To commemorate the ninetieth anniversary of the Armistice, Imperial War Museum
London is mounting a major exhibition that will look at the personal stories of those who lived, fought and died during the First World War both overseas and on the home front.
Featuring fascinating and previously unseen material, this exhibition will use the experiences of over 90 individual men, women, servicemen and civilians to illustrate the different aspects and key events of the Great War and its aftermath. Much of the material will be drawn from the Imperial War Museums own collections that were established during the First World War.
Among the personal stories and items on display are:
· The watch and Kings Shilling given to Edward Packe who enlisted in the Army in August 1914;
· The Victoria Cross awarded to Jack Cornwell who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Jutland and the second youngest recipient of the VC;
· The smashed aircraft windscreen of British flying ace James McCudden who had shot down 57 aircraft by the time of his death in action in 1918;
· The Military Cross awarded to Wilfred Owen that was worn by his mother until her death;
· The paint box and brushes used by Official War Artist John Nash who, with his brother Paul, served on the Western Front;
· The torn tunic worn by Harold Cope who was seriously wounded at the Battle of the Somme;
· The cross that marked the grave of Prime Ministers son Raymond Asquith;
· The diary kept by Florence Farmborough who was a nurse on the Russian Front;
· An extract of Geoffrey Malinss film The Battle of the Somme, that was viewed by at least half the population when it was screened in 1916;
· The illustrated album of Herta Dobinger, a 13 year old Austrian, who recorded the experiences of life on the Austrian home front;
· The camisole worn by Margaret Gwyer who survived the sinking of Lusitania;
· A wreath tossed into the car carrying Prime Minister Lloyd George after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
To compliment In Memoriam a selection of works from the 1918 Hall of Remembrance scheme will be displayed in the adjoining Singer Sargent Gallery. Created by the British War Memorials Committee of the Ministry of Information, the scheme was designed to commemorate all aspects of the war effort, including the home front. However, the Hall of Remembrance was never completed and the collection of paintings was given to the newly founded Imperial War Museum. Among those paintings on display will be John Singer Sargents Gassed (1919), the intended centerpiece of the Hall, Percy Wyndham Lewiss A Battery Shelled (1919) and Paul Nashs The Menin Road (1919).
The First World War was the beginning of what Winston Churchill later described as the woe and ruin of the terrible twentieth century. The Great War was truly a global war, fought not just on the Western Front, but also in Russia, the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa. Casualties were on a scale never seen before. Massive artillery bombardments caused terrible loss of life and destruction. The use of aircraft and submarines in large numbers and the first appearance of tanks on the battlefield brought new dimensions to conflict. When the fighting had finished in November 1918, the First World War had claimed the lives of 21 million people worldwide.
For Britain, supported by its Empire, the war also meant huge social change, with its men conscripted for the first time in history and women taking their places in factories and fields. The First World War still exerts an extraordinary hold upon the public imagination and this exhibition seeks to further our knowledge and understanding of that terrible conflict.