to thank everyone involved for all their help in creating this lasting legacy to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
In addition to creating the database, the team has worked with schools and youth groups, and produced learning resources for Key Stages 1 to 3.
It also held a competition to design a war memorial, with RAF Coningsby youth group and William Lovell School both winning trips to the National Memorial Arboretum.
There have been exhibitions and events across the county and many other activities to get people involved.
To find out more, visit www.lincstothepast.com/warmemorials