Memory Lane: Wartime tales revealed

Ella Bull, 18, holds a photograph of her great grandfather, Ernest Reuben Bull, who fought in the First World War and (below) re-enactors for the First World War will be at the Museum of Lancashire.
Ella Bull, 18, holds a photograph of her great grandfather, Ernest Reuben Bull, who fought in the First World War and (below) re-enactors for the First World War will be at the Museum of Lancashire.

DO you have a box hidden deep in the attic or under the bed that holds your great grandfather’s diaries?

Maybe a letter from the front line during the First World War? Or a photograph taken at the time? Is there a special story behind it?

Re-enactors for the First World War will be at the Museum of Lancashire.

Re-enactors for the First World War will be at the Museum of Lancashire.

If you have letters, photographs, diaries, or even recordings from the First World War, and would you like to see them saved for everyone to share, there is a chance to be in at the beginning of building the first ever online European archive of private memorabilia, in time for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of that war.

Memory Lane readers who can help are urged to go to the first in a series of roadshows being rolled out across 10 countries to create a unique pan-European virtual archive of the First World War that is available to everyone.

Digitisation saves images from being lost or thrown away – and it keeps them safe for use by schools, genealogists and cultural organisations.

The roadshow, organised by Europeana and Lancashire County Council, will be staged here in the North West at the Museum of Lancashire on Saturday, March 10, between 10am and 5.30pm.

There you will be able to tell your stories to historians and experts, as well as joining costumed re-enactors in a military drill, or experience life on the front line.

Listen to survivors who were bombed by a Zeppelin, or have a sniff at the horrible trench smells and work out which ones the soldiers would have been worried about. In short, you are bound to find out more than you ever knew about your wartime ancestors.

Stephen Bull, the museum’s curator of military history and archaeology, said: “As the centenary of 1914 and the First World War approaches, it is more important than ever that we save these documents. It tells us what life was like for the ordinary people of Lancashire – the soldiers, their families and the workers back home.

“We’re anticipating a fantastic day, with people bringing in new material – photos and letters the public and researchers have never seen before.

“And while our experts scan these precious items, visitors will be able to experience at first hand some of the sights, smells and sounds from a conflict that affected the everyday lives of virtually all Europeans.”

Jill Cousins, Europeana’s executive director, said: “Memorabilia and stories are kept by families for a while, but after a century their significance starts to fade. That’s why our online archive, which is collecting material across Europe in a series of roadshows, is so important.

“The event will give people the opportunity to share memories, photographs and diaries with future generations, while learning about the sacrifices their ancestors made.”

The museum is on Stanley Street, Preston. Ring (01772) 534075 for details.

Visit www.europeana1914-1918.eu to find out how to upload photographs and documents if you are unable to attend the event.